Where has the last month gone?!

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Flag of China  , Shandong,
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hiya,

No, we haven't given up with the blog, just not as regular as we were this time last year! Life feels a bit more 'normal’ sometimes, and less exciting things to report. Life is still good of course, but not full of the stories we had when we first got here.

We last wrote from the train, coming home from a great weekend in Qingdao by the sea, we arrived back in Beijing to the usual chaos of our city!

W/C 17th June

The annual British Chamber garden party took place at the swanky Ritz Carlton hotel, a nice evening apart from the rain, but we managed to get back outside for food when the rain stopped, last year we met so many new people and some good contacts, but now we know so many people that you just end up talking to them, rather than meeting lots of new faces!

A belated birthday celebration with friends on the Friday night for Andy, 42 people at the Purple Haze Thai restaurant, a fab meal, £20 each, 4 courses + free flow drinks and lots of fun. Afterwards we hit a really nice cocktail bar for some long island iced teas and some dancing. The following day we went to the Craft Beer Festival, it’s 2nd year and a great success, with various breweries from over China showcasing their beer. That evening, it was Andy’s bowling club presentation dinner for that season, Andy’s team had come first, so he got a team award, as well as a personal award – more ornaments for our apartment! The dinner was all paid for from the subs throughout the season, sadly only a few of turned up, and we were lucky to enjoy an amazing Chinese meal and plenty of beer.

W/C 24th June

A busy week for me, preparing for a presentation. I was asked by the women’s networking group, Viva, to do a presentation on finance. It was for an hour, 40 mins to present, 20 mins for questions. I was so nervous, I’m used to standing up in front of people and did it every day in the UK, but was out of practice and talking about a relatively new subject! 24 came along, including some friends to give me moral support, and it went really well. I got some great feedback, and came away with 3 further appointments from it which was great. The talk was about the difference between men & women when it comes to investing, confidence levels, what we should be doing at certain ages, and some investing strategies. I really enjoyed it after all, and may do some more in the future to other groups, a great way of getting in front of people. A well deserved drink (or 3) afterwards with the girls back in town!

Thursday was quiz night, I actually took part for a change – ended up on a winning team, no, I didn’t cheat, I was just with some clever people!! It was nice taking part instead of reading the questions which I usually do.

Friday evening it was back to the Ritz Carlton for an Internations event, another garden party where it rained!

Saturday, I went out for the day with Tracey to the Fragrant Hills. About 40 mins on the subway, then the same again on a bus, and we arrived. A beautiful area of hills and forests, with the peak at 557 metres. There are several pavilions and temples dotted around the hills to explore, as well as cable cars up each side. We went to one temple on the way up, sadly the weather was quite damp, luckily it only rained for about 10 minutes, but it left really low cloud so the views weren’t as spectacular as they should have been, it was still impressive though. After the temple we took the cable car up to the peak, disappearing into the clouds! Admiring the ‘what should have been’ great view at the top, we wondered what the point of it was!! We then began the climb back down, which was pretty tough on the legs (we ached for several days afterwards!), again visiting other temples and lakes along the way. We found a great coffee shop at the bottom in the village, where we stopped for a smoothie, and were entertained by the cutest little girl ever, a Chinese girl, who’s Mum owned the shop, she was playing with a kitten in there, throwing a ping pong ball for it to chase after on the wooden floors, I think they must have played for hours! We fell in love with her, and the kitten, and finally decided to leave! A nice Taiwanese dinner on the way home, then the only thing I was fit for once I got home was a bath, the sofa, TV and bed!!

Andy on the other hand had been out with lots of friends to an afternoon on a rooftop terrace for a Catalan Festival having much fun, but more alcohol involved than my day!!

Sunday we enjoyed watching the British Grand Prix on the TV, seeing a perfect blue sky, a typical British summers day. Glad to hear summer has actually arrived, and seems to be staying for now!

W/C 1st July

Sadly on Tuesday I said goodbye to my good friend Tracey, who I’ve known most of the time I’ve been here – through an internations e-mail to say hi, we became really good friends, and enjoyed catching up over coffee, or going out for the day exploring, getting on a bus, ending up somewhere completely different, that kind of thing!! We met for dinner and promised to not actually say goodbye & get upset, just ‘see ya later’, which we will, she may come back to Beijing for a week in October, and perhaps back to work again in January, depends on what happens back in the UK, so fingers crossed…..

I had a few good work appointments this week as a result of the Viva presentation which was good, we’ve both had a few evening & weekend appointments too, so all going well.

Thursday Ray from work took us to the Capital Club, as we walked there a storm was brewing and rain about to hit us, so once we got up there on the 50th floor the views were pretty dramatic, seeing the lightening in the distance. Once it cleared, it was the best view we have ever seen from up there, so clear we could pick out so many things that you can’t usually see because of the pollution, even the surrounding mountains looked so close, very beautiful. Too many wines later, Ray’s girlfriend joined us & we all went to a Japanese KTV bar, now you know that I hate KTV, but pour wine inside me, give me a microphone, and that’s it – couldn’t get me off it!!! Murdering classic hits, dancing around like a lunatic, making the locals think ‘crazy foreigners’!!!

Friday night more goodbyes sadly, Dan & Charlie, good friends who we’ve also known since the early days, have just moved to Shanghai, so a group of us met at Heaven Supermarket. Let me paint the picture, Heaven and Supermarket are not usually 2 words that you’d put together, it’s a big shop, with chairs & tables, where you can buy pretty much any alcoholic beverage you can think of, from Pimms, to a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, to bottles of Youngs double chocolate stout! My tipple of the night was Pimms, and the stout. In the summer people spill out onto the streets, sat at tables drinking a variety of drinks with mixers, and plates of nachos, bbq skewers etc. well into the small hours. Cheap and cheerful, heavenly? Perhaps not!!! Good luck to you both in Shanghai Dan & Charlie, and we’ll be down to visit soon!

Saturday the Migrant Children Foundation had a photography exhibition called ’24 hours’ at a local restaurant, a lovely afternoon, a media teacher taught the migrant children how to use cameras which had been donated to the project, and asked them to document 24 hours of their life The results of which were in the exhibition. I’ve put a blog on the website so here is the link rather than repeating it here:

http://www.mcfchina.org/blog

After that we headed to our local Irish bar to watch the rugby, and later on watched the Beijing Beatles again play at a bar.

Sunday we wanted to escape the town, so we headed North to the Olympic Forest Park, which is just along from the Olympic stadium.  We had a good walk, although it was sticky & hot, so a bit hard work, walked through the woods, around the lakes, fake waterfalls, that kind of thing.

That evening, friends of ours invited us round for a Sunday roast, wow what a treat!! Alec, cooked, he’s from Scotland, and his wife Ainhoa is from Spain, and they live near us. We had a lovely evening, treated to roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, and proper roast potatoes! Yum yum! Very happy, we finished off the evening at Paddy’s watching the end of the Grand Prix, and the start of the tennis, it got unbearably hot though so we left Andy Murray to it, happy to see the great result later on.

W/C 8th July

Quite a few work meetings this week, and a return to a networking group that we went to a lot when we first arrived. A nice evening at the Hilton, and met a few new faces.

We went to an Internations event on the Friday at the Fairmont Hotel, a nice evening – then afterwards we joined friends in town to say farewell to Jacob, a Danish guy who’d been in Beijing for 6 months or so, lots of people, and signs of a drunken late night, luckily or unluckily depends on how you look at it, Andy had an appointment booked for Saturday morning, so we headed home before it got too messy!

Saturday afternoon we went to a BBQ at a friend’s house, Mike who lives in Shunyi which is the suburb out towards the airport, around a 40 min drive on a good day, and it’s where all the villa complexes are and big international schools. Most families live there because of the schools and the space.  He has a nice 4 storey villa with a garden, one thing I miss from the UK is going to people’s houses for dinner, drinks etc. you tend to meet people out here and go to restaurants & bars, so it was great. Good food, lots to drink, but a warm & humid day. A few silly moments, those of you that have enjoyed my impeccable table manners will see why in the photo's, and my enjoyment of teaching the Chinese girls such good manners too. Not really sure what the jumping in the air photo was all about but hey, it was funny! A not so silly moment, was when Andy unfortunately broke a tooth whilst eating a sausage……! Don’t think it was the sausages fault really, think the tooth was weak & crumbled at that particular moment. Since then, we’ve taken a trip to a dentist near where we work, and he’s had a temporary cap fitted, and has to go back on Tuesday for a crown, the tooth had a big filling in it so that was the only option. We headed back into town for a party in the evening at the Bali Bar for a couple of hours before heading home. 

Sunday Andy hosted another Internations go karting event which was good fun, I seem to be getting worse & losing my confidence, and there were a lot of competitive guys there this time! Good fun, pre & post karting drinks & food at Franks bar completed the day.

An informal British Club coffee morning yesterday at a café in town, during the summer we don’t host the main events during the summer as a lot of people go away, but there was still a good attendance. Last night we met a few friends at Enoterra, a new place for us – a bar with a lovely rooftop terrace. After much rain lately, the sun shone yesterday and a breeze kept the pollution at bay, and we enjoyed the most beautiful blue skies. 2 4 1 on wine, we just had to make the most of it!

So the weekend brings my Birthday, Friday I will turn 42. Happy Birthday to Chantelle for tomorrow, the 18 Julyth – hope you have a lovely day.

We won a £100 voucher a while ago for a post restaurant, Brasserie Flo, so we are having dinner there Friday evening which will be nice. I doubt that work will feature much during the day, so after checking e-mails we’ll head out somewhere, depending on the weather. There are a lot of birthdays this month, so myself and 7 friends are having a big birthday party to celebrate which is on Saturday night. We have hired the Bali Bar, which is a 7th floor roof terrace bar with water features, and a bar which looks like something you’d find on a Bali beach, very nice! We have 2 friends who are both DJ’s playing for us too, a BBQ on offer, and currently 160 people coming.

2 weeks on Friday until I come back to the UK, lots planned in already & the diary getting very booked up, I must find time to relax & enjoy the clear air, the countryside and the sea as well, three things I miss most!

Just realised whilst writing this over the last few days, it’s actually a month since we last wrote! Oops!!! Better get it posted!
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Dad and Mum on

Counting down the days, speak on Friday. xxxx

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