I am the focus
Make war, right now
Amazing, how else
This is the right way
Dice please go away
The secret forest opened again last week, so JD and I visited to see if our den had survived the Winter closure. One section of the ceiling was drooping don and needed a new prop, but otherwise it was all good. And the copy-cat den next to ours (built by someone else - we know not who) has grown and now links up with our complex! How fun!
"Whitey", one of our two hamsters, died this morning. He'd been sick for a month or two - shaking, blind, no back legs working - and I've been giving him food and water by hand (JD lost interest in the hamsters a long time ago!). "Bitey" is in a separate cage and is still full of health and energy, so I continue to have a feeding and cleaning regime!
The European Championships have started and England played their first match yesterday (a 1v0 win against Croatia). Watching it live from China is a real pain. This match started at 9pm but future matches will be a 3am start. This match was on BBC and I watched it on iPlayer (using a VPN), though it hung every 5 minutes or so. The next matches are on ITV which will be even more difficult. Chinese TV shows all the matches, but with Chinese commentary plus you have to pay for a full year subscription. The internet promises free streaming sites but none seems reliable. It's so frustrating and it's times like this that I wish I were living back in England!
JD works very hard in Chinese language lessons/homework to keep up with his classmates (especially since less than 50% of his home life is conducted in Chinese). It doesn't help that he's in the top-rated class of his year group (of 10 classes), in the top-rated Primary School in Yunnan Province! But with our current plans to move back to the UK in 3-4 years time, it's also important to keep JD's levels of English up.
So, an hour of each term-time weekend, plus a daily hour during holidays, is devoted to MY English lessons with JD. His reading is up to scratch for his age and his oral English is above expectations. His handwriting is all joined up beautifully too, possibly because of the care he has to take with his Chinese calligraphy. But spelling is an ongoing problem! So we focus on that, whilst trying to keep the lessons interesting and challenging.
Big news here at the moment is the herd of 17 elephants that have been slowly making their way north from the forests of XiShuangBanna (500km away) to our city of Kunming. They have been marching and munching their way through various towns and villages and are currently some 20km from the Kunming outskirts!
Nobody is quite sure what's prompted this epic journey. Some point to the deforestation in their traditional areas whilst other jokingly mention the "International Biodiversity Conference" being held in Kunming next month! Maybe the pachyderms want to have their say?
Whatever the reason, we'll be keeping our eyes and eyes peeled, just in case!
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
At 5.30am this morning I was woken from my slumbers by the biggest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. The one a fortnight ago was magnitude 6.1 and happened 250km away in Laos - this one was 6.4 and only 100km away (by comparison, the recent one in Kent registered 4.7). My VSO friends, the LEAF family, however, were less than 30km away and had breakages, a College-wide evacuation and lots of after-shocks. At the actual epicentre, a town called Pu’Er, 3 people died, 300 were injured and 120,000 residents were evacuated. My flat was shaken hard, and my heart was pounding for a while, but there was no damage. For a few minutes after the quake, there was an eerie silence. Then, as if someone had flicked a switch, the croaking frogs, chirping cicadas, barking dogs and crowing chickens all started up once again ...and I duly went back to bed (before a number of concerned phonecalls got me up again!).
Gary Numan's been my favourite singer since 1979. Some forty odd years on he is still producing amazing albums and this week his latest, "Intruder", reached No.2 in the charts. Amazing!
I actually "bought" this album nearly three years ago before any tracks were even written. That pre-order qualified me to watch video updates from Gary each month, showing how he writes, rewrites and records each song in his studio. So I felt I knew the album really well before it was even released last week!
Last weekend I took JD to the reservoir which I discovered a month ago. He was very keen to swim and, since there were lots of kids in the water (and Jiajia is away on business!), we had a few hours in and out of the water. I made the mistake of swimming without a T-shirt on and got pretty sunburned despite wearing "waterproof" sun cream lotion.
JD also insisted on buying a fishing net and proceeded to catch a dozen shrimp and a clam! A 20 minute e-bike drive home - fun afternoon out.
JD had a blast last weekend, spending an afternoon/evening with his best friend, "LiuLiu" (translates as "66") and his younger brother. LiuLiu is in JD's school/year but a different class. They became friends at Kindergarten and still meet up at school break times to play together.
While JiaJia chatted to LiuLiu's mum, I watched the kids running around and playing in the forest. Then we had a nice meal together at a nearby restaurant. Fresh air, exercise and tasty food.
I completed my 100th cycling session today. I was given the exercise bike six months ago as a Birthday present, so I reckon that's about four times a week on average since then.
And how do I know it's exactly 100? Well, I time my sessions by watching a 45-minute episode of a TV show called, "West Wing", and I've just watched the 100th episode.
It's that time of year again when I have to wade though hundreds of essays and try not to be too negative about the mangled English therein. Some students show small signs of improvement while others fail to understand the most basic of instructions ("400 words, not 207"! "5 paragraphs, not 7 or 2!"). Others just leave me bewildered....
We don't know when exactly our two hamsters were born. but we know that we bought them a year ago today! JD stopped taking much interest in them pretty early on, but it was his idea to give them a little celebration today. So we had two tiny cakes with candles and a rendition of "Happy Bought-day". "Bitey" is still full of energy, but "Whitey" has been sick for a month now - barely able to walk or eat, but resolutely refusing to die!
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