When we are in the UK this Summer my brother Andy visited with his kids, Louie and Daisy. They gave JD a wonderful home-made quiz book all about him, Britain and his British family. We've been completing parts of it together each night this week. Great fun. Thanks chaps!
I'm half way through my August IELTS examining commitments. It's a long day dealing with 19-22 candidates one-by-one, each expecting their 15 minutes of 100% focus from the examiner as, for many, it can be a life-changing exam. Some barely have enough English to form a sentence, some could speak OK if it wasn't for their crippling nerves and a few are talented enough to score well.
Security is very high with metal detectors, documents signed in and out and electrical recorders locked up over lunch. And no phones or cameras are allowed in the room - hence the mocked up photo above!
My blog celebrates its 13th anniversary today (including its previous Yahoo format). I wonder how many readers have been following it from the very beginning? The blog stats say there are 200-300 unique views daily, though there are only about 20 regulars that I know of. If you've never signed the Guestbook (tab above), why not reveal yourself?
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
In March this year 25 people were killed when their bus fell into a 100m deep valley in QiaoJia County, Yunnan. The roads there are known to be particularly hazardous . And just yesterday, a bus full of Middle School students fell into a river, killing 28 children, also in QiaoJia County ...... so guess where I’m going tomorrow?
My INSETT training course in QiaoJia starts on Monday and I was due to be picked up from YiLiang tomorrow (I got back “home” this afternoon after a pretty torturous 18 hour bus ride). But now, all QiaoJia cars have been “grounded” until the registered drivers there have received “safety training”. So I have been asked to take a bus back to Zhaotong tomorrow morning (with all my resources, computer and hastily washed clothes etc) and meet some ongoing transport that QiaoJia Education Commission will have arranged. My relaxed holiday mood has been well and truly shattered!
We arrived back home yesterday after a fabulous and successful month in the UK. JD got his toy Nerf guns confiscated on arrival in China (a country where common sense and a sense of humour are often sorely lacking). Fortunately JiaJia managed to persuade the security officer to let her post them to our house rather than lose them completely.
Now I just need to re-register with the local police and get our dead car battery replaced. But we are happy to be back as life slowly returns to its normal pace.
Our last little trip to London yesterday. While JiaJia checked out the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate Gallery (crowded), JD and I walked to the Imperial War Museum where JD proceeded to tell me imaginative statistics and backgrounds to all the various planes, tanks and weaponry (to the amusement of passers-by). Who knew a Spitfire was from Canada and could travel at 10,000mph?
We also managed to meet up with my good friend Miki, recently returned from running a hotel in Poland. We all joined up for a picnic by the Thames before Miki went on her way and the rest of us headed back to Sidcup to start packing for China.
My youngest brother Andy and his children, Louie and Daisy, visited today. We started with a Wetherspoons breakfast together - fast becoming something of a Hider tradition!
With intermittent rain outside we spent the morning playing Monopoly and then, during a dry hour in the afternoon, managed to visit "Lark in the Park" - a Christian community event with many children's clubs.
One of JD's wishes for our UK trip to was to sleep in a tent, inspired by our reading of Enid Blyton's "Famous Five" stories recently.
So we borrowed a tent from my Aunt and set it up in the garden. Last night was the second (and last!) night in the tent. It was cool inside despite the recent hot weather here (almost the hottest on record) but the noise of foxes, rainstorms and police chase helicopters didn't lead to a whole lot of sleep. Midnight feasts are a nice father-son bonding thing though!
We spent a final day at Vix's yesterday, eating home-cooked and restaurant grub, and meeting mutual friends and family members who I hadn't seen in over a decade.
Before we took the three trains home, we explored a local garden, open to the public but rarely visited. We had intended to visit this time last year, but torrential rain changed the plans. This time it was dry and we enjoyed the various flowers and (rather strangely, often Chinese) trees.
We're spending a long weekend with my good friend Vix and her husband Dave in Worthing, West Sussex. Despite the chilly weather, JD was keen to hit the beach, collect shells and have a swim in the sea. Thankfully Vix is game for anything! I did join them on the second day.
The windy conditions saw many kite surfers whizzing along be the beach and occasionally [see photo] being whisked up into the sky.
We've also visited half a dozen other properties during our time in Chippenham with a view to buying another one to rent out. As we drove back to Sidcup yesterday we decided to make an offer on this ground floor flat in West End Close. Our initial offer wasn't accepted but we think we might be close to an agreement. Watch this space....
[23rd July: Our revised offer was accepted. Let the paperwork begin!]
One of our main aims for this year's visit to the UK was to view the flat we purchased earlier this year (sight unseen, but on the recommendation of trusted friends!). It's the one behind the white car. We were very impressed by the repairs and decoration that had been done for us by a handyman and our friends. A tenant is already in.
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