I finished my final full term at Robert's School last Saturday, teaching for 8 hours in my socks. Yes, after over a year without any problems, my gout unexpectedly flared up on Saturday morning, leaving my right foot red and swollen. As ever, I've no clue why it has returned. I downed a lot of medicine to keep me going and, two days on, the swelling is down and I can walk again without hobbling. However, this morning I woke up feeling really dizzy - something I've not experienced for 2-3 years now. I'm hoping it's not related to my blood pressure as it was before. I'm thinking it might be the result of carrying JD around Green Lake on my shoulders yesterday. Maybe I trapped a nerve or something? I just hope it passes soon as I was really looking forward to getting some exercise done this holiday, and running/skipping with a swollen foot or while the world is spinning before your eyes isn't such a good idea. Fingers crossed.
As the term draws to an end, Robert's School sees quite an exodus of foreign teachers. Cindy and Martin [left] return to Australia after a successful year teaching with us. This photo was taken at their recent leaving party. Then Juvy [below, left] rejoins her husband and son after 8 years working at the school. Next to hear are three of our secretaries. And then I myself will be moving on within a few months of the new term starting. New replacments are coming, but it will be the biggest transition of foreign staff for a long time.
Since I finally succumbed to the lure of a VPN 6 months ago (which enables me to circumvent certain internet restrictions here) I've been really enjoying getting back on Facebook, iPlayer, YouTube, etc. Trouble is, you quickly get used to them and when the connection is temporarily lost (for various reasons) it's even more infuriating than when you never had access at all. Let's hope the VPN continues to function well.
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
I woke early today and started my washing machine before walking to the dentist for an 8am appointment. After waiting an hour, I enquired what the delay was, only to be told I was still 10th in line and no one would be able to see me until 11am or later! I walked home, stopping to get some money from the ATM, which duly ate my card - I have to collect it tomorrow. Back home, I found my kitchen floor flooded - the washing machine outlet pipe had worked its way loose. I reached for the mop while starting the machine off again. Duly mopped, I headed for the computer, only to find I can’t access Facebook or Yahoo Mail, for the second day running. A Google enquiry shows that Facebook has suddenly been blocked throughout China along with other, seemingly random, sites. I was jolted from my gloom by Chinese people shouting outside my flat. Like the websites, the kitchen sink plughole was also blocked, and dirty water from the washing machine had filled up the sink and was now pouring from the overflow pipe onto my neighbour’s freshly cleaned and almost dried clothes! It’s only 10am but already a nightmare day. And with a minimum of three fillings to come, it could get a lot worse …
PS (3pm) …Good news and bad news. Facebook is back up (for now), but after two fillings today, I have another SIX to come later! Aaaarrgghhh!!
Ava, JD and I spent a lovely morning at the Golden Temple yesterday along with my friends/colleagues Cindy and Martin, their daughter Liv, and two of their Chinese friends. Liv and JD love each other's company and it's a shame that Cindy and Martin are heading back to Australia in a few weeks. We've really appreciated their support and friendship.
Not sure what my wife was thinking, but I returned home from work yesterday evening to find JD with a new "hairstyle" that borders on child abuse! She said she'd told the barber to "trim the sides, but keep it long on top". This was the result. The women of the house think it's hysterical. I'm not so sure...
Forget Greece. They "only" owe 375 billion Euros. The Chinese stock market has lost ten times that amount in the last month alone. After years of continual rises in share value, many millions of Chinese have been encouraged to invest their savings in the stock market. But suddenly, within weeks, their profits have been wiped out and the world's financial markets are holding their breath, wondering what the "financial earthquake" here holds for them. Jiajia is just one of those millions who was gleefully counting her theoretical profits from money she invested a decade ago, until last month. Although more savvy than most, she has now seen most of those "paper profits" disappear. The Chinese Government are throwing everything they've got at the problem - having millions of angry Chinese on their hands is not in their best interest - and we're hoping for some sort of recovery soon. Fingers firmly crossed!
Today I signed a contract with a new employer. After 8 very happy years at Robert's School, I shall be working at the Yunnan University of Finance and Economics (YUFE) from September. With JD starting pre-school in a couple of months (Mon to Fri, 7.30am to 5.30pm, poor thing!) I realised I would have little to do during on weekdays besides dropping him off and picking him up each day. Conversely, when he was out of school at weekends, I would be really busy teaching at Robert's School. So I started to keep my eyes open for job with a more suitable timetable. An advert from YUFE quickly caught my eye. Half the hours for half the money but, crucially, weekdays only and with four months' paid leave (compared to my current four weeks). A 20-minutes e-bike drive away and with a kindergarten and a swimming pool on the campus, it seemed ideal. I applied and was accepted.
With little notice given, I felt it was right to offer a further month or so of work to Robert's School in order to hand over my classes gradually to a new teacher. So it will be a busy September working two jobs, especially as I'm also committed to the week of Lattitude teacher-training. But in time, it should all settle.... hopefully!
Another day, another hospital visit. This time to A & E. JD managed to find a spray gun in a cupboard which, it turned out, had some sort of bleach in it (don't ask - I'd never even seen it in the house before!). Fortunately, he only sprayed the outside of his mouth, but boy, did her scream. Though His lips swelled up and went red, he didn't swallow any. Not knowing what it was (clear liquid, no smell), I touched a little on my skin and ouch, no wonder he screamed! Our nanny, JD and I drove to the hospital on my ebike and saw a doctor who said there was no need for concern. We'd done the right things - wash his mouth, inside and out, allowed him to spit, doused his lips with milk and checked with a doctor. Phew. It's a wake up call though, to make sure all the knives, scissors, chemicals, medicines etc are better stored away!
There was a time when my blog apparently attracted hundreds of readers a day (or so the stats said - I always found it hard to believe that there were so many people following it). Numbers have since dwindled to a more believable 20-40 a day. Why? Maybe because I'm back on Facebook, maybe because my entries have become more domestic and less amusing since getting married and having my son, maybe there just less to report on? But it was still a bit of a shock to see that on June 10th this year, there were no visitors to my blog at all. Not one. Not even me! I think I need to up my game!
It's not often a world record takes place in your backyard and you hear nothing about it! It wasn't until I spotted a small report in my "The Week" magazine (which arrives to me in the post about a month after any news) that I found about six-time Guinness world record holder Ace Kyle, breaking a tightrope world record just down the road from us. Back in May he made a 15 minute walk backwards and blindfolded between two towers 110m apart, 150m above the ground. Not one my colleagues or students had heard mention of it either. Very odd.
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