We've gone for a low key Halloween this year. Firstly, our American friends are still stuck in America (and probably won't return now) and they are normally very enthusiastic about organising fun activities which we happily join in with. Then the Chinese Government has been actively discouraging its citizens from taking part in Western festivals (Halloween, Christmas etc.) this year and promoting Chinese festivals instead.
But JD was keen to dress up, eat sweets and play scary games, so I've put together a costume and prepared some fun activities for him and some of his friends to do. Better than nothing!
JD and I visited our den in the Secret Forest the other day.
Good news was the appearance of another den, next to ours! By coincidence, the builders turned up an hour after we arrived. They are a family we met once before there, who had been inspired by our den to start their own one next door! Early days of construction for them (ours has taken four years so far!) but it's fun to have neighbours now.
I've been involved in the annual Provincial English Speaking Contest again over the last couple of weeks. The first round involved viewing and marking 64 x 3-minute videos then later a live Semi-Final with the 32 best. The Final next week will be for another foreign teacher to do. I've done my bit! The theme this year was "2020 - a year of challenges". Most focused on COVID-19 and China's impressive response to the pandemic. Few mentioned where it originated from...
We've finally managed to evict the troublesome tenants from my Wootton Bassett flat. Late night parties, growing weed in the attic, dumping junk outside the house, swearing at the neighbours - they were a real problem over the last year or two. They left the flat in a really poor state and we now have the expense of cleaning, decorating and repairing the place. We'll also spend a little money refurbishing and upgrading it, to try and attract better tenants next time.
Mother-in-law celebrated her birthday this week - her 79th or 80th depending on who asked her. We think she doesn't know.
Ma was her usual "cheery" self on receiving her gifts; a jumper ("Too tight. I don't like the colour"), flowers ("I can't take them home - you look after them") and a home-made gift from JD ("My birthday was two days ago - it's late"). She did manage to fake a quick smile for the camera in front of her birthday cake before declaring, "It's too sweet for me. I don't want any."
Kunming's new underground Line "K4" opened a week ago and our nearest tube station is now just 5 minutes walk away. JD and I tried it out yesterday. Our pretext was to head into town for JD to buy himself a toy at Toys 'R Us with his hard-earned pocket money.
It took us two train changes to get to the right shopping mall, but the stations and trains were all high spec, spotlessly clean and not the least bit busy. It's just a pity the line doesn't really go anywhere we usually want to go!
JD's school continues to send inane homework requests through, late in the evening, for completion by the next morning. So one evening last week we were told (at 9pm) to take 3-4 photos showing homework and housework being done. Having already completed all that by 8pm we had to fake photos of JD reading, writing, doing craft, looking after the hamsters, etc. I imagine most/all the parents were faking it.
We duly emailed the photos off to the teacher but have heard nothing more about it, Another pointless exercise?
It's the last day of JD's week off, and so when some of JD's schoolmates invited him to join them in visiting to Kunming's biggest funfair, we could hardly reuse. I'm doing IELTS examining at the moment, so it fell to Jiajia to join the other parents on the trip.
JD is fearless when it comes to big wheels, rollercoasters, high swings, whizzing roundabouts etc. So he had a blast. They also took in a couple of shows, before sharing a big meal on the way home.
With a full-time University timetable, IELTS examining and looking after JD I don't normally take up any of the fairly frequent offers I get to do private tuition. However, when a good friend of mine asked for a personal favour on behalf of two friends of hers, I said I'd give a try.
So every Saturday morning I meet Sunny [left] and Wendy [right] in an office not far away for a 90 minute Speaking lesson. They are good fun, committed and happy to accept any advice or corrections, so it's quite easy to teach them. And the money is a little bonus, too.
My wonderful Mum turned 80 today. Isn't she looking good? I was able to join her, my Dad and two brothers (and sis-in-law) by Zoom to see Mum watching the video greetings we had put together for her. So many friends and family had contributed to that and the kind words expressed by all were well-deserved. Lovely to (almost) be a part of the day's celebrations. What a woman! Here's to the next 80 years!
Unusually this year, Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival fall on the same day, so there is a full week of holiday throughout China. Apart, that is, from my University where we have just have one day off! They blame COVID, and promise we'll get an extra week in the Winter holiday. But I'm suspicious ...all the other Universities and schools in Kunming have got a full week. Mean!
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