A rather odd birthday today, with Jiajia away on business, Ma-in-law in bed "sick" demanding attention and JD coming off a night of waking, screaming and shouting. We made what we could of it - JD and I shopping for, and then cooking up, a home-made shepherd's pie, followed by a weak rendition of "Happy Birthday" as two wrongly-placed candles on birthday cake slices burned down my age. I opened my one card and scoured social media for anyone who might have remembered my birthday! I've had better days.
It was Ma-in-law's birthday the other day. We celebrated it along with our UK friends, Peter and Judy, who are visiting Kunming once again.
JD thoroughly enjoyed the event, having chosen a present for his WaiPo from a shop, drawn her a card and gleefully tucked into her special Mahjong cake that Ava had ordered. We think Ma-in-law probably enjoyed it too, though a lack of smiles or thank yous always leaves one guessing!
My amazing Dad turned 80 this week and, as well as a celebratory get-together with his church friends last weekend and 60+ cards on his actual birthday, my brothers and I had also arranged a trip up the Shard for afternoon tea with the family. The Shard is Europe's tallest building and quite an imposing sight in the London skyline. They had a great time, by all accounts, and I was really sorry I couldn't be there in person. We even failed to get a Skype connection up. Dad also received a book of 100+ comments, compliments and anecdotes from relatives, friends and ex-work colleagues. A small momento of a life of service to others, good humour and great respect from all who have known him. Happy Birthday, Dad. We're all very proud of you. I have wonderful parents.
JD had lots of fun at his friend Kaiya's birthday party yesterday. He took great delight in trying to smash the piñata open and was very disciplined about not using his hands to eat the crisps-on-a-string! He left with his pass-the-parcel prize safely tucked in his pocket - an eraser! He's not see a real one before, although he regularly uses the eraser icon on the iPad, so he made the connection quite quickly.
JD had a busy, but thoroughly enjoyable, day yesterday. He spent the morning running wildly around the play centre with his two friends, Kaiya and Zayden, while I chatted with their mum Nancy, a university colleague of mine who I get on very well with. Then lunch at "Old MacDonald's" (as JD calls it) and home for a nap. After waking, we were off to Summer's birthday meal. Summer [centre in photo] is the one year old daughter of Kelly [left in photo], with whom I run the Lattitude training. JD was the most enthusiastic singer of "Happy Brithday" once the cake arrived and is already getting very excited about his own birthday in a couple of weeks. First is Jiajia's birthday tomorrow, though. She's in Shenzhen!
We managed to spread JD's birthday celebrations over a whole week, with trips to the museum, the play centre and the the zoo, and a present and a card each day. It meant that JD gradually got the birthday idea and was able to enjoy each gift properly before being wowed by the next one.
This evening, we shared JD's birthday cake with MaoMao and her parents, plus family friends "Dancing Lady" and her son. I've never seen JD as excited as when he suddenly saw MaoMao and the cake. He can sing along to the "Happy Birthday" song now and, somewhat inevitably, ended up with cream all over his face!
Happy Birthday to my wifey who turned forty yesterday. She had a record number of cards (all from UK friends and family, mind!) and was quite moved by the kind words in them. Ma bought a cake and JD learned how to say "Happy Birthday" and enjoyed playing with the candles. Sadly, Ava shows no sign of getting over her 6-month old cough and is planning yet another visit to the hospital this week. Having had some twenty tests, five different courses of anti-biotics, steroids, inhaler, Chinese herbs, Buddhist and Christian prayers - all seemingly to no avail - we wonder what else there is left to try. In the meantime, Happy Birthday dahlin' !!
Andy's second surprise was a belated gift for my 50th Birthday - tickets to a Premiership match; Southampton v Liverpool. So Andy, his son Louie (birthday treat for next week) and I braved torrential rain and bitter cold to take our seats and cheer on the Saints. Well, as an Everton supporter, I didn't want Liverpool to win, right? It was a good match with controversial penalty decisions and a stunning first goal. Sadly the best team lost; 2 v 0 to Liverpool. Great fun though.
"What do you want for Christmas?" my wife asked me a month ago. "A new office chair" I hopefully replied. The various pieces arrived just after Christmas Day and I valiantly tried to assemble it. There seemed to be three screws missing - isn't there always? After some to-ing and fro-ing, Jiajia got the company to send more screws. After a week, new screws arrived - different colour but still the wrong sizes. More angry online exchanges. Finally, the correct screws arrived yesterday and my chair is finally built. Sit down, relax, enjoy.
So here it is. I'm 50. "Officially old" as Esme, my niece, pointed out in a video I watched today. Josh, my nephew, added, "I thought my parents were old, but you....!" Neither comment as gutting as my sister-in-law accidently referring to me as her children's "granddad" before swiftly correcting herself with, "err... I mean uncle"! Great!!
My other brother's family sent this more respectful piccie below:
I'm off to the north of Kunming this afternoon to share a Burger King meal and watch "Interstellar" at the cinema there with friends. Less fun was waking up today to find that our water has been cut off again.
And, after being unable to update my blog for nearly a week because the "powers that be" here recently decide to block Weebly, my wife decided to give me a year's VPN subscription as my birthday present. This is special software which links me with servers that bypass the "Great Firewall of China" and allow me access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and, most importantly, my blog! So, all being well, look out for my occasional visits to Facebook this year too!
And so ends here my list of the fifty craziest things I've found myself doing over the first half-century of my life!
41. Thirty dwarves danced just for me
42. I was within 20cm of a wild hippo
43. I played cards for 24 hours non-stop
44. I danced and sang on top of a school desk in front of an angry teacher
45. I hit Cliff Richard
46. I wrote a speech which was read out in Parliament
47. I climbed a mountain in sub-zero temperatures, in jeans, to visit a Tibetan monastery
48. I own part of a windmill
49. I watched a witch doctor sacrifice a chicken
50. I travelled in Concorde
The penultimate list of the fifty oddest things I can recall doing in my fifty years of life so far:
31. I walked into an off-license dressed as a ghost and asked the shopkeeper if he served spirits
32. I watched two stag beetles having a fight
33. I have visited all 5 Disneylands in the world
34. I touched something which had touched the moon
35. I jumped out of a hot air balloon
36. I had two students in my class who were born within a few minutes of each other to the same mother, but weren’t twins…
37. I visited a gallery devoted to art made by the criminally insane
38. I got lost in an aircraft carrier
39. I won a clay pigeon shooting competition
40. I saw a machine gun being fired inside a building
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