JD, JiaJia and I went to the birthday party of a school friend of JD's this weekend in the same hotel where JiaJia and I got engaged and got married. The kids had a play area and then made three large birthday cakes together. That was followed by a huge buffet. Nice evening.
About a month ago, JD decided he wanted to make a little shop "like mummy's" but for selling toys to his friends. So JiaJia went online and bought a variety of cheap toys (£4 total). JD and I decided on the prices and made boxes and signs for the various items.
Then, after school today, JD and I quickly set up shop outside the main gates. Within minutes a crowd of parents and children were surrounding us to have a look at the little foreigner showing his entrepreneurial skills! JD was quick to explain prices and give them the right change. By the end, 90% of the stock had been sold and JD made a tidy profit of just over £10!
JD and I went to a classmate's birthday celebration yesterday. We drove a little way out of the city to a large recreational area with restaurants, a sand pit, swings and these rather cool Mongolian yurts! The focus of the "party" was to climb a nearby mountain. 18 of us set off but only 5 made it to the top, including JD and I.
The views over Kunming were pretty impressive but emphasised once again, just what a polluted city it is - fairly clean by Chinese city standards, but still covered in a layer of smog.
By the time we returned down the mountain, we were pretty hungry. Undeterred by the goat carcasses and dead fish in the tanks, we really enjoyed a tasty banquet - 20 of us around a huge "lazy susan" rotating table. The kids then continued to play in the sand and on the swings followed by a birthday cake. JD is the youngest in his class - still 5½ while others are turning 6 - but he is still one of the "playmakers" when he gets together with his friends!
After a week at home with a nasty cough I finally got JD back to Kindergarten yesterday morning, only to be told he "still had a fever" (despite the nurse's thermometer showing a very normal reading of 37ºC) and so I had to take him home again! I cancelled his planned evening Halloween party and we spent another day together.
We decided to build a huge Halloween Den that he and I could both sleep in. So last night we had sausage sandwiches, doughnuts and sweets before some scary stories and off to sleep. I had to leave the den in the night with cramp, but JD slept on until morning!
JD's Kindergarten do have an annoying habit of sending out homework with very tight deadlines (...almost as if they don't plan their lessons in advance!?)
So last Sunday morning we got a text saying that all students had to visit a "Memorial to student martyrs" in ShiDa University and provide photographic evidence you were there. So JiaJia, JD and I jumped on my e-bike for what we hoped would be a quick "in-photo-out" visit. But we hadn't bargained on the trainee volunteer guides lying in wait. And then, when 5five other students from JD's class turned up, the whole visit turned into a massive game of chase! Still, homework done (until the next one)!
JD's been off school this last week with a nasty cough. But I took him back in today, as he's feeling better, only to be told by the nurses who check the kids' health on arrival that he still has a fever (despite their own thermometers registering a perfectly normal 37ºC).
So I've had to take him home and cancel the Halloween party he was due to attend. Instead, we have built a huge indoor Halloween den where he and I slept last night complete with snacks, sweets and ghost stories! Scary?
JD seems much happier at school these days. Never a tear as I leave him there anymore - barely a hug these days! JiaJia attended a parent-teacher meeting the other day. They said that JD is academically just above average, but he is much-loved and his "personality" is "top of the class" - he cares, shares and has a strong sense of right and wrong. I'll settle for that. Facts and figures can come later and, after all, he does study in what is, effectively, his second language. This is his last year at Kindergarten and we are already looking at ways to get him into a decent Primary School (not easy when the rules keep changing and everybody wants a backhander!).
We are back in China and the unpacking is pretty well finished. As you might expect, it is a little hard to adjust back to life in a different country and culture after six weeks in the UK. The hawking and spitting noises in Kunming Airport's toilets quickly brought it all back though!
JD has been seemingly unaffected by the switch, just enjoying seeing his old toys again and sleeping in his own bed. He also showed no signs of jet lag. I woke at 4am one morning but otherwise have been alright. JiaJia though has had a few days of going to sleep at 5am and finally waking at midday. She's never the best sleeper, but this time it's taking her longer to adjust to China time. She is already back at work. I have a further week's holiday, while JD has two weeks vacation left.
We found ourselves in Edinburgh during their annual Arts Festival - the largest in Europe. So we spent our last morning walking around the centre of the city enjoying the street artists and teasers for many shows. We actually managed to catch an hour-long play based on the "Taming of the Shrew" performed by teenagers and adapted as family viewing. JD loved it, especially when we met the cast outside afterwards and they pointed out that JD had called out more answers than the rest of the audience combined! JD's favourite memory though will undoubtedly be meeting a "real" fairy in the street and having fairy dust sprinkled over him. He was disappointed not to be able to fly afterwards. We had to make do with the train back to England instead.
We really enjoyed our day with the Sams today.
Aled is a qualified tennis coach and gave JD a free lesson at his club in the morning, and then teemed up with him at table-tennis in their garden in the afternoon. JD loved it.
A walk through the woods followed by an ice-cream and a delicious barbecue rounded off a terrific day.
A terrific day in the capital today, starting at the London Eye and wandering down the Thames. As planes flew in formation overhead to celebrate 100 years of the RAF, JD was more interested in popping huge bubbles blown by a street artist while JiaJia was busy taking in a Picasso exhibit at the Tate Modern.
Later we explored the HMS Belfast before heading for my Aunt's house for a meal and sleep-over. Open-topped bus and river cruise tomorrow.
JD and I enjoyed a very relaxed and, in many ways, un-Chinese wedding last Saturday. My old friend Lilly Pu married Cedic - a French guy - in a lovely restaurant next to the Green Lake. We arrived at 2pm as instructed and I was pleasantly surprised to find my British work colleague Tom and his Chinese fiancé there too. Neither of us realised we both knew Lilly. It was good to have an extended chat with him as we usually only meet briefly for work maters. Nice guy. JD soon made friends with 2-3 Chinese children and spent the afternoon running around and playing with his toys. Later, there was a short ceremony, some very nice food, and the wedding cake.
What to do with a five-year old on a rainy day, with JiaJia in Shenzhen? Cooking! So JD and I planned what we'd need for our "dream meal", got our umbrellas out and headed to the market. JD can interact with the locals more fluently than I can these day (embarrassing!) so he did most of the bargaining. Then home for an hour of food preparation and 45 minutes of cooking. Voila! Lasagne, peas and corn, mushrooms, fresh home-made bread, gravy and orange juice. Very tasty. Well done, son!
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