Hello people – after a 2 week break spent in Hong Kong visiting my daughter and an aside trip to Beijing to explore and climb The Great Wall I am back safely tucked up in The Meadow and enjoying a few completed items finished while I was away. The boys almost finished the ensuite with just a couple of small things left to do – hand towel rings and a couple of paintings to go up. We are very happy with it and it’s lovely having so much room after sharing a small sink for the past 4 months! I also LOVE the soft closing loo and drawers – no more arguments of the seat up/seat down variety! The mantelpiece for the new fire also got put up and now that the nights are getting (very) chilly the fire is belting out most of the time. Thank goodness we did it when we did. A Jetmaster is well worth the expense for efficiency and atmosphere and most definitely for the IMMEDIATE heat! We will have to have a go at lighting the wood fire in the dining room soon before our guests arrive for the June long weekend. The walk in dressing room should go in next week and then we can officially unpack lots of our boxes. The rest will finally get opened once the library is installed which is my next project…… So I’m a happy little vegemite and all the more so after spending a lovely week with Lauren. Despite the fact that she was working (and organising an art fair which started the day I left!) we managed to spend a lot of time together. I would meet her for lunch every day and do my own thing in between and we made the most of her long weekend by flying to Beijing on Thursday night arriving at midnight and the same on our return to HK on Sunday – although this time round we were delayed by 3 hours making it a 3.30am arrival back at her apartment. Not ideal as she had to go to work at 7.30am…..
The view from Lauren’s apartment
It’s a long way up…..
All in all Beijing was a surprise. I was expecting drab blocks of grey cement buildings and terrible smog but we got 25 degrees and blue skies and sunshine! The old town where we were staying within walking distance of Tienanmen Square was delightful and a bit of serenity within a hutong. Courtyard hotels proliferate around here with their tranquil inner courtyards often with a pond where you could be forgiven for thinking you were anywhere other than a huge city with a population of 11.5 million! You could tell in some ways that it was a communist country – no Google, facebook, instagram etc but in other ways you could be in a modern western country. Cute little quirky cafes, takeaway frozen cocktails on sale, cutting edge sunglasses shops, coffee shops and wine bars all alongside old guys with rickshaws or tuk tuks, peking duck restaurants, cultural palaces from hundreds of years ago and Tianemen Square, literally a huge square with no obvious mention of what ensued in 1989. Shops galore – Zara, Gap, Forever 21 – you name it they have it. Lauren’s colleague Ashleigh who had lived in Beijing for 3 years gave us a 7 page to do list of restaurants, cultural sights, bars and markets. She put us in touch with a great driver who spoke English and didn’t drive like a maniac and Terrence with his big smile was there to greet us at midnight on arrival as well as drive us out to the Wall, He was happy to chat or be silent, whatever we wanted and if anyone ever goes there and wants a great driver I would be happy to pass on his details. Ashleigh’s printout which included the chinese words was a godsend and we were forever thrusting it into the face of taxi or rickshaw drivers in the hope they could take us to ‘THE’ place to be in any given circumstance. Sometimes we sat in what was basically a baked bean can and put all our trust into a toothless 70 year old who reckoned he could get us there. Funnily enough, despite the low key form of transport they often whipped out their brand new iphone 6 to check up on the directions!
All that’s between us and death is a baked bean tin…..
So in summary I was very glad we decided to have an aside trip to Beijing and have a brand new experience and despite 4 flights in 7 days I am glad I crammed in as much as I could. Next time I see Loz it will be here in The Meadow at Xmas and I can’t wait to show her some of MY beautiful part of the world. When I drove into the bends at Kiama I was so happy to be back in the green, serene dairy country of my little part of the South Coast and sitting on my veranda later that day I was so grateful for all I have in this new country life of mine.