A fake French weekend!
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After our lovely week off it was back to work with fresh enthusiasm & lots of hard work, eager to get going again & get some appointments, so a busy & productive week.
You've heard us talk about InterNations & all the events we go to, they have 8000 members in Beijing and at the usual parties every other week you get around 250-300 people. There are sub groups, such as bowling which Andy runs with another guy, and things like hiking, badminton squash, photography, wine tasting etc. You’ll probably remember me having set up a women only social networking group where we had our first event at a hotel, with 10 people which was lovely. The members have been growing, now at 93, so I posted a new event to meet for Coffee & Waffles at a place called Maan Coffee, Waffles & Toast which is lovely
Thursday was a return to the Capital Club for the wine tasting with Ray, we hadn’t been for a while so it was nice, a good selection of wines as usual & the quiz where once again…. we didn’t win!
Friday evening & over the weekend, one of the big Carrefour’s here had a wine festival. 20% of all wine and on Friday food & bands / dancers. It was all on the top floor and like a massive warehouse that you’d find in France, with about 30 wine tasting tables. You could taste it in little plastic thimbles, but we did what most did & buy a cheap wine glass & be cheeky with the servers to give you a good pour!
The other day we were talking to a friend who showed us some pictures of a trip outside of the city to some lavender fields, followed by a 'French’ style Chateau in the countryside, so we decided to look into going. He’s the consul of the InterNations wine tasting group so decided to advertise it as an event to see if we could get a small bus there on Saturday, all of a sudden within a few days, we ended up with 50 people & a waiting list! And amazingly, 45 of those actually turned up!
So a very early start, met at the bus at 7.30am and begun what we’ve agreed is our best & most fun day we’ve had so far in Beijing! The lavender fields are about 2 hrs away towards the Simitai part of the great wall which is supposed to be very impressive, we did catch a glimpse of some of it from the coach, and it was very high in parts, on really jagged mountains. The scenery was stunning on the drive & so nice to get out of the city on a perfect blue sky day, although a little chilly certainly in the morning
We arrived at the fields called Purple Paradise http://www.lovexiangcao.com/ and you may or may not know that lavender doesn’t flower this late, but hey this is China & nothing is real…… so we have fields of flowers belonging to the lavender family which were very pretty, lots of fields set alongside a river, and strange buildings such as a little greek style church, a white dome, big white words spelling out ‘LOVE’, the river as if you were along the Seine, and beautiful tall poplar trees, and a sunflower field although they were dead sadly, so you couldn’t help but be a little confused about it all & had to remind yourself that you were, in fact, in BEIJING!!!! We had a good walk around with plenty of photo opportunities, and ended up sat in wooden huts over the river in the warm sunshine, we’d all brought picnic lunches, and shared bread, cheese, wine, and fortunately one guy with us made chocolate cheesecake. All very nice indeed, and a really fun group of people, many who we knew plus some new friends.
Back on the bus, having stopped off to buy some little lavender bags, and another hour to the Chateauhttp://www.tourofbeijing.net/ & we may end up there for an hour…… luckily they let us get off the bus & watch, every time the police turned away we crept closer & closer, then this poor little old lady who had ignored the road closure cycled through so of course she got a round of applause from us, and then when told to get off by the Police started really shouting at them, it took 3 of them to wrestle her off her bike & get her to walk to the side!! She wasn’t having any of it bless her! Then the race came through with its huge entourage of support vehicles, very impressive to see, not quite the Tour de France, but hey it was a French weekend! Managed a few piccies of the cyclists & cheered them on their way as they whizzed by, so quite a nice little bonus for our day out!
Back on the bus and in 5 minutes we were at the Chateau, http://www.changyuafip.com/ which apparently they re-created & took brick by brick from France, and because it’s in China, where not a lot is real, the wine wasn’t even made there – it was for show!! But hey, we had a guided tour, and again plenty of photo opportunities and some wine tasting, guess what…… it wasn’t very nice….!
As if the day hadn’t been random enough, we turned up at a Muslim restaurant near us, hammered, and took over one of the long tables. Masses of food, loads of beer, and entertained on stage by a band, and a belly dancer
Seriously though, it was such a laugh with so many cool people from around the world, all there to meet people, have fun & enjoy themselves, haven’t laughed so much in ages, face ache by the end of the day! Hungover the next morning, surprise surprise….. and for a change, it was the man of the house who held the moral high ground by going to play squash for 2 hours in the morning, whilst I stayed in bed recovering! Oh and have I heard the last of it?! NO!!!
That’s all for now!
(PS. there are loads more photo's which I'll put on Facebook)