Back to work, back to normal

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Monday, January 14, 2013

Hello again!

Hope your new years have got off to a good start. Just noticed on Facebook a few snow reports from the UK! Just what you want to wake up to on a Monday morning!! No more snow for us, and it's a little milder than when we last wrote, when I say mild, I mean in + figures rather than minus. Up to +5 on Friday, but there is a bit of snow on tomorrows forecast.

Anyway, enough about the weather! All good here, we left you on the 3rd of Jan last, where we found a lovely little Italian restaurant in the backstreets of where we live, just behind our favourite Irish bar. Had heard about it before, and decided to hunt for it. It’s one of those hidden gems that you hope to know about when you live overseas. It’s a very cosy place, fantastic fresh Italian food, they were making the pasta in front of us. The best lasagna ever (in Beijing, of course it doesn’t beat my own!!!), very reasonable too, and we’ve even had a home delivery from them since it was that good!!

On the 4th, we went back to work which was a little strange just for the day, thinking it was Monday, then remembering that it was the weekend again! The Chinese had to work the weekend to compensate for the new year days off, but our office doesn’t do that thankfully. I had a quiet night in with a film, whilst Andy met his best mate Al, who sadly moves onto Kazakhstan soon.

Saturday I met my friend Tracey, she used to work at Disney English, teaching young Chinese kids English through the world of Disney, but had just resigned & been offered 2 terms at an International  school which is fab, she now works Mon-Fri instead of evenings & weekends so it means I’ll get to see a bit more of her. We went for a wander to a new posh shopping / office complex with some art displays, then had a coffee & a wander around the shops, a really nice girlie afternoon. Came back nearer home & met Andy for a drink in California Grapes, before settling back down for the evening at home.

Sunday we went for a wander in a different direction, in seach of the new Slow Boat Brewery – which is a tap room that’s just opened up in a hutong. Andy had one of his boys nights at their previous pop up taproom which was cool. Finally we found it, a great place, with some lovely micro brewery ales including a Christmas Ale, a coffee Stout, a vanilla Stout and many more. Sampled a few & we will go back, they are doing a cheese & beer tasting on Sunday, right up our street! Lou, you’d have been proud of me, one of them I had was 6.5% Andy tried an 8.5%!!!

The following week was a British Club morning for me, with one of the Spa’s in attendance offering free mini massages & manicures, I managed to have both which was very nice & met some more new people who have just joined. Andy had an informal bowling night, practicing for the next bowling sessions.

Wednesday I decided to be a bit more adventurous in the kitchen & cooked a chilli, rather than our usual stir fry which was very tasty I must say. Still have no oven although have  been thinking about getting a table top one still. Andy is busy on the hob as we speak, chicken stir fry. I actually miss cooking, we were so organized in the UK ordering our food on line, planning our food week ahead, using the slow cooker etc. Here it’s not so easy to get everything you want (without paying a price for it), and not having a cooker, and time as well as we’re often out & not sure what we’re up to until it happens.

Weds evening  we went to the theatre with 2 friends. Ray at work had some free tickets given to him for promoting the show, Man of La Mancha. It’s a Broadway classic, about the writer Don Miguel De Cervantes in jail awaiting death                 during the Spanish Inquisition, and telling the story of Don Quixote to his fellow prisoners. It was by an amateur group of Chinese, with the play in English. Very lucky, our seats were VIP so we were in the front row!!  It was great, and we really enjoyed the evening, recognising a couple of songs even!!!

Thursday evening I went to a new Internations group called the Education Exchange. A monthly meeting for teachers, and anyone involved or having an interest in education. I still have an interest so it was good to go, but also for networking opportunities. An enjoyable evening at the Brussels bar, meeting Andy too after he’d played squash.

Friday night was the first Internations party of the year at Face Bar, a really lovely venue that we hadn’t been to before. A great night, but someone had a few too many Long Island ice teas….. she’s got red hair, that will give you a clue….!!

Recovery lunch on Saturday with Andy & Al, then Internations bowling in the evening – so a full on Internations few days, what with meeting a hotelier during the week too for my next ladies night on Friday. Bowling was fun, familiar & new faces, and the usual after party at Franks bar, but I bailed out as I was shattered, whilst Andy went to Spark club for a friend’s Birthday. His turn to drink too much ;)

You know that we've spoken about the pollution before, and the 'safe' levels, which is rarely is here. Saturday reached a record, 800. Shocking. Safe levels of particles are 0-50. 400 is quite common here on a bad day, and we thought the highest readings were 500. The 'official' Chinese measurements were in the 400's, but the US Embassy publishes the correct readings, for which China is not grateful for...... really bad. It's down to about 350 again today, and pretty grim out there, can't see too much out the window.

Sunday I met my friend Gina for coffee & breakfast which was very nice, a relaxing afternoon then tried out a new restaurant in the evening. I went to a Viva women’s networking event in December for their Christmas party, and a cup cake decorating demonstration & competition. I sat with 3 other girls, none of us had met before, and we came second winning at 50 pds voucher for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Yunan food which is from the far south west of China, very different food, lots of goats cheese, some sweeter dishes, with pineapple like sweet & sour, but not luminous orange like you’d get in the UK!! The 4 of us met and had a really lovely evening, a nice group and lots of interesting conversation, good food & a couple of beers. Even better, we’ve sussed out some good bus routes now & this one went from outside our apartment, straight to the hutong where the restaurant is, all for the grand price of 4p!!! Andy meanwhile caught up with a couple of friends for a beer.

Had my first British Club committee meeting this morning in a Starbucks, it was very good & really feel like I’m part of the group now, and contributing, such a nice group of ladies too and lots to look forward to for the group, guest speakers, outings etc. I’m not official photographer for the group which is cool.

Back to work this afternoon, the boss is in town and the company have re-designed their website and their investment monitoring system, ready to launch soon. It all looks great, and there is lots of marketing to go with the launch, so should be really good for us & give us lots of new leads. We had a training session on it for the afternoon, and learnt lots which was good. Andy has a couple of appointments coming up & some good new leads, I’m still getting myself out there & learning lots as I go!

Let us know how you all are, we still love hearing from you.

Tracy & Andy

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Sarah hobday on

Hello both, lovely to hear your news from New York! Off to experience the sights tomorrow. Catch up soon. Lol x

Sal on

Hiya Trace and Andy "What ya upto? " - missing your blogs! ;-) xx

tracy-andy-pez on

Ah Sal, glad we're being missed & people are still reading!!! Will post our latest tales soon, promise!!! xx

Mary on

...heard about the chinese pollution levels....why?...Because Milan isn't the healthiest city to live in either!! It's 3rd in the Italy ratings....xx
But...everythiong else makes up for it...ha ha

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