Fun at the Goose & Duck Ranch
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We survived the fireworks! Just one more noisy night, so much that we couldn't hear the film we were watching properly, and had to shut the curtains because of all the flashes! That was on the 6th night, bringing it all to a close, although I think Sunday is another end to it, so there may be some more then for the lantern festival.
The day after NYE we had a nice dinner at a restaurant nearby with Helen & her daughter, Helen is the founder of the Migrant Children Foundation. We met to discuss putting on a charity dinner at the restaurant.
Monday we’d planned to go to one of the traditional Temple Fairs in the city, part of the new year celebrations
Monday evening, we met some friends for dinner & went for a scrummy Beijing Duck dinner across the road from us. We met them when we went to Tianjin, as Andy had been chatting to Chris through Internations, and we had dinner with them then. They decided to come to Beijing for a couple of days & stay at the hotel around the corner, so we met them for the evening which was nice catching up again.
We had the week off for Chinese NY, so a few of us had discussed going away for a few days, so I arranged a trip out to a ranch for 3 days, Tuesday – Thursday, there was a group of 12 of us
We had a Chinese lunch with a few beers which was lovely, loads of food. Then in the afternoon decided to try out a few activities, firstly go karting – great fun, an outdoor track, there was still a lot of snow around on the sides, so a few spins into the snow gave us a laugh! They only had a few karts so we took it in turns, then they brought out a double kart which was good fun too. Some karts were faster than others, causing frustrations amongst the competitive ones!!
After that a wander around the yard, seeing some farmyard animals, and some ostriches. Next activity was archery, something I’d never done before, so another first for me
Headed back to the ranch for a few beers in the bar, then in the evening had a western bbq for dinner, the food just kept coming & was very nice. After that we chilled out in the bar again playing pool, cards etc.
On the Wednesday we decided to go to the Great Wall as we were so close to it, a few of us climbed different parts, or just wandered around the base. A few of us decided to climb up to it, whereas before we’d got the cable car up to the top. This was very hard work, and I realised how unfit I’ve become since moving here! What with this, and a good climb along the middle section of the wall, we were exhausted! It was lovely though to see the wall in the winter with some snow still around, and it was a nice sunny day, although a little hazy. There are 3 options to get back down – walk (no thank you), cable car (done that) or the toboggan run which we’d tried to do before but it was too busy, so we went for it this time – it was awesome!! You could get some real speed up (unless you were stuck behind someone like me who was a little cautious!!). An exhilarating ride, and a great way to come back down!! A recovery beer sitting outside in the sun was in order, before going for some food
The ranch had built a snow play area, and had a snow machine for a snow slope which you slid down on big blow up rubber rings. And what fun that was….. haven’t laughed so much in ages!!! Felt like we were kids again, running up the hill with our rings & sliding back down again! With such a group of us, we kept coming up with original ideas to slide down together, in a row, a snake like line, or all surrounding me in the middle holding hands, then spinning out half way down, or who could get furthest to the bottom…. and so on….!!! Hours were spent, and plenty of laughs, and falls! I came out a couple of times hitting the wall at the bottom, and ended up with a sore ankle & a very badly bruised thigh!
Back to the bar for beer, then Chinese for dinner again, another great meal with plenty of beer. The food just kept coming. Lots of bar games after too, apart from a small group of Chinese people, we were the only ones there & kind of took over the place! More cards, pool, ping pong, air football etc. until the small hours.
We’d been talking about the fact that it had been pancake day, so the following morning at breakfast (Valentines day) instead of romantic breakfasts for two, a few of us took over the kitchen & made pancakes & omelettes! The staff were more than happy at these crazy laowai (foreigners) taking over and even learnt a thing or two!!
Another session on the snow slopes, more fun, more falls, more laughs
A fab few days, a great group of people, 6 different nationalities, and a nice break in the countryside, escaping the city, and getting some clean fresh air did us all the world of good.
Being Valentines day, we decided to go out for dinner in the evening to the Blue Frog, a western restaurant which does good food. Came back to watch a DVD but the fireworks were very noisy so it was difficult to hear, and I was falling asleep…. I blame all that fresh air!!!
Friday Andy had a work appointment in the morning, so I went off to a Spring Festival Fair at Chaoyang Park, quite different to the Temple Fair the other day. It was just a big busy festival, with a stage, and lots of food stalls. Nothing particularly traditional really, just a lot of people…. After wandering around for a while, having some Churros & ice cream, I decided to take the quiet exit out of the park and have a Starbucks to recover away from the crowds!
In the evening we had a few early evening beers with a group of people in the First Floor, followed by the biggest pizza’s you have ever seen at the Tube Station, 2 massive ones between 7 of us, and still plenty left over
Saturday I met my friend Tracey for coffee & lunch, then a few of us spent the evening in the Irish Bar, the James Joyce enjoying a few beers listening to some Irish Music played live by a group who had performed at the Spring Festival Fair, and some amazing Irish dancers who just danced randomly in the bar! A great atmosphere & it made an Irish bar in Beijing feel like an Irish bar!!
Sunday after a lazy morning, we went for lunch at a cheap Chinese restaurant, we realised that living in China, we hadn’t actually eaten that much Chinese food – so many choices, and western offerings, we decided to go Chinese more often, plus it’s so cheap!! Andy went out for a few beers in the evening, whilst I caught up with Mum & Dad on Skype which was lovely.
After struggling at the ranch & on the wall realising that I am terribly unfit right now, it was time to stop making excuses & do something about it…… I tried an exercise group called 'Heyrobics’, a Swedish run & designed fitness group, where the instructors wear pink shorts & a yellow top, I have considered becoming an instructor but don’t think the colours would go with my hair ;) !!
They do various things, running, circuits, aerobics, core exercises, so I went with a friend to a starter-medium class to try it out. Great fun, a good class, a little old fashioned like the aerobics I used to teach many years ago, and the realisation that I really am unfit….. Felt good afterwards though, cycled there & back on my new bike. I’d had a bit of a back ache on the Sunday, but felt ok on the Monday.
Tuesday was the British Club coffee morning, a casual one at a Costa Coffee which was nice, then a lunch meeting which was a first appointment which went well.
In the evening I met a friend at a new bistro to look at using it for a venue for my Internations womens event, really lovely place so will sort something out for that soon. I cycled there & back, on the way home my back was really sore & uncomfortable, by the time I got home I was in a lot of pain & couldn’t even take my boots off. No idea what I’ve done, maybe overdoing it at the ranch, or when I fell out of the ring on the snow slope I jarred my back, Heyrobics making it worse maybe, but it has been really bad. Have worked from home the rest of the week, had acupuncture (for the first time) on Wednesday which really helped, and again on Thursday, so now have some bruises on my arms & legs after the needles!
Yesterday we were invited to Helen’s house (Migrant Children Foundation) for dinner, and to meet her husband. He’s away a lot & is an oil rig manager, so generally works month on month off, so we hadn’t met him before. It was a lovely evening, their son & daughter were there too & we all got on really well, a very nice homely apartment, and some great food – chicken, veg, roast potatoes & gravy! How happy can a roast potato make you feel?!?!?! Yum yum! Fruit salad to follow, and a cheese board, plenty of wine & beer, then plied with whiskey & Bailey’s & Ferrero Rocher to finish! Somehow after that we popped down the the local bar called Bang Bang for a final drink, before heading home….!
Temperatures have hit 9 degrees today, and next week a mixture of between 3 & 16 degrees, so things are definitely on the up. Today has been sunny & very pleasant, so a bit of a longer walk today to get me some exercise, chilling out now before bowling tonight
Congratulations to my cousin Rachel & Dave, who gave birth this week to baby Oscar, weighing 8lb9oz, fantastic news, and a real cutie looking at the photo! Can’t wait to meet him.
Happy Birthday to my lovely Mum who was 60 yesterday, and is celebrating with Dad & Lou in Brighton this weekend, hope you’re having a lovely time and wish we were there too. Funny that 5 years ago I was texting Mum happy birthday from the Great Wall, when I was here on holiday!!
That’s all from the Perry household for now, catch up again soon!