wendy house.

‘I got a house with a window and doors, I’ll show you mine if you show me your’s…gotta let me in…hey hey hey, I’m a wolf today’

Whatever happened to glorious B*witched?!

As a little girl, I always loved to play inside my wendy house. There are many old photographs of me peeking out of the little windows covered in white chocolate. So tonight when I saw my little ballet girls peeking out of the play house window I couldn’t resist. I crawled through the tiny door and sat with them. They giggled at this big giant climbing into their miniscule space, and as they nibbled on some post-ballet snacks- weird orange jelly stuff, we watched the sun set from our wee house. I left them to play and from the office I could hear them talking (in Chinese of course) about the pretty stars in the sky and pointing at the aeroplane flying off into another world.

Adorable innocent minds. Squealing at the sight of hundreds of flys flying above their play house. From my little window they looked like dragonflies, as they caught the sparkling light, sent down from the new stars twinkling high in the winter sky.

This was a moment of pure innocence and beauty. A tutu, a bunny-eared ni-ni, a dragonfly, a wendy house and a Chinese sunset, intertwined with the solstice eclipse of the moon which only happens once in a rainbow moon. Like a jaffa cake in Scotland, the moon was so far from China.

full moon.

The full moon is out again and she is beautiful. In her luminous shadow ladies and men dance in the streets. Across the wide expanse of pavement their arms flutter and glide, like swans on a crystal ice lake. They are the epitomy of contentment and elegance. As my bus crosses their path I can’t help but smile in their direction. Nothing phases them. Come rain or shine, they will dance to their heart’s desire. It is a beauty that can be seen daily in China. I joined in last year on a festive night in december. Ladies dancing in an open park. I jumped in and tried to glide alongside them. I was more the ‘ugly duckling’ as I couldn’t quite pick up their easy-going fragility in the short time I participated.
Mahjong by moonlight. Two old men stooped over the antique table in the foyer. The light from the moon shines down in one slender beam, easing through the crack in the door to light their game. They look like excited kids, playing a game of battleship. I adore coming home to this sight. Weekends in my building are always bustling with men playing mahjong, ladies playing cards and kids playing make-believe games in the trees with the kittens. Tonight the two old men looked so majestic. Old Chinese men’s images are the wisest I ever saw.

Now, blue nails. A mint face mask, with a cinnamon candle, a pink plastic cup of camomile tea and a new book by Banana Yoshimoto.

 A delve into Japan straight from the centre of a Chinese city.

the elegance of the hedgehog.

‘contented sips of tea’

I highly recommend that you read ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Barbery. Another writer who captures those little beauties of life right there on the page. Every chapter is like an equisite hand-crafted, love-heart shaped chocolate. So many words of wisdom, such intelligent outlooks and so much beauty is contained within this amazingly inspiring book.

I love books. I love reading until I can no longer make sense of the words. I love waking up knowing that my journey to work will not only be spent bustling through crowds of hundreds and thousands of businessmen, but also spent reading my book. Whatever book that may be. This week it just happened to be The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and what a joyful reading week it has been.

This book took me back in time to visit my past. It made my boyfriend get grumpy with me for being too sentimental, too nostalgic (I blame the full-moon…always). But I couldn’t help it. Especially when I was reading the ‘summer rain’ section. I was instantly transported back in time to a summer of 16 year olds, beach parties, strawberry ribena on a grassy slope, barbequed haribo sweets on toast, skateboarding into a forest the moment the summer rain was let loose. A time of freedom, endless days of beauty, forever lasting.
I am a very nostalgic person, but I am slowly learning to love the present moment as much as the past. It’s just the past was so damn fun, and sometimes, being a working girl, well, it’s just not as fun.

I will now dedicate ten minutes everyday to capturing something beautiful. Of course it may take longer than ten minutes because sometimes everything is beautiful. But I believe there are tiny things lurking out there, just waiting to be seen for the beauty they contain. I want to see them. And then I will tell you, and even if you are having a terrible day, maybe you will also be able to imagine what I am seeing, and then maybe, just maybe, you will be content, just for a moment…or two.

 If all else fails, have some tea and cake and read ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog.’

my new Murakami.

David Mitchell is wonderful. Read him if you love the little things in life. He writes so carefully and yet with such ease. Every single beauty is captured in his writing. I admire his work. One of my favourites from ‘Black Swan Green’-
‘Run across a field of daisies at warp speed but keep your eyes on the ground. It’s ace. Petalled stars and dandelion comets streak the green universe. Moran and I got to the barn at the far side, dizzy with intergalactic travel.’

a lovely week in Guangzhou.

Receiving special parcels from lovely people is always going to make for a glorious day. Especially two days in a row. Both containing ALOT of chocolate. Then to stumble upon a gorgeous little street next to an art school, filled with second-hand books…in English…and clothes upon clothes of delight. Fate? that the two things I wanted to buy, both very expensive, were found in a second-hand store on this lovely street. Both sitting on one shelf, waiting for me. I believe. Fake. But that’s OK. It’s the same thing underneath.

A lunch alone. But not alone. Apple offers me food and makes friends with me. She is six years old. She is cute. Two older men join my table. Lunch time. The busiest time of day in China. We share our teapot. They have kind faces and I quickly try to create as many possible phrases in my head to chat to them with. They speak English. Extremely well. One studied in Australia. They ask me questions. In English. I reply in Chinese. This is a game we play alot in China. Irony? I was sweating under my four layers. I am losing my Scottish strength for dealing with the cold. But then put me in a situation with strangers and Chinese vocabulary and pressure to use chopsticks well, and I sweat, no matter how cold it is.

Running into the cold air soon revives me and first-time fake tree is purchased. I carry her and protect her from the crowds. We make it home in one piece, only a few branches bent.
Sitting here now, wearing twelve red bows, a silver star on her head, tiny twinkling white lights, she looks beautiful. My first tree by myself. My first fake tree. But my second Christmas in China. An interesting story that will be, no doubt.
Merry Christmas to you.

let’s jump into the grey city.

 Before I tell you this little story, you should know that I have already done ‘the highest bungee jump in the whole wide world’ so I am not scared of anything….

I had been living in Guangzhou for 6months last year and I never once heard of any bungee jump. I went to the top of BaiYun mountain twice and no-one ever told me about it. Do I look like the kind of girl who wouldn’t bungee jump? Apparently so.

Anyway my friend asked me if I would like to bungee jump here in Guangzhou and I thought..why not?! So I did a little research and even though it was only a quarter of the size of the highest one in the world, I still decided to do it.

That was until my friend told me that when he did it last year the bungee guy was busy smoking a cigarette and literally pushed him off the edge. Charming. This put me off. I cherish my life.

But being a good sport, I decided to accompany my friend and take some photos of him doing it. So we arrived at the bungee jump on a very grey day. Hardcore disco music, 1990circa was thumping through the trees. We passed a carousel which I thought looked fun. Then we saw the crane. No-one was jumping. Just my friend.

I couldn’t resist. I mean even though I reaaaally didn’t want to, I still had to. I mean if you love adrenaline, its quite impossible to just go ahead and watch your friend do it and not do it yourself. So I decided to go first. I signed my life away in Chinese, got laughed at for wearing a dress and got offered a pair of HUGE men’s working trousers. No thanks. I’d risk wearing a dress….

So I ran up to the platform trying not to think about what I was about to do. I’ve done crazy things before, but at least they were instructed in ENGLISH. There was no faffing about. This bungee was straight to the point. They threw the harness over me, left me to tighten it…and asked me to follow them along the platform. Random mime activities were acted out along the way, such as pointing at eyes and making popping motions….nope, I don’t wear contacts. You get the picture. Very amusing.

I decided to have my harness tied in an extremely odd way. I thought it would be safer if they tied it around my waist. Today, as I write this, I realise that was an extremely bad idea. I ended up hanging like a dog in mid-air, and now have mild whiplash and strangely bruised legs. Anyway back to the story….

The guy at the end was trying to explain to me in Chinese that I have to attach the safety rope at the end of my bungee BY MYSELF. Sorry WHAT?!! He mimed sending a rope down with a clip, which I have to try and catch as it passes by me in mid-air, grab it and clip it onto my harness. Otherwise I will die. Super.

So I thought what the hell, let’s DO this. There really was no playing around, this was business time. They pushed me to the edge, and I said a prayer, grabbed onto the edge and started screaming WAAAAIT in Chinese. They were very impatient. But seriously, unlike my last bungee where I had friends cheering, bungee guys consoling me and encouraging me in ENGLISH, well…this time it was just me. Me and the dirty, murky, death water lying straight below me. I tried to calculate that if the rope snapped, at least I would fall into the water. I realised there could be a few dead bodies already in there, but the more I looked, the more I realised chances of actually landing in the ‘pool’ were slim.

I made the bungee men check all my straps and ropes and whatever else they attach to me to make me come back up alive. I peeked over the edge, closed my eyes, asked not to be judged…and jumped.

It’s a hard feeling to describe. It does feel like a suicide act. I mean you are throwing yourself from an extremely high height, and before the bungee kicks in, that moment of free-falling is the scariest moment of your life. When I eventually opened my eyes I had about 3seconds of free fall left, and I thought this is it, this is death. Chinese tourists laughing to my left, grey, still city to my right, murky death waters below me. So I looked up. I looked and searched for the clouds, a star, anyone who could help me. Why do I do these things to myself?

Then I reached the best part of bungee jumping. The mixture of nerves, adrenaline, complete fear and simultaneous relaxation merged together and I entered the meditative state. Just me. Hanging from a rope. Like an upside down dog. In my dress. But so calm. Unlike Bloukrans, I heard no birds or ocean, but I still felt peaceful. And once again I started humming. Possibly reassuring myself that I AM alive. Possibly embodying the peace of dangling in mid-air, like a bird. Free. Alone. Hanging from a string.

Then I was disturbed. They sent the rope that would save my life down. It was like a game of cat mouse, as I kept trying to reach out and grab the rope, and it kept swinging further away. Eventually I grabbed it. Shaking made it extemely difficult to clip it onto my harness, but I succeeded. Then the ascent began. I slowly got pulled upwards. It was painful. I became tangled in the ropes and I was clinging on for dear life. When I got near the top I started squealing ‘ahhhh help meeee’ in English. And they clearly understood. They pulled me back onto land. Shaking I ran off along the platform, desperate to touch solid ground.

Despite the terror, the fear of death…it was fun. I love to hate activities like this. There is no other feeling like the feeling you achieve after bungee jumping. And it sure is amusing to jump in a place where you only understand 50% of the directions given to you.

If you are in Guangzhou, go do it. Just for fun.

ska ska ska.

Last thursday I went to see the most awesome ska band. A Catalonian band called Deskarats. Check them out here: http://www.deskarats.com/

So I’m sure you are all aware of how difficult it is to sit still when listening to ska, especially when it’s live…and amazing. So to hell with the Chinese ‘tradition’ of just sitting and watching gigs, let’s JAM! Luckily one girl had a mini dance party happening in the corner, so me and Emma ran off to join her. It took about 10minutes before a few Chinese people began to join us, and then suddenly almost everyone was up and dancing like crazy. Even the Ayi! It was the best fun ever. To those people who refused to get up and dance…you’re BORING.

This was just what I needed to cheer me after all the homesickness and depression at missing the million layers of snow back home. I don’t usually cry in public..ah what the hell who am I kidding, that’s a total lie. So anyway wednesday night comes around, after the most torturous classes. I swear these kids are out to get me, to tear me apart and watch me crumble. It’s working. I got on the metro and couldn’t hold back the tears. I forgot I was listening to music, so to me I was crying quietly, but then remove the earphones and you soon realise why EVERYONE is staring in disgust. Not sympathy. Disgust. Well Guangzhou it’s your fault for being so damn hot, and never ever snowing. It’s Christmas time. Give me snow! So anyway that is why I needed to boogy to some awesome ska. And eat delicious Turkish food.

I danced my bad mood away, and the next day I had a wonderful time sniffing pink flowers in the park, reading my book and munching on a heavenly blueberry muffin. Then some Mexican food to top it all off. Yummy. Guangzhou has some hidden gem parks, that’s for sure. I could actually smell flowers and hear birds and the sky was blue. What a lovely hideaway from the gazillions of cars and people I usually encounter everyday.

The park is located on Ersha Dao. A lovely island right in the middle of the city. Home to the magnificent Xinghai concert hall, a starbucks and Guangzhou Art Museum, it really is a lovely place. OK I don’t usually go to starbucks, but hell, it’s the only place I can get a decent muffin. So it’s my one sin in Guangzhou.

Every time I am off work I discover more lovely places in this big city. I think someone should come and visit me so I can show them how wonderful it can be….

happy advent calendar day.

Happy 1st of December everyone :) I am eagerly awaiting my advent calender delivery from my cousin. She is going to be in Hong Kong this week and kindly offered to bring me one. yay. China doesn’t sell them. sob sob.

And Happy St.Andrew’s Day to yesterday. As I sat nibbling on some neeps (turnips) at work, it didn’t even click what day it was. Only later in bed I remembered, and thought how lovely that our Ayi at work subconsciously knew there was a really good reason for feeding me turnips on this special day. Unfortunately there was no haggis to go along with it, but neeps would do.

Today however, Ayi decided to feed us pig’s blood. Congealed pig’s blood. Of course I didn’t touch it. Just the thought, never mind actually seeing it infront of my very eyes, made me want to vomit. How on earth people can eat this I will never know. Although my colleague did make a point by saying how we eat black pudding. But at least black pudding has some oats etc…it’s not JUST blood. Pig’s blood dish in China is just blood. Blood in the shape of cubes, like cola cubes, but not delicious. I couldn’t bear it, so I bought some strawberries and winnie the pooh chocolate biscuits instead. Strawberry and chocolate mixed together in my mouth. Heaven.

And then Hell. I cried. All because of brats. Kids can be real brats sometimes. Today was just a little too much for me. On the metro home I was aware that my nose was running and tears were streaming down my face, as my ipod shuffled from sentimentality to more sentiment. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I think banging my head on the handles on the roof finally triggered it, and down the tears poured. People stared. I didn’t care.

But now it’s time to get over it. It was just a bad day. We all have bad days. Tomorrow is a new beginning. I’m going to have a lovely long lie, and paint my nails glittery, and eat star-shaped rice with NO pig blood. Then I’m going to eat chocolate brownies and go shopping. And try and book a flight to Thailand for Christmas. Ohh, and maybe buy my Christmas tree. But it must be real. I hate fake Christmas trees.

I hope you had a better 1st of December than I did. In the meantime I am going to dream of picnics in faraway lands, bicycle rides through Chinese mazes, building snowmen in my wee village, Alice in Wonderland cocktails, skys with stars and seeing all my friends all over the world.