13 February 2017

I can see you!

OK, not quite but nearly.....

Since my last post, I have had a second injection in my eye. This one hurt even more than the first and I said quite shrilly to Mr John the other day "if they say I need a third injection I'm going to have to ask what the consequences are of not going ahead". I really didn't think I could handle another one.

Then, on my one week check following the second needle, they told me I wouldn't need another one. I instantly started crying and then went completely, like manically, happy. I left a voice message for Mr John that I'm pretty sure had to be translated by a small dog because my hysteria had made my voice go ridiculously high pitched. 

I decided on my way out that a celebratory drink was required and luckily our friend Paolo was downtown. I messaged him to hook up but he was in the most expensive part of town something I completely forgot about until we started looking for a bar. After 20 minutes of walking around and finding two closed establishments, like a child at the end of a sugar rush, I decided I couldn't be bothered and really just wanted to go home.

So my 4 week check up was last Thursday and I've been given the all clear to go and get a proper pair of prescription glasses. This is the day I've been waiting for. Until now, I've had to make do with "off the shelf" reading and distance glasses. Throw your sunglasses in on a good day and I'm carrying three pairs around with me. As neither pair of glasses I have do the job properly, I find I can only concentrate on doing this for a short period of time. Then comes a headache which nobody wants. 

To cut an even longer story short, I pick up my new "progressive" glasses on Friday. I can't wait. I've already set up the spare bedroom as a craft room and my sewing machine will finally come out of its box after four very sad, lonely years. I might even manage to complete the scrapbook I've started for the 80 day around the world holiday we did back in October 2004. Hope springs eternal

16 November 2016

I can't see you

So, you may have been wondering why I've haven't posted more on our latest adventure. Especially as I am completely besotted with Shanghai as a city. Before tomorrow happens, I thought I should explain myself.

You see, before we left the UK for China, I had a bit of a health scare. Going for, what I thought, was a routine eye exam which was definitely going to end in a glasses prescription I know it's not just me that finds they print packaging with smaller and smaller typeface I actually ended up at the Royal Liverpool Hospital Eye Clinic. To cut a rather long story short, I had bleeding behind my left eye. 

You can imagine how devastating this was especially when they start saying comforting things like "it could have been a stroke". I'm not a sickly person and I must say I really didn't handle the news that well. However, it went from you could have had a stroke to give this report and CD to the Chinese doctor when you get there. In my head I was like "make up your mind, either I'm about to die or it's ok to fly half way round the world and the resultant pressure on my eyeball".

So all in all, it's been a fairly stressful few months. This was not helped last week when the eye specialist in Shanghai confirmed that the treatment is for them to stick needles in my eye. Now don't get me wrong, I know there are worse things in the world and that there's a lot of people in much worse health than me and my heart goes out to them, but this is me and this is now. I'm alternately scared, terrified and fatalist. 

The worst bit has been having to put drops in my eyes every four hours for the past three days. Forget about putting things to the back of your mind and dealing with them when you need to, no! We'll put an alarm in your smart phone so that every four hours you can remember that they're going to put needles into your eyeball on Wednesday. Hurrah!

Poor Mr John has coped all the fall out, from having to hold me as I sob uncontrollably into his shoulder to being told he is without doubt the most unsympathetic and therefore worst person in the world. He needs a medal quite frankly.

So this morning my mate Ines and I are off to the China Art Museum (Shanghai). I first went here when Anne & Graham were visiting but we only had an hour and didn't even venture upstairs. The building itself is incredible (effectively it's upside down getting wider at the top) and I'm really looking forward to it. They also have a Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee shop. If that doesn't keep my spirits up, nothing will.

So keep your fingers crossed for me and don't forget to keep an eye on Instagram which is much more likely to be up to date than the blog. 

13 October 2016

Spring Airlines

I considered naming this "how to survive a no frills airline in China" but that's way to long a title. So, you may remember I mentioned jetting off to Bangkok to spend some quality time with Anne, Graham and the family. It worked out better time wise to get to single tickets with different airlines and I thought you might be interested in my experience with Spring Airlines

Actually, the airline itself is quite good. Planes were clean and staff were efficient. It's the passengers that add that certain "je ne sais quoi".

There were a lot of people checking in with no specific counters for various flights. The line kept moving though and the staff spoke good English. There were a few ladies who'd over packed and ended up opening their cases at the desk to try taking thngs out to meet the luggage allowance of 15 kg. Actually 5 kg is carry on (maximum) and checked is 10 kg.

Once checked in, you pass through the appropriate security and passport controls as usual. The next thing you see is everyone filling their reuseable water bottles. Only 1 RMB roughly GBP£0.12 / AUD$0.20 / USD$0.15 / EUR0.13 to get sterilised water and you're good to go.

The queuing issue that you hear about before you arrive here is not as big a problem as I expected, though we did end up stuck in the tunnel to the plane because they hadn't opened the doors before calling people through.

On the plane was yet another matter. The seats don't move AT ALL. My advice is, if you have a travel pillow, take it. If, like me, you forget your pillow, just pop your tray table down and put your head on it. This was the approach taken by many of my fellow passengers. Can you believe that's what those tables are for?

Of course, you don't actually want to use them for food. You pay for food and drink when you book your ticket. As you can imagine, it's silly prices and the photo's make you want to reach for the bin rather than the buy button. Seems my fellow travellers agreed with me. There was a variety of "picnics" going on. Some passengers had clearly cooked at home and popped it into a plastic lid container. 

Goodness knows what condition it was in as my unprepared chocolate Kit Kat bar (purchased in Duty Free - the only source of buying food in my terminal) had begun to melt even before take off. So there were people eating rice, peeling oranges and one enterprising row had bought a KFC meal - before even going through security - which they seemed to enjoy. Personally, cold french fries have never done it for me. Oh, and don't get me started on the outfits. One lady in her 60s proved that there is indeed no upper age limit when it comes to Hello Kitty as she dragged her Kitty shaped carry on case through Immigration Control.

The good news is that you can join in the exercises with the air crew prior to landing. Sadly I was too late to join in as the English version didn't come on until it was all over. So there you have it. But just one final pearl of wisdom - the air-conditioning blows hot and cold so hand on to that souvenir fan as it will come in handy I don't think being a woman of a certain age had anything to do with it.

Overall, I would fly with this airline again as long as it was no more than 5 hours. The trip to Bangkok was about 4.5 and that was fine. Anything longer than that and I'd want a little more pampering.

I have not been paid anything by Spring Airlines for this post. The opinions are my own personal experience of flying with this airline. Other airlines are available.

10 October 2016

The Langham Hotel

So my good intentions of regular writing seem to have backfired. Perhaps it was because I jetted off to Bangkok to spend time with Anne & Graham and their family or because I came back from Bangkok with a head cold - either way, it's led to some slackness on my part. I'll try and fix that. I'm so far behind telling you what we've done, I'm not sure I'll be able to catch up on it all. Fear not, I can be quite determined when I want to be.

Firstly, we've been very lucky overall with Mr John's fellow teachers. They're a nice crowd and we have formed a small but you'll be pleased to know dysfunctional family. We look out for each other and share new information wherever possible. Mr John has been tasked with Grade 3 for this year. As you know, he prefers upper primary and at age eight, it's at the bottom end of what I refer to as his skill set. When he was training, he got to experience a number of age groups and found that he really wasn't quite Wiggles material. Unfortunately, he has to teach Grade 1 English for six lessons a week. On asking how his day had gone the other week, he looked at me with hollow eyes and declared he had spent the morning "sitting on the floor with my legs crossed and clapping my hands in time to the Pig who wore a Wig song" it took me ages to stop laughing.

So he perseveres with Performing Arts if you know him, you'll understand how funny I find this as he has two left feet and is missing being able to teach Math it's only taught in Chinese but thankfully still has Science. A few of his students didn't have English names when they started the year so he took a list of names for them to chose from. One student informed Mr John that he wanted his English name to be Suck. On explaining with the help of the Chinese teacher to this poor child what "suck" meant, he picked Steve from the list. Good call.

Last month Mr John took me to the Langham hotel for my birthday. Wow, what a treat. We were on the 26th floor and had full use of the Club Lounge we like to think of it as the "all inclusive" option. There was quite a bit of rain that weekend and to be honest I was pleased there was. It meant not feeling guilty about hardly leaving the hotel. When you're sat with a lovely glass of Shiraz in the lounge, it seems pointless to be elsewhere.

But there's still so much to tell you about our house but you can read about that here and our flight not to mention Anne & Grahams visit, the Art Museum, the Maritime Museum, my trip to Bangkok, things we've bought for the house and what it's like living in our local area. I need a lie down just thinking about it.

My brother Pete has a birthday today, so happy birthday bro xoxo