The Slow Boat to China has Docked!!! 8th December 2014

I imagine the boat docked quite a while ago, but then there was a palaver over customs and the fact that we should have gone through the red channel at Pudong airport. Upon arrival, we apparently should have declared the belongings we did not have. But no one had shared that information with us. So after we made a trip to Pudong airport to fill in a customs form, our shipping arrived on 3rd December!!!!!!

Great relief all round frankly. There is only so many times I can be asked “has your shipping arrived?” But it now feels like we are actually staying, that this isn’t just some passing frolic the Croziers are on.

Despite only having 2 burners on our hob, I now have my Le Creuset saucepans, my chopping boards (previously used boards would have been seen more commonly in student digs), knives that are most probably blunt – but I am no longer limited to a cleaver and a vegetable knife. Mugs plural rather than three mugs so can now have more people round. The temperature is now sitting around 0°C, I can now admit that it is cold and put on a hat, scarf and gloves and a winter coat rather than the flimsy waterproof jacket that I brought with me that while windproof was not keeping me warm.

Martin went to work today in a winter suit and a shirt beyond the few that we brought with us. He no longer is limited to his cream linen suit or the 5 shirts that he has been using since August.

Why haven’t we bought more clothes rather than suffer? Well suffer is probably the wrong word, but we have been quite frugal. I was not going to buy things that I knew we had coming in shipping. After all, we were only meant to be without our stuff for 77 days (mid October) NOT the start of December. However, now that we have our belongings I see that Eleanor needs winter clothes and I do as well. I may have one thick jumper and a couple of coats which is fine, but jumpers and t-shirts are needed as I need clothes 7 days a week and not just the weekend wear I used to have.

Eleanor was delighted to see her belongings arrive. There were things of hers that I thought why did we pack this, but when she greeted her teddies (all 20+ of them) by name and like a lost friend, that is why I realised I had to pack them. She is a lot more settled, and to be honest – so are we.

Now there is one thing I thought I had packed, and haven’t. And that is the bottle opener. People will wonder why on earth I didn’t bring it with me in the first place – well 1) you rarely need a bottle opener now with the advent of screw tops, 2) space was at a premium – as was weight and I had packed a swiss army knife, complete with cork screw and 3) I thought it had gone in shipping.

Clearly not is the answer, potato masher, peeler and whisk yes – but peeler – no. But since we have had bottles of wine here – none of them have had a screw top.

Other things that I should have packed – wrapping paper. I have spent a very large amount on paper from a woman leaving. I thought I  had been bad when selling our belongings, but I am certain I would never have sold wrapping paper at the equivalent of £5 a roll. Now I know that I bought it at a premium, but this woman tried to sell me half a roll. The audacity was out of this world, especially when I found out that she used to live in Ballycarry for 7 years in the 90’s. Given that this was the nearest village to me when I lived in Northern Ireland I had expected that some of the NI friendliness would have rubbed off, but no. She was out for every RMB that she could, and when I turned down the offer of the half roll of paper, she called me hard!!

On the 28th November Danielle (the headmistress’ daughter) and I went on a mystery tour. I had read that at the end of bus 4, there was a mountain that was particularly beautiful in the autumn. I took pictures of the bus stops on either side of the road to ascertain what direction we needed to go and with that confirmed we got on the bus. An hour and 10 minutes later we arrived at Tianping Mountain. We paid our 30 RMB entrance fee and started the ascent to the top of the hill/mountain. It started as steps and then the path disappeared and we scrambled over boulders. We even had our photo taken with some Chinese students. At the top we would have had 360° views but for the cloud. The sun was trying to shine through but there were no blue skies. the rest of this blog is missing…. so this is from memory…

We came down a different way, and saw the temple and at the bottom there was a pond with trees that had beautiful autumnal colours.

We managed the find the bus back to Xinghai square. It was a lovely day out and certainly blew a few cobwebs away.

What this blog did not say first time round was that I did this hike not feeling my best. I had been out very late the previous night, at my friend, Sian’s house. I could have quite easily put Eleanor on the bus that day and gone back to bed, but I didn’t – I met Danielle at Starbucks at Xinghai Sq at 9 I think, rather than our 8.30 start!