Odds and Ends of 2019

The Tempest was the Junior school’s play in March, and we had our very own Miranda. Eleanor wouldn’t let me rehearse her lines with her as she wanted it all to be a surprise for Martin and I. So we cooked up our own surprise and flew Martin’s twin sister out to watch the performance with us. The performance was fantastic and gave Eleanor a child-friendly insight into Shakespeare. Martin’s sister enjoyed the whole China experience including a trip to Shanghai. Finally with Claire we made it up Shanghai Tower the tallest building in China at 632m and the second tallest building in the world. Though it pales into insignificance if you think that the tallest building Burj Khalifa in Dubai is 828m!

Due iPGCE we decided that we would have a staycation in April. But we did have a day trip to HB World. A theme park, not on the scale of Disney or Universal Studies but on a similar theme as it was created by the Huayi Brothers who are big in Chinese films. And the best thing – it is only 20 minutes from school. Well worth a day out. We got there for opening at 10am. Along with a hoard of school trips, but queueing wasn’t really a massive deal and then at 3pm the park emptied. It was astonishing, the park was empty apart from the 20 or so expatriates.

In May I took on another job. Campaign manager for my husband. He was nominated for Wonder Teacher, and part of the process was a public vote, through the Chinese social media platform of WeChat. Everyday for what seemed like forever, we had to vote by QR code for Martin. One person, one vote per day. For a while Martin led, then he was overtaken, then he got within silver position. Our students were voting, staff were voting, our friends who had WeChat voted, our colleagues all over the school network were voting… but he had a handicap. You see part of the voting was that people could buy votes, and quite frankly none of us agreed to that. So he didn’t come first in the public vote. However, that palaver was only 10% ish of the overall application. He had to submit a student reference, staff reference and his own application form and lo and behold it, as if there was any doubt – Martin won. A definite mountain top moment in any teacher’s career!

In June 2020 I got to go back to the UK for the UCAS conference in Glasgow. Aside from networking (professionally) it allowed me to also meet up with my cousins in Edinburgh on my Dad’s side and cousins in Glasgow on my Mum’s side. It is lovely when work and family collide. Usually when I have gone back for the UCAS conference I have been able to catch up with friends in Manchester and in London, but this time was family. And one extra person in Glasgow that I also met up with, that goes to show there are really only 6 degrees of separation. Karen is a friend from the National Scout and Guide Symphony Orchestra (where Martin and I met in Durham 1997 (we think it was ’97). She knew Martin before me, and she knew me before we were Martin and Alison! We last saw Karen in 2015 in Melbourne when we stayed in her flat for a week. She now lives beside one of my school friends from Larne – we were actually Deputy Head Girls together. Cue Disney’s “It’s A Small World After All” song. A ride that they do not have in Shanghai Disney. For which I am forever grateful.

Apart from our summer exploits as a family to Tibet and to Zhangjiajie, Eleanor and I went with friends to Moganshan at Moganshan Solvang Village Hotel. I finally went horse-riding in China, through a tea plantation. It was lovely riding on my own with the Chinese owner, especially as the lady took my phone and was my own camera woman. It felt like I was on a photoshoot!

Tea Plantation in Moganshan

And the last jaunt of the summer for Eleanor and I was to go to Haikou, for sun, sea and last minute R&R before the new term. Haikou is on the north of Hainan island. Hainan and its seaside resort of Sanya we had been to before to welcome in 2015, and due to my ineptitude we had actually flown to Haikou, some 3 hours by bullet train from Sanya… this time I knew we were going to Haikou and had booked the flights accordingly… but weather had other plans. A typhoon cancelled our flight. A refund was duly given and I booked another flight in the afternoon from Hongqiao airport and we got there in time for dinner. During our time in Haikou we went to an Australian owned water park, Wet’n’Wild. About 45 minutes drive from downtown Haikou close to the airport. We arrived at opening time at 10am, and we were told in Chinese that not all the water rides were open and did we still want to go in? Of course was the reply. The skies looked ominous, but we figured it was a water park and if it did rain it would be warm rain anyway! As the day progressed more rides opened. It turns out that we had arrived very early and some of the rides had minimum numbers to go on it before being hurled down the slides in inflatable rubber dinghies .

Now, water parks aren’t really my thing. But having an adrenaline junky for a daughter who also loves water, I had to “suck my fear up” as she said to me. However, she did pick up a few people who needed extra riders which got me out of a few rides. We had a great day together. It was a water park that got busy in the afternoon, but this was the first week in August, it wasn’t that busy or as busy as you would expect for a hot day in August. There were perhaps 100 people there. Maybe the typhoon that had just passed through or maybe the waterpark which only opened in 2018 hasn’t caught on just yet. But whatever the reason of its quietness it was an enjoyable day out, even if I was scared the whole time. Eleanor was able to go down some slides on her own (which she did), she got to go on with people who were one person short to go down a waterslide that needed 6 riders and on one slide she said Hello in Korean to a Korean family. And for me – I pushed myself and went down head first through a dark water tunnel. I screamed. I screamed a lot, but secretly I enjoyed myself. But I didn’t do it again!

Just one of the twenty nerve wracking slides