To the Bat Cave – Borneo Part 3 

A quick swim at the hotel swimming pool, collection of a packed snack, water and poncho from the hotel and then back on the bus to be reversed over the hotel bridge to go to Mulu National Park.  Our guide was still Phillipie but this time we were joined by a Japanese Couple who clearly were not interested in staying with us to be walked through the park to the next set of caves. We also picked up midway to the caves the 4 Japanese tourists from the morning tour who had, in-between times gone on a canopy walk and … Continue reading To the Bat Cave – Borneo Part 3 

Rain, Rain Go Away- Borneo Part 2. 

Beware this is a long blog… Grab yourself a cup of tea.  Eleanor is in danger of growing up getting used to 5 star accommodation. We don’t particularly want her to just good accommodation doesn’t come at such a premium in this part of the world.  And so it was on this leg that I considered homestay or staying in a Long House. Just to give us some local flavour.  However, I chickened out and opted for the Mulu Marriott instead. It had a small swimming pool, air conditioning and comfortable beds. (Though that didn’t mean we got uninterrupted sleep…)  … Continue reading Rain, Rain Go Away- Borneo Part 2. 

Wild man of Borneo: Borneo Part 1

  Whether Borneo is the largest island or the third largest island in the world-  it doesn’t matter.(hotel staff said the largest, guide book said third) This island has plenty to offer and when you are on a kind of a budget, timescale and have a “handicap” of a 7 year old there are certain things we were never going to attempt and climbing Mt Kinabalu and seeing the Pinnacles or doing the famed Headhunters Trail was never going to be on our itinerary…this time.   Is Eleanor really a handicap? Of course she isn’t. We find age appropriate activities for … Continue reading Wild man of Borneo: Borneo Part 1

Girls weekend in Kuala Lumpur

Having left Martin in China at an Asian schools Orchestra rehearsal and concerts in Zhuhai (on the mainland but close to Macau and Hong Kong) on Friday 29th Jan Eleanor and I took a flight to KL via Kota Kinabalu (in Borneo and where we would fly back to on Tuesday 2nd Feb). It was cheaper to fly to KL via KK rather than stop and leave at KK. KK wasn’t a big airport to do a stopover though we did go through immigration in about 2 minutes and it is where I had a meltdown. Having left China with … Continue reading Girls weekend in Kuala Lumpur

Year of the Monkey

They say that the world’s largest migration happens during Chinese New Year and they aren’t wrong. This year was no exception and many people were stranded due to the exceptional cold weather we had at the end of January.   (standing on our frozen compound pond) So it was lucky really that we escaped to the heat. What better way to celebrate the incoming year than to go see some relatives of the Monkey.      During the last week of school Martin and I, along with all the other tutors in school had lunch with our tutor groups. A pre cursor … Continue reading Year of the Monkey

Creating Memories

 In our lives BC (Before China) our main holiday was 2 weeks (and sometimes if lucky) 3 weeks Eurocamping in France, and in 2013 France and Switzerland. We went to France a couple of times in between and once before Eleanor we went to Sweden and South Africa. We even managed skiing with friends in Austria, but Europe was really as far as we ever got. But now that we are in China there are endless possibilities. Australia in the summer was somewhere we had thought we would never be able to visit, certainly not altogether because of a)the cost and … Continue reading Creating Memories

Frequent Flyer

In June 2015 I read Bill Bryson’s “One Summer, 1927” it focused on an American summer and whilst it was very focused on baseball and Babe Ruth, another thread was the beginning of the American Aviation Industry and in particular the first transatlantic flight. Bryson commented that the Europeans were well ahead of the game in aircraft engineering and based on recent experience I would say that that is probably still the case.  Today we take flying for granted and up until yesterday I had taken for granted a standard of planes for great distances. We had flown QATAR on … Continue reading Frequent Flyer

Festive Fun

Christmas arrived in mid November when Eleanor performed with the DUCKS Piccolo Choir at the switching on of the Christmas Tree Lights at the Crowne Plaza, Suzhou.  The hotel likes to boast it is the first hotel to switch the lights on. Is it too early? We pondered this last year and again this year but I don’t think it is. (Probably if in the UK definitely but as an expat I think it can be early!)   The theme is Harry Potter and the castle is made out of Gingerbread!    She and her friend Sophie duetted the naming of the … Continue reading Festive Fun


E-bike batteries are heavy and usually there are about 4-5 of the things in an ebike. One night someone struck lucky and raided the basement of our apartment block and got 5 ebikes worth of batteries.  Next morning Martin found his ebike devoid of batteries and whilst he had texted me I hadn’t picked up his text.  Eleanor and I made our way down to the basement, helmets on and then Martin appeared. We thought mine hadn’t been touched. The saddle was in place but when I went to turn the key I too was a victim.  What fascinated me … Continue reading Theft

Mysterious Mountain Malarky

So, if someone says to you “fancy a weekend away without kids and husband in a mountainous area with some walking” what do you say? I originally said no, as a good friend was coming out to China for work and I was going to meet her on the Saturday. I was then asked again by a colleague on the Thursday before the trip on the Friday to go as she was unable to go and didn’t want to leave Angela  to go on her own. Again I said I couldn’t because of Lucy coming. At that stage I was … Continue reading Mysterious Mountain Malarky

Work Hard: Play Hard

Martin and I have certainly been working hard. The UCAS applications are nearly completed, and Martin was teaching practically a double timetable due to sickness within his department. Thailand, was therefore a well deserved break.  But we decided that every month we would try to visit somewhere different close to Suzhou.  Hangzhou has been on our list since Martin came here in long before we knew we would be coming to live in China. Hangzhou is home to West Lake, and thankfully we visited here before Thailand and the Moon Festival during Golden week at the end of September/beginning of October. West … Continue reading Work Hard: Play Hard

E-bike is fixed and Sun, Sea and Sand

Believe it or not, I started this blog a long time ago, but the internet was so being slow that it took me three hours to get onto the home page last week.  Then I started typing and it appears I didn’t save it. Darn it. So the last blog, two months ago, saw me without an e-bike.  Eleanor and I took the metro to the end of the line, raced off it and up the escalator to bag the only taxi waiting by the exit for three times that week. By the end of the week, I had asked … Continue reading E-bike is fixed and Sun, Sea and Sand

A working woman once more

Impressive? Dulwich International High School, Suzhou.  It is one of 7 Dulwich schools across Asia and it is where Martin and I now work.  The building is new and now houses over 400 students.  We also have a boarding facility, capacity for up to a 1000 students and most importantly we are now just across the road from Eleanor’s school, DUCKS.  The clock tower in the distance is reminiscent of Dulwich College London, and is part of the International School, Dulwich College. So how I am getting on? I am really enjoying it, but I am shattered.   Since starting … Continue reading A working woman once more

Happy 1 Year Chinaversary

On the 3rd August 2014 we made the leap of faith and took the plunge and made our way to Suzhou for our new adventure.  On the 3rd August 2015 I was sitting in a classroom type environment introducing myself to my new colleagues at Dulwich International High School, Suzhou. What a difference a year makes. Last year we arrived with 4 full to the brim suitcases from the UK into Pudong airport filled with trepidation after an 11 ish hour flight.  It was a grey day, (like most days here), hot, there was a long queue for immigration and then a … Continue reading Happy 1 Year Chinaversary

UK Travels

   On the 3rd June Eleanor and I set foot on British soil.  Her last day of Year 1 at Dulwich was Tuesday 2nd.  Escaping early has had its advantages in a selfish way to me in that we have not had to say goodbyes and go to other people’s leaving parties.  I know that is terribly selfish view but goodbyes are hard enough and what we have learnt from leaving the UK is that people do keep in touch.  The people who have left this year who I am friendly with are on facebook, and the little girl who … Continue reading UK Travels

Happy 100th Day Celebration

An invitation came from Mark and Yi Lin to celebrate their son’s, Louis’s, 100th day birthday.  Louis was born on 5th February 2015, and so was 100 days old today (16th May) but it was his 101st day….There is apparently a mathematical difference  in what that sentence says…but no matter. ( I can say that with confidence as I am neither a parent of Louis, nor a mathematician. In Mark’s household last night it created a heated debate!) A number of friends and family gathered at the Kempenski Hotel, Suzhou for a BBQ Brunch to celebrate Louis being alive for 100 … Continue reading Happy 100th Day Celebration

Gainfully employed once more

From August, I will no longer be a “TaiTai” or “trailing spouse”. I will have my own Z visa and no longer be classed as a dependent. Better declare that then to the Student Loans Company! I applied for, and was successful in getting a post at Dulwich International High School, Suzhou as a College/Universities Counsellor. I have a specific remit to help students with UCAS. I have been enjoying my time not working, I have been lunching, having coffees, helping with Eleanor’s class, window shopping, planning holidays, getting my nails done, learning Mandarin and generally enjoying myself…From August I … Continue reading Gainfully employed once more

School Days are the best

Eleanor’s school days I hope will hold happy memories, whether they are from Leweston Junior Department, or DUCKS (Dulwich College Kindergarten School) or whatever school she may end up at over the years.  In DUCKS though, each term, 2 consecutive days have been assigned to Art. I have been an active parent, and have been to at least one of the days each term (well maybe only half a day on each occasion!) The first set of days in November 2014 featured Japanese Pottery and Babushka Dolls.  The Teacher chose two cultures that Eleanor has in her class.  I went … Continue reading School Days are the best

Extra Curricular Activities

There are certain advantages to being a “trailing spouse”….the main one is you can go to and do things when people are at work.  My recent escapade was the 2015 Suzhou World Table Tennis Championships, sponsored by Qoros.  The 53rd,week-long, Championships came to Suzhou for the first time, but it was the 5th time they have been hosted in China.  Traffic around the Culture and Expo centre became a nightmare, we had dedicated traffic lanes, Zumba was cancelled because of the Championships in the nearby building and one metro carriage per train (I think) was emblazoned in the green logo. I … Continue reading Extra Curricular Activities

Moving on up

We arrived in August 2014, and had a pretty horrendous 5 days coping with a new city, new country, jet lag and of course finding somewhere to live.  The apartment we chose back then has suited us well.  We knew what we were dealing with when we chose it as the apartment had no underfloor heating, no double glazing and hard beds, but it was well located. 10 minutes from the tube (metro/subway), 15 minutes on the ebike to Eleanor’s school, on a bus route to Martin’s school (though he gets a lift in each morning and takes the tube … Continue reading Moving on up

Huangshan aka Yellow Mountains

The Chinese last year started a competition to give Chinese names to places in the UK.  And almost all of them have literal meanings eg Hadrian’s Wall – Wall of Eternity and the Royal Mile – A beautiful street with long history and profound culture.  So where the Yellow Mountains going to be yellow? Well, we don’t actually know.   With my parents being here and then travelling to Hong Kong, we didn’t actually research this trip as well as we/I could have done.  Infact, we asked friends where they stayed, got the answer, looked at trains, booked them and … Continue reading Huangshan aka Yellow Mountains

Till death us do part…

Don’t worry, everyone is still alive!  On Saturday 4th April, Martin, Eleanor and I went to Changzhou for the nuptials of Jake and Barbara.  Both are colleagues of Martin’s and  teach English.  Jake is British, Babara, Chinese.  Changzhou is about 90 or so minutes from Suzhou, but sadly not on a public holiday where all the toll roads are free and subsequently jam packed.  In about a space of a  couple of miles we saw 10 rear end shunts – a reminder that driving in China is hazardous.  There is no lane discipline here, cars weaving in and out of … Continue reading Till death us do part…

Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Having spent a night on the sleeper, we met Mum and Dad and the Guide at Xi’an train station.  Martin was greeted with a McDonald’s Coffee, and whilst probably not the best coffee on the market, it was the only one on offer! Into the minibus for the 5 of us and off we went to a museum of some archaeological value.  To be fair I just wanted to go and see the Warriors, but, the Guide clearly had her own plan of things to do and see that day, and so, I followed without complaint.   It was really … Continue reading Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Will the “sleeper” live up to its name?

When my parents suggested that they come to China and go travelling when they came, we asked them what they wanted to see.  They have a list of places, but for this visit it was Xi’an and Shanghai.  I was cheeky and told them we would be coming to Xi’an with them as it is home to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses.  When we looked into travelling there, the options were flying or taking the sleeper train. Issues with flying were that >Xi’an airport, like most airports is not just next door to the City or the Warriors. >Martin can’t … Continue reading Will the “sleeper” live up to its name?

New Site

If you are reading this, then my new blog site has worked. was fine when it worked, but more times than not I had difficulty logging in.  Both sites are hard to access in this Country.  I should hopefully be able to post more photos on this site.  The last blog on that site will have been my Mum’s.  So if you haven’t read her blog, go back, read hers and then come back to this one. Martin had an adventure of his own, as you know.  It was also the longest piece of writing he has done in … Continue reading New Site