Well it's been a long time since i wrote in my blog (Feb) i have been back in the UK for the last 9 months, and as i said in my last blog i stayed on expecting to go in to hospital in February for a shoulder operation,that was postponed till end of April. Jun went back in January and had to complete the task of packing in our previous apartment in the BDA area (south Beijing) and moving to our new one that we bought in Tong Zhou district ( east Beijing) and setting it all up, all of which she managed to do marvelously, as well as having to start work in a new department of China Customs at the same time.
Jun and our friend Ping came back over at the end of March and as it was her first time visiting the UK we enjoyed taking her out and about and spent some time in the Lake District and various other places. We even managed to book a showing of Jesus Christ Superstar performed in Durham Cathedral which was amazing. Ping kept a online diary of her time in the UK and made regular postings along with photographs and as she has a good sense of humour and sees things with a fresh eye she posted some really good observations.
After Ping returned to China i went in to hospital and had the operation and it was fortunate that Jun was with me for the first 2 weeks as i was in a lot of pain and found it difficult to do things. One example of this is the day after the operation i woke up at 3am after the anesthetic/pain killers had worn off and was in a lot of pain and so took some really strong pain killers (a few times), then feeling ok i suggested to Jun we go for a walk on a very hot morning and after completing half the walk became ill and really struggled to get back home, Jun couldn't believe i had chosen such a walk only a day after the op, and i learnt a lesson about acceptance and not being so young anymore ha-ha. It did take a long time to recover from it and i also went back to hospital for my follow up Endoscopy which was ok and showed that my Barretts Oesphagus had not worsened.
Jun managed to get some extra leave from work and came back over and we had a lovely Summer working in the garden planting crab apple,black berry, building a new rockery and starting on converting the two sheds in to one large one, and of course having some wonderful days out .We also had Rev Adelin come to stay with us for a couple of days and it was lovely to show her around Teesdale and finally manage to take her to South Gare Pier near Redcar and see the small fishing community there as well as climbing Eston Nab for spectacular views all across Teesside.
We spent some time visiting our Buddhist Monastery and later in the year i managed weekend retreats both at Throssel Hole and at Ministeracres. I have also enjoyed spending time back with our local weekly Meditation Group and we celebrated recently our 14th year since we started it. It has also been a good opportunity to spend some longer time with friends and family especially my dad who is now in his 95th year.
I also started the job i mentioned i was interested in as a voluntary surveyor working with Teesdale Landscape Partnership which entailed going out to Farms,Buildings,Barns etc that had historical significance and writing reports and descriptions of them, as well as photographing them. It was really rewarding work and i enjoyed it immensely.
I have continued to have some of my photographs published in various publications and was quite proud of having one chosen to go in a piece of work by a organisation in Singapore to celebrate The United Nations World Habitat day.
I arrived back in Beijing ok after leaving home at 7.15 am Tuesday the 22nd of Sep, it wasn't a bad flight going from Newcastle to Amsterdam only an hour or so then straight on to the China flight which was about 8.5 hours arriving in Beijing at 6.20 am Wednesday. I had forgot in Beijing how everyone is constantly on their mobile apps,talking, reading,playing games or taking endless selfies ha-ha.
Had a very busy 14 days showing Michael around, our friend and neighbour from the house at the back of ours in Gainford, he just seemed totally bewildered by it all and can't get over how big, crowded and noisy it is,I have showed him the sights ( tourist and otherwise) of this, to him, incomprehensible huge city it just takes for ever to get around and he wont let me out of his sight when we are out ha-ha. The weather was still quite hot and humid when we arrived and we did have a couple of days of rain recently but it has now turned cold and very windy.
Jun was off work for a few days for the National Holidays and we just had the Autumn Festival after we arrived where people spent time with their families and eating lots of moon cakes. We went to the traffic dept to get a weeks permit to drive the car in the centre rather than getting the buses and metros. We can then travel a bit more by car instead of using buses and the Metro which is what we did for the first week and i had to reorient myself with now living in the Tong Zhou district which is very different from BDA it's about 1.45 hours drive from there. We can now spend upwards of 2 hours just traveling to another area of Beijing by bus and metro and even Jun was stuck in traffic for 2.5 hours in our car the other morning. I have just been to the swimming pool in a hotel close by...10 minute bike ride, it is a very nice place Jun's sister has a membership card there and it has 2 months to expiry so she lets me use it. It is the first swimming i have done in over 9 months and i really enjoyed it and yesterday i went for a long bike ride exploring along the Moon River close to where we now live.
I am settling back in to daily life here and Michael has now gone back and Jun is at work, we took him to see the Great wall 2 days before he left and as it was during the National holidays it took me 3 hours driving to get there and over 3 hours to get back but now he has seen the wall,stood on it and has the T shirt ha-ha. I don't think he ever lost his initial confusion and bewilderment the whole time he was here, i sometimes looked at him through the rear view mirror as i was driving and he had the look of a rabbit frozen in headlights at the traffic and behavior of drivers ha-ha. Still he did say he had an amazing time and it was a life time experience he wouldn't have missed for anything. It was certainly a very busy 2 weeks trying to cram as much as possible in for him, so now i can relax a little and get some jobs done around our new apartment. I recently got some test results back for bowel cancer screening that showed abnormal and they wanted me to go straight in and have an Colonoscopy but i told them i couldn't as my flights were already booked but would come back early so i had to cancel my Dec 22nd flight and re -book one for Nov 3rd, they wouldn't give me the money back or change it but after a lot of e mails and telephone calls they did give me a cheap flight back, so i will be back in the UK early now, and Jun will join me in December