Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap Year Day! (Almost)

The weather has cleared and we can actually see across the harbour again. Still a bit cold, around 17 degrees and a slight drizzle today. However, everyone says it will start to heat up in the next couple of weeks which is just as well, because we are down to counting in days, not months, till David Jen and the kids get here. 24 days to go! Then only another 7 after that till Martin and Renee join us. The others we are still counting in months; watch this space though!
The boat trip on the junk on Saturday was great fun, even in the rain, and the restaurant we went to for lunch was fantastic. I bought their cookbook and hope to have a bash at recreating their signature dishes. It wasn't Chinese, it was Western food, beautiful dishes full of flavour. We loved it.The sad part was saying goodbye to our dear friends Sue and Chris who are returning to Australia.
I went to see Cosi Fan Tutte on Sunday. It was a little bizarre to hear an opera written by a German, sung in Italian with a big screen giving English and Cantonese subtitles! Afterwards, my friend (another Sue) and I came back here and Les cooked and served us Sunday dinner in true Masterchef style.
Monday' s talk was from a music teacher who let us hear 10 pieces of music and we had to guess the composer (from a list she provided so it was good for guess work) and tell her what we thought the music was "saying" to us. Great fun and I'm proud to say I got 5 correct! However one of them was Lennon/McCartney so that was a bit of a no brainer to be honest. The others ranged from Aaron Copland to Stravinsky. Immediately afterwards was our NIA class which I'm loving. Glad to say she is willing to continue now that the trial 4 week period is over so we can't be hopeless cases! It's funny though; she is really thin, has fabulous posture and moves so gracefully.She was a professional ballet dancer before she taught NIA. So anyway, here's me trying my best to copy all her moves and thinking I probably look just like her...then I passed a plate glass window mid-manoeuvre... and saw a bl***y great cart horse in a pink top and enormous baggy jogging pants with a big red sweaty face. Astonished, I looked behind me and as I turned, glanced back at the window and saw the carthorse was turning too. Yes, dear readers, 'twas I, me myself . Oh dear!
So putting that swiftly behind us, moving on, in the late afternoon a group of us went to see The Artist. I just caught the headlines saying it won 5 Oscars before I went. I spent last night watching the full Oscars show on TV. What on earth has Billy Crystal been doing to his face? It looked like he'd been blown up with a bicycle pump.
Tuesday I gave my Paisley Shawl presentation to the Study Group. It was well received and they were impressed with my Power Point skills, so I've been asked to put on a wee masterclass for them.Uh oh. It was achieved by trial and error, I've forgotten so much, so I'll need to have a practice before I go back to them on that! I'm glad its over. I liked the idea of the research and didn't mind standing up to present, but I found it really difficult to organise my thoughts and put them on paper in any cohesive way. I've got too used to being able to ramble on here in any old fashion. But my bibliography was spot on. I haven't forgotten how to cite references academically correctly!
Then in the afternoon,I had my Cantonese lesson and it was a disaster. It was as if he was talking in a foreign language. Oh, but wait a minute, he was! Honestly, I couldn't remember a thing, my brain was still hurting from the Shawl presentation and I was really tired. So then he slaps on an assessment in two weeks time and says he hopes I get a better mark than last time. Also I need to do a lot of revision because I've forgotten too much, he says.
Tomorrow night we are off to Happy Valley to see the horse racing. We'll be a group of 20 so we've taken a box and I think we get food and a wee drinkie too. Before that, I really must attack the dust; it's like tumbleweed in a deserted street on a Cowboy movie set in here. See,there's that Oscars influence creeping in!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Culture Vulture

What? I hear you exclaim! Oor Joycie? Aye, well am ur a cultyur vultyur.Read on!
The weekend was lovely,we went as I said to an island but just for coffee as by the time we had done the weekly shopping...So where's the culture? Well, on Sunday we went to an architecture exhibition in the local park. We didn't just stumble on it, we went on purpose to see it. It was amazing. There was this exhibit of a bamboo bowl filled with porcelain rice bowls, representing the city as a bowl and everyone's home as a wee bowl within it. And the wee bowls had tiny wee people cast inside of them. It was exquisite. I had no camera.On Monday I attended a talk on art investment; what to do with a spare £100,000 (minimum investment ) that you need to salt away for 5 years. If only! Then I went to NIA, my exercise/yoga class. On Tuesday I attended Study Group to hear a talk on Chinese furniture and one on apsaras which are artistic representations of nymphs in Buddhist art. It was really interesting.Wednesday I spent doing my Cantonese homework for my afternoon lesson and writing my presentation for next week's study group, when I will talk about Paisley Shawls. At night I went to Poetry Club and read 2 poems, one Robert Burns and one my own (Mary's Man for those who know). Thursday, I'm away for a two hour hike near the coast and then to Temple street at night. Saturday is the lunchtime cruise I told you about earlier and on Sunday I'm going to the opera, to see Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti. So thats a week of culture if ever I saw one!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why no havering?

I've been back in Scotland (and England too) for two weeks visiting friends and family, which was wonderful but tiring! The grandsons are fabulous, growing like weeds and all the rest of the family are well.We managed a couple of days in Eyemouth too, then when Les returned to Hong Kong, I went to visit my sister in Bristol for 6 days, with David, Jen and the kids. A wee night with The Sisterhood, meeting up with friends at the pub and coffee with pal Ann and her cute granddaughter filled in the rest of the time. So a good trip! I also spent a morning in my home town, at Paisley Museum, with the Curator of Textiles as I am preparing a paper on Paisley Shawls for my study group. I think research always shows up how little I know about a subject I thought knew a lot about! all the research is done, now I just have to write the paper and make the powerpoint...

So back to Hong Kong on Sunday night,where it has been damp and foggy but warm, temperatures between 18 and 21 most days. From Monday to Wednesday it was like living in the clouds, the fog was so dense at the height of our apartment, we could not see anything at all. It was as if the windows had been painted over with grey paint.Yet at street level, no fog! Last night (Thurs) it cleared, thank goodness as we were having some colleagues of Les from the UK for the customary champagne and the laser light show. If you've already visited us, you know what our views are like, so it was great that it cleared up in time. If you've still to come, you have a treat in store on your first evening at 8.00pm. Champagne always included, no matter what the weather.

This week I have been catching up on sleep and catching up with friends. I went to my first NIA exercise class on Monday, it was brilliant, I can't wait till next week. It's a bit like zumba with some yoga thrown in.Look it up, they have a website.
Tuesday was study group in the morning and my Cantonese lesson in the afternoon. Stanley my tutor brought me the lovely cakes you see above because it was Valentine's Day. How sweet!
Wednesday brought some shock news, my good friend Sue is returnng to Australia in March instead of having another year here as her husband's work contract has been altered. It's so sad, we get on so well together I feel as if I've known her for ever and not just 9 months.
I met another friend for coffee and we hatched a farewell party for them.Lesley has arranged a sail on the old junk Aqua Luna to Stanley on the other side of the island, where we will have lunch then come back by bus. Susanne and Jean, you will remember the bus ride ( when we eventually found the bus). People pay at Alton towers for rides like that one!
After the light show last night we took them on our regular Thursday night trip to eat at Temple St Market which they thought was great.
Today I will do the ironing ( yes, really, ....when I get round to it...) and work on my paper. I don't really need to go out today, whch is ironic as it is bright and looks nice out.
We don't as yet have any weekend plans, if the weather is nice, we're thinking about a boat trip out to one of the islands for lunch. All in the name of research, you see, as we are soon to begin a 4 month stint as tour guides. It is so exciting, we have loads of visitors coming over. March: David Jen and the boys for 2 weeks, running into April: Add on Martin and Renee for one week overlap, then another week after D&co go back. A week free, then Margaret and Duncan are coming for 2 weeks, running into into May.Four weeks after that, Janie and Peter arrive in June.
Who will be next? Bring it on!