Its been a long three months. Back in early June I flew back to the UK to see family and friends and have some medical checks, but now I am back in Beijing and raring to go.
One way and another it was quite a rollercoaster of a summer with both highs and lows. It certainly wasn’t the way I expected it to be when I left here – but isn’t that always the way? life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
For me, the best bit of summer by far was when my daughter and little grandson (who is the most gorgeous child and a genius to boot) arrived from San Francisco to spend ten days with the rest of the family. Being a long-distance grandmother is hard, so this was a precious time and we all made the most of it.
The weather was really good, and when the sun shines there is nowhere as glorious as Scotland. We enjoyed leisurely meals on the terrace day after day, and we also ate out at some wonderful local restaurants – the seafood in the East Neuk of Fife is superb.
Pittenweem had it’s 32nd annual arts festival for 10 days at the beginning of August, with no fewer than 113 venues showing works by both Scottish and international artists, there was almost too much to see and do, and the whole village was heezing with visitors from morning to night. I only had one wee quibble, a young lad decided it was the ideal opportunity to make some money busking. In full Highland dress he sweltered away playing the bagpipes for five hours outside our house. He was a very good piper but his repetoire was limited and after I’d heard it five or six times I was ready to scream. After all there are only so many times you can stand hearing ‘Scotland the Brave’! Finally I could stand it no longer and went out to offer him a big donation if he would move to the far end of the harbour, and he was happy to oblige.
I whisked my husband away for a two day magical mystery mini-break. His favourite tipple is Balvenie 12yr old Doublewood single malt whisky,
so I had booked a tour of the distillery in Dufftown which is on Speyside up in Moray. The tour of Balvenie was wonderful, we learnt so much; they only take 8 people at a time, it lasted three hours, and we ended with a tasting of five different Balvenie malts!
Before that we went round the Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie and watched the coopers rebuilding and repairing some of the thousands of casks which are used in whisky production. It is an ancient craft, and even today most of the work cannot be mechanised and is done by hand.
I spent time in north London catching up with old friends – we all seemed to pick up just where we left off as though there had been no time apart, which was marvellous.
I had a bad sinus infection and then managedly to really screw things up by falling and breaking my right collarbone (jolly painful, as you will know if you’ve ever done it), and finally the sudden, unexpected death of a friend.
So now here I am back in China, and wondering what lies ahead in the next few months – whatever it may be, I will be blogging about it.