I’m back in Beijing after a six week trip back to Blighty. The break was longer than originally planned as there were various family things to be sorted out.
We wined and dined with friends in London, got the once-over from doctor, dentist and hairdresser; then braved the Artic weather to spend Christmas and New Year feasting with parents and children up in Fife.
Now I’ve settled back into my ‘China’ life – and a new year begins…and no, I have not made any New Year Resolutions.
On the long flight back here I went through the little notebook in which I keep a record of everything I read, and for want of anything more amusing to do compiled a list of last year’s reading. On the off-chance you may be interested, here it is:
Books read in 2010: 100;
37 by male authors, 59 by female authors; 27 crime fiction; eleven non-fiction; seven translated into English from other languages; one Graphic novel.
The books that got top marks from me during the year were (in no particular order): Small Wars by Sadie Jones, The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore, Brothers by Yu Hua, Hearts & Minds by Amanda Craig, Stir Fried by Jen Lin-Liu, Tom Bedlam by George Hagen, China Cuckoo by Mark Kitto, Best American Science Writing 2007.
Though the weather up in Pittenweem was very cold with lots of snow and ice – I’ve never seen a beach covered with snow before – the weather here in Beijing has come as something of a shock. It is a whole different type of cold. Clear blue skies, lots of sunshine, dry as a bone with a daytime temperature of about -4 C and a northerly wind which cuts through clothing like a knife (at least it blows the pollution away). I am told that at the moment it is ‘too cold to snow’ not that there are any clouds anyway. It has given me a new understanding of the phrase ‘the dead of winter’ as the grass is all brown and dead looking, there are no leaves on any trees, and the city’s public horticulture department has had the ornamental plants and hedges in parks, residential complexes and on roadsides carefully bundled up in what looks like padded green tarpaulins firmly tied with twine. Any plants that are exposed seem to have been heavily pruned.
Everyone is wearing layers and layers of clothing, and many people have face masks on. I’m thinking of getting one myself. AMM looks like some Russian general about to take a military salute in Red Square when he’s all togged up in coat, hat and gloves!