Thursday, October 31, 2013


Sometimes it's the simplest of days which makes life here in Shanghai a great life.

Yesterday, the last day of October, the sun was shining, it was a comfortable 22c, and the buildings were twinkling in the sun.

I set of to the wet market to pick up my weekend collection of fruit and veg. I swear there was a spring in my step! As I reached the entrance to the our building, there was a man sitting sharpening knives on a wheel with a stone. There was quite a queue, so I reckoned he must be good. On my return from the market I packed up 3 of my favourite knives, all in need of sharpening, and headed back to join the queue, which luckily was now down to one!

He was only too happy to have his photograph taken, and smiled the whole time he was working. Obviously this was a man who enjoyed his work. I did encounter one problem, he spoke Shanghainese, and not Mandarin, which makes any small communication we may have been able to make, now impossible. Even the numbers are different. But a smile goes a long way and I did end up with 3 beautifully sharp knives. Even the little nicks evened out. I couldn't wait to try them out, to get chopping my newly bought vegetables.

Oh boy, they were sharp. I know they say you only ever cut yourself on a blunt knife, but I am discarding this thought, and being very careful. What a difference. Hope I see him again soon and can get all my knives sharpened.

As I said, a lovely, but very simple day. A day that made me happy to be here in Shanghai.

Monday, October 14, 2013


As the long hot summer days draw to an end, and we wave goodbye to the last of our visitors of 2013, we are left with a lot of happy "Shanghai" memories. Of days spent in the pool with Daisy and Archie, of drinking cocktails across the city with our more mature visitors, of wandering through markets, making our way up high buildings but most of all connecting with friends and family.

In this photo my friend of 20 years, Kath, enjoys a shot in the Ice Bar of one of our favourite restaurants. 

Here we are enjoying happy hour at Isola, for me the best happy hour in Shanghia. Free flow Prossecco and lots of canapes, all for 88rmb, or just under £9.00 and lasting for 2 hours, with one on the most amazing views you can't beat it. 

My brother and sister in law concentrating very hard on a menu, or possibly a drinks list! As they had only 4 days with us it was a whirlwind tour of the Shanghai sights. At the end all four of us were exhausted, but happy.

Graeme and Carole who were the last of our summer visitors, and our oldest friends. Not in years, but in the length of time we have known them. My husband and Graeme have been friends for almost 50 years, and as couple we have been friends for 36 years, not bad! We had a wonderful time with them As you can imagine a lot of catching up and reminiscing, well it's what you do when you are getting older. Happy to report the years haven't changed them one bit.

It is always good to be able to share our lives with others. It may seem to them that life here is one big round of eating, drinking and generally having fun, I can say, that although that is a part of Shanghai living, there is also the mundane everyday things that go on wherever you are, but also there are the difficulties with language, which can at times make the simplest things difficult, and of course the very fact we are so far from family and friends. I am not complaining, but feel the need to point out there are drawbacks as well as pluses.

It was great seeing friends but the highlight of the year would be the arrival of my daughter, her husband and my two little grandchildren. We worried about the long journey they were undertaking, needlessly as it happens, they ran into our arms with huge smiles on their faces.

Mum and Dad on the other hand, although smiling, probably had the harder journey. But they were here and for the next two weeks we had a lot of fun.

Only issue was that they arrived during the hottest summer Shanghai had experienced for 130 years. With temperatures soaring into the mid 40's we were never so happy as to have A/C in the apartment. It worked overtime this summer.

But time in the pool, and visits to buildings with A/C, and taking even short journeys in the air conditioned car helped a bit. Archie was delighted to be able to swim when it was dark!

It was so much fun watching Miss Daisy look completely at home, and so grown up having afternoon tea in the Waldorf Astoria, and to see her lingering around the designer shops. Watching Archie enjoying his first real Chinese meal, and to see the concentration as he wrestled with his noodles was great to watch. 

The one thing that fascinated all our visitors is the building which is evolving before our eyes. It is The Shanghai Tower, and we have had the most perfect view as it has climbed into the sky. On its completion, next year, it will stand 608 metres, almost twice the height of the London Shard. It will be the 2nd highest building in the world, and it is a 10 minute walk from our door. I cannot wait to see it finished, and when people leave they want updates and photos of its progression. When we finally leave Shanghai we will be happy to have witnessed the growth of this amazing structure.

So today as I sit blogging, the skies have turned black, the wind has started to blow and I think the rain is not far away. There has been a 10c drop in temperature since yesterday and the forecast is for the cooling down to continue. Soon I will be packing away the summer dresses and sandals and having to think about wearing tights and cardis. 

But I will be able to look back at all the happy memories of our summer, and also I am happy to be looking forward to a trip home in a few weeks to help Daisy celebrate her 3rd birthday. A mere three weeks after arriving back in Shanghai I will once again be jumping on a plane to be home in time for Christmas.

LIFE IS GOOD..............................................