Shanghai

Image from chinayourway.org
It’s been a big day. 
Twenty-eight hours after embarking on our journey I finally slipped the card into the hotel room door here.  The final two frustrating hours had been spent sitting or wandering in gut-cramping weariness,  while the hotel staff tried to belatedly figure out how to accommodate us.   No point in being prepared, I supposed.  
En-route to the hotel, on the very fast magnetic train and rather slower subsequent coach, our guide explained to us that prior to 1992 there had been no bridges over the river in Shanghai.  Only ferries, she said.  
That seemed extraordinary to me.  Now there are multiple bridges (did she say eight?), some quite magnificent, and many tunnels.  Shanghai has grown explosively.  
Everybody knows that. 
As I surveyed the Shang-high-rise condominiums from the bus window, jaded after long travel, I sensed drabness and rapid decay.  Utilitarian block-work apartments buildings seem to crack and rust early in this city of smog.    
We’d been told by the guide, however, that the city is spectacular at night.  And this evening, as we walked out to find some food, Shanghai did present a prettier visage.  At night neon and liquid crystal displays abound, and the city shines.  The roads seem like boulevards and people are out on foot for recreation – shopping, dining, playing soccer. 
The sole Chinese speaking adult amongst us helped some of us to order meals in small restaurants where English was neither spoken nor understood.  Many of the kids fended for themselves: few words, and many gestures. “What is this I’m eating?  Do you think it’s eel?”  
They seem determined to try new things.  To be adventurous.  To have fun. 

I wondered, as I walked home, if Shanghai may really be – like London or New-York – one of the great cities.   
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A man, his boy and his dog

In the very early morning my man is the one who sets the alarm, opens up the house for the day, wakes my boy and sets out on their daily walk with Bono, the family Viszla. But as he travels overseas with Miss M, I am having to rise early and get the day started for us all.
We are blessed to live so close to the river and have an amazing walking track to visit each day. It is pitch black outside right now, so the walks are harder first thing in the morning. On the weekend though we all enjoyed our walk. Bono was able to chase a Wallaby along the track, explore the river and get lost in the woodlands. I was conscious of the fresh air, the space and the quite. A sort of freedom we take for granted. I wonder what China feels like today.

Waiting…waiting…..waiting

Travelling is a series of movements and waits. There is much excitement in the idea of travelling, but a lot of frustration and anxiety in the reality of it all. Landing in airports in the middle of the night, being woken up by flight staff to be served dinner at 2am, checking in, customs, transfers. All the while waiting for a little glimpse of normality – a bed to sleep in, some food when you are hungry, the sound of a familiar voice. I know these amazing young people are going to have a fabulous time.

Travelling without leaving home

The next few weeks will be very different as two of our family members are overseas. So as I reflect on life at home without my man and daughter, he is utilising the technology to report back to us. I hope you will ‘travel along with us these few weeks’. Enjoy. S x

Travelling without leaving home. I’m travelling with my oldest daughter, M, on a school trip to China.  
I’ve been a relative stranger to international travel this last decade.  It’s been over 10 years – just – since I travelled OS with a child.  This child was one of the three we brought back from the UK in 2004. 
Travelling with teenagers has, of course, given me pause to reflect on my own travels as a teenager.  And the way that communication has changed. 
I travelled twice in a group of teenagers in the 1980s.  The first time I was 14, and travelling to China.  Like she is now.  The second time I was 17, and travelling to Europe.  Phone cards were the innovative communication tool then.  Apart from that, it was post cards and letters, communicating old news. 
We’re not in China yet.  But I was able to text my wife as we touched down in Singapore, to give my love to the rest of the family at the start of a school day.  After she’d dropped the other kids at school, and I’d checked the days early facebook status updates, M and I had a Facetime conversation with Susan, who was home by then.  I utilised the free wi-fi at Changi to upload some photos to Dropbox – which I hope we’ll continue to be able to do in China. 
So far, it’s a bit like travelling without leaving home. 
I couldn’t quite come at spending what was required to be able to stay on-line in the air.  

The kids are travelling well. A little bit of travel sickness, a couple of kids throwing up.  And another flight to go.  

Mango Coconut Cream Sorbet – Kuchef Thermo Cook

 We love the Mango Coconut Cream sorbet that we have made in just minutes in our Kuchef Thermo Cook. Thermomix cooks among you would know how easy it is to make fruit sorbets and ices by blending a few simple ingredients.
Most recipes begin by milling some raw sugar (into confectioner’s sugar), adding fruit and ice and blending at high speed. We have done this successfully with raspberries and strawberries, but this time we decided to give some mango a go. The addition of cream or in this instance a tin of coconut cream enhances the favour and helps to combine the sorbet. And to let you in on a secret out family is happy to eat this without the sugar. It will not change the consistency of the sorbet if you leave out the sugar!
The image here is of the mango coconut cream sorbet while it is still in the Kuchef Thermo Cook. We tend to make a batch that feeds all seven people and then some more, so we don’t freeze it for long after it is made. It is prone to becoming hard and icy when refrozen. So, are you keen? I served this mango coconut crew sorbet in mini ice cream cones…perfect for the little mouths we have to feed each day.

  • 75 grams sugar
  • 500 grams Frozen chopped mango pieces
  • 1 can 400ml coconut cream, Frozen
  • 400 grams ice cubes

RECIPE’S PREPARATION

Pre-freeze coconut cream in ice cube tray.
Blitz sugar on Speed 9 for 10 seconds.
Add mango and blitz on Speed 9 for 10 seconds.  Add coconut cream  and blitz on Speed 9 for 10 seconds.  Add ice cubes and blend on speed 9 for a further 40 seconds to 1 minute. 
 * try this without freezing the coconut cream as well.
 

Courage

Everything could change in a moment. We need to prepare ourselves for good days and bad. Our kids hear a lot about grit and resilience and perseverance. But what about courage? Today I need  courage to: keep on parenting when times are tough, to apologise when I do wrong, to be honest and tell someone when I think they are making a bad life choice, to live out the Gospel when the world despises it and to be authentic. What do you need courage for today?

Dreaming outside the Zone

What if your dream is outside the norm? Outside of all of the expectations people have of you? What if the key to being truly happy involved letting go of those ideas and frameworks of belief that have stifled you for so long? What if your Mum is right? What if your dream means you have to work harder, choose differently and face your fears?

If you dare to dream outside of the zone then I would encourage you to find a small group of trusted friends who you can talk with about all of the BIG ideas that come to you in the dark of night. Make the space safe, confidential and trusting. Use this space as a transition from the here and now and to the future over there. Test your ideas with those who care. And dream a little dream each day….