Saturday, 29 December 2012

2012...What a year it's been!

Looking back on 2012, my little family has had a huge is a quick review of our adventures in pictures...

Kangaroo and Emu Coat of Arms

In mid December 2011, we went to Canberra, Australia to celebrate an early Christmas with some family and friends...

South Island

We hopped across the Tasman to spend Christmas with the family in New Zealand...was so good to see them and the city of Christchurch after the tragedies of the earthquakes. We even experienced our own earthquake .... terrifying. Brave and resilient people they breed in Christchurch!


Had a wonderful few weeks, catching up with brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins...

Lavender and Bee

Soaking up all the beauty, fresh air and nature all around the South Island...

Swan River

We then headed to Perth for the New Year and again, had a lovely time seeing family and friends....

Year of the Dragon

Back to Shanghai for another fantastic Chinese New Year to welcome in the Year of the Dragon! Love the colour, the noise, the celebration!

Black Swans

In February I headed back to Perth on my own to sort some health 'stuff' that couldn't be done in China. Nice to be back enjoying the lifestyle, see the Black swans on the Swan River and to hang out with my friends. Missed my little family though.

Wheat Belt

Enjoyed the fragrant Eucalyptus scented air and the gorgeous Australian bush and blue sky again....


In March, my little family headed over to England to look at schools, locations and houses for our upcoming exciting.... and we arrived as the daffodils bloomed...perfect!

Buckingham Palace

Of course we had to go into London and visit the Queen  in between looking at schools and houses!


In April we remembered our fallen ANZACS at the ANZAC day service in Shanghai. One of the special days of the year for Australians and New Zealanders. Gathering with other Aussies and Kiwis in Shanghai and honouring those who served us makes it even more special, brings everyone together.


Soaked up some memories of the quirky everyday things you see in Shanghai...the washing drying on the streets.....

Robyn's Nappers

The nappers catching a few zzzz's wherever they can....

Big load

The huge loads on the tricycles....


In May we finally went to the top of 'The Bottle Opener', officially known as the World Financial Centre. It's currently the tallest building in Shanghai and fourth tallest in the world. We watched it being built! It will soon be overtaken by another taller building....


In June we said farewell to our life in Shanghai and had many 'good bye' celebrations with our gorgeous Shanghai friends. Friends are like family in a place so far from home and I miss them immensely...

Perth Skyline

We got to go back home to Perth while our UK visa's were processed. So good to have an impromptu visit and see friends and family again. Visas granted within a week instead of we headed to the UK a little earlier than expected...


We arrived at our new home in England just in time for the Olympics to start. Great atmosphere in the UK! Felt patriotic to the Aussie team, Team GB...even the Chinese team!

White Swans

Black Swans of the Swan river were replaced with White Swans on the Thame...

Green tunnel

We discovered lovely local walks....


To walk our new family member, Ralph who we found and adopted in August...

Beach shacks

We have been on wonderful adventures together...down to the beach in September....


All over the countryside....

Bledlow Ridge

Experienced our first real, vibrant autumn in October.... we don't get a real autumn in Western Australia!


In November I went back to Shanghai for a quick visit... had to go back, see some friends, do some things, things I didn't have time to do before I left..... have a little closure. Finally got to see 'The Bund' at sunrise...


December treated us to our first snowfall....the village was beautiful. like it had been sprinkled with icing sugar!

Pulpit Hill

We have discovered the joys of family walks in the woods this Winter. Boxing Day was spent using up some of the excess of Christmas Day and exploring a new walk!

Can't wait to see what the New Year brings for my little family and I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous year in 2013

Monday, 17 December 2012

Shanghai Sunrise

One thing I always wanted to do but never quite got around to doing when I lived in Shanghai, was to be down on the Bund as the sun rose. I love how the city changes with each passing hour. The people change, from older people quietly exercising to commuters in a rush to get to work. Traffic changes from tricycles loaded with goods, making deliveries for the day to buses, taxis, cars and scooters madly rushing, horns blaring, shattering the Shanghai even the skyline changes by the hour. On my visit back I finally made it!


Love the soft glow behind the buildings.

Shanghai Sunrise

Shanghai Sunrise

Love how the city changes as the day progresses. Early in the morning it is peaceful, friendly.

Shanghai Sunrise


The camaraderie of the old men flying their beautiful kites.

Shanghai Sunrise

The Bund before the influx of tourists taking photos and hawkers selling cheap toys.

Fan Dance

The ladies and the fan dances.

Fan Dance

A pop of colour

Sword Dance

The graceful sword dances.

Waibaidu Bridge

The day evolves, commuters arrive in the city. The sun has risen, the mood has changed, the pace quickens. Time for a coffee!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mini Christmas Puddings

My first evening back in the UK after my Shanghai adventure, was my 'Badminton Ladies' Christmas party and I had to take a sweet dish. I had jet lag so made my easy peasy mini puddings. They were a hit and everyone wanted the recipe. I was embarrassed to say how easy they are! Thought you might like the recipe too...great to have some bite sized puddings for visitors who drop in and a great little gift.

You will need a shop bought 750g Christmas Pudding, some Apple Juice, some Brandy or Rum, White chocolate and some green and red lollies (sweets)

Break up the pudding into a bowl...soften with a little juice...or Brandy/Rum if making for adults.

Roll the softened mixture into bite sized balls.....about a dessert spoon full.

Chop the lollies (sweets) into little bits, a few mm square...keep separate and refrigerate...they are easier to handle!

Melt the white chocolate...I put the bowl into a larger bowl of hot water to can microwave too!

Top each pudding with white chocolate...about 1/2 teaspoon to look like custard.

Arrange two bits of green lolly and one bit of red to look like holly on top.

Arrange on plate and you are done! 


Chinese Bathhouse adventures

Mumu outfits

One of my favourite places in Shanghai is the 'Xiao Nan Guo Tang He Nan' Bathhouse and it was one of the first places I headed to when I returned. A perfect, if quirky place hang out with girl friends and let the stresses of life slip away. You arrive to a huge reception area, complete with grand piano tinkling away on it's own. You check in your shoes and head to the spa. Those of us brave enough head to the bathing area, no clothes allowed...and enjoy the plunge pools of rose, milk and green tea, spa tubs and saunas before heading to the scrub room. I never would have imagined that one of my favourite things to do, would be to lay on a vinyl bench, in my birthday suit, be scrubbed all over, face covered in grated cucumber, then doused in UHT milk...with friends in a row on their own vinyl benches. You feel so fresh and clean afterwards, all dry skin banished. You then shower, rid yourself of any stray bits of cucumber and change into a Hawaiian print 'mumu'.


On a daytime visit, we would then head to a pre booked suite, complete with automatic mahjong table and a few recliners for treatments, ranging from manicures to foot massages. Play a few games of mahjong whilst taking turns having foot massages in the recliners. Wander down a floor to the restaurant for some fabulous food, Scallion Oil Noodles, Shanghai Dumplings, Chilli Beef Vermicelli to name some favourites.

Ready for the show

On an evening visit, after having a feast in the restaurant, we would find a few spare recliners in the huge relaxation area around a stage, for a foot massage with ginger treatment. Your legs are covered with ginger filled gauze with hot towels on top, while your feet are massaged. Amazing and your legs feel great for days after.

Every evening at 9pm there is entertainment on the stage, usually an extravaganza of Russian dancers performing a bizarre selection of international dances. A Scottish Reel, an Irish Jig, a Bavarian Beer Dance!

Russian Dancers

There are Chinese Singers, a few acrobats...if you are lucky two Chinese Roller Skaters. Entertaining whilst having a foot massage.

Chinese Acrobats

The evening I went...there were no Russian dancers...but something more bizarre...never seen before ....three dogs appeared on stage. Please excuse the terrible quality is quite hard to get a good shot when dealing with small animals moving in the dark, whilst you are having your feet pummelled!!!

Dog Show

The dogs first did a few standard tricks....

Dog Show

This little guy was quite adept at jumping through the hoops....

Dog Show

But this little guy....I have no idea why he was there...he knocked over every hoop....

Dog Show

...and every hurdle...Hellooooo...look at his short legs...he was never going to go over the hurdle! Was like watching a car crash...though the little dog seemed to be quite happy with his performance. It got worse...far worse...the dog trainer then gets out a cap gun ...points it at the dog.....and plays dead...we sit there, having our feet massaged...horrified...then the trainer picks up 'dead' dog by it's back feet and walks around showing off 'dead' dog to the audience. My friends and I are aghast... Thankfully by now our feet have been massaged...and we are free to leave...I catch a glimpse of the dog happily 'waking' as we walk out. Bring back the Russian dancers I say!

Xiao Nan Guo Tang He Nan Bath House
3337 Hongmei Lu by Yanan Lu
Hongqiao, Shanghai.