Monday, 24 September 2018

8 Reasons Why Home is Where I Belong

For the past couple of years we have been debating our future and what we want and have pretty come up with nothing. However, after spending a whole summer at home I'm finally sure of what I want, and with Paul on board we finally have a plan.

We want to go home. I'm not saying we want to go home forever, we may go home and realise that it's not for us and want to go abroad again, but we have to try it. To be honest, I think it's more likely that we will go home and decide that it is where our hearts are after all.

So, why is home the place where I want to be?

Family - This is one of the biggest factors for me. Everytime I go home I notice small changes in my family and realise that time keeps ticking and it really is very short. Each time I say goodbye it gets harder and I always have a feeling of guilt, feeling split between my two homes. I don't want to stay abroad for 5 or 10 more years and leave it too late to enjoy the special times with the people I care about, I'd never forgive myself for that. I want to be closer to my family!

Friends - Expats make passing friends, but I never really feel that they are friends for life, or at least not for me. I still crave that friendship that you see in Sex and the City and FREINDS and I know that I need to be home to find it. I have friendships there already, but I feel like if I'm ever going to find the friendships that I really want then home is where I need to be.

A place to belong - I'm now in my 5th year of living in Beijing, but if anybody asks where home is, I always say the UK. My expat destinations have never really been home, they have just been where I live. There is no better feeling than going home, and when I'm there I find myself wishing that this was my life. It's familiar; I know the people and the places! It's home!

Normality - Life is easier in the UK, from going shopping to basics like paying bills and drinking water from the tap. I creave that 'normal' life. I love to travel and live life elsewhere for a while, but the normal life will always be for me in the long run. I'm all about making life as simple as possible and the UK is where that is for me.

Lifestyle - There is lots to do in Beijing, but there is lots more that interests me in the UK. When I think about the many things that I would do in the UK, varied activities each week, from cinema and shopping trips, weekends away, day trips, city breaks, shows, walks along the beach and many more things, I know that this is the kind of life I want. I miss living this varied life and I can't wait to live it again.

Teaching - Most Primary schools in the UK are small community schools and I miss teaching in that environment. International schools are generally very big, compromising Primary and Secondary students and often have very different priorities. I miss being part of the community, celebrating the small things and having the time in the curriculum to do the things that make education memorable for students.

Holidays - There are incredible places in Asia and I have loved visiting them, but my most enjoyable holidays have always been within Europe and the USA. Travel from Beijing to anyway, even within China is incredibly expensive and so we don't get to travel as much as I would like to. In Europe, flights and trains are much cheaper so we would get to do many more trips and weekends away.

My family life - Finally, and most importantly, we are looking to start a family in the near future and I want my children to belong. I want them to be surrounded by family who love them, go to a school with their friends and experience all of the traditions that I did when I was a child, while we build more of our own together.

So while I will remain in Beijing for 2 years with some very clear goals, I can't wait to move home and start living the life I describe in this post!

Do any expats relate to this? I'd love to know your thoughts...

Friday, 21 September 2018

Beijing Moments #2

I regularly  feature some key events or sightings that summarise my week, inspired my New York Cliche. Living in Beijing, sometimes it can be the normal everyday things and sometimes it can be the wacky WTF China moments.

Classroom Craziness - This was the first week that the children started school. It has been very full on and I'm completely exhausted as I write this, but I've loved it too! I've really lucked out with my class this year - they're great!
Healthy Deliciousness - When I came back to China I brought a whole load of healthy-ish treats with me. I eat super healthy Sunday - Friday and on a Saturday I still eat healthy but also let myself have carb-based meals. On Saturday I had this healthy burger with southern-fried potato wedges. It was basically the best thing I've ever eaten.
TV Adverts - Our TV plays adverts every time we turn it on and off, which is actually quite annoying, but sometimes the adverts are so random or funny that it makes it ok. Like the one above!
Reaching Targets - Losing weight is the hardest damn thing to do! Sometimes it feels like I'm taking 2 steps forward and one step back. It's soul destroying at times, but I'm feeling better already so I can't wait to see how I feel when I reach my target. This month I gained my 25 pounds lost badge.
Blue Skies - Beijing gets such a bad rep about pollution. Don't get me wrong, it's often deserved, but in the 4 years I've been here, I definitely see a huge improvement. There are so many days that look just like the photo above, but they never get a mention on social media or in the news. I love when the skies are blue!

What has been your top moment of the week?

Thursday, 20 September 2018

11 Reasons Why Mamma Mia 2 is Bloody Fabulous

Image Credit
So I've now seen Mamma Mia 2 three times now and I still can't get enough! I watched it twice in the UK and once since returning to Beijing. It genuinely is one of the very best movies I have seen in such a long time and here's why...

You will feel all of the emotions - I love a movie that is truly emotive and makes you feel all of the emotions and Mamma Mia definitely does that. One moment you're crying and the next you're laughing and singing along (in my head because I'm not THAT annoying person)

Lily James - Is she not just amazing? Some girls really do just have it all, it's so unfair! She's beautiful and can sing, dance and act! Since watching Mamma Mia I have a total girl crush on her, I feel like she should be my best friend!

Music - Well, it's ABBA, do I need to say anymore? Some may disagree but I actually love ABBA's music. I love how one song can be full of life and dancey and the next is slow and emotive. Plus, I think the whole world knows all of the words and who doesn't love a good singalong?

Friendship - Everybody wants a friendship like Donna, Rosie and Tanya don't they? The one that lasts forever, is unbreakable and it true and genuine! I'm always drawn to TV shows and movies that feature this, think Sex and the City and FRIENDS. It makes it seem possible, and having that in my life is one of the things I crave the most!

Laugher - I laughed so much! Well, not out loud because I'm one of those weird people that never laughs out loud at movies, but in my head I laughed so much! The one liners are amazing! Julie Walters, Colin Firth and the Geek Custom's Office steal the show for the comedy value.

Scenery - Obviously since watching Mamma Mia I'm already looking into when I can book a flight to Croatia! The setting is simply beautiful!

Young Bill - Or more specifically, young Bill's eyes! He's dreamy in general and I love the whole chilled out dude vibe he has going on, but those eyes could make the hardest person melt!

Storyline - The storyline of Mamma Mia 2 is amazing and I loved getting to know more of the background of the characters in the original movie. The way they move between the past and present of the characters and the story is done so well. I've already got the storyline for Mamma Mia 3 planned. Let me know when you're ready for it Hollywood!

Donna and the Dynamos - It's every little girl's dream isn't it? Who didn't create dance moves to their favourite songs with the best friends? I remember learning synchronised dance moves to all of the Blue, A1 and Westlife songs when I was a kid! I definitley think I could have been part of Donna and the Dynamos!

Old Sam - He makes my heart break and swell all at the same time. It breaks my heart that Donna and Sam don't get to live their happily ever after and he portrays his feelings so well in the movie, but my heart also swells at how much he loved her and loves Sophie. He made me feel all of the emotions. Can somebody send me an old Sam when I'm old please?

The feel good vibe - I left the cinema each time feeling lighter, happier, motivated and positive. It's just one of those movies that makes you feel happy right to your very core, and if that's not a sign of a great movie I'm really not sure what is!

So, to the critics who gave Mamma Mia 2 awful reviews, you clearly have no taste! To those of you with impeccable taste like me, go and see it over and over and over again!

Have you seen Mamma Mia 2 - what did you think? What was your favourite part?

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

A Mini Seoul Bucket List

As we begin to tick off the places we want to visit before we leave Asia, we've booked a trip to South Korea at the end of the month. We will only a have a long weekend there so will spend the whole of our trip in Seoul, but we definitely plan to cram in as much as we can to really see the city.

I've created a mini Seoul bucket list of all of the things we hope to do during out time in Seoul. It's ambitious, but what's life without a little ambition?

Is there anything missing from this list? Let me know in the comments...

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Our Autumn Bucket List

I love when Autumn comes around! It's such a nice season filled with snuggly jumpers and lovely smells, and it is the start of the run up to my absolute favourite time of year! Autumn in Beijing is super short, lasting about 3-4 weeks before the winter and the minus temperatures kick in. I often feel like I blink and miss it so this year I've created a little Autumn bucket list to make sure we make the most of the season.
Carve a pumpkin - At the ripe old age of 32 I've still never ever carved a pumpkin. Obviously this needs to charge so this year I'm going to have a pumpkin carving competition with Paul (and obviously win!)

Visit Fragrant Hills - Fragrant Hills celebrated the Red Leaf Festival every year and is one of the best places to see Autumn leaves in Beijing. I've wanted to visit for the past couple of years so this year is the perfect year to make the trip!

Have a Halloween movie night - Halloween movies terrify me so I will need to be very selective with the ones I choose. I'm thinking old school scary movies of my teenage years, like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, rather than The Exorcist style nightmare! Paul has a little X-Box den which is the cosiest place ever so I want to get all of the blankets and all of the snacks and snuggle up to watch loads of (slightly) scary movies.

Sample Moon Cakes - I've still never tried a Moon Cake! How can I call myself a Beijing expat if I've never tried a Moon Cake? They are basically Chinese cakes filled with all sorts of random fillings, from sweet to savoury. I feel like it is a right of passage into Beijing expat life though.

Badaling Great Wall - The Great Wall is beautiful during Autumn but I'm only ever visit Mutianyu. This year I want to visit a different part of the wall and see the changing colours that surround the wall during Autumn.

Make pumpkin soup - I love pumpkin soup but have never made it before so this autumn is the perfect time. Plus, I really love the idea of my house smelling like pumpkin.

Buy autumnal candles - Autumn has some of the best scents, right? Good candles in Beijing are super expensive so we very rarely buy them, but this autumn I want to invest in a beauitful autumn candle to keep my house smelling divine throughout the season.

Have a games night - I love a good games night and autumn is the perfect time for a solid session of gaming. The nights are still light(ish) and the weather has just enough chill to make you happy to stay home.

What's on your 2018 autumn bucket list?


Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Had you asked me a few years ago, I would never have thought the Edinburgh Military Tattoo would be up my street, however, after watching it a couple of years ago, I would go back time and time again. It's rare that I'm home in August so when I knew that I would be this year, I booked tickets straaight away.

As we've been to Edinburgh a few times we didn't do too many of the sights. Instead we relaxed, shopped and ate - a pretty great list of things to do for a weekend away I think! I really like the city of Edinburgh! It's such a cool city with a mix of culture, history and modernisation. I also found every person we met so so friendly and that really helps to make a place great! 

The walk up to the castle is really pretty and it's so worth heading there a little early so you can take it in. Particularly if you walk along the Royal Mile, there is lots to see and do on the way. 

The setting of the Tattoo is just incredible! As we arrived the sun was just beginning to set and the castle looked amazing against the backdrop of the pink and purple sky. The setting is one of the things that makes the Tattoo so great! I mean, it's stunning anyway, but add the awesomeness of the Tattoo and the effects they use during the show, it's simply breathtaking! 

I loved every single bit of the show, I genuinely feel like I should have been in a Marching Band when I was younger because I just love them. I know, I'm a big ol' geek! They showcase military from all over the world, playing their traditional instruments and songs and doing their traditional dances. I love them, but my favourites will always be from the UK.

The finale, of course, was the best bit! It was the part where they played all the traditional UK classics that remind me of home. Sitting in these stunning surroundings. listening to and seeing some of the things that remind me of home the most, was one of the key points at which I decided that it was time to return home from expat life. 

I honestly can't recommend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo enough! It's a fantastic show, showcasing all of the talents of the military as well as the many young people they allow to participate in the show. I will most definitely be back, very soon I hope! 

Have you seen the Edinburgh Military Tattoo? What did you think...?

Monday, 3 September 2018

September 2018 Goals

How are we already 2 weeks into school and at the end of August? It's been a whirlwind, as the start of term always is, but a much smaller whirlwind for me that the absolute hurricane that was the start of last year. I'm feeling quite positive about this year so far and am consciously keeping that positive mind-set each day.

So, my goals for September...

♥ Reach ... pounds 
Not ready to share the figure just yet but I need to lose around .. pounds this month to reach it.

Read Kite Runner 
I was bought this at Christmas and still havent read it.

♥ Set up savings accounts
With a clear goal in mind for the next 2 years, I want to research and set up some savings accounts with good interest rates.

♥ Take care of myself
Once work starts I get tired quickly and my self-care routines start to slip. I want to make a conscious effort to look after myself first. This includes a basic beauty routine, sleep, eating, drinking water, etc.

♥ Celebrate my birthday 
I'm definitely know I want a Mexican-style celebration, so I'm thinking about dinner and drinks at The Taco Bar or check out the Mexican Festival at the Marriott Hotel that weekend.

♥ Plan and take the most epic trip to Seoul
We have already booked to visit Seoul in September and it's probably the only time we will visit so I want to plan the best trip and see as much as possible.

♥ Walk 10,000 steps each day
10,000 is actually a lot! I know it's the recommended amount but I struggle to hit that without actively trying. I'm trying to slowly increase my activity level and this would be a great start!

♥ Make time for P
Like taking care of myself, work sometimes means that I have less time for P too. I want to consciously make time for him and do things together this month (and every month)

What are your goals for September?
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