the Old Cottage
The highlight of the year was our seven week trip to China
from August to October. “Why go
to China?”, you may ask! I think
one of the main reasons is still the sense of adventure. We spent quite a lot of the time in places where there were
few if any other westerners, and few people spoke English.
We had lots of opportunities to practise our Chinese and were the object
of much curiosity!
We flew to Hong Kong, then to
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, from where we took a 5-day bus trip to
Jiuzhaigou, a mountainous area of dramatic scenery in the north of Sichuan.
From there we proceeded by train and bus, via Taiyuan in Shanxi to
Pingyao, a beautifully-preserved Ming dynasty town.
We then moved on by train to Beijing, where we visited some of the places
we missed last time, including the Qing dynasty imperial tombs, in Hebei, north
east of Beijing. From Beijing, we continued back south again by train via
Xuzhou to Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius – a fascinating insight into
Chinese history. We then continued
to Nanjing, an extremely pleasant city, and to Suzhou, famed for its gardens,
but also becoming China’s answer to Silicon Valley.
En route, we visited a couple of other picturesque smaller towns.
We then spent a few days on the island of Putuoshan, which doubles as a
Buddhist centre and a holiday resort, before returning to Shanghai, where we met
the families of some Chinese friends in England, and visited their house.
In all, an incredibly varied 7 weeks – apart from the
picturesque and the historical, one of our strongest impressions was of the
extremely impressive speed of change and development, particularly in Beijing
and the south-east.
Prior to going to China, we spent 2 weeks
in June sailing in the south Ionian sea, starting on Levkas and working
our way down via Cephalonia and Ithaca to Zakinthos and back.
A very enjoyable and varied trip with nights spent both in town harbours
and in deserted bays. This was the
first time that we had been sailing for 2 weeks completely independently, as
opposed to with a flotilla. As
preparation for this trip, Keith spent a week brushing up his sailing skills
around the coast of Pembrokeshire.
In the coming year, we
don’t have any major trips planned, although we are mugging up on our Spanish
in preparation for a yet-to-be scheduled trip to South America.
We’re already finding that our limited grasp of the Chinese language is
fading fast – a great pity, given the time we invested in learning it, but
keeping it going would be a major undertaking.
We shall be spending a week in June walking in Italy with some friends,
and shall probably go sailing in the late summer, maybe back to Croatia.
We might even find time to see a bit of Britain!
We continue to make many trips to the Wigmore Hall, plus
the occasional foray to theatres and to ENO, and even south of the river to the
South Bank. Julia is continuing to
devote much energy to her piano playing – both classical and jazz – Brahms
in the mornings and “Smoke gets in your eyes” in the afternoons!
Roth Southwell Consulting continues to prosper with interesting work and
Keith Southwell email@example.com
Julia Roth firstname.lastname@example.org