Come along for the journey!

Come along for the journey!

Monday, 20 December 2010

GRAND DESIGNS: (Sydney, Australia)

Well, here we are, tagging a final leg on our Around the World Tour. Annoying isn't it? After being shunned from coming to Oz earlier in the year whilst the renno was still underway at the family 'stead on Sydney's beautiful Northern Beaches, we've finally got to see the folks big dream house realised. It's pretty spectacular. It has been an amazing spa-like retreat…erm, a retreat from our student scum and unemployed bum lifestyle that is.

Well, it's wonderful to spend time with family and catch up with Aussie friends. As well as feeding us up three year's worth of food in a month, Mum has our social calendar planned out with meticulous detail, starting with a fancy house-warming-cum-jazz & canape infused event.

Great to be home…a broad term for us Griffins.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


We left Bristol with a piece of paper helpfully written out in the vernacular by my course mate 'Daisy' with local tasty Chinese delicacies we ought to sample on arrival in Beijing.

On the paper were numerous references to animals and animal parts, including donkey (apparently not actually donkey, but a dessert), so much so in fact that we were told that if we were to ask a stranger where we might find these foods, they may direct us to the zoo.

Now if it had been me writing the list, I'd certainly have written some exceptionally dodgy things on there for my tourist friends, so I assured them I'd be back to punish them if they were leading me up a merry path. Meanwhile, in a fit of self abuse, I stomached an evening treat of sea slug and scorpions.
Deep fried …mmmm.

There are a bunch ways of you can make yourself misunderstood in China. When explaining 'what I do' (study film) to interested new people, I managed to leave someone with the idea that I star in the movies.

Equally, there were plenty of times when i think we got the wrong end of the stick. We visited a Church near our hotel in the 'Chongwenmen' area where we learnt that Jesus was in fact born in 'a mansion'.

Contrary to popular belief, the Church is thriving in Communist China. Despite the stereotypes we've picked up somewhere, we weren't arrested or followed back to our hotel.

Friday, 10 December 2010

MAGPIES: (The Great Wall, China)

While walking the Great Wall of China, our lovely guide 'Duo' pointed out a magpie and was pleased to count just one for good luck. We were fascinated to find that a tradition so idiosyncratic and particular to just this bird, was shared with such a distant people.

Who attributed lucky omens to magpie counting first? Who may have brought this bit of folklore back from their exotic travels? Is the Magpie even a nice quintessentially English bird at all, or has it journeyed from the Far East?

Well, we were eager to share the rhyme we grew up with which Duo was interested to hear, and she quickly declared "I want to see four".

It's strange walking around seeing young families with just one child. Duo cannot get married yet because family tradition in China usually states that the grooms family have to pay the brides family a dowry, normally to the tune of a small house.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


We've been treated like movie stars since our arrival, thanks to the very generous gestures from our friend's mother, Mrs Liu.

Minzhe, my well dressed course mate (pictured right) and expert editor friend, kindly mentioned our visit to his mother, who in turn booked our hotel and arranged for her driver and English speaking guide to collect us from the airport and chauffeur us around for the duration of our stay in Beijing.

Mrs Liu also took us to the finest Peking duck restaurant in erm, Peking, where we dined in a private room and ate like kings. We were relieved that Peking Duck is actually duck and not something fishy or offal-esque! It was the best duck we have ever tasted. We were truly shown the best time. We managed to finish the evening with a wonderfully executed 'Thank you' in Mandarin, and I think I avoided offending anyone…quite a coup for me.