March 31st, 2016
Plants also have lives. Think about that next time you consider picking one, eh?!
Speaking of flowers, while I was in China I saw cherry blossom trees almost everywhere: even outside the factory! Apparently this year is not as impressive as previous ones due to strong winds recently. Still looks great though.
March 25th, 2016
I’m back in China again for work this week visiting a factory in Suzhou. After a slightly crazy Friday where I landed at 8:30am after an 11 hour flight and then did a whole day of work, I had the whole weekend off to go exploring. I’d done a little bit of sightseeing in Suzhou last November, but only had two half days so didn’t get to see much.
Saturday morning I overslept a bit and then went exploring. My colleague stayed at the hotel and worked. Weird. Anyway, first off I went to 盘门景区 “Panmen Scenic Area”. Not really sure how to translate 盘门: “plate gate”? The gate bit I suppose is referring to the area being the old gate in the city wall pictured below.
Fans of city walls should check back in a few posts time. The main attraction of the sprawling area is the tall pagoda and picturesque landscaped lake.
I got quite excited about going up the pagoda. But sadly you can only go up to the fifth floor and outside only up to the third. Never mind, the view is still pretty good:
Afterwards I wandered back into town and stumbled upon what is to date my favourite Suzhou attraction: 网师园 “Net Master’s Garden”. It’s a bit like the “Humble Administrator’s Garden” I visited last year but smaller, quieter, and more charming.
It’s not actually a garden as such, rather a large house with a number of little open spaces and this large lake in the centre. In some of the little buildings are small shops selling local artwork. There’s also a quaint tea house where I wasted an hour or so drinking this tea in a glass with jasmine flowers floating in that all the old people here are mad keen for. Pretty good start to my “work” trip, so I headed back to the hotel to plan my Sunday adventure…
March 13th, 2016
This week I made a return to familiar territory and went for a walk through the Chilterns from West Wycombe village to Henley. My public transport options are a bit different now so hopefully my routes will be more varied than when I lived in Maidenhead. That’s a positive way of saying I have to take buses everywhere now.
The afternoon today was so beautiful. Definitely the best weekend day to be outside so far this year. Here’s a pretty old barn and very tall tree near Fawley.
Can you spot the black sheep?! I discovered today there is something strangely soothing about sitting and listening to a herd of sheep munching grass. I should produce one of those new age relaxation tapes. Would make a fortune.
March 6th, 2016
It’s the weekend again and time to go canalling. This week I decided to put my Birmingham ambitions on hold and walk the other way into London.
The section from Uxbridge to Hanwell was a bit dull, but there were some interesting boats to look at. I took a detour to explore Southall which inexplicably has nowhere you can get a cup of tea.
The most interesting spot on the route is at Hanwell where the canal drops down a steep flight of locks. At the top is the Three Bridges: a three-level crossing of railway, canal, and road designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In fact, it was his last project before his death. It’s always a bit of a novelty to see water flowing above other things. By the side of the locks is Hanwell Asylum which has a lovely brick façade and looks exactly how you imagine a stereotypical creepy Victorian mental asylum should.
Eventually the Grand Union canal flows into the Thames at Brentford. At some point I lost the path in a canal-side industrial wasteland and decided to call it a day. It had merged with the Thames Path at that point so technically I’d done it already. (Back in 2010, doof.me.uk fans.)
In Brentford I ate what must be one of the most unhealthy muffin products ever created: it had two kinds of meat, egg, cheese, “jam”, and was all fried. Definitely undid any positive effect the exercise might have had.