Extreme Reading

Just over a week ago we had the World Scholar’s Cup at Green Oasis. For most of this semester I have been coaching the twenty-four students in Years 5 and 6 who were going to take part in this competition. It is a rather academic mixture of general knowledge quiz, essay writing challenge and debating competition. Judy and Wyatt, two students from my own Year 5 class, did rather well and of course I was very pleased about that. What was not so good was that it went on (and on) and in fact I did not get home on the Friday night until 9pm. After a long week of school, that was tough.

This year at Green Oasis we did not have any fancy dress for Book Week. Instead we had “bonkers hats”, door decorating (with a literary theme), Sarah Brennan and the “extreme reading” photos. I thought that the idea of a very silly selfie, taken while you were reading a book, was an amusing idea and hence the ghastly picture of yours truly reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother while shaving. I am not sure …

Auntie Bulgaria

Ever since I started writing one myself, I have become an avid reader of other people's blogs, especially if they are in any way connected with Bulgaria. Auntie Bulgaria, otherwise known as Claire Ruston, has been writing an excellent blog for quite some time now and you can read this blog by going to Recently Claire was excited because her little lemon trees have at last started to produce lemons for the first time . (Gin and tonics, here we come!) Here is my comment and Claire's reply.
A lemon tree, my dear Watson! I am very impressed by the citrus surplus that you are about to have, Claire. Lemons usually cost a fortune in Bulgaria. Did you bring your lemon tree into the house during the winter? Or did it somehow survive in the wonky polytunnel?

What about the asparagus? Does it really take FOUR years before they start producing a good crop of spears? Any special asparagus tips? (My apologies - no pun intended!)

We are STILL in China, but I h…

In the Wet

On Sunday 6th of May we had a short service of baptism after the main service at our church, Shenzhen International Fellowship (SIF). We had five candidates of different nationalities and yours truly was “doing the honours”. The other elder who was helping me was Adam and he did the prayers and the Bible reading. I was the one who actually got into the water (a large inflatable paddling pool) and put them under the water. I first asked each one, “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?” and then I said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. SIF is a non-denominational church. Yes, we do believe that the Bible is God’s word, but apart from that we try not to tie our fellowship to any particular denomination. (Part of the reason for this might be that the authorities in China get particularly nervous about Chinese churches that are linked to foreign organizations.) About six weeks earlier, we had arrived for the Sunday morning service to fin…

You can't have your kayak and heat it

Oh dear. Right, no more silly kayak jokes. I have been looking at inflatable kayaks on the Decathlon website and it looks as though you can buy a very good two man inflatable kayak for about two hundred euros. The pump, the paddles and life vests will cost a bit more.  
“But why buy an inflatable kayak?” I hear you ask. Well, an inflatable one can of course be deflated and packed into quite a small and convenient backpack. Solid, non-inflatable kayaks are a complete pain when it comes to transporting them. A car's roof rack is not really secure enough, so really you would need a trailer. With an inflatable kayak, you just deflate it, put it into the backpack, put the backpack into the car and drive home. 
I have watched a YouTube video about the Itiwit inflatable kayak and it only took six or seven minutes to inflate. Stability is also very good, as there are two main air pockets, one on either side, as well as three small keels on the bottom. Probably it would also be possible to s…

BG Dreams

There are now 45 days to go, to the end of my teaching career. Well, it has been quite interesting: the UK for about twenty years, followed by my misadventures in foreign parts: Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Romania, Qatar, the UAE and now China. On Thursday, 14th June, 2018, I shall be teaching my last-ever lessons at Green Oasis School and then on Monday, 18th, we will be flying to Bulgaria.
As you may have noticed, this blog is called “Bulgaria with Noodles” because Irena and I are still in China, but in many ways our hearts are already in BG. But what will we do, once we have settled down in Bulgaria? A lot of travelling is fairly high on the list of priorities.

The truth is, we really do not know most of Bulgaria. Sofia, Kalotina and a Veliko Tarnovo: that is about all we are familiar with. Whenever we come to Bulgaria for the summer, there is a long list of things that need to be sorted out: the grass in the back garden is about two metres high, the car will not start, the fridge i…

GZ Shoot

My dear Irisha was away on Sunday and she did not come back until Monday afternoon. This meant that her poor lonely husband had lunch with AJ at our apartment after church on Sunday.
Although she quite enjoys the actual modelling and meeting new people, as well as chatting with the people she has worked with before, Irena does NOT enjoy the travelling that seems to be an inevitable part of being an international model. Well, this “shoot” in Guangzhou was no exception. Yes, the agent did go with her on the train from Shenzhen, but travelling on the GZ MTR is not for the fainthearted. The shoving and the sardine-like crowds on the metro trains were pretty bad.
Irena said that the shoot itself was quite easy, even though it involved more travelling once they arrived in GZ, as they had to go to a sort of country club about an hour from the city. It was all rather twee and English and afternoon tea, except of course that it was in the morning.
After she had been “made up”, Irena looked the q…

Feasts & Friends

The Redang Island Café in Shenzhen is not really a café. It’s a Malaysian Restaurant in Fumin, close to the Futian Border Checkpoint. Lots of teachers from Green Oasis seem to live in Fumin. Maybe that it is because rents are a bit cheaper than Futian or perhaps because it is closer to Hong Kong. On the other hand, it might be because there are so many good (and reasonably-priced) restaurants in this district of Shenzhen.
Even though we have been going there for nearly five years, Irena and I nearly always have the same main dish: the mango fish. It’s a wonderful spin on the traditional British fish and chips (or chish and fips, if you like silly jokes). The mango gives the fish a special freshness and the spicy sauce certainly makes a change from the usual vinegar. For good measure, we also added some curried vegetables. 

Having introduced us to so many restaurants in SZ, it made a nice change for Irena and I to take our dear Chinese friends Bill and Julia to a restaurant that they had…