Showing posts from May, 2018

Bye Bye Baoan

Baoan is on the other side of Shenzhen, quite a long way from our apartment in Futian. Getting there can take a while and Friday evening is not the best time to be travelling. Nevertheless, for the last four or maybe nearly five years I have been going to the English Fellowship at Baoan Church, maybe once every five or six weeks, and preaching for them. Last Friday was the last time.
Baoan Church is rather different to my church, Shenzhen International Fellowship (SIF). Baoan is a “registered” or “official” church, so it can operate out in the open, as it has been recognized by Chinese government. This means that the Baoan Church can have a big building and a full-time minister.
Ocular, who really is the leader of the English Fellowship, was my translator. I did one of my favourite sermons, “What is so special about Christian prayer?” (If you are interested in such things, Christians have five special things when they pray: the teaching of Jesus, the example, the blood, the intercessio…

Dear Sajeda

Quite a few teachers write to me because I often scribble posts, as "the hippo", on The Times Educational Supplement website. Here is a recent email I had from a lady called Sajeda.
Hello again Simon.

Thank you for this wealth of information. I apologise I didn’t see this until after I’d sent my initial email.
In answer to your question, I have three children, 2 of whom are school age. The other is still only 7 months.  So I would be looking for a school that would pay school fees for the first two, otherwise it would make no financial sense for us to move abroad. 
Our main aim for moving abroad is to be able to spend quality time together as a family as here in the UK, we just can’t seem to do that.  In order to make ends meet, both my husband and I work around the clock. I was hoping with moving over to Qatar, we’d be able to have a good work/life balance as well as save some money for our children and the future.  Being Muslim, we don’t drink anyhow and we don’t have much act…

Extreme Reading

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 that Amy Chua would have approved. In fact, I am pretty certain that she would never have allowed Lulu and Sophia, her pressure-cooked daughters, to do anything as self-indulgent or as time-wasting as reading a book for fun.
Sarah Brennan also gave a talk (yes, well, it was more like a lecture) to the students in Years 5 and 7. It was supposed to be about how to become a great writer; in reality, it was a bit of a tirade against computer games, social media and mobile phones. Although I found what she had to say quite interesting - and certainly she does seem to know quite a lot abo…

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 have…

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…