A 5 am start this morning for my 3 classes at 8.25 has left me a little tired tonight, coupled with a shopping trip that turned out to be almost successful.  The first two classes were perfect, a fair amount of students in each class were abIle to speak English, and one young lad in particular was very keen to ask me questions – was I married, did I have a son but I think he was just practicing English rather than trying to pry – I hope!  Some of the students really are adorable, it’s hard to believe that they are all the same age as some, particularly some of the guys, look as if they should still be in primary school. 

The third class was a little different – not disruptive as such, but not too many of them could speak English and it was also the class before lunch so I’m figuring they were tired and hungry, but I soldiered on and got through my lesson plan – but it’s becoming apparently even after only three days of teaching how different each class is, how they react to a westerner and also how the class timing can play such an important part in the teaching process – goodness knows what my very last class on a Friday afternoon will be like!

Two of the English teachers had offered to take my shopping this afternoon – as my clothes issue is still worrying me, particularly as it is freezing here tonight already.  A random taxi journey with two small children and the three of us (thankfully one of the children turned out to be Heather’s (one of the teachers) son and the other was his friend – their kindergarten was close to the shops were going to – but it was all a but of a mystery for the first few minutes.

The good news is that down a street which I think I could actually find on my own, there are about 5-6 “plus” size shops – judging by the amount of Chinese in them I am not alone in not being tiny!  Some of the clothes were really odd, chinese love sequins and fancy stuff on their clothes, so I by-passed those.  The downside is that I would never be able to go to these shops on my own.  The price displayed is by no means the price you pay –  in two of the shops when I’d chosen two big fleecy cardigans Heather and Natasha (the other English teacher) got into such heated discussions over the price that I was hauled out – literally bodily –  by the girls!  However I did managed to get one zip up top – price on label 495 yuan – price to me 150 yuan (£15) and a fantastic massive cardigan thing that is lovely and snuggly for £37 – more than I would have paid but warm is becoming a necessity at the moment.  Taibo is going to be my friend I think!

The other thing the girls did was take me to the smaller supermarket and show me around, particularly what I’ve now worked out is the deli section.  So I can now get things like pickled cucumber (which is lovely) and a variety of noodles and stuff, together with delicacies such as pigs ears (Natasha loves them!), pigs trotters and cooked chicken – so supper tonight was chicken legs, cucumber and green beans – I’ve finally found a use for the microwave! 

And again totally randomly I was taken to a tailor in some sort of market by the girls – I seem to have paid £20 for custom made jammies made of the thickest warmest material ever……I really wanted a dressing gown and tried to explain this to them – an example of how hard it is to communicate what you want – I pick the jammies up on Saturday and I’ll be making a stop for another fleecy blanket for the bed – teaching is easy compared to this winter preparation, in Murthly all I had to do was ensure I had enough coal, logs and oil – here it’s like preparing to be sent to Siberia!

Tomorrow is supposed to be our English corner presentation thing which is turning into a nightmare as neither Tony nor I have powerpoint and aren’t sure whether we can even work what electronic equipment is in the lecture hall.  He came in earlier and when I finish my class at 3 I’m going to try and do a powerpoint of pictures of Scotland – if that doesn’t work then we’ve agreed to just do a talk to the students – week 1 and we’re being lazy already!  However some things are just too difficult to do over here – the point of English corner is to get the students to talk, not for us to talk to them.

Still no word from paypal nor the bank, nor to mention Bidwells about getting my deposit back.  However a friend in Murthly emailed this morning to say that the carpets have been ripped out of the cottage and that the decorators are in – some if Bidwells try to claim money back for carpet cleaning there will be a rapid response back to them saying no chance!

Trying to sort all of these issues from the other side of the world is actually really stressful and tiring – especially trying to ensure that I’m not going to freeze to death come November.  I also need to try my card at the weekend and see whether I can actually get any money out of the bank – could be very embarassing and a long and hungry month if I can’t 😦