These entries are a little bit muddled as we try to fill you in with the events of the last week. This is the last picture from Simao this year - the farewell party at the airport. Hou Wanxia [red coat] arrived at our house before 8 am to help us carry luggage downstairs - seeing as Freda and Edie can't even manage their own bags this was very much appreciated. Ma Li [in black cap] arrived with his jeep at 8:15 and took all the bags plus me and Ali. Mr Wang [red jacket, at front] drove Hou Wanxia and the children as well as Lao Yang. Lao Yang had joined us for our Christmas meal the night with a few other friends, and stayed for one more sleepover. There was one more surprise in store - Yolanda and Xiaomei [behind the children] came with Clair and Janet [two of the TDC workers] to see us off. Janet presented us with a beautiful papercut she'd done herself. Yolanda said in a later email: "This was my first time to see someone off so I felt sad for the whole day." Knowing that Freda and Edie may not come back in the Spring made it very hard for me to watch them say goodbye to such close friends. Lao Yang didn't take his eyes off us until we disappeared through the security gate. Even then, when I poked my head round the corner, I found he was still looking. It's easier to leave than to be left behind.

The sub-zero conditions in Beijing were quite a shock for us hot-house flowers from Simao. We had to stop and warm ourselves up on this sunny wall on returning to the hotel from dinner. From what we'd heard from the UK it wouldn't be much warmer there.
28/2/2011 10:42:47 am

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