A very happy Chinese New Year to you all. I am sure that the Year of the Dragon is going to bring health, wealth and prosperity to us all. Even the BBC website mentioned that this is a very auspicious year with an expected baby-boom which also happened twelve years ago. Apparently the birth rate is expected to increase by at least 5% or could be as high as 10%. The parents wanting to send their children to international schools better start putting them on the waiting list now! When we came to Hong Kong my oldest was six so not a special year and yet she was still something like 124th on the list. Thank goodness we could afford to do the fast track or I think that Chloe would still be waiting.
I must confess that when I lived in England I had vaguely heard of Chinese New Year but I can’t honestly confess to knowing anything about it other than the local Chinese restaurant /take away was closed for a week. The world has certainly changed, and it is a testament to how important China is that if you look at any English news website there is extensive reporting of the celebrations. My first Chinese New Year was celebrated in Malaysia. The local saying in Kuala Lumpur was Chinese New Year was always the hottest time of the year. Hong Kong it appears to be the complete opposite being the coldest time of the year. It has been absolutely freezing with lots of rain and wind, and general unpleasantness that makes going outside a very undesirable option. We did brave the elements and watched the fireworks in the harbour for the first time. Whilst the weather was foul, the fireworks were spectacular and offset the discomfort of the cold.
In this weather, I do realise how lucky I am to live in Asia. The weather we currently have been experiencing seems to be the weather that we have in England for six months of the year. The girls have been going stir-crazy staying indoors; it’s at times like these you realise how much of their lives they spend playing outside. Their limited options have been television & Wii with YouTube actually being used the most. Is there a song that the Chipmunks have not recorded? Hearing them is like listening to nails down a blackboard, raising the hairs on the back of my neck though not in a good way. Of course my girls love them and play them repetitively and constantly. Perhaps just to annoy their parents!
The apartments are also not designed for cold weather - concrete is not a good retainer of heat. Marble floors don’t add to warmth. Drafty windows let in cold air. Insulation, double glazing, carpets, central heating don’t exist. I know in England temperatures of 6˚ - 12˚ are not considered very cold but take all of the above factors into consideration and it is bloomin’ freezing here. Thank goodness on a recent renovation we installed reverse cycle air-conditioning units as, for the first time since coming to Hong Kong we are warm in cold weather.
What I like to do on days like these is to cook and eat. If I am honest I prefer the eating bit to the cooking bit. Food is one of my absolutely favorite activities. I am lucky to be blessed with a wife who is an excellent cook, with her speciality being Asian food. I also enjoy cooking pretty much anything though I am not a huge fan of Western food other than Italian. My girls think my best dish is pork with strawberry balsamic sauce served with green salad and mashed potato. It sounds fancy but it is actually incredibly easy to do. I am attempting for the first time tonight another Italian dish pork loin wrapped in pancetta with roast potatoes, vine tomatoes and drizzled in basil pesto. I am crossing my fingers that it goes alright, and has lots of taste.
Before I sign off to enjoy the rest of my public holiday - an update on Southampton. To be frank we haven’t been playing well at all and we have now dropped to second in the league. Since the 19th of November we have Won 5, Lost 4 and Drawn 2. In our last match on Tuesday we lost 2:0 at home to Leicester who are 13th. We really need to start getting consistent again or I am very nervous that our season will start slipping away from us. It will be so frustrating if we don’t get in the Premiership next season after the brilliant start that we have had.
I hope that the Year of the Dragon improves the fortunes of the Saints!