In Search of……

When we moved into our apartment we decided that we only wanted it to be partially furnished, we asked the landlord to provide only a bed and a TV.  This was mostly as we would rather have our cat damage our own property rather than anyone else’s, as well as just wanting to really make it our own.  That said we have been doing a lot of shopping in the last few weeks.  And as we are getting a bit older and starting to think it would be good if the things we buy last a bit longer it has not been a one-stop Ikea shop to fill this place, though today we hit the jackpot there!  We have often discounted the rugs at as Ikea as we thought they were too expensive to be from Ikea.  Today we had a long look at them and found a few that we really liked (and all were more affordable than the Muji rug we have been pining after).  We decided to wait on it, but then as we passed though the ‘As Is’ department, we saw the rug we had liked for 60% off, all due to a small sticker and a few creases.  In the spirit of saving money we went for it and are so pleased!  It fits in the budget and leaves a bit extra for our dining table and chairs.

In Tianjin there are two choices for furniture (as far as we know, please comment if you know of other places!): Ikea and Macalline.  Macalline being 5 floors of anything you could ever want when building or furnishing a home.  It can be a bit overwhelming as it is so big (with many of the same pieces repeated again and again), but we were lucky to find a sofa and chair that we really love.   Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.

So we extended our search to Beijing, just looking the internet there was nothing that jumped out, but I kept coming across Gao Bei Dian.  It is quite a way out from the city centre but definitely worth the trip.  The 500m walk from the subway station was less than convincing as all that could be seen were car showrooms and construction sites, we were worried we had wasted a day in the sweltering summer heat, until we stumbled upon our first furniture shop.  Which just happened to have a table we had been looking at online!  We found all sorts of shops: beautiful showrooms with antiques and modern pieces, tiny spaces with tables piled a top each other, and small boutiques with elegant displays.  It seems as though we had found the physcial stores for all the TaoBao shops we have been browsing the last few months. Despite finding what we had originally wanted we are now plagued with having to choose between several fantastic choices, and we are even considering the money saving option of an Ikea table.

Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.  We recognise that unique, quality furniture is going to have a higher price tag, however we are trying to be sensible and not break the bank.  The last two days we have walked over 37,000 steps in search of… hopefully ten days on the beach can help us come to a decision.

 – Mr and Mrs T

Inspiration to realisation

Over the past few months we have seen a few of these amazing bikes around China.  Our recent trip to Xi’an and bike number 2 being on it’s last legs inspired Mr T to go for it and get one for himself.  The design and selection of parts was quite challenging as the shop owner spoke no English, but with the help of a Chinese friend over the phone an understanding was achieved.  We were able to trade in Mr T’s old bike for over half the price of the new one which was ideal considering the pedal nearly fell off on the way to make the trade.  We feel like we got the better half of the deal but I am sure the bike owner will be able to make something of his old bike with a little TLC.  We have been lucky to have beautiful crisp Autumn weather these past few days and have been out enjoying the city and our bikes.  With each ride he is becoming more confident on his brake free bike.  Lets hope we can hold onto it longer than his first bike (nicked after six days)!

Mrs T

A day of discovery

We set out this morning with the intention of finding a little French bakery around the corner, 6 hours later we arrived home exhausted but with a growing appreciation of our new city!

Tous les Jours turned out to be less than a kilometre away and was a lovely treat of carbs, which have nearly disappeared from our diet since we arrived. Whist I had originally had the intentions of going in to school to get ready for the start of term, adventure beckoned so my classroom could wait until tomorrow.

We decided to jump on the Metro and see what happened. Going on our memory from our city tour we went two stops to find not too much of interested. A little help from Google maps and we realized we needed to go a bit further. Two more stops and a total of 80 pence/$1.30 spent we found ourselves in the pedestrian shopping street. Shop upon shop, and mall after mall there was pretty much anything you could want. I managed to get a few staples at Uniqlo, though a bit off putting that I was buying size XL.

In addition to shopping we got some lessons in toilet habits of Chinese children. We witnessed one baby being held over a plastic bag having a poo, and later a young girl being held up to wee in the bin. All of this in public in the middle of the street!

Any number of food was there as well from McDonalds, KFC, juice and tea shops, Starbucks, Costa Coffee, the list could go on and on. We were able to get a few groceries at Japanese grocer Isetan. A nice combination of home comforts, like Organic Valley milk and a selection of cheeses, and local produce and goods.

Back on the Metro which I have to say was easy to use and ever so clean and we were home within 10 minutes. It was a great day of exploring! We are feeling more and more comfortable and happy in this new city.

Mrs. T

Sweet Smelling Soy

Whilst visiting Deal we stumbled across a craft market, and walked straight to a table of sweet scented soy snow.  We were intrigued by the uniqueness and sold by the fantastic aromas.  We are daily candle burners and loved the idea of creating our own candles with a bit of snow and a wick.

We tested it out in a glass at our holiday rental.  The scent was lovely whether we were burning the candle or not.  I was able to remove the remaining wax and wick, saved in a ziplock back to bring back with us.  I can even get the scent through the bag as it is sitting on my bedside table.

You can see the range of products at Weald Candle Makers.  We love our new ‘candles’ as well as being able to support a ‘local’ small business!!

Mrs T