Saturday 6th April: 

All well - first flight done and now waiting in Helsinki Airport - Burger King and reindeer sandwiches!  No problem with the wifi and filtering in Finland - may be a different matter in China....  Next update once we are in Beijing, found wifi and got through the internet filtering....  A few quick photos here...

Sunday 7th April: 

10.50 Arrived in Beijng a few hours ago.  All safe and well - if a bit in need of sleep!  Checked into the hotel and the rooms were ready so an hour or so for a shower and a rest and then out to Tianenman Square and the Forbidden City...

18:55 Just back from meal - everyone coped with compulsory chopsticks really well!  The Forbidden City was amazing and everyone coped well with a lot of walking - several people fell asleep as soon as they sat down! Weather has been great -  sunny and warm, but with a breeze.  Early night for all as we have all missed a night's sleep and we are getting wake-up calls at 5.30am tomorrow so that we can be on our way to the Great Wall....  Wifi is very slow in this hotel so have not been able to upload photos from today... 

Monday 8th April:

23:20 A long but brilliant day!  We have walked and climbed on the Great Wall of China, visited a jade workshop, eaten a lovely Chinese meal, visited the Pearl Market (and laden ourselves down with all sorts of things!), travelled by bullet train to Qingdao where we are now collapsing into bed in a really nice hotel so that we get some sleep before walking to the school tomorrow morning.  All well... - wifi really slow again in the hotel so I am afraid that all the photos will have to wait.  Just included one at the top of the blog.... 

Tuesday 9th April:

19:05  Amazing experience courtesy of No 63 Middle School, Qingdao.  Memories that adults and students will never forget.  Kung-fu, chinese brush painting, Tie dyeing, music, dumpling making as well as eating together and being part of a very different school for the day.  They made us so welcome and made such an effort on our behalf.  It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of it.  Back at the hotel relatively early today - all tired, but with many memories that will last us all our lives.   

Wednesday 10th April:

22:40 Another day of experiences....  We spent the morning in Qingdao at one of the universities where artists in ink, pyrography and paper taught our students some of their skills - the results are amazing - if this wifi is any good I will upload one or two of the photos - otherwise they will have to wait until we get home.  It was the agricultural university (where they developed animal cloning in China) and they were very keen to show us both the traditional Chinese medicines and the modern use of technology....  We then went to the bullet train station (which is more like an airport) passing a 40km bridge over part of the Yellow Sea - quite a sight.  7 hours on a bullet train, with food delivered to the train from a takeaway at one of the stations and we are now in Shanghai.  It looks impressive even in the dark (we have just arrived) and everyone is getting some sleep before sightseeing tomorrow....  Everyone fine.

Thursday 11th April:

21:10 I shall be glad to get back to a decent wifi and internet with sensible filtering!  The hotel system decided to block the school website management software for some random reason - only just sorted it out!  All well here - our heads are full of images and sights of Shanghai.  We started at the Jade Buddha temple, went on to the main pedestrianised shopping street in the centre of the city, had lunch by the river, walked by the river with the unbelievable skyline of the financial district of Shanghai in front of us, visited a Chinese garden and a very busy market in old Shanghai and then finished the day with supper and seeing Shanghai by night.  The lights by night are amazing - "the best view in the world" according to one of our group!  Back in the hotel encouraging everyone to pack up their gifts etc... as tomorrow is a long day in Shanghai Disney followed by a very very early morning to catch the flight home.....

Friday 12th April:

22:40 Disneyland Shanghai was certainly an experience!  The students loved it which made it very worthwhile, but it was very busy indeed.  Packing up now and then a small amount of sleep - our wakeup call is at 4.45am - packed breakfast on the bus and then a morning flight out of Shanghai.  21 hours from hotel to Walton-le-Dale so expect some very tired people when we get back at 7pm (estimated)....  See everyone tomorrow!