Hi ,

Greetings from a remote Chinese village in Jangxi province.

I'm here in my wife's home town for the Chinese New Year celebrations and general family reunion.
Last week I was telling you about my first visit to this part of the world and how it has change so much, mostly for the good.. but not always. You can read about it here.

My wife's grandmother was 90 the other day - and so her family threw her a party. She is a remarkable woman, I find her absolutely fascinating - she lived though some serious history and survived when millions didn't.
I love to sit with her, and although she speaks no English at all, I get my wife to ask the questions and she giggles and chats happily.. then from this lovely gentle old lady we learn eye opening quite shocking things about her life and local history.


She came from a wealthy family, she is thankful that her parents were progressive enough that her feet were never bound, she still feels grateful for this.
Her husband fought for the Nationalists against the Japanese, he deserted - when it seemed he was certain to die - and ran across country for three days and nights without stopping to escape.
They were sent away for reeducation, for simply being rich, to the countryside to learn how to be farmers and humble. Part of the process was a form of torture - it involved been tied to a chair covered in honey and biting ants and left for days outside. People committed suicide rather than face repeats. The system I understand involved three guys being responsible for reeducating one guy.. and inflict this horrible thing on their fellow man. Even today she told us - there are old folk alive around who live and work together who did this to each other, some couldn't forgive and lived a life of bitterness. Grandma laughs about it - her husband died when he was 55 - broken by too much heartache, she says he missed so much because soon after things began to improve in China.
She tells stories of secret caves in the country not far away where where families hid their daughters from the Japanese. Then only in the 1970's whist we was grooving to the Beatles and wearing flares there was food shortages, there was barely a cup of rice a day per person. In the 1960's millions had died, in this area in the 1970's it was still very bad. The government brought in strict laws about how many children you could have, Grandma was famous for hiding children in cupboards in her house, and confusing the officials about who's children belong to whom. Today she still rises at 5am to look after a small holding, goes to help in the family supermarket. She reads the lesson at the local Church, and people come to her for blessings.
Despite being invited to move to the modern family house, she insists on living in a humble house, she says she has more money than she could spend, as all her family bring substantial red envelopes of cash to her. She instead recycles the money giving it to her great grandchildren. She had four children who survived (more than she can remember died young), one is my wife's father. The grand-children have done well, one is a smart business guy who speaks good English, we always meet up at CNY.

So many more things I could tell you, everyday we learn something else.

And we think we have problems with Brexit! Knowing someone like this puts things into a different perspective.

It's important to realise that we have relatively abundant lives in the West, and that maybe sometimes we take things for granted. I can think of one or two amazingly arrogant people who just thing everything should come to them on a plate, a sense of entitlement.
This lady is simply grateful for everything. Grateful that the world is improving, and grateful to have her family around, even if one of them is a rather odd Englishman.

Soon I will be headed to India.. another place with that can teach you a lot.
It's almost Valentines Day.. OMG.. already. Time flies. Hope this week is amazing for you.. great sales and romantic moments.

Brexit is already an issue for us.. I just realised that we have various containers on the way.. they will arrive after Brexit day (assuming it's not delayed) - we don't actually know what duty we might need to pay on those shipments.. and thus we don't know what we have paid for stuff. I didn't think about this.. I'm willing to bet there are lots of things we haven't thought about yet.. unforeseen consequences. How many people even considered the Irish border issues in 2016? One thing will lead to another to another.. maybe some things will be good, who knows..? We don't know if we are going to lose export sales - it looks like it - if our customers need an import license like we are being told. It's all a bit scary.

Anyway.. lots of love and valentine wishes.. hugs and kisses all round.

Take care



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