Xin nian kuai le! (Or ‘Gung hei fat choi!’ in Cantonese.)

This is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Also, it’s my year, so I’m going to make it count. My kung fu will get better, my writing will take more of a precedence again and I’ll generally be more motivated.

I mentioned to my instructor the other night that I seem to work up more of a sweat when I train now and said I didn’t believe it could possibly be because I’m less fit than before (I know I’m fitter). He said it’s because my body is becoming more efficient at cooling down which, in a roundabout way, does mean I’m getting fitter. Good-oh, then. The more I train, the more I want to train, but I have shin splints at the moment, which means I have to take things easy with my legs and not put too much weight on my heels. A pain in the bum, not least because it means more emphasis on punches, meaning my arms are taking most of the strain while my legs heal. Funnily enough, it only twinges when I train, but when it comes to exercises that use the muscles in the lower legs, such as the dreaded bunny hops, it hurts and I have to refrain, which, on Friday, meant lower horse stance. For anyone who doesn’t know what lower horse stance means, I’ll just say this – it means ‘ouch’. My legs still took the strain, but it burns the thighs and leaves the shins alone, so there was no risk of making things worse for myself.

Friday night, also, I finished Jasper Fforde’s new book – the signed copy I won – as I was so close to the end. It was past three in the morning before I finally went to bed but, unless I’m really going and can’t read any more, I carry on when I’m that close to finishing. This being the first of a series, however, it’s not actually finished, which means I’ll have to wait a while to find out what happens next. When I was nearing the end, a lot of the questions I was asking myself throughout the book were answered and I was reminded, once again, of how very clever Jasper Fforde is.

Now, I’ve moved on to a book I read a few years ago but had to return to the library. Called ‘Ancestors: The story of China told through the lives of an extraordinary family’, Frank Ching has written a masterpiece which has haunted me ever since the first time I read it. So now I’m reading it again and I find it as fascinating now as I did then. China never ceases to enthral and excite me and there’s always something else to learn about this vast country.

So now I’m going back to it and I shall see you again soon.

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