Something Slight for the Weekend

Nicholas Quirke was feeling cynical about their Saturday morning activity on 3 July 2021 as Peng was trying to empty the cupboards of some ingredients that had been bought and never used, and specifically the tinned coconut cream that was for baking cheesecake. They had had a modicum of success when he had originally arrived but then the the pursuit of having cake once they were out of quarantine was easier and as both were trying to lose some weight making rich cakes really wasn’t the answer. However, they had the cream, the cashews, the blueberries and base to maker the cake and thus almost as soon as breakfast of Jianbing was consumed they started. The initial results before it went into the freezer looked promising and he looked forward to the tasting session that afternoon. With just over a month left in China he needed to start thinking about what he would take and what he would leave behind and began to say goodbye to some old favourites. The sun was out and though he felt like staying indoors he needed exercise and the vitamin D and as Peng had not seen the new ‘New Mall’ at Xidan they decided to walk there and maybe have some tea. It was really hot an humid and the walk was actually quite draining and once they had walked round the two floors, seen that many of the sculptures that dominated his visit had now disappeared to be replaced by a small and spare exhibition on the CCP’s 100 years, discovered that there was no where to have a tea they started to walk back home and the promise of vegan blueberry cheese cake. Suffice to say the cake was delicious and they consumed too much of it. Despite feeling a little bloated they still enjoyed a large bag of Tabasco crisps each as they watched an instant popcorn classic, ‘The Tomorrow War’ which he found to be a top notch sci-fi adventure yarn particularly crediting the screen writer who had tied up any loose ends in the believable future that was constructed,  created a deadly alien foe that was credible and with a strong human element that added to the fast and fantastic entertainment. Buoyed by the spirit of reconciliation in the film a night of dreams of some passed away people populated his sleep. He was aware when he woke on 4 July 2021, the countdown to departure stealthily implanted in his mind, that it was likely it was his last class with Michael and Apple which made him feel quite sad and made him capture them talking on his video. Typically though they were pests but he remained calm and reminded himself that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink and in that philosophical mood he bid the pair goodbye. He had arranged to meet Peng for lunch in Tai Koo Li at Home Plate Barbecue to try their array of plant based meat dishes. He cycled there and discovered a live Laowai band were were blasting out some 80’s classics, which on the one hand was appealing but on the other was too loud and he feared he would not enjoy his meal. it turned out that there was a special event and his heart sank as a stream of laowais poured through the door and went into the back room where the band were playing. As with most western style restaurants the food was mediocre and overpriced though after some serious faffing about with an offer of free fries he was a little less annoyed by the price until the Vegan Burger, which on the menu was supposed to come with salad and fries anyway didn’t. They questioned this and were told it was a printing error. He wouldn’t be going back there in a hurry before he left. Just around the corner though was a cool relaxing tea house Tienstiens where they spent much of the afternoon on their roof terrace sipping tea and working as wannabe ‘influencers’ took photos of themselves in the laid back atmosphere. It was another relatively chilled day which ended as most days did with a movie and some snacks before bed. Ever since ‘Sex, lies and Videotape’ he’d loved the auteur in Stephen Soderbergh and this film ‘No Sudden Move’ absolutely resonated with trademark story telling  and style. The plot though was deeply  convoluted  and  it was  not until virtually the end of the film that he had  any idea of where it was leading and what might transpire. An amazing cast deliver as he expected and the slow unraveling kept him watching but he hesitated to rave about it as ultimately he felt a bit left out. Fortunately wasn’t a feeling though that he went to sleep with.

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