Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

11th January — in Ninfield

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I have been at home, living at my parent’s house. They live in a village called Ninfield, in southeast England. It’s about half an hour’s drive from Hastings, the seaside town where I grew up. Round here it’s green fields, country homes, and little churches.

It’s been raining a lot. Daffodils bloom outside due to the warmest December in Britain on record.

I’ve not had much to do. I do some editing for a PR firm. Wrote a couple of travel articles for an Aussie website which will pay well. Sent a couple of pitches out earlier this week.

But January is usually a quiet month for freelancers. Although if I was in China, I’d have quite a bit on my plate as there’s a lot going on right now.

There is not much to do in Ninfield. It’s a village so it’s a very small place. There are no cafes and just a few shops. There are two pubs and a post office. Mostly I’ve been at home, exercising a little on a camping mat I bought, and reading the internet and watching TV.

Occasionally I go out for a walk. It’s muddy and wet and the grass is very green. I’ve enjoyed the British weather and the countryside. I went walking one day and I was taking photos on my phone of the scenery. In front of me there was a field that sloped downward toward the horizon, with a farmstead at the bottom, and horses in the field.

One approached me after I had stood there for a while taking pictures. He probably was wondering what I was doing and wanted to take a look.

I am starting to get antsy cooped up at home. Wanderlust fills me. I am kinda glad I am not in Beijing right now. I know it well enough to know that Beijing in January is a dangerous place and I’ve always tended toward a bleak and depressed mood in the city at this time of year.

*

On Christmas eve, my old school friends and I will usually meet at a pub and have drinks. It’s a kind of tradition. We’ll also meet up at one of our friend’s houses for a catch-up and we’ll go play football. That’s also become a tradition.

We don’t see each other very often. Sometimes just once or twice a year.

One is in the army, having returned from Afghanistan. Another works for a medical company with wife and newborn son. Another works for a water company up north. Another is well traveled and often abroad.

*

Tomorrow I go to London. And the day after I go to a national newspaper’s office to meet editors with whom I’ve corresponded but have never met.

I’m also reading a book by a Norwegian. I’ve not read him before. I came upon a passage, in which the author writes about his experience having just moved to the north of Norway, to teach at a school, while he writes, at the age of 18. And I remembered a little how I felt at that age.

“All the books I liked were basically about the same topic…Books about young men who struggled to fit into society, who wanted more from life than routines, more from life than a family, in short, young men who hated middle-class values and sought freedom…Everything they wanted I wanted too”.

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Written by Lu-Hai Liang

January 10, 2016 at 11:02 pm

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