26: Happy Birthday!

I am another year older, does that mean I will get any wiser? Anyhow, I recently celebrated by twenty-sixth birthday in China for the second time! I stayed in Wuhan for my birthday like I did last year, my actual birthday was on a Monday, it was a normal day! Beginning with a top Friday night out to finish off with a lovely meal at Paddyfield. Sure, my specials made it much better!

Wanting to get on my birthday hype I didn't waste any time! Making the most of a half day due to a compulsory health check for my kindergarten I napped in-preparation for my unofficial birthday night out! Yes, Guanggu Square was shining! Donning a slicked back hairstyle I served H&M Realness with my then new long black tee, I don't usually do Friday nights but I wasn't going to miss out on that one! Grabbing some street food for the win, loosing not a moment I made it to Optics Valley Station paying those un-coordinated individuals no mind. Going underground I was en-route to Wangjiadun East it was all about starting the night off with a bottle of red at Hankou's Beer Barn, a bottle bar that I can enjoy every now and then. Meeting my special, Fiona had taken a detour from her Dongwu Avenue location but we were ready for the night, that little delay didn't put us back at all. Oh, I was embracing that pre 26 moment!

Feeling that something basic was brewing it was off to Meso, a new Wuhan nightspot that had a 'Ladies Night' drinks promotion. Cramming into an unmarked people carrier seemed like a good idea at the time, we were only going down the road so it wasn't going to be a problem. Sticking close to the females in the group it was free drinks all round, getting my life to some Afro-beat music I fulfilled my fantasy on the dancefloor! Fiona held her own, we talked the talk and of course we didn't entertain that recurring basic tone. Saturday night is our usual our scene, keeping it one hundred because we don't sit in bars all night! Being real, those Wuhan clubs need to be torn up! But the strong free drinks tasted great, nabbing some champagne I was getting into the birthday mood early! Against all odds we got suitably inebriated, bidding a blurry farewell along Jianghan Road I was more than ready for my bed! Making up for a Monday birthday I was happy with that Friday night B!

Saturday was dedicated to ridding ourselves of an awful hangover, I am getting the hang of shaking off those Wuhan headaches after almost eighteen months. The previous year I took myself to Tanhualin for coffee and cakes as my 25th birthday fell on a Saturday rather than a Monday! Nevertheless, I wanted to make this years birthday celebrations as great as the previous b'day weekend in Wuhan, China. Saturday needed to finish because I was looking forward to a hearty meal, it gets tiresome eating rice and noodles all the blinding time! Joined by Elli, we met Fiona at Huangpu Road Metro Station to find Paddyfield Irish Bar & Restaurant. We had liked the review very much from Wuhan Social, the lure of home-cooked pub food had us running for a table without hesitation! Saturday's McDonald's delivery meal had worn off by then, I needed something more hearty to satisfy my appetite! A pint?! Yass girls!

Had we been transported to an authentic Irish pub? Quite possibly yes because Paddyfield's decor reminded me of my years living in an Irish pub in Wolverhampton, England. So, we were still standing in Wuhan, China but we had been transported to what felt like something closer to home, three pints of lager ordered our mouths watered as we deliberated at what we were going to order! The fish and chips were a winner, served with freshly made chips it was beyond amazing not to have any life-threatening bones hiding in the fish! Chatting away like the world was about to end it was mind-blowing to think that our time in China had past the half-way point, we took several seats to make the most of a rare sober gathering. Making mine the apple pie, I had no intention of sharing because it simply tasted too good! Finishing our two courses and well enjoyed pints, we left Paddyfield feeling very satisfied. Can you get a food hangover? Chinese food is nice but I need some home cooking! Like, now!

My twenty-sixth year had begun with a new week, fresh on that November 14th morning I was ready for a full day of teaching. I saw it as a normal day with a nice twist, I was busy with my everyday gig but I loved it when the children sung happy birthday to me, it was beautiful! November had so far been a nonstop month, having something nice like my birthday was nice to compliment the day. Making a fruit smoothie it was nice to leave the flashcards behind for one day, the children adored that healthy alternative to their usual fizzy drinks. Like I mentioned before I had the 25th birthday to myself to explore during my 25th birthday, being a worker now it was something I got on with, my weekday birthday was made special by doing what I'm loving here in China. If I remember correctly the lunch wasn't too bad, I didn't get the noodles like I did the previous year! Thanks for singing to me kids! They are the best!

Monday being my busy day, I prepared quickly for my weekly after-school lesson that starts not long after dismissal. I have been teaching this extra class since late September and it was a great addition to be teaching my after-school kids on my birthday, after our class I was surprised with a lovely birthday cake by one of the mothers, it was totally out of the blue and totally appreciated! More than tired I was ready to go home, to sleep to hopefully get over that hectic weekend! Beginning after that unplanned afternoon nap I was catapulted into a crazy and hungover weekend that included a delicious meal at Wuhan's Paddyfield, concluding with a blessed day of teaching and a lovely cake! I have every faith that my 26th year will be as great as the last one, China is a mad place to live and work in but I can see great things on the horizon! Keeping it simple I know that Wuhan has served me two great birthday weekends but I would love 27 to be a Beijing thing! Anyhow, I'm liking 26!


Joseph Harrison


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