The Great Wall of China and an update

Well happy 2016 everyone! I hope the year has treated you well so far.

I’m back at the blog after a bit of an extended hiatus — I was actually brought back by a fellow blogger, Sarah Zama over at The Old Shelter. I’m interviewing her ahead of her new book Give Into The Feeling coming out. I’ve been wanting to interview her for a while, so I’m really looking forward to sharing the interview with you all! Stay tuned for that one.

For now though a quick update on things with me. Firstly, The Black Orchid, the sequel to The Viper and the Urchin is now in the very capable hands of Sue Archer (my editor), so it’s well on track to come out in a couple of months. Very exciting stuff. And while Sue works her magic, I’m starting on a new project that I’ve been wanting to get to for a long time: a Victorian Gothic story set in London. More staying tuned there 🙂

I also had an amazing, if slightly crazy December, with some pretty cool travelling. For Christmas my family came over to this part of the world (Hong Kong and China) and we travelled to Guiling, Yangshuo, Xi’An, and Beijing. While it wasn’t the traditional Christmas (no roast turkey and stuffing for us — not that I mind, I’m not a massive fan of turkey), it was a lot of fun, and we got some pretty stunning photos out of it (by ‘we’, I mean my father. Kind of the reverse of the ‘royal we’)

Now, if I was David Copperfield, I would begin at the beginning of our trip. But being neither Copperfield, nor Dickens (a shame — it would be lovely to be a literary genius), I shall begin by the end of the trip, with what was, by far, the highlight. It’s also probably the most amazing thing I’ve seen in all my travels:

The Great Wall of China.


Prepare yourselves for a glut of photos. It was absolutely stunning:


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It literally stretched out as far as the eye could see:


I was reminded of a line from Game of Thrones, when Tyrion Lannister said he wanted to see The Wall so he could piss off the edge of the world (for anyone living under a rock and not aware of Game of Thrones, The Wall is based on Adrian’s Wall in Scotland, separating Westeros — the world — from the wilderness and monsters beyond.) It was so easy to imagine how for the men who manned the Great Wall, that must have been like standing at the end of their world, watching out and waiting for an attack by (what they likely considered) barbarians. It makes you wonder what kind of a life they must have led, waiting in the most remote part of their world for an attack.

The Wall is dotted with watch towers. They’re little more than small, square building, providing only minimal cover against the cold and wind. If the guards spotted anyone approaching, they could signal one another and gather up the troops as needed.

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Amazingly, despite how large it is, the Great Wall has never been breached. There have actually been several Great Walls, and the relics we visit these days belong to the Ming Dinasty Great Wall – which is a mere 8,800km long. The official length of the entire Great Wall is 21,200km, and it’s over 2,300 years old.

Parts of it are very well preserved, but of course the vast majority of it is in disrepair, with chunks missing.


We hiked for a good few hours, and because it was the middle of winter (and therefore low season), and also because we went for the part of the wall furthest away from Beijing, we were alone for the duration — which as you can imagine was incredibly special. We could actually stand and look out of the wall, and imagine what it must have been like back then for the soldiers on the wall.


Parts of the wall are seriously steep, mind you – not for the faint of feet! But very much worth it.

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It was truly spectacular. A real once in a life time, awe-inspiring visit — and something I definitely plan to use one day as inspiration for a story.

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Alright, next up — Beijing.

Shanghai, puzzles, and bladder pressure.

The husband and I went to Shanghai for a long weekend just recently. I know it sounds pretty exotic, but for us it’s actually only two and a half hours by plane, so kind of like going from New York to – I don’t know, Boston? Philly? I have no concept really. Suffice to say it’s just around the corner.

So anyway – you know when you’re on holiday with your significant other, and it’s a Saturday night, and you decide to go to a bar together for a drink, and you just walk in through the door?

Well, let me tell you, that is SO passé. So 2013. It’s boring. It’s mundane. It’s banal.We westerners are way behind the times.  Continue reading