Beijing, 27 April 2013

After a long, cold gestation, spring has finally arrived with a bang in Beijing. Suddenly, every tree, every bush, every plant is thrusting eagerly out to the sun and warmth. The Beijing authorities have been good enough to plant many flowering plants along and around my piece of canal, so my daily walks to and from the office are currently accompanied by a riot of colour.

flowers along canal 004

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flowers along canal 008

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flowers along canal 017

But actually, the flower I’m most taken with is a humble weed. It’s that little blue flower in the last picture. Like all good weeds, it grows well on waste land – we saw long swathes of it along roads on the outskirts of Beijing last weekend as we drove past abandoned factories and other land with no obvious use on the way to a restaurant. I found them again, tucked away in a forgotten tongue of land along the canal, where a major bridge crosses it – the kind of place I would expect to find used syringes and condoms in Europe.

flowers along canal 015

They’d also colonized a flower box outside a restaurant close by, growing alongside bamboo.

flowers along canal 001

I don’t know its name. I showed a picture of it to my Chinese colleagues and they looked blank. No idea, they said.

At the restaurant, my flowery weed also carpeted the ground under the apple trees in the restaurant’s orchard.

blue flowered weed-restaurant

It’s a bit fanciful but it made me think of bluebells in European woods and for a minute I wanted to be home.

Bluebells 1



Blue flowers at the restaurant: Robert

All other pics: mine

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I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg

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