Emails from Maria in China to Ruth in London

9th May
Sorry I haven't written in a bit. How is everything thing there? Things here have moved on quite quickly since I last wrote. I guess the first 10 days were about trying to understand the place, at least a little, to then be able to think about doing something with a vague confidence that it's not totally the wrong thing to be doing. I was teaching the dance group and some locals Scottish Country Dancing the other night in the theatre after a refresher session with Adam and the others before he left. It was really good fun. We are planning an event next Saturday. I will do a bit of cooking and show some films as well as take part in the dancing later in the day. Don't quite know what to make yet as resources are limited. Have been taking lots of romantic rural pictures of farms at Adam's suggestion, which I didn't really want to do but secretly enjoyed and have just ordered more film. I hope they can be used in some way. I have so many of these kinds of pictures that have been impossible to do anything with. Am going to a farm next week to help make a guestroom and have been editing a few short films. Wakpe asked me to send a postcard from the village but they don't sell them so I'll get the kids to make them at school. We have all been helping out the English teachers in the primary school. The kids are lovely but the teaching is dire. It's all just repetitive shouting out of words and phrases from a book and then 15 minutes spent at the tape deck re-winding and fast-forwarding to get to some crappy song like Home on the Ranch.
Today I had a Fry-Off with our favourite restaurant cook in the market (Uncle Joe). I made fish and chips and he made banana fritters, chips with a special flour coating and a sweet thing using the stuck bits of rice from the bottom of the pan fried in oil and sugar. Everyone felt sick afterwards and had to lie down but we drew a bit of a crowd and gave out lots of samples which no one spat out.
talk soon,
maria xx

10th May
Hi Ruth,
How are things there? Everything is OK here but there seems to be a bit of a slump, even though we are all really busy and happy to be working on this event for next week, I think everyone is missing home a bit. I am anyway, maybe everyone else is fine and I'm just projecting. I just want to lie on the sofa and watch telly, on my own. Today I was invited to film in a tofu 'factory', which turned out to be some guys kitchen. I think it was something the Development Company organised and I'm not sure the tofu man or his wife were that keen on me being there, but probably felt obliged because the Company. Who knows. It was fun to film but a bit awkward. I seem to be suddenly doing a ton of different bitty projects and am feeling a bit all over the place today. As soon as I get back we have so much to do as well so it seems scarily endless....

11th May
Not heard from you in a few days. What's happening there? Are things stressful? Got up at 6 this morning to take some pictures at the market but felt really self conscious with that giant camera. It's the best time to go though, it's totally dead by 8 o'clock. Got some jam and cream donuts for our breakfast so it was worth it! Went to the farm after breakfast and worked on one of their fields then tried to sort out a spare room they have for this farm retreat idea. The furniture was horrible mismatched moulded wood-effect pieces like in the Dalston furniture shops. There's no way you could make it look farmhouse chic, though we did try with a bunch of dry twigs on the bedside table but they suddenly looked like an old fashioned sex toy. Would be good to try to get the carpenter to make some simple furniture but don't think we will have time. Might have to borrow some stuff to do a nice photo shoot to start the process. Just discovered that there is some great cooking facilities in the hotel so can make some nice things for the stall on Saturday.


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