Back home in the UK, one particular event always indicates the start of summer, and never mind fiddling with the clocks or the wearing of shorts. Whether early in a March heatwave or late in May’s eventual surrender to warmth, our goodbye to winter is always indicated by the first barbecue of the year. So this year, as the UK currently clings to winter in an inversely proportional way to how Bron and I are clinging on to life out in China, our first barbecue carried an inevitable Chinese feel.
Our ‘Tree-top Villa’ in the mountainous Moganshan region was just that – one of about 30 villas bordering a narrow valley, positioned high up overlooking the trees. Each with its own barbecue, hot tub and personal (ish) host. Lillian, our host, performed an admirable job, succumbing to the many demands of Isaac, Chong, Bron and I without complaint as we attempted to relax amongst the trees.
‘Naked Retreats’ (please note: not ‘nudist’ retreats) offers its guests the opportunity to spend a few days away from Shanghai’s relentless pressure to ‘Do Something’ by choosing instead to do absolutely nothing, which is pretty much what we did. Shunning the available activities such as bike riding, hiking, archery and incongruously, Land Rover driving, we chose to spend our time popping in and out of the hot tub, ambling around and of course, having our first barbecue of the year.
Three hours from Shanghai, the Naked Retreat resort is a staggeringly effective use of a landscape, making use of nature to provide its guests with a unique, eco-friendly experience. March has given us a few fantastic weekends, and this one no different (despite losing at majiang to a very sleepy Isaac).
I am curious, though, as to how such a relaxing, effortless weekend can leave us all feeling so tired…