2017 – The year of Ashley

An entire year has gone by since my last blog post.
On January 12th last year we celebrated the birth of our baby boy, 张炘如 – aka Ashley Greenbank – and our lives were changed forever.
It’s hard for me to sum up everything that happened since. Learning to be parents without any help, and trying to keep a business going has been difficult to say the least. Lucky for us, we got the most cooperative and loving little boy anyone could hope to have, and I’m looking forward to all the adventures we’ll have together in this wonderful place. My new year’s resolution is now to try and get this blog going again.

Lucy and XiaoXiong 小熊 (Little Bear)

In August we said good bye to Wangcai. She was only around 10 but she’d had a hard life. Until we found her, she’d spent all her time chained up, neglected and malnourished. The change in her final year after such a harrowing time was truly remarkable. She never completely learned to trust people, but it was clear she was happy. She could sit patiently as we ate our dinner, and would gently take bones and other scraps from your hand. She even started following us on our evening walks. Her passing away from a sudden sickness was completely unexpected.


Shortly after a friend’s dog gave birth to five adorable puppies. This was also a surprise as no one even new she was pregnant until she went into labour in the back of the car. We initially said we would like one of the litter, but they couldn’t find owners for all the others and so now we have two lovely, naughty, shoe eating puppies causing mischief and mayhem in the house.

Poor Wancai

About a week ago Wancai staggered through the door, leaving a trail of blood behind her. This trail of blood led all the way down to the river bank where the villagers dump their rubbish. In places like this, they’re aren’t any refuse facilities and it’s so far from the town that they don’t even consider it worthwhile to collect recyclables. It looked like Wancai had stood on a broken bottle. She’d gashed the back of her leg really badly cutting a blood vessel and with the bone clearly visible. The blood was literally squirting out and she was close to being unconscious. Ling squeezed her leg to stop the blood while I dashed around the house looking for some special chinese medicine. Originally developed for treating wounds on the battle field, this plant based powder has blood coagulating properties. I’d never really believed it before, but it seemed to work. We packed the wound with this magic powder and bandaged it up, with a piece of cloth tied just above her knee as a tourniquet. After a few hours, we removed the tourniquet and for the next two days stopped her from pulling off the bandage. After that, we just left her to treat herself and she’s been licking the wound ever since to keep it clean. She’s mastered the three legged walk and is tentatively trying her injured leg.

Meet the dog

This is Wancai (meaning to get rich), our dog. She came with the house and her owners didn’t want to take her to the city; not because they cared about her, completely the opposite. For them she had just one function, to bark a lot and fool people into not breaking into the house for fear of being savaged. She’s about four years old and for all we know she’d spent all that time attached to the end of two metres of chain and not able to do anything that dogs like to do. As soon as we could we started to try and make friends. After a few days of going to see her she finally let us unfasten the chain. Immediately she began to run, and her eyes lit up, sniffing everything she could find, biting sticks and chasing her tail. After a few more days, Ling was able to give her a bit of a wash. It’s been a few months now and she’s slowly learning how to interact with people. She’s started coming to Ling when she calls, and enjoys being stroked. The only touch she’d had before was from the wrong end of a stick. Having lived so long in such conditions, she’s not fussy about food. We just cook a bit more than we want and she gets the same as us – rice and vegetables with a bit of meat, and the odd bone to chew on. For now she has to stay on the lead when we go for walks but hopefully one day we can let her off, knowing that she’ll return when we call.