As many of you know I teach English online to professional adults around the globe and thus get inside knowledge on many of their varied customs. A better known one is obviously Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year so…

In my attempt to build rapport with my students I talk about what they do to celebrate etc. expecting parades of people wearing enormous dragon costumes, eating large bowls of noodles and setting off lots of fire-crackers late into the night.

Pic from Lavender Inspiration – check out her blog!

What did I get? Well I got tales of women cleaning their houses, not just wiping over surfaces with a damp cloth and spraying Febreze at the curtains…oh no…when they say ‘cleaning’ they mean ‘decluttering’! So as you know I am not one to rush to get out the duster and the furniture polish and I continue to claim not to understand how the hoover works (that’s a blue job – ask Dan), but…organizing, decluttering and generally taking back control, well that’s me to a ‘T’.

What few of you will know is that I was born in the year of the Fire Horse, a particularly bad year for female new borns. We are known for being contradictions of ourselves, fiercely independent, yet need to belong, we may make ultimate sacrifices or just as likely to destroy. We are therefore difficult to predict, but will risk it all for love and adventure…sounds exactly like me.

So wanting to join in and have tales to tell when I next speak to these students I ventured into the ‘box’ room. For most people a box-room is the small room at the top of the stairs that your son’s room-mate from college gets to sleep in when he brings him home to meet his super-cool parents. Not in this house! Here the ‘box’ room is a euphemism, or maybe it is actually more literal than the generally accepted definition.

The new garage…

So those of you that have been paying attention will remember that we took down our old stone barn (mainly because if we hadn’t it would have done it by itself…and probably taken part of the house and nextdoor’s fence with  it) and we rebuilt a fabulous new wooden frame in its place…which will eventually be Dan’s garage.

Why is this relevant? Well this barn held lots and lots of ‘stuff’ – pretty much everything we had brought from the UK but hadn’t got around to using yet. Taking down this structure meant that we needed somewhere to put said ‘stuff’. Some  of it is stored under tarpaulin in the yard, some in the outside toilet, some in the greenhouse and some in the end room…now aptly renamed the ‘box’ room.

This has been driving me slowly and consistently mad. I yearn to create more storage place around the house so I can empty said boxes and give them a home, but to think that a few days in mid-February was going to be the time to tackle this was slightly naive… have a laugh go watch this short video clip of what I am facing.

So we tackled the walk-in wardrobe instead (another euphemism for a big pile of mess in a cupboard) and we were quite brutal. Lots of old clothes got put in bags, clothes we are keeping got tidied and rearranged neatly on their respective shelves and it was quite a nice feeling of accomplishment.


I’m not sure where I get this from, I never had a particularly poor and rationed childhood, we weren’t rich but we didn’t want for much. So why am I so conditioned not to ever throw anything away. I’m not a hoarder as such, if it is broken, it goes in the bin, but if I think I might, maybe, someday be able to make something out of it…well…well that just results in three bags of old clothes being stacked next to my sewing machine! Just in case…

The good news about all this is, in good old Chinese New Year tradition I now get to buy myself something new. So a trip to town it is…every cloud…

Cabbage in a chair from Ian in Taiwan.

Happy with my tale of ‘cleaning’ for my students I hop on over to my email to wish them all a Happy New Year and am greeted by reciprocal messages with attached images…of tidy homes, piles of old clothes donated to charity, homes re-organised in Feng Shui style? Oh no…I get sent a picture of a cabbage in a chair! Classic! Underestimate your Taiwanese students at your peril…thank you Ian.

Join me:


  • Anita

    Glad you are still living the dream Jane; it obviously suits you.
    Don’t know how you find the time to do it all AND write a book about the menopause (never mind doing it all while going through the menopause!).
    Wishing you continued happiness and adventures from one who is not brave enough yet to leave the corporate world.

    • Jane

      Thank you Anita – don’t forget I’m not working 50+ hours a week anymore so it’s amazing what you can do with your time. Although that said – time does fly when you’re enjoying yourself, it only seems minutes since I left the RR family 🙂

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