Contest Corner

Try another contest? Which of our villas is dramatically silhouetted here? The first reader to respond correctly will win a complimentary two hour foot treatment and body massage in the Brickyard Spa with an extra jar of our all-natural foot soak with rose petals, one of our spa personal products, to take away for a bit of luxury at home.

New Great Wall Room at Brickyard

It’s been a long haul but our new 250 square meter Great Wall Room with panoramic views (pictured here) and an adjacent rooftop terrace are almost finished. Our partner Jim Spear is the project designer and he created the space with used red bricks, native slate floors, inset glazed tile wall lighting, steel trusses, and clerestory windows to bring in nature and light and to speak to the Great Wall and the mountains all around Beigou Village. Even the restrooms offer views and light.

The Great Wall Room is just one part of a new building on the southeast of the Brickyard that will provide bright and airy “back of the house” working space and storage areas. Most importantly, there is a new light-filled kitchen where we’ll soon be able to provide cooking classes and intimate chef’s table dinners. More on that soon!

Spacework Architects provided schematic drawings and construction details. Structural engineering and electrical system design were provided by Jiushi Engineering.

The first guests in the Great Wall Room will hold a 50th birthday party on 31 May. So if you are looking for a special place for a wedding, anniversary or birthday bash after that, we hope you’ll keep the Brickyard in mind. We’re happy to host inspection visits and tours by prior arrangement -- just call 6162-6506.

In the News

Ironstone, a bespoke country home designed by Jim Spear for John & Dinah Watkins, was featured in the South China Morning Post last week. Read the illustrated article by Lisa Gay.

Head’s Up -- Vehicle Control

We’ve been advised that starting from 28 June, access to Mutianyu Great Wall and Mutianyu Village will be through the new Visitor’s Center at the main road roundabout 3.2 kilometers down the hill from the Great Wall access point. The center has plenty of hassle-free parking, a museum, and other activities in a village-like setting. There will be frequent park shuttles that stop right at The Schoolhouse. Schoolhouse guests with reservations will still be able to drive into the village by auto, taxi, or bus and park at The Schoolhouse or nearby. We’ll be announcing how this will work next month.

All of our lodging guests, including those staying in villas in Mutianyu, will check in at the Brickyard in Beigou where traffic is not controlled. We’ve added a new lobby and shop that will come on stream soon and also augmented our guest relations team in order to enhance the arrival experience. We’ll continue to offer our complimentary Brickyard shuttle rides around the area.

Help Local Farmers & Craftspeople

Farmer’s Market 11:00-15:00 this Saturday at the Orchard Plaza in Tianxianyu Village. Download Map. Call 6162-6506 or email for information.
We operate several kitchen gardens for The Schoolhouse, including one at the Orchard, according to organic principles. Wastes from all venues are composted in a section of the Orchard and returned to the earth in our gardens. We use almost everything we can grow in our restaurants but do have some surplus which will be for sale.
For the market we have also organized villagers from the area to sell vegetables and fruits from their own plots. Typically there are also vendors of local honey, hand-made doufu, and a variety of dry goods, crafts, and traditional local goodies made on site.
This year marks our first foray into running a market. We are not charging any fees to the local people who run stalls and there is no charge to visitors. We welcome feedback, suggestions, and help.

Slow Food Corner

Schoolhouse farmer Wang Yunfeng (in black) with enthusiastic gardeners at last Saturday’s Get You Hands Dirty day trip sponsored by the Slow Food Great Wall Convivium and hosted by the Orchard in Tianxianyu Village. Our agricultural specialist Fan Wenmin reported, “The participants were very happy that they could have a chance to plant vegetables by themselves. Before planting, we showed them how to plow/smooth the garden, dig ditches and sow. And they finished two square beds and planted lolorosa.” Learn more about upcoming Slow Food activities at the Great Wall.

Coming Up

In the next newsletter we’ll offer images of paintings and a story about Juliann Wang’s magical exhibition (which opened Sunday in the Art Room) showing her personal encounter with the Great Wall and the skein of villages at its foot around Mutianyu. Juliann has been our artist in residence for the last two months and we wish we could keep all of her works for ourselves.

Alexander Technique Retreats

The 24-25 May program is sold out but not to worry there are still some spaces available for the 7-8 June session. Certified instructor David Marchant will also offer private tuition during his residency at The Schoolhouse. Learn more about Alexander Technique and the lessons he will offer. David and his family just arrived from St. Louis on Tuesday and David is using his own “medicine” to get over jetlag; he promises to be ready to lead the retreat...

New Schoolhouse Menus

If you thought you’d seen all we had to offer, get ready for our new menus starting 30 May, which we’ll post on-line from next week. We’re adding more Chinese and fusion dishes, a selection of “accompaniments” to go along with meals, a separate dinner menu, and new beverages such as caffe latte and vinegar spritzers with our own unfiltered vinegars containing mother of the vinegar.

We’ve also revised our offerings for the wee ones to make them happier at a kid-sized price. Every day for lunch there will also be a three course set menu offering a great value for the homemade-from-scratch dishes that are the core of our approach to food.

Illustration above by Emily Spear from our forthcoming book “What’s Cooking Around Mutianyu.”

Go Climb a Tree

Don’t miss our resident artists, dancers Holly & David Marchant, performing live at The Schoolhouse on Saturday 31 May at 14:00.

Dragon Boat Festival

We’re sad-happy to let you know that our accommodations are fully booked for the holiday -- but do contact us to get on our waiting list in case of a cancellation. Of course, our villages still make an enticing day trip, connecting to rural values and stewardship of our common heritage.

Summer is really here so over the holiday we’ll have our first Ice Cream Social this year on Saturday 31 May -- scrumptious homemade ice creams and sorbets, frosty thick milkshakes, banana splits, and design-your-own sundaes.

The next day is Children’s Day and our Dragon Boat Festival Feast for lunch at Xiaolumian. Come celebrate with us with traditional three-cornered zongzi and live folk music! Adults, Rmb 188, kids 4-12 Rmb 98. Download the menu.

About the Banner Image

Around this same time last year, I checked into the Brickyard and was handed a charming little hand-drawn map. This breathtaking view was where it led me. Thanks Brickyard, the experience could not have been more amazing! That’s how Pat Shiu captioned her winning image in our picture contest from the last issue. She will enjoy a free night in her choice of our custom villas set like jewels in living villages under Mutianyu Great Wall. A big thanks also the other participants in the contest, who all received surprise consolation prizes.

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