A Fat Purple Fig

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Exhibit F


In Jiamusi, we are foreigners, with a capital F. Cars slow down so their occupants can get a better look at us and pedestrians crane to get a glimpse from the opposite side of the road. There isn’t ever a time where I don’t feel many sets of eyes upon me. The elderly citizens of Jiamusi don’t even attempt to hide their amazement; they just stop dead and stare, with furrowed brows and open mouths.

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Everything is as it Appears


Well, we made it. At times it felt as though we wouldn’t, which may have been more about tiredness than anything else. It really does start to feel as though you’re participating in a quest, and must pass many obstacles before you reach your destination. I have a sense of déjà vu as I type this, so I’m pretty sure I have described it this way before. It’s just the way it goes.

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The Never-Ending Story


Last stop: Edinburgh. My taxi driver was Scots-entertaining.

What would you see if you were only here for 24 hours?‘ I asked.
Ah’d get pissed!‘ he replied, ‘Ah’d come home covered in sick, with a donor kebab in my hand.

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Take Me Home, Country Roads


Because of my decision to pop back down and see Uncle Jimmy on my way to Edinburgh (note: not on the way), Dundee became little more than a stopover. It seems really unfair to relegate a city to stopover status…to arrive late and tired, and leave as soon as you open your eyes. So, I at least went for a late night walk, both to honour Dundee, and because there was no chance I was missing seeing Kengo Kuma’s V&A Museum.

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Living on the Edges


The day started later than I would have liked. So late, in fact, that when I told Jane my plans over another foodie’s breakfast, she looked momentarily surprised, then said, ‘you’d better be on your way!’. Hangovers are not pleasant travel companions.

(I regret nothing.)

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Ghosts of the Past


A visit to Inverness wouldn’t be complete without a trip north east to Drumossie Moor, the site of the Battle of Culloden. In fact, visiting Culloden was one of the main reasons for coming to Inverness, given I wasn’t planning to search sincerely for a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster.

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Human Nature


I can hit the extremes of both loving and loathing the time stamps I have set for myself. On the one hand, they give my days structure, and often set me on a pathway to wonderment. On the other, they prevent me doing what I would rather do, a lot of the time, which is settle into my little bolthole and avoid leaving as much as is humanly possible.

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Not Drowning, but Waving



Friday began well, with this cracking bowl of ‘Scottish Porridge’ for my breakfast at the B&B. According to my host, Susan, the secret is not only in the oat itself (they have to be Scottish, naturally), but also in soaking them overnight. I ate mine with fresh strawberries, thick yoghurt, and a sprinkling of all kinds of wonderful things from the small bowls in front of me. Amazing.

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The Soloist


And, just like that, it was time to leave.

I had a 3pm ferry to catch and a four-hour drive to get there, so I stopped for one last breakfast with Uncle Jimmy, and whittled away any time I might have had up my sleeve for taking photos, or stopping for a stretch, or (please, no) losing my way, which, granted, is difficult to do with Google Maps.

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Rose, Donna, Fiona, Bob

Taking photos here feels tremendously successful, as I’m snapping them – it’s only when I get home and pore through them that I realise it is just one landscape after another, poorly represented. I’m starting to realise why there are artists that paint landscapes all their lives.

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