A Fat Purple Fig

The Adventures of Jimmy the Kid

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When I arrived at Jimmy’s, bright and early, he had our roast in a slow oven, vegetables in saucepans on the stove, washing draped over the radiator, and was catching up on some painting and decorating in the lounge room. But he had plans for the day, however slight they may have sounded at the time:

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The Comedy Clan

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Any holiday to Scotland would not be complete without calling into see my Dad’s brother, Jimmy. On the long-ago holiday to Gretna with my sister in 1985 (when she was 18 to my 13), Jimmy and our granny engraved their names on my self-absorbed little heart, through their love and generosity.

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Fàilte gu Alba

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I’ve said it once already, and will no doubt repeat it ad nauseum before the fortnight is out; Scotland is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that when Harry Nilsson’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’” started playing on the radio on my drive from Edinburgh to Dumfries and Galloway, I started quietly sobbing behind the wheel, and almost had to pull over and put myself back together.

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Business or (and) Bust

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Scotland 2019 caught up with me very quickly in the end, likely due to the series of obstacles that presented themselves, one by one, in the weeks leading up to it. I felt like a real-life computer game character for a while there (with limited supplies of restoration potion), in grave danger of being blown up before making it to the new world.

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The Great Coffee Tour: Fuglen

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It’s appropriate that Fuglen comes last, since it was the only cafe we visited twice, and the second visit was on our final day in Tokyo. I almost thought that meant it deserved winner status, but when I suggested as such, Mary and I ummed and ahhed for too long to just declare it outright.

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The Sushi Summit

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On our last full day in Tokyo, we were booked into our last long-planned activity, lunch at Kyubey in Ginza. And it had taken some investigation to land on Kyubey. I knew I wanted to eat at a good sushi restaurant, but there were a whole heap of factors in play when it came to selecting one.

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Cycling for Dummies

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Japan loves its bikes. It was one of the first things I noticed in Osaka – the numbers of bikes not only being ridden, but gathered at the doors of supermarkets and apartment blocks, and parked en masse in parking bays. So, when I woke up on the day of our Tokyo Great Cycling Tour, I was excited to participate in an activity that is apparently held dear.

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The Great Coffee Tour: Bar Zingaro

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When Airbnb cancelled our accommodation (for the second time) in Shinjuku, a week before we were due to arrive in Tokyo, we took a place in Nakano at the eleventh hour. And I’m not sure if we ended up loving the suburb because it became familiar, or because it was great anyway and we got lucky, but I like to think it was the latter.

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Happy Chapi of Nagayama

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It’s not often you get to have lunch with someone famous, but Mary and I were lucky enough to do just that, when we visited the Tsugawa Family for lunch in Nagayama. We connected with Yuko and her husband, Kazunori, through Nagomi Visit, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to match visitors to Japan with local families over a shared lunch.

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The Great Coffee Tour: About Life

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Our first coffee in Japan was consumed at a little hole-in-the-wall in Shibuya, called About Life Coffee Brewers, a recommendation from Mary’s friends from work, Yuki.

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