Robbie (Heart) Vikki
An original masterpiece by Chika.
As you can see she has fully captured the blondness of my hair and Vikki's passion for wearing bright red and a bow in her hair.
Living on a working farm is an amazing experience. We were honoured that Morioka-san invited us into his home and allowed us to live with him, his wife and three children for a week that we will never forget. As we found at Arinko farm with Masako and Koji, the experience of immersing oneself completely in a different culture is a much better way of learning about it. And there is a lot to learn. You find yourself swamped with new experiences - new foods, new ways of living, new ways of communicating. For some people travel is as much a journey of self discovery as it is about gaining a better understanding of other cultures. But sometimes the things you learn come from the least likely sources.
For example, I was surprised to learn, as I stooped to cut through the stem of a soya bean plant that... actually, I take that back - I wasn't surprised but highly amused to learn that, in her younger days Vikki enjoyed nothing more than a good game of "Beechgrove Garden" with her sister Susie and friend Shona. For those of you unaquainted with the "Beechgrove Garden" (and I think that will
Full of Beans
You don't get quite the same sense of achievement or job satisfaction when you work for a bank or local authority.
be anyone outside of Scotland), it was a television programme about gardening presented by a bloke whose strong Aberdeenshire accent was muffled into a soft Jazz club whisper as it filtered out through his thick beard. A heart throb in the gardening and facial hair communities Bill holds a legendary status among afficionados of Scottish TV. The tension between him and his female co-presenter was akin to that of Doctor Who and his helper/assistant/secretary - always younger, keen to get her hands in the soil and a sucker for a good Barbour jacket (on reflection, maybe only one of those qualities applies to the Doctors helper/assistant/secretary).
The mental picture of Vikki, Susie and Shona with fake beards and Barbour jackets crouched over some random flower bed caused me to convulse into a sudden laugh that saw me snip the stem of said soya plant a little closer to my finger than I'd anticipated. Vik meanwhile was giggling to herself, lost in a hazey fog of fake Aberdeenshire accents and forged forecasts of frost affecting the richness of the soil for the planting of Lapis-Conjunctivitus (or something...).
Infact, working next to each other, alone in a big field of
soya plants and frogs is a great way of having those conversations that you never had before. Naturally, after a conversation about playing "Beechgrove Garden" the drift of the conversation was inevitably towards the other strange games we played as children. I began to feel a little boring as I recalled the "Enid Blyton" childhood (thats what Vik calls my upbringing) of ganghuts and wargames I played with my friends only to find that Vikki, her sister Susan and Shona were writing their own songs for their radio station - Atlantic 252. Maybe I'm wrong here, but playing radio stations and recording songs seems to be a particulalry girly thing to do. I remember Laura (my maniac sister) and her friend recording loads of their own songs. Classics included such unforgettable gems as "Ragu-Ragu from next-next door" (it was a had to be there moment).
Well, Morioka's daughter Chika obviously pegged Vikki as a like minded sort of person and, after a hard day in the field it was nice for me to relax with a cup of green tea while Vikki revelled in her element, playing Chika's own creation - Koala Onsen (an Onsen is a communal Japanese
bath). In this case the onsen was a cardboard tub shared by four naked Koala's. And yes, we had to get them undressed first - yes, that was the first time I'd seen a Koala in the nude.
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