Monday, 5 March 2007

Rich Pickings

So, had a tricky week at work last week, hence no posting, but must admit the creative juices not flowing to freely either, which doesn’t help.

This week also there hasn’t been much going on to write home about, as it were. The results of the question posed in the last post, about Silent Shinzo’s apparent fall from grace were published in the Yomiuri, but such were the responses that I can’t really remember what they were on about (which isn’t good reportage, I realize, but there you go). Anyway from what I remember there were things like ‘he hasn’t had enough time yet so give him a chance’, also at least a couple of ‘well, what has he done?’ which kind of reflects what I was banging on about in the post, whilst I’m sure there was one ‘I just don’t like his ugly mug’, of which I heartily agree. Of course Silent Shinzo’s response to this was a furious verbal broadside against the print media in general and the Yomiuri in particular, where he savaged the inanity of the questioning and questioned the reliability and validity of the research undertaken. Or maybe not, but it is nice to speculate what he might have thought.

What we did you, yesterday, was go strawberry picking. The reason we did this was, ostensibly, to show the little ‘un that strawberries do not grow in plastic trays in supermarkets but are, in fact, part of living things called plants. So off we trooped to Konosu at 715 on Sunday morning. Now Konosu, for regular readers on this blog, might sound familiar, as indeed it should as it is the place where yours truly has been to get/renew my driving license (see here if you’re bored). I am beginning to think that Konosu may well be the centre of the universe as far as Saitama Prefecture is concerned, or at least the centre of Saitama. So anyway we get there at about 845am and go to this suspiciously small plastic greenhouse and ask a startled looking chap if we are in time. The reason we have to do this is this is a strange place – they only give out 40 tickets for fruit pickers and don’t take bookings, so if you get there and all tickets are gone then you are out of luck, bye! You may think this odd – me too, but don’t worry, it get odder.

We were in luck and safely procured three tickets but then, as the picking didn’t start until 10am, we had bugger all to do. Now luckily there was a playground thing and so the youngster could spend an hour clambering over, under, through and around things, mostly avoiding other bigger kids running amok, but not always. At the appointed hour we re-presented ourselves to startled looking chap, his visage hadn’t changed, at which point he asked us, and others, if we wouldn’t mind getting in number order according to the tickets. OK, this wouldn’t be too tricky unless he had given out random numbers, ah. So as we had 27, 29 and 32, this meant the youngster would be on his own in between random punters, but then, after a moment of milling, everybody ignored startled bloke anyway. And I thought these Japanese were meant to take rules seriously?

Now the picking could begin. But this was no ordinary picking, rather it was a strawberry eating experience. You went into the greenhouse, picked a strawberry off an obliging plant and then ate it. You had a small punnet in which to catch the strawberries as you cut them off the plant and also a small dish containing condensed milk, which you often eat with strawberries here, and that was it, off you go and eat for 30 minutes whilst, of course, paying for the pleasure. There was none of this collecting strawberries and taking them home to make a nice pie or, indeed, tart. Now I don’t know about you, but I have a threshold of how many strawberries with condensed milk I can eat at 10am on a Sunday morning, standing in an overly warm greenhouse in Konosu and it does not, I can confirm, take 30 minutes to reach that threshold. More like 10 minutes, and that was pushing it. The Guru also, I must add, felt likewise. The only person who might have wanted to stay and consume even more (but without the condensed milk) was the youngster. I don’t know if he came to realize that strawberries grow on plants, but he definitely did find out that all he had to do was follow a parent around and he would be given lots and lots of them to eat.

And that was about it. We went, we ate, we returned. They were very nice strawberries though.

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