Chris and myself, Jo, a mature English couple, left England in May to travel around the world and our visit to Japan coincided with the start of this project so we decided to spend our two weeks in Itoshima helping clear the garden with Matt and 10 other helpers.
Cumbria is famous for its farm shops, winning more awards, I'm sure, than any other other part of the country. They are usually weekly events, but such is the hunger of the main producers that they take their vans 270 miles down the M6 to sell in Borough Market in London, which operates every day.
There were high hopes that Simon Rogan at 'The French' would win a Michelin star for Manchester this month, and he really was Manchester's only hope. But soon after the awards were announced, and no stars were forthcoming, Rogan announced that he was cutting his ties with the restaurant, leaving Britain's third city with a bleak culinary outlook.
How different things are in Fukuoka, which has a total of 45 Michelin stars, out of 268 restaurants listed in the guide. There's one 3 star restaurant, 8 with 2 stars and no fewer than 26 with one star. There are also 62 restaurants with the Bib Gourmand award, signifying good food at affordable prices. (Manchester did manage to squeeze one of these this year). The guide features an amazing 30 different types of cuisine, and although Fukuoka is recognised for being the ramen capital of Japan, only 10 of the 268 restaurants specialise in ramen cooking. It may make Simon Rogan wince to learn that one of the restaurants to win a Michelin star was French- but then the guide includes 25 French, 18 Italian, and 9 Chinese. The culinary outlook in Fukuoka is anything but bleak.