A friend in Japan used to send me such beautiful cards that I couldn’t bear to throw them away and framed so many of them that we had a Japanese corner at home.  There was a gallery of images of Mount Fuji and the picture above is one of my favourites.  A smaller house means less room and, in theory, less stuff but as my friends and family know that still amounts to a lot of stuff.  When I was in my itinerant phase, between houses, my sister-in-law agreed to let me stay with her and her husband for a while:  “But only you, NONE of your stuff.”

It is amazing the amount of bits and pieces we collect over the years and on blog night I spend an inordinate amount of time trawling through photos and artefacts – or trinkets if you prefer – getting lost down the highways and byways of memory lane; no wonder there’s not much early rising done on a Friday in this house.

First time I’d seen an escalator on a golf course (top left); Pete, the organiser of our adventures in Japan, is the man with the camera in the snap at the bottom right.

Pete Wakimoto, who was in charge of most of Dai’s and my trips to Japan, died a few years ago but I’ve been thinking of him a lot since Hideki Matsuyama won his green jacket on Sunday.  It’s because of Pete that we played at Hirono GC; ate Kobe beef in Kobe; attended a basho (sumo tournament) in Fukuoka; had a sobering visit to Hiroshima; watched a lot of very good golf by some of the world’s best players in the shadow of Mount Fuji; and ate and drank and talked and talked and laughed and laughed…Thanks so much Pete and here’s to Hideki.

We were visiting the Peace Park at Hiroshima when we were surrounded by excited school kids who couldn’t believe their luck at encountering real, live gaijin. They tried out their English and gave us an envelope with their wishes for a peaceful future. That was 30 years ago.

For many years Japan’s women golfers travelled much, much better than their men and were revered at home but I remember thinking that it must be tough being a woman in Japan, well, pretty tough being anybody, given how hierarchical it was, probably still is.  Sitting in a hotel lobby, waiting for Dai (a real rarity because guess who was usually the late one), I watched engrossed as a dark-suited welcoming party waited by the lift to greet their boss.  The bowing that ensued was fascinating in its complexity and I thanked my lucky stars that I, a large, white woman, didn’t really fit in to the scheme of things so was never expected to know what to do or behave in anything but a baffling, slightly inappropriate manner.

Our main interpreters were usually young Japanese women who’d spent time abroad and some of them found it difficult settling back in to the old ways at home after years of doing their own thing in America or Europe.  How complicated life can be at times.

Ayako Okamoto was the LPGA’s Rolex player of the year in 1987, winning four times and topping the money list with $466,034. That was the year Okamoto and JoAnne Carner were in an 18-hole play-off for the US Women’s Open and were beaten by a relatively unknown Englishwoman called Laura Davies.

There’s little chance of getting to Japan again any time soon but here in England we’ve been back out on the golf course and from Monday we’ve been allowed to sit outside on the patio and eat, drink and chat with real, live friends, golfers and non-golfers. It felt ridiculously good to play golf on a glorious Tuesday morning and stay on afterwards, instead of waving at friends from a distance in the car park and scuttling off home.

Not the easiest of shots but my partner got it out and a few holes later, at the 18th, she holed the putt that won us the match.  Think she’s had her hair cut since.

The match was nip and tuck all the way, competitive but fun, a lot friendlier than the encounter between Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen in the 36-hole final of the USPGA Championship in 1923.  Grantland Rice (I’m still dipping in to The Tumult And The Shouting) wrote:  “This particular match was dog-eat-dog all the way.  In one spot, Sarazen asked for a ruling from the referee.  ‘Why don’t you read the rules – or can’t you?’ snarled Hagen.  Sarazen missed the putt and lost the hole.

“‘I’m glad I missed that,’ said Gene, ‘so when I beat your brains out today there’ll be no alibi.’

“Hagen had a 10-inch putt.  He looked at Gene, expecting him to concede it.  ‘Hole it,’ said Gene. ‘I’m giving you nothing but hell today.'”

Great stuff.  Sarazen won at the 38th, where he was in a wheat field up to his neck but rocketed a seemingly impossible recovery to 18 inches.  Hagen, looking like “a man who had just been bludgeoned” duffed his approach into a bunker in front of his nose and that was that.

On a more prosaic note we’ve just been given the keys to our new lockers and to my unalloyed delight I’ve got a corner one that gives me a bit of extra space and plenty of room for stuff.

The return of the pub: toasting a first outing to the George and Dragon, with its brilliant beer garden overlooking the cathedral. Should have worn our bobble hats and gloves though.

And, finally, another of Mary McKenna’s brilliant photos, just because it makes me think of sunshine and fills my heart with joy.