The opening chapter of “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkein is titled “An Unexpected Party” in which Gandalf appears and sends Bilbo on his adventures. And so it was for Prof. Dave Berger, while on sabbatical, who had to leave Europe for two weeks and go to the UK due to visa regulations.  Fortunately, he could visit long‑standing collaborators at the James Hutton Institute/University of DundeePaul Birch, Petra Boevink and Ingo Hein.  Another friend of FABI at JHI, Ian Toth has just been appointed Director of the National Potato Innovation Centre in Scotland. While he was there, Dave worked with Ingo in the lab to process the maize-Cercospora RNA sent by PhD student Trystan Nadasen for RNAseq analysis at the JHI core facility. This was going down memory lane back to the SSH course at FABI in 2002.  Paul Birch is Head of the Plant Sciences Division at the University of Dundee, with most research groups based at the JHI campus.  Interestingly, the School of Life Sciences is rated as the top University in the UK in Biological Sciences (Research Excellence Framework). A world-renowned Drug Discovery Platform is based there. The JHI is set to host the “International Barley Hub” including an “Advanced Plant Growth Centre” and “The Hutton Molecular Phenotyping Centre”. It was inspiring to see future-looking investment in science with these new buildings under construction on the JHI campus. They will house state-of-the-art equipment including a Super Resolution Confocal Microscope (STED – Stimulated Emission Depletion) which Paul and colleagues secured to take their cell biological research to a new level.  Petra Boevink will visit Prof. Lucy Moleleki’s group in FABI in July, as part of a new UK-funded exchange in plant-pathogen cell biology research.  Paul’s group is also branching out into Phytophthora pathogens of forest trees, so there is renewed opportunity for collaboration with FABI. Dave also came across ex-FABIan Dr Chrizelle Beukes, who is working at JHI on nitrogen fixation in legumes with Euan James.