Shiny Baubles

The joy of shiny baubles soon wears off. A brand new car soon becomes the thing that takes you to work. It has a scratch down the side. I have heard that it hath been said that a beautiful woman soon becomes someone who does not wash up.  Herrick’s Julia went to the toilet.

Aha! My Scaffie and I still thrill in the excitement of adventure. It is is Sunday. The weather is everything a poor Scottish boy wrapped in a damp plaid dreamt of as the August rain lashed the heather. ” Neil, there’s nae more porridge.”

The wind is onshore but very light. The lagoon is turquoise as a we gently glide over the shallow water towards the Zampa cliffs


Notice the new traveller.

I anchor on the coral and look around for a while to anchor the beauty Wordsworthlianish. I have a new second hand BCD that I bought in anticipation of Jeremy and James’s arrival next week. I throw it with tank over the side of the boat. I follow and having worked my arms through the straps of the BCD and having stuffed the breathing thing into my gob, off I go into the most amazing dive stuff. No shiny baubles here, just everlasting quality.

The coast line is cut with a series of ravines. Each ravine is covered with a remarkable variety of coral. Where there is coral, there are fish. My scuba ambitions are very precise. I want to look at pretty things. Depth, difficulty, nitro, dive computers and that sort of thing I empty my nose on.

Here is a short movie that does absolutely no justice to the incredible colors.

Holy cow! I emerge from the wonder world and am faced with the ultimate test. Can I get back in the boat? This manoeuvre has gained an enormous significance for me. It is not easy. It is about height.  I have to propel myself high over the bulwark to flop down into the boat. This height is generated by my arms pushing upwards and my legs, with fins attached, generating drive. I am an old man.  Today I succeed but I sometimes see myself like the old grey wolf who soon will not pin his buck.

We sail elegantly off the anchor but the tide is going down, the lagoon is shallower.  The wind is pleasantly stronger. Will I be able to cross the reef into the lagoon? Or will the water be too shallow and the Scaffie crunches into coral?


We head to the bar.

Tennyson worried about crossing the bar or reef.

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,
   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.
   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;
   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.

The big sail drives us towards the bar


We cross the bar with inches to spare.

What a great sail!   I pick up the mooring and go to say hi to the clown fish family that lives just meters from my house.


I mean what has happened to your home? It is blanched like Blanche de Castille



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Eisa Heaven

Each year the local Eisa dances troupes do a celebrational tattoo down Takashiho Odori, as what is the main street in Yomitan. It is unmissable. It is the end of Obon. Okinawa celebrates.



I love this. Band after band passes by, strutting their stuff. I an certainly missing 80% of the real meaning but the scraps that fall from my master’s table fill me with pride and solidarity with the people of Okinawa.



It is very hot.


Another half bottle will do you no harm at all

Um, how can I get it across that this is not something organized for tourists? I am the only tourist present and I have lived here for nearly 6 years.


Kids dance


Go ancestors


Like do not f**k with me


Okinawan women are a delight




Will he no come back again


How can they dance in flip flops?

Anyway, it is a remarkable afternoon, shot through with authenticity.

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Simple Pleasures

Ryuishiro, Kanako, Juna and Carlos come to stay. We have the best fun.


Ryuishiro loves the boat.



Kanako at the helm


She steers unassisted all across Nagahama bay.




Isn’t it great when kids love sailing.


Matsuda sensei is the best, er in so many ways.


The buckets contain baby turtles.

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Kanako loves sea slugs


Raising sail for another day of adventure.


Carlos at the helm


You can have so much fun with a rubber ring


Carlos, whose real name is Yasunori, is a good man


Simple things

Anyway, we had a wonderful time. Children make everything more fun. Thanks Carlos and Juna.

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The Oldest Thing I Own

Well, not the oldest thing I own because I have inherited some very old stuff, nor the oldest thing I have bought because I have purchased some 19th century maps. What I am trying to say is that the thing I am about to talk about is the oldest thing I bought new in my lifetime that I have still got. Er I thought this was my yellow diving bag that recently went to it.

However, as I was stirring my gruel last night, I realized that the wooden spoon I was using was a couscous spoon that I had purchased in Oran in 1975, which certainly predates the bag. These spoons are made out of palm trees. That does not sound quite right. I mean , you can make a lot of spoons from one palm tree.


Palm Tree

I used to have an orange plastic comb that I used at school. It would pop up every 10 years or so but I have not seen it recently. Maybe it is in San Francisco.


Hooray, Kanako has come to stay.

I would be interested to know if any gentle readers have old stuff. I know my brothers have beautiful  handwoven Calder tartan rugs that I think were bought in the 60s.



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The words in the title have many meanings: cricket I think is bail, water from boat is also bail, I think, misery woe sorrow, is definitely bale, as is a compactness of stuff like cotton or hay. Then there is the whole leaving category as in: “Sorry chaps, left wing has gone, time to bail out.” or more recently, “Dudes, I am like totally gone, time to bail.”

So it has really rained a lot.


Greenshanks dreaming of Spain


How many years of evolution before Cattle Egrets invent the umbrella?

The rain fills the Scaffie with water. She becomes very heavy and I fear that she will drag her anchor or maybe rip the anchor cleat out of the thwart, if you see what I mean. I rush home from work to bail. This could mean: jump from aeroplane, leave a party in San Francisco or empty a boat of water. You decide.


Very low in the water


The rainwater comes nearly up to seat level.


I bail with my little red bucket, which I hold very dear.

Having bailed I wade home to eat. I fear or exult that OIST has changed stuff around here. When I came here, big lumps of meat were not. You had to wangle your way onto an Ameircan base to buy steak. This was always kinda demeaning.

Now, in the supermarket down the road, I can buy amazing steak.



Is this a good thing? 


Am I destroying Okinawan tradition?  I bail.










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My Tree

My life has been characterized by a series of lucky breaks. One is the tree that grows smack in front of my house.

I remember my early childhood as hours and hours staring at willow pattern plates in cold rooms as the rain slashed against the window panes.


We used to have lots of this stuff. Where is it now?

Now between my house and the sea, is a very beautiful tree.She reminds me of my childhood. She reminds me of Willow Pattern.  She is elegantly formed and gives each gaze seaward a benchmark of quality. “Look at me!” she insists,  “Before you look at that vulgar blue sea stuff.”


What she looked like 3 years ago.

Just prior to moving into this house, Okinawa had been battered by 3 big-boy typhoons. My tree looked fragile and I did not know if she would make it.  I have nursed her assiduously by cutting back invasive vegetation and pruning any dead wood.


Notice how much the vegetation has grown up

I lash my saw to a bamboo pole and clear away the tree stuff that is blocking the purity of my view.


She is so happy and healthy but caveat typhoonum

My tree is doing very well. I am so happy.


Red fish


More plumeria


Oriental Turtle Dove


Tim with number one boy Hugo


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Half an Hour Ago

More turtle release with Rumi san. I walk over to her beach gazing at supersonic sunset.


No work done on these photos.

It is very warm and pesky fruit bats get tangled in my hair.

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Red sky at night

We release about 100 babies who charge down the beach and heroically swim away.


Too dark for real photography


Make up your own caption.


Click on this photo! Can you see all the v shaped ripples? Baby turtles heading out to sea.

Thank you Rumi san.

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