The Daily Mail

I cannot let a day go by without checking into the Daily Mail to measure the temperature of UK life. It is a bit like  reading Klu Klux Klan Daily but with more smut and wormwood. Anyway, today I read this:

Wow, it is snowing in London. This only struck me as worth commenting upon because today I finally capitulated and switched on the AC. It is 30C here.


Nasturtiums beginning to wilt but Plumeria coming on strong


Hibiscus are busting out all over

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Flute Box

James and I go on an adventure to the Russian River. We are scoping out real estate. On the way up there in the car whose name shall not be told, we stop, par hasard, we were looking for coffee, at the best store in the world. I do not know its name but it is a huge warehouse full of everything you would ever want to buy. I mean; tents, stoves, dutch ovens, sleeping bags, fishing rods, rope, shackles, guns, rifles, clothes, boots, water shoes, knives, bows and arrows etc, etc.


This is about 20% of the store. I am spending my next vacation here.

“Have you got any pistol cases?” I ask. Why will become clearer later. “Why, we surely do. Just look over there in the Hunting section.” There is a vast choice of pistol cases and after much deliberation I decide on this one.


What a beauty! Shockproof, waterproof!


Rural California is the best place to buy vegetables


We eat steak. Ben is an excellent steak chef.


Fresh Californian artichokes. Delicious.

I am in California for 2 short but wonderful days and then Osaka, Naha. I get home at 7:00 pm on who knows what day. I am trembling with anticipation.

My flute case, as what I have had since 1979, is falling apart. I have no idea where I can get a case for an 1824 Willis and Goodlad.


Sir Roger Casement

There is an Irish music fetish site here:  I asked where I could get a case and got many replies. The considered opinion was to buy a pistol case; remove bits of foam to create niches for flute sections and Bob’s your father’s brother.

Although numbed by trans-Pacific travel, I immediately fix up the case on arrival. I have rarely bought anything that has made me so happy.


Snuggy flute


Imagine walking into a bar carrying this! I look forward to interesting times.

The USA is such a great place for buying stuff.

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Whistling through the streets of San Francisco on Ben’s bike early in the morning is truly envigorating. It is a very beautiful morning and of course it is the 20th of April – 4/20. 420 is hippy code for weed as that is the time they got out of school to start an afternoon of doobies.  Today thus is international pot day. However that is not why I am back in SF. I have to have my biometrics done to get a document that officially allows me to be out of the U.S. for a 2 year period and yet retain my Green Card. The office for this kind of thing is on Broadway down close to the Bayshore. So, down the Panhandle, down Oak, take a left onto Page. Then downhill all the way to Market. It is super exhilarating. On Market, I join a pack of hard core bikers and we swoop and dodge our way down to the Embarcadero. Now I cruise past  the Ferry Building, the Exploratorium, as the sea gets bluer and the sky follows suit. I am early so I spend some time watching old Chinese guys catching Mackerel off the pier at the end of Broadway.


Not Okinawa

I walk into the immigration building half an hour early.

“No problem, buddy, we ‘ll take you straight away. Just fill in this form.” Before I have finished, my number is called. ” I am so sorry, I have not finished my form.” “Just give it here, sir. I ‘ll do it for you.”  4 mins later after fingerprinting and photography and lots of “Have a good one!” from all the staff, I am back on the street.


This is a great place. Visit if you can.


Ben’s bike

I spend the morning wandering around Little Italy and Chinatown and end up having a great lunch in Fisherman’s Wharf.


View from my table.

Feeling good; I bike back up Embarcadero, back up Market in a mini pack with 2 very fit Chinese women and so onto the legendary Wiggle. I wrote about this great bike route in  a previous blog:

I am pleasantly surprised by my lack of, lack of breath if you see what I mean.

Anyway by the time I get home the streets are thronged with people going to the Golden Gate Park to celebrate 4/20. I make my way to Hippy Hill the epicentre of global dope culture. Come here any time and there are dipsy hippies dancing to the inconsistent rythms of stoners bashing on tablas. It is cute. Today is not like that.


Not much fun. Spot the smoke

The thousands of people are principally young Latino gangsta kinda. Then a lot lot of haughty, elegant but distant Afro Americans. Not a tie dye in sight. No bad feeling but no longer Peace and Laugh.

Everyone is smoking dope. At exactly 4:20 pm  a few people shout out,” Hey Guys  it is 4/20 like we should do something!” Everyone is too stoned to notice.  I pedal home a sadder but a wiser man.



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I have been much obsessed by Plumeria of late. This plant, bush, tree, has the best flowers.


What more do you want?

I have bought some plants but my miserable Scottish soul is nagged by the two huge Plumeria trees that bloom magnificently outside the Sunset Beach House just a skip and a hop from my house.  Hey, stay here, it is a dream.

I know that if I can get some cuttings from their huge trees then I can raise huge Plumerias of my own WITHOUT SPENDING LOTS OF MONEY.  Sad isn’t it? I have lots of money but I still search for the cheapest deal.

So, I go to weaselly speak to Rumi san, the elegant proprietress of the Sunset Beach House. Of course, she says, ” Sure take as many cuttings as you wish. Do you have a saw? Use mine,etc.”


Dead Butterfly- not on the main narrative.

I slash her tree and plant out the cuttings after covering them with rooting hormone. Try miming rooting hormone next time you go to a garden center.


Lots of Plumeria


Plumeria and Nasturtiums

Snails are an awful pest at this time of year in Okinawa. I had  a hundred or so healthy marigolds that were scoffed by snails overnight. I fear they will get my Nasturtiums also.


Let’s hope she likes me.


Watch this space.

So, let’s hope that all the Plumeria thrive.

Meanwhile, I have beautiful Orchids in the kitchen.


ITER,  quel cauchemar!


I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it

Go Plumeria !






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5 Years, That’s All We’ve Got

I would like to remind you all that the reason I write this blog is so I will be able to remember how I spent my twilight years. I wish I had written a blog throughout my life so that I could go back to 1971 and read what I thought about The Rolling Stones releasing Brown Sugar. I remember Mick Jagger in a pink satin suit and feeling that I was in the middle of something big. But I did not write about it.

Anyway, I am afraid that there will be a preponderance of blogs on what fun it is to sail a Scaffie in Okinawa. I need to remember this stuff because it is high quality.

So, I worry about my anchorage in front of the house. Last weekend I was sailing most of the time and did not set up a secure mooring in front of the house. I take an afternoon off work and establish a very strong mooring with two anchors in tandem.  I feel good.

Okinawa has subtly changed. Now it is very warm and there are rumors of humidity. The butterflies are everywhere.


Notice little blue spots on wings

As the evening draws in I take the Scaffie out for a trot. The tide is high, which means I have to swim out to the boat and heave myself in over the gunwale. The fact that I can do this at nearly 64 gives me pleasure.  This brings me to the heart of the matter. I mean, how much longer will I be able to do stuff? My Father died when he was 70. That gives me 6 years.

Anyway, I go for a youthful late evening sail.


I fix the GoPro

The wind is strongish offshore. This means I can zoom up and down the lagoon with  the wonderful feeling of wind driven-ness.


I have not drunk beer for a long time. Today I found that a coolbox on the deck  that was full of beer left over from Letizia’s farewell party


Do you think this rock looks like a camel or maybe dromedary?

So the wind is coming offshore which means many tacks to get back to the newly established mooring. This is the purest joy. The evening is soft. There is no time pressure. The sun is going down.  I gently move closer and closer to the buoy.



I pick up the mooring with great elegance. I set the Scaffie to mooring mode and splash over the side to swim back to the house. The sea is not warm, warm but it is perfectly warm enough for me to revel in the short swim back to the shore. Hmmm, I hope this can go on for a few years yet

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Electric Eye

There is a stiff breeze blowing offshore. It is warm and blue, T shirt and shorts weather. It is Sunday. What does that spell?

Yay! A sail up the coast to Seragaki to reconnoitre the amazing rock on which thousands of Roseate and Black Naped Terns nest in the early summer.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 7.46.33 PM

Tern rock is at the top rightish at the entrance to the port

I plan to anchor just off the rock and take the best photos. Today is a trial run as the terns have not yet arrived for their family business.

It is about 15 miles to Seragaki and the Scaffie is inspired. We charge along and get there in under 2 hours. We pass parachute people and plenty of fisher-folk in boats and kayaks.


April 3

Over Tancha Bay, up to Cape Manza, past the big hotel and finally to Seragaki. I sniff around possible anchorages and finally head dear Scaffie home. The sailing is perfect as the wind is fresh and constant. As it is coming offshore, we reach all the way down the coast and I anticipate an even faster passage.


Soon be home

Of course it doesn’t work out like that. As we approach Cape Maeda, the wind begins to fail and soon we are in the awful sail flapping doldrums. I start to row. A little wind peaks over the window sill but fades, so I row again. I do a lot of rowing, which is very good for me, and we finally get home. The first 14 miles of the return take just over an hour. The last mile takes well over an hour. So it goes,  but all in all a fantastic sail.

Here is a bad movie

You Tube tells me that the music is copyrighted in some countries and the inhabitants thereof will hear it not. Hum.

By the way, my pubic bone is spectacularly bruised but photos would be judged inappropriate in some quarters.

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This is a great day. Winter seems totally over. Yesterday was my Mother’s birthday. She is 93.

Mummy 93.jpg

Happy Birthday Mummy!

Today I am stable, no recovering from trips, no trips in the offing. The time is right to launch the Scaffie for her year of taming the mighty ocean.

Before so doing I go to buy some fish at Toya.


One of the boats has brought in a humungous Ray. Much excitement


Ready to go; well actually not. I have to lower the mast. Look how beautiful the Hi Jet looks.

I am now very experienced in the launching the boat thing. Thanks to Ben’s instruction, I can  now back the boat down the slip pretty well. The fishermen now clasp me to their bosoms.



The long, well not very long, cold, well not very cold, winter is now over and the season  of  on-the -sea -ness begins.


Off we go


Captain Calder

I take the Scaffie for a little trot around the lagoon and then set her at anchor. Joy.


Where she should be.


A thing of beauty is a joy forever

I then take a delightful walk back to Shioya  to reclaim the truck and trailer.

I drive them back to the house and start the stowage procedure. The trailer I will hide deep in the undergrowth at the end of the er, um, bit of land that I have  rights upon.


The trailer will stay here until the typhoons come.

I run the trailer down the into the undergrowth like by pushing it. There is much speed and momentum.  All goes well until the trailer hits dense vegetation, whereupon it comes to an immediate halt. The end of the trailer canons into my pubic bone. I am catapulted to the ground where I lay stunned and unable to rise. I imitate the actions of a beetle on its back. My arms and legs move frantically in hope that I will be able to right myself. Alas I am damaged and can only lie there on my back until the pain and shock subside.


The villain of the piece

I eventually rise and stumble into the house to massage my pubic bone.


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