The Withered Ear

My ears have always got me into trouble, mainly because of their exaggerated size. They are Dumbo-ish


“Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear.” Hamlet knew how to disrespect people.

Like Dumbo, my ears are a liability in high winds. Worse still is that underwater they act as sluices, directing every sort of plankton, effluvia, starfish, manta rays, plastic bottles and that sort of sea stuff, into my external auditory channel. You know how it is.

This in turn causes an infection, which is hardly surprising. The infection causes swelling, pain, stiffness of jaw, giddiness, fever, rectal rashes, loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, night sweats, vomiting and especially chronic fatigue.


Mildewed ear

Off I go to the Ear,Nose and Throat guy in Ishikawa. We are old friends due to previous ear infections and the cursed tinnitus.

Japanese health care is outstanding in quality, value for money and that sort of stuff but it is very linked to fairness. I do not think there are private clinics in Japan but what do I know? The result is that a mighty samurai goes to the clinic and waits his turn like everyone else. I wait for 90 mins before being seen by the Sensai. However I am now a hardened Japanese and so take a bunch of work stuff to the doctors. This in fact, gives me a quiet time to read things and desperately try to understand what is going on like professionally.

Just as I reach the end of my documents, a discreet nurse murmurs, “Go jyu san.” in my shell-like or withered ear. It is my number and I proceed to the bower of the ear sensai.

He does not muck about. He sucks ear wax out of my ears. I mean with a suction device not kinda himself. He says ” No swimming, take antibiotics and ear drops!”

“Hai!!” reply I.

Conveniently placed next door, is a pharmacist. He winks at me and says, ” Etto, same as 2 years ago Neil sensei.” He seems to imply  a sexually transmitted disease.


Ear drops and antibiotics. That should do the trick.

I hate earache.

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So it had never really dawned on me before but here in Okinawa I can get nearly all the ingredients to make a very amazing Paella. Paella and Okinawan food just seemed light years apart and there is certainly nothing similar in the Okinawan food catalogue.



So, I get a big lump of fatty pork, two filets of fresh tuna, some clams, some prawns, some sausages that do a reasonable impersonation of chorizo. My big worry was the rice. Would Japanese sticky rice work as a replacement for Barcelona style round rice?


Pork and sausage and super cool Orion to assist the creative process.


Onions, garlic, olive oil.


Now with tuna and fish stock


I add the rice.

I have washed the rice most assiduously to remove excess stickiness. I then go for an evening sail, leaving the rice to absorb on a very low heat.

When I get back, I add the prawns and clams and some green peppers.



I am very pleased with the outcome, especially with the texture of the rice.  Of course I made far too much but how can you cook paella for one? I will eat it for the rest of the week.

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Lazy Sunday Afternoon.

It is Sunday. Okinawa is at its best being sunny, hot and colored. It take the boat out. There is not a lot of wind but there is enough to power the Scaffie over the reef and into the the deep blue sea.


Thank you Scaffie.

I sail way out and sail back in again, like the grand old Duke of York.  On the the way home, I spy Alisa and Harry. They are liberating a buoy as what tells you where the reef starts. Its rope had snagged on some coral, which had dragged it under water.



We then all clamber into the Scaffie and go for another voyage. After a while the sun burn is too awful and we go back to shore. Wonderful afternoon.

I cook Paella and the head out again to watch the sunset.


Never get tired of this.


Nor this. It is 7:30 and still 30 degrees.


CLAUDIUS How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

HAMLET Not so, my lord. I am too much i’ the sun.

Summer in Okinawa.


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Rain, Rain Go to Spain

“Rain, rain go to Spain don’t come back till washing day.” Chanting this is one of my earliest memories. This was probably induced by living on the Wets coast of Scotland where it rains every day and it is thus impossible to dry washing. My Mother must have taught me.


We always had one of these in the kitchen

I now realize that I got the lyrics wrong. Who would ask the rain not to come back, “till washing day?” You do not want rain on washing day.  It must surely be, “don’t come back on washing day.”   All these years of error.

Anyway this is a long preamble to the fact that Japanese washing machines only do cold washes.


My washing machine – only one cold water pipe. Lots of settings but none related to temperature.

I suppose this a good thing but sometimes when I have very besmirched jeans or the collars of my shirts are ringed with grime, I yearn to do a nice hot wash. I ask my Japanese friends what I should do. “Etto, just boil your jeans on the stove if you must and then for your shirts, just spend a couple of minutes washing the collar grime before you put them into the machine.” I suppose this makes sense.


The corridor to my bedroom is the best drying place. There  is a big window into the courtyard through which the sun streams.

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I realize that I have not posted for some time. When there is misery and pain at work, there is a resultant fall off in blog luminosity.

Last night, however, I join the elegant Rumi san and some friends to release baby turtles. This is always the best. I take my super duper Nikon and my lowest light lens.  It is dusk and the sun has plunged dramatically into the East China Sea.

This is a baby turtle incubator. I set the highest aperture, the lowest shutter speed, high ISO and this is what I get.


A box of baby turtles

I take a similar shot with my IPhone. This is what I get.


IPhones are amazing low light cameras.


Turtle freedom fighters. Wilco, ace science writer on the left.


Freedom! Rumi holds doggy to avert unfortunate incident. Wilco makes a movie.

Here is a movie that Wilco made on his phone.



So you can still take great specialized photos with a DSLR, er like depth of field change, macro, extreme distance, but frankly for everything else the IPhone wins.


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Trailer Trash

I sail out to the diving place just in front of my house. This place is celebrated for having lots of coral replanting projects, tons of Bat Fish and many different species of Clown Fish. It was a sad dive.


This what Bat Fish look like. I did not see any.

The water is incredibly warm. I can feel it boiling the coral.  Last year, there were elaborate structures with different coral species, which seemed to be prospering.

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Lion fish amongst lots of healthy coral


Same place today with lots of decay.

I only find one family of Clown Fish.


Where are the others?


Notice the bleachedness of the coral.

I rise to the surface after this rather sad dive to find loads of tourists. Who do they think they are?

Page Calder SLAC shirt 1.jpg

Not tourists but Google boss Larry Page. Just rediscovered this.


Tourists. Get off my lawn!

I am having a hard time tracking down a trailer for my dream boat. On the way back from an abortive attempt to go to the Onna Masuri, I spy the perfect trailer. I try to steal it but it does not er pan out.


Would you go to jail for this?

Anyway, there is a little bit of wind and Harry comes for a sunset sail.


Captain Wilson

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Horn of Plenty

Oh no! I have no lamb!

I run to the computer and order my usual fix. This is a half lamb from my munificent dealer Baticrom.

I do not notice that the standard dose at Baticrom is no longer a measly half lamb but a meaty whole lamb.






I pack my freezer with meat but there is still loads left over.


Left over lamb.

I will have to beg, steal or borrow freezer space. I have been here before.

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