Very Okinawa

I become aware of a grinding noise coming from the back of my X trail. It does not take me long to work out that it is coming from the passenger side rear disc brake. I stick my finger in to see if the disc, or rotor as the Americans will have it, is ridged and nearly burn the end of my finger off. Red hot rotor!

Can you see very ridged disc?

I suppose the brake pads have worn down to metal but also the caliper piston is jammed so that they are in constant contact with the disc. Not good.

I am quite a long way from home and realize that I should get this fixed as quickly as possible, so I stop at the first workshop. They explain that they would love to fix it but they have no spare cars to lend me during the 5 days the repair would take. Not an option, as living 5 days in Okinawa without a car is not feasible.

Yasushi san is an old friend who works at the gas station close to my previous house. I run to him and explain my predicament. He explains that because of the Obon holiday all the garages are backed up with work and it is going to be difficult to get the car fixed quickly. He sits me in the waiting room, brings me cold water and starts phoning garages. 10 minutes later he explains that Kamiya san is waiting for me in his shop near Tori Station. I love Yasushi san.

He is a great guy

Yes, Kamiya san is waiting for me. I know him! I used to take cars to him for the Shaken. He takes the wounded X trail and gives me a car. However he asks if can take this car to Ishigaki san’s restaurant and swap it with a car she has. How does he know that I know Ishigaki san? Why does he want me to exchange cars? There is no point trying to work it out, all of this is so Okinawan.

I go to the restaurant, which is the best in the world. I have written about it many times.

We hug, we grin, we swap cars.

Noda san and Ishigaki san with Ben and Courtney
My new car.

I speak little Japanese and understand not much either. The characters in this story have very little English but somehow we get by very well. I have good friends in Okinawa. Thank you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lapsang Souchong

One of the most pleasant activities during my stay in England was sitting around in brother Alan’s kitchen reading newspapers, something I never do here, and drinking lots of Lapsang Souchong tea.

Cannot hope to read Japanese newspapers but I can drink Lapsang Souchong. Well, it turns out to be difficult to find this tea in Okinawa, for me at least. I track down a tea shop called Lupicia but to my horror, I find that it is located in the in the Aeon Rycom shopping Mall. This is a enormous complex. I have only been once and it took days to recover. I hate shopping. I get claustrophobia.

Stay away.

Notwithstanding, I set out on Sunday afternoon to buy tea. Big mistake! First Google maps takes me to another Aeon mall. I waste an hour. As I approach the Rycom mall, a huge traffic jam evolves. I am completely jammed in with cars to the left of me, cars to the right of me that rattle and thunder. After another hour I finally steer the car into the mall. All the parking lots are full. There is a traffic jam in the parking area. I have a panic attack and give up all hope of getting into the mall. There are so many cars , so many people. So I spend 3 hours failing to buy tea.

The backdrop to this is more terrible weather.

No sailing

The typhoon rips out the eyelets that hold the ropes that connect the cover to the boom. The boat fills up with water, as usual.

Not good

Another typhoon is on the way so I strengthen everything and cross my fingers.

I wish I could get a real cockpit cover.

Of course, no sailing. Not much fun lately.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

There’s a Bright Golden Haze on the Meadow

Poor Mummy; nonetheless the trip to England allowed me to catch up with family and friends.

First to Rosy and Barry’s house, which is beautiful and at its best in very hot Summer weather.

Huge flowering gardens go with the house

Then up to London to Ian and Ann’s. Another beautiful garden and outstanding food.

Clapham in the Summertime.

The next day we take a river bus down the Thames to visit the Cutty Sark. It is the hottest day ever in England!

Wonderful trip.

Then to Alan’s in Stony Stratford. Again wonderful hospitality. Stony Stratford is an ancient English town steeped in tradition and beautiful hanging baskets.

There are dozens all over the town center.

Another one.

Lunch in a country pub with niece Kathleen, husband Jonathan and amazing kids, Isabel and Alex.

Kids with Japanese doggies.
I love pubs and Fish and Chips.

Then to Oxford to stay with old friend Roger. We visit the Naoko Matsubara exhibition in the Ashmolean Museum. Very fine.


Naoko had previously given me one of her pieces, of which I am very proud.

My Matsubara in new frame.

We then have lunch in Balliol, Roger is a Fellow. In fact he’s a jolly good fellow.

Roger is hungry.

Ah England, messed up politics but a great place to visit.

Many, many thanks to all who showed such kindness and hospitality.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bye Bye Mummy

So my Mummy died last week. 

I am very sad. 

I knew she was about to die and so rushed back to England. As I was getting into the car to head for the airport, my brother phoned to say that she had died a couple of hours before. She was 96.

When I arrived in England I was able to visit the body. She looked very dignified and gracious, much as she had throughout her life.

No one could wish for a better mother.

Dementia is an unpleasant end.

Thank you Mummy. Rest In Peace and God bless you.

Mummy on her wedding day. Malakal Sudan 1946
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The World Cup

I stayed up very late on Sunday. First dinner with Mary and Tim. Tim cooked Paella. He really is an excellent cook. I drove there intending to leave the car and walk home. You do not drink and drive in Japan. In the end, fellow guest Izumi sensei, a young Japanese professor who studies smell, suggested I share her cab. I was a little intimidated to do so as I smell of perspiration and old man. She was very polite.

I then stayed up to follow the final of the 50 overs world cup cricket. England beat New Zealand in an amazing match. I feel very sorry for the New Zealand team who seem good guys.

The weather has again been very non sailing – high winds. However Emily suggests an excursion on Monday. When I descend the stairs to the parking lot in front of the apartment building, I have moment of age. The car is not there. Of course not, I left it at Tim and Mary’s.

So I start walking. This is very wonderful as it is a beautiful day and the walk takes me along the coast. However I do not have a hat and I have not smeared on sun cream. It is noon, the height of sun intensity. I burn.


We try very hard but for the first day in weeks there is very little wind. Such that there is, changes direction making for poor sailing. After a period of flapping around, we motor out hoping to find more wind. No good and we give up.

My mooring is shared with a very friendly puffer fish.

He is my friend

Emily tries to film him.

Puffer fish
Nice sunset
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Today I find in my mailbox, a light pink envelope with drawings of happy families on it.

I believe it is my annual health insurance contribution demand.

This is the front.
This is the back.

I love the way the Japanese administration communicates. Nearly all official correspondence is in pink envelopes, covered in hearts, flowers,bunnies, little baby pigs, dancing children, bluebirds, kittens, happy old people.

The bill for a year of coverage for everything that could possibly go wrong healthwise is ¥34,107, about $315.

Thank you Japan.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


There was great glee the last time I went to the dentist about 2 weeks ago. Obviously having a molar pulled out is always a source of joy but also Mori sensei, who has a boat at Ginowan marina, announced that the rainy season was officially over and from here on in it was blue skies and fair winds.

Not so.

I stupidly took off my cockpit cover and of course there has subsequently been a series of thunderstorms. On Saturday morning I go to Ginowan and hobble to the boat.

How much more? Watch all videos in HD and full screen, see icons bottom right.

I rush back home and change out of drenched clothes. I then head out to the Tou Cafe and Gallery, where Okubo sensei is giving an Ikebana workshop. I am apprehensive. I have never done classical Japanese flower arranging before! My apprehension grows when I get to the cafe as I am the only man and the only non -Japanese. The other participants are beautiful, graceful women.

I should not have worried. I have a wonderful time. Tomomi sensei first demonstrates basic techniques. She starts with a wide bowl using a small, round, spiked block called a kenzan.

Spot the kenzan.

Then we move on to taller, narrower vases, in which Tomomi sensei shows how to build an internal grid made from flower stems that can support the flowers or leaves of the final display.

We then all get the same selection of flowers and leaves and are told we can select any of the wonderful Yachimun, Okinawan pottery, bowls or vases on display in the restaurant.

My only previous experience of flower arrangement is getting a big bunch of flowers and dumping them into a vase. This is very different. Tomomi sensei stresses harmony, aesthetics, minimalism and matching the display to the container. I do what I can with my thick clumsy fingers!

The atmosphere is wonderful, so relaxed and non-judgmental. We all giggle like schoolgirls, especially me. Listen to the movie.

Everyone is so happy.
My final piece.

Thanks to Tomomi, the Matsuda sisters, who run the place, and all the other participants for such a cool afternoon!

I then rebalance by rushing off to watch the Crusaders play the Jaguares in the final of the Super Rugby championship.

Very close.
We get to keep the Yachimun and the flowers!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment