The summer of 2023

 The summer this year was one of the hottest I can remember from my 30 summers in Hokkaido. It was a busy and overall a fun time, exercising, camping, but most of all running the school.  I've always been a camper but I have to admit that it wasn't my favorite activity and I prefer to hike, cycle, or even kayak. Camping for us involves bringing all the creature comforts we have to a nature setting and mimicking the exact lifestyle we have at home, but just not at home. Until now, I felt this to be a silly pursuit and a mind boggling hassle.  I realized I disliked the way we were camping and the non camp items we camped with.  I have started to collect camp goods, upgrading my camping set-up and have become dangerously close to being a camp geek.

The DOD Okura Tarp

This tarp is a recent upgrade. Flame retardant, waterproof, and UV ray bloccking featuresmake my old tarp look like a bedsheet. 

This table is not the lightest but it was not expensive and I had been using it for about 3 years and can testify to its durablility. I decided to increase my tablel space and bought the same table again. There were some design changes but the tables are compatible and I think they look alright too.

I picked up three of these side tables for cooking and just to have for anything kind of table.  They are light, easy to set up and they will last I'm sure. This make the camp experience richer for sure.  So convenient.
Very recently, I picked this up during a sale at the local outdoor store Paddle Club.  I haven't been able to take in and fathom what kind of uses this might have but it is super light, compact and easy to set up.

I also picked up thhis affordable cot from WAQ camping supplies. It works as a bench, make-shift table, and, of course, it provides a place to lay down and relax after a hard day camping. 

Although I haven't used a gas lantern or an oil lamp in quite a while, I was a little dissatisfied with the Balmuda lanterns that I owned.  They are interesting in that at a low level they are orange and turned up full they have a normal white LED feeling.  I don't like them because of the short battery life.  The internal battery also takes a very long time to charge up completely. This new Lumena2 outdoor light has a workhorse of a battery and the four settings allow you to choose how much you want to see f a particular setting.  This is just a ridiculously practical light without any flare or romance. It comes in a close second to my trusty head lamp.

I've actually been using this head lamp for over two years now and it is definitely the best one I've ever had.  Turns night into day and has a variety of colors to amaze your fellow campers. I use it for early morning hiking and walking the dog.  If it broke, I would have to get another.  It has proved its usefullness very well.

I kind of accidentally took possession of my friend's wine tumbler because I failed to return it promptly. I used it a little and then realized I had to get my own, SO I did. I got the navy and light blue versions and whatever it is, it stays cold or hot.  I like the way it feels in my habd too.  Unfortunately it is not a good fit for the cup holder in my car.

The Le Creuset wine cooler is so useful I will never go without again.  How was I able to manage before I got them?  I have two and the whites are always well chilled.  I'm sure it works for big bottles of beer too although I've never tested it out.  I mimicked my friend who had two black ones.  I bought two red ones so as not to get confused.  I use them nearly every day for wine, wine, and wine. but occasionally just to cool something down.

Sure, my old collection of plastic, wood, and ceramic dishes did the job and I had no intention of going in for a 20,000 yen set of designer dishes, but a very good friend and generous one as well gave us a present of the Snow Peak stackable stainless steel dish set

This is another item that I discovered when researching on YouTube.  I have used it once or twice and so far I like it for its lightweight and cooking ability. It also loos pretty cool too.

As far as a fueling the cooking fires, I've always been keen to use charcoal or wood but this is a new item for me because it has a strong flame that is good for outdoor cooking,  The old cassette burner I had always used was built for indoor work.  This one is simply better.

I picked this one outon the net and decided to get it based on reviews.  After a few uses, the metal warped and the fit became a little awkward. It has returned to a relatively level position lately and Ihope that it continues to hold up.  I haven't made use of the dutch oven hooks yet.  Also, it is a little smaller than I imagined, but seeing as how we are only two people,it is an option.  I AM thinking about acquiringa proper fire pit though.

That's the scoop for the camping kit.  All of these addition have come in the last couple of years and some were purchased and some were received.  These upgrades have really made the camping experience more outdoorsy and fun.  I have never really been excited to go camping but now I am searching for campsites that I like.  Maybe I'll put those sites up in the next BLOG.  When will that be?







Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day here in Japan.  I always find it impossible to not feel obliged to prepare something for my wife on this day.  Men in this country do nothing on this day and instead are often the recipient of a chocolate gift.  I am not a traditionalist in that I think this is a bad idea, but it's just something I have never grown used to. As I write this, I admit to have made no effort at all. The florist that I had often used has closed and moved elsewhere.  Without ordering the bouquet, I don't know of a shop that might be able to provide something suitable for a walk-in like me. Regardless, as I write this I feel more and more compelled to go get a bouquet.

Headed to the flower shop,

Pat 😅



Favorite February


February is the shortest month of the year and I also have some very important birthdays in this month as well.  This year's second month has started off in grand style.  It has been snowing constantly, requiring super human effort with the shovel, Regardless, February is weird. Its quirky 29th and its unbelievable shortness make it special somehow.  Stay warm, stay safe and YES!!! my website has been renewed.  I did it.  I'm not sure if anyone knows or cares, but I stepped up and did it.  I swamped through the kanji then I suffered the jargon that is Wordpress.  I had ups and downs.  It was fun but it was hard too. I hope the handout page proves to be of some use for my classes.  I'm  looking forward to using this as a tool to reach more people and expand the English learning opportunities in this community.




January 6th, 2023


It has been half a year since writing and now that the new year has begun, I'd like  to report that although my efforts with this blog are minimal, as usual, I have made progress with YouTube and LINE.  On the left is the official line account QR code for Shinkotoni. This is not to be confused with the Kitano Official Line Account. If you friend this account you will be informed about the curriculum for the lessons monthly.  Also, you can chat and ask questions, get advice, or even complain.

This is Shinkotoni 新琴似教室 


Links to the YouTube accounts for each classroom can be found 

after signing up for the Line account or click on the links below the QR code.

This is Kitano きたの幼稚園教室


I know that I really need to update my website considering that it was made in the pre-smartphone era. Most of my students can't imagine a time when there weren't smart phones. I tried looking at that today and allowed myself to get sidetracked into posting a blog that no one will read.😂




Number 18

 There are 18 holes on a standard golf course. Over the course of those 18 holes confidence builds, wavers, or crumbles.  Hope is repeatedly crushed and then born again. Pride is hurt and sometimes never restored.  Drama unfolds and comes to an end in the course of 18 holes. 

Here at English Island we have reached the 18th year. Although the last couple of years have not been about growth in the number of students we teach, I have personally felt a change for the better in my teaching styles.  Prepare yourself for the YouTube posts that will support the weekly lesson. It will take a  week or so for the segments to be posted but for those who take the time to check them out, THANK YOU!


State of Emergency continues...

 Unfortunately, the state of emergency that had been in place to protect the people of Hokkaido from the spread of COVID-19 has been extended to the middle of next month.  At English Island we are doing our best to sanitize tables and chairs after each lesson. We also sanitize pencils after each use. Although we have limited the number of items that require physical contact it is difficult to completely eliminate the use of cards and paper in an EFL classroom.  We ventilate regularly if not constantly.  All the students temperatures are now being taken and documented.  

We can only hope for a quick and safe return to normalcy. I hope everyone has a safe and productive year. 

My dog not practicing safe social distancing as usual.





To say that it's been a while is unnecessary.  It's been forever and then some.  By listing all the things that have gone down in the last 3 years surely I'll be forgiven for not blogging.

The crippling arrhythmia that had me suffering and in and out of the hospital for four years just went away.  It just went away. It must have been MANapause or some panty disease like that.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and she passed away 2 years ago.  She faced her final time here on earth admirably and with a grace that leaves me with respect and humility.  I am in deep gratitude for all the kindness and love she gave to me for more than 25 years.  She will be missed.

My son got married.  He also had a wedding ceremony and then promptly left for Australia on a working holiday.  He's still there, but will be back shortly. I'm extremely happy for him and his wife is a charming and talented young woman.

About a year and a half after my mother-in-law passed away, my
father-in-law joined his wife. I'm sure they are wise cracking at each other
and playing hanafuda on the other side.  Aloha 'oe a hui hou.

I work alone nowadays except for Hitomi who helps me in the younger kid's
lessons.  It's less stressful, less fun, and maybe less educational for me to
work alone and to be honest, I miss all the great people who have helped
out at the school in the past.  I'm busier now than ever before and not
having time for this blog is obvious.

That's it.  Those are my excuses for not keeping a running blog talking about the things going on at the school.  I think that a blog that almost nobody reads is not really important. That's another reason for the lack of posts recently.  I was updating my HP which really needs a complete makeover and stumbled onto the relic that BLOGGER is here for me.  I decided that today I have time and that I'll post one and run.  I've been snowboarding a little more recently.  I'm still the eternal beginner and doubt I'll ever be able to boast any skill, but the exercise does me good and my snowboard friends are generous enough to let me tag along. The video is from a famous mountain near Kiroro.  Best run of the season for me so far...