After 2 months in the internet wilderness, we are finally online properly. The constraint to this particular problem was that, while we look for somewhere else to live, we are staying with my Dad who has dial-up, and doesn’t want to change. We started sharing one laptop (and some iPads) that we brought with us in December. We bought a monthly contract internet dongle on the Three network, which seems to be the network with the best coverage here, although it isn’t brilliant. Then James thought he wanted a phone so we moved to a cheap smart phone with wifi hotspot capabilities. We discovered that it is easy to buy things through Three, but not so easy to downgrade. They do let you do it, but subject you to about 20 minutes of sales banter, which it is apparently obligatory for the telephone monkeys to read out. Three could learn a lot from the case-by-case basis approach of most Japanese companies. Anyway, the mobile phone was OK while we had one laptop, but when the desktop arrived in the shipment from Japan, it couldn’t keep up with two people trying to connect to it. It quickly became clear we had to find some broadband, but we didn’t want to sign a long contract as we are not really planning on staying here very long. James found that Zen Internet offer 1 months contracts! We signed up. It didn’t work! This didn’t really come as a surprise, as we are located at the end of a quarter of a mile of phone line that had never carried broadband. Zen Internet help desk were actually extremely good. They were, however, rather frightened of calling out the telephone engineer, as BT charge 180 UKP for an unnecessary callout, and wanted us to test the modem they had sent. A week later we had successfully done this by plugging it in at the mother-in-law’s up on Scotland. Then the engineer visited, literally jiggled a cable at the exchange half a mile away in the village, and, suddenly, we have internets! It started at 4.5Mbps, and has now risen to 6.8Mbps. That’s several times faster than we had at home in Japan! Not bad when we only have sheep, grass, trees and bunnies for 500m or more in all directions. And Dad still has his dial-up.

Through our collaboration with Bristol University (we are now official visiting researchers there) we have access to online journals through their very clever library proxy service. I am not sure how it works, but it does not seem to slow things down at all (except for when I switch it off and my iPad refuses to believe it is still online). Being a university they have access to a wider range of journals than we could access at JAMSTEC. So, just 2 or 3 months of papers to catch up on now! There are still plenty of distractions for those days when the sky approaches a blue colour,


so it is perhaps fortunate that those blue-sky days are quite rare.

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