Today I had the last of the vaccinations I am having here in Cyprus. I really don’t like vaccinations. I also found out that I am blood group O+, apparently. Kind of strange, as we all thought I would be A+. Some friends of ours introduced us to the “Eat Right 4 Your Type” bloodtype/diet theory a few years ago, and our family seemed to fit it. My dad (O+) prefers meats, and seems to do well on them, and my mum (A+) prefers veg, and white meats, and seems to do well on them. My brother and I, we didn’t know our bloodtypes, but as he is a meat person, and I am a vegitarian, we guessed perhaps he was O+ and me A+. Anyway. All rather confusing.

I also went and got my eyes tested, and my old glasses fixed. One of the “arms” had fallen off, and although Dad had glued it back, the spring was gone, and they kept falling off my face. Also one of the rubber feet things for the nose had fallen off. But they are fixed now. The optician will have a new pair of glasses ready for me this evening, as well as a new hard case for my old glasses, and a spare hard case. To join the ship, I need to take 2 pairs of glasses, according to one of the random pieces of documentation they gave me.

That’s about all the news at the moment…




Well, less than 2 weeks to go. Scary, wot?

I’ve done quite a bit of sorting on my room, now it’s a total mess again, as it was a week ago that I sorted it. Trying to spend as much time as I can with family, and all.

Here is a picture of my bag “proto-packed”, with all the clothes in that I think I will need to take, as you can see, there is still some space, so I will fill up the rest with sheet music.


God is providing everything amazingly. I have not got all the financial support I need yet, but He is quite good at surprising me with things. Yesterday when I went to get my ticket, He got me a ticket for about 50 CYP less than I had originally reserved it for. Cool, eh?

Anyway. People keep telling me I should post more often, so I won’t post any more now, and perhaps I’ll remember tomorrow.




OK… The new design is pretty much done, unless I get some brilliant ideas or suddenly decide I hate it or something. Anyway. What do you think?



Mum told me I had never posted any pics of my new clarinet, or some new ones I just got developed from the ship. So here they are (you can guess which is which):


I’m thinking of doing a bit of a redesign of the look of this blog… It’s kind of boring, and I wont have a chance to do anything really to the look of it for the next 2 years so…





So, now I’d better start getting this blog on the road again… “why?” you may ask, well… heres the news:

I’m goin’ back! Yeehaw! and so on.

I went for my interview with OM UK, and have been accepted to go back to the Doulos in February, so, God willing, I’ll be leaving Larnaka sort of middle of January for the conference and pre-ship training.

It’s actually all quite complicated. Yesterday I went and reserved a air-ticket to the conference. I need support for 2 years on board, and am just this week discovering how complex that all is. Some people had already offered to support me, and I met up last week with a church elder and treasurer and parents to discuss it all. They were all very supportive and encouraging, and said they don’t think there should be any problems raising it all. I was supposed to be getting up in church last Sunday to tell everyone about what I’m going to be doing, and how much I need and all. But… I was struck down by some kind of virus or something, and instead spent most of Sunday throwing up. I couldn’t even take a sip of boiled water during the morning. I’d have much rather got up in church and asked for support! I’m still not totally back to normal, but working at it. I guess God is telling me to rely on Him, not on my amazing oratary skills, or something. heh.

As well as the Doulos costs, I also have to raise money for their medical/travel/etc insurance, which equals more than another 2 months normal Doulos money. Also envolved are travel costs to and from the conference, and the cost of the conference itself.

I wanted to get my clarinet insured too. This is all quite complicated, as I need insurance worldwide, traveling, etc. I looked at various possibilities, like joining the British Musicians Union, as you can get good insurance with various agencies in the UK through them, with a discount. But… The agencies in the UK all require permanent residence in the UK, which I and my family do not have, as we live in Cyprus.

I misread the policy of the normal Doulos company, and thought they said in order to get “business items” cover (ie, expensive clarinets), it was another 500+ pounds a year, which utterly shocked me, as for that price I could almost buy a new clarinet intirely after 2 years of that… but happily, I was wrong, and I’m now emailing them getting my poor ol’ brain to actually understand it all. It’s well complicated!

As well as all this, there are more vaccination type thingys. I need to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B, according to the docs. Which is the troublesome one from before. There is, apparently, a super-accelerated one which takes 21 days. (1 jab, another after a week, and another after another 2 weeks). Anyway, I phoned my friendly doctor here in Larnaka, and she told me that they don’t have this type in Cyprus, only the 3 months variety. OK… So I told the UK office this, and they said they would check if I could have the vaccinations on the ship.


Yesterday evening my friend at the theatre company told me his sister had telephoned him (His sister is the friendly doctor), and that she had found that this Hep.B vaccine IS available in Cyprus after all. I love how Cyprus works!

So I will phone her today, and ask how much it costs, as it may be cheaper on the ship anyway, and I need to check about her schedule too, as Christmas is coming up, so I may not be able to get it within the time before I go.

It’s really complex! there is just so much stuff to do!

Our landlady wants the house we are renting back soo, so my family are probably going to be moving house sometime during the 2 years that I am away, which means I have to pack up all my stuff here really really well, so that it can be taken to the new house well. Besides that, other people will probably stay in my room sometimes.

Stuff. There is too much of it!

We cleared out our house in the UK, as my parents are FINALLY selling it, and we had (we thought) a few boxes left in a cupboard there to bring back here. Anyway, it turned out we had about 7 cubic metres of stuff, so we packed that all up, shipped it here, and now our house here is even fuller than before.

So I’m starting to clean my room out at last. I had about 2 cubic metres of old cardboard and kitchen roll-inner tubes, empty plastic milk bottles, empty tissue boxes, and so on, on top of my wardrobe, which I was going to use for crafts and construction, which all have been there for about 5 years now. I actually have used bits of them occasionally. Like I built a lens-camera a few years back using a bunch of old washing-powder boxes and a magnifying glass and some string, it’s so hard for me to throw anything away… So I got rid of 2 black binliners of stuff yesterday, and have another 3 to sort out today. I wish Larnaka had paper recycling.

I’ve also been doing video editing and poster design for the theatre group, as well as occasional performances. We have a rehearsal tomorrow for the Christmas Special production of “The Little Man’s Best Friend”. It should be fun. I hope.


I’m trying out some new reeds, my new teacher says that I was playing on too hard reeds, and so I’ve been trying out some Vandoren 2.5 and (V12) 3s. She also got me some Vandoren 56-series 2.5 reeds, which is what she uses. I’ve had them 2 days, and they are driving me mad! I can’t get my top octive in tune! I’m practically biting through my lip, and yet they top G is about 20 cents flat! And then the reed stops responding, and gets squeesed shut totally. It’s crazy. Also the tone is so edgy and has no depth to it. The Vandoren trad. 2.5 is much better, and I think if 2.7 would be even better, if such a thing existed. Anyway. these 56-series 2.5s are so hard to sound nice on. Mind you, I can flinger/lip glissando from clarion D up to C on them with barely any effort at all. That’s kind of cool… Normally I can only manage from G, and then its very hard. I dunno. I kind of wish I had tried a bit harder to play on those Lomax and Walter Grabner mouthpeices in the UK. Oh well.

Anyway. That’s all the news I can think of at the moment.

I think I need to go finish off the last of my science and church history. I need to be finished by Christmas. There is so little left!

*sigh* Perhaps I’ll just go get some herbal tea.




I’m back! So finally…

The epic clarinet adventure.

My teacher had been telling me that I needed to buy a new clarinet for years now. For the last 9 years I have been playing a lovely old Boosey and Hawkes Regent clarinet.
My teacher’s son is studying clarinet in the UK, and plays a Buffet RC. So of course, my teacher believes that the only Real Clarinets (tm?) are wooden, made by buffet, and have “RC” written on them.

Seeing as how I live in Cyprus, I’m a bit wary of buying a wooden clarinet, as with the high humidity and so forth, and air-conditioning, I felt that a crack would be more likely than I feel happy with.

Anyway. So read through all the [klarinet][1] archives and decided to try out a RC Greenline, when we next visited the UK. So. We came to the UK for a month, my family and I, and I had been in contact with Howarths, in London, and they said they had no RC Greenlines, but did have wooden RC and R13 instruments which I could try out at their Worthing showroom, they also had a professional-line Howarths clarinet which I could try out, which was made from ebonite, which would also appease the humidity concerns.

The people at Howarths were extremely helpful, very patient, and had contacted every available source looking for RC Greenline in the UK, and were even willing to order one from France for me to buy. Unfortunatly, if I ordered one from France, it would arrive after we had left the UK, and also, I would have to pay a non-refundable deposit on it, which, if I didn’t like it, might be a problem. Anyway. I tried out their RC and R13 and their own clarinet.

I didn’t like the R13 much at all. The sound seemed to me a bit more shrill than I liked, and I also had trouble playing it in tune. I could probably have become used to it, but things like the 12ths seemed too stretched without lipping quite a lot.

The RC I liked more. It seemed to be more in tune (to my ears) than I could play the R13, and the sound seemed less shrill, and more solid. Nevertheless, it didn’t grab me particually, and although a good clarinet, I didn’t feel it was really special for me.

The Howarths Ebonite instrument was a bit strange. I was expecting to like it, and wanted to like it too, I quite wanted to buy a non-Buffet instrument, just to be more individual, you know. 🙂 But, I didn’t like it at all. The tone seemed shrill and harsh, the scales didn’t sound in tune when I played them, and I couldn’t play it consistantly well. Sometimes it played quite sweetly, but other times I felt like I was fighting it. My dad commented that it almost sounded like an oboe in timbre, which when I told him about Howarth’s being originally more oboe oriented, he thought quite interesting.

The Howarth’s employee was extremely helpful, and said that I could phone her back at the end of the week and it would still be in time for her to order for me an RC Greenline from France.

When I asked her about an oboe she was repairing, she gave me freely a bag of 10 or so barkless cork pads!

While we were there, I also tried out a Lomax mouthpiece on my Regent, wow, that made a huge difference, a much more pure and (appologies to Mr. Leesen) rounded centred sound. Even on a plastic instrument. My family were very impressed by it. But as I still did not have a better clarinet, we thought I should not buy until perhaps later.

Anyway. Good shop, very helpful people, but I didn’t really like the clarinets.

I had also been briefly in contact via email with Alistair Hanson, asking about their clarinets, as I had seen them online, and I was thinking of perhaps buying a medium/advanced level instrument from them, in their Ecowood or Ebonite materials, as a step up. He told me about their new compressed-grenadilla/composite material, which he said is totally resistant to humidity and temprature problems. He told me I could stick one of these clarinets in a freezer for 6 months, leave it in boiling water, or treat it with as little care as plastic and would have no problems. I told him I was thinking of buying an RC Greenline, and he said no problem, if I tried out one of their clarinets, and didn’t like it, I could of course send it back, and that if I wanted, they could find me an RC Greenline from a dealer they knew in Edinburgh. I asked to try out one of their T-5 instruments in this new material, and Alistair said they didn’t have any T-5s at the moment, but they had an ex-display model T-6, and if he sold it me without a proper T-6 case, then he could sell it at a reduced price. And of course, if I didn’t like it, I could send it back. So I waited (not very patiently) for it to arrive.

Later in the day that I had ordered it, we drove past a small music shop, and so popped in to see if by some random chance they had an RC Greenline which I could try out. They did have an R13 Greenline… so I tried that out, and thought it actually very good. I much preferred it to the wooden R13 which I had played the day before. The sound was still a bit shriller than I liked, but overall the sound seemed slightly solider, more stable, and I could control the tuning without too much effort. My dad suggested that this clarinet, combined with the Lomax mouthpiece would be a good combination, in case I could not get the other.

The next day the Hanson clarinet arrived! I was really excited, of course. I opened the cardboard package, expecting to see the clarinet packed up in bubble wrap or something, but in fact it came in a great sturdy compact backpack type case! Also included was a Vandoren 5RV 88-Series mpc, and Vandoren Optimum lig!

The clarinet itself was beautiful. Smooth and shiny as the best of plastic instruments (bore and outside), but with unstained grenadilla colouring. The keys were all well laid out and elegant. It included a detachable alternate Eb key, and all of the left pinky leaver keys contain rollers at the end (I’m slightly doubtful of the actual effect of these), but apparently it makes the action smoother. There are no flat bladed springs anywhere on the instrument. They use normal pin type springs, and coil springs. The pads are only slightly odd looking bit, as they are yellow (except for cork for register and c#/g#). This is not such a big deal. I asked them about this, and they said it is so they can tell easily which pads they put on, and which have been replaced by other people, later.

I tried playing it, and was blown away. Lovely sound. The lowest notes are much richer and fuller than on any of the other clarinets I had tried, and the tuning seemed to be bang on right the way up to altiss. G and above. Except… for the throat A and Ab notes. They were WAY offscale sharp. More than 50 cents sharp, when I checked with a tuner. The throat G was slightly sharp, but easily manageable with “resonance” fingerings.

Also, that evening, while playing, I heard a strange click, and found that the coil spring on the throat A key had popped out, and no longer would it spring down.

Before actually dismantling the instrument, I bethought myself to phone them in case by doing so I was invalidating the warranty, or something.
It was about 8pm, but Alistair was still there working, and before I mentioned that I knew what I was doing, offered to walk me through it on the phone! He was quite apologetic, this never having happened before. Anyway.
The coil springs are very nice, in some ways, but when putting them back on after taking a key off, be careful! Some of them have to be aligned the right way around inside their sockets, so that when they compress, or expand, they do so in the correct direction, to stop them from touching other pads! Thanks to Alistair, I got it all sorted though. No problems since (4 weeks ago).

A few weeks after that, I was able to go and visit them up in Marsden, and spent the afternoon at the workshop, learning about clarinets, how they make them, and practising stripping down and rebuilding an old flood worn clarinet. Alistair also fixed the two sharp throat notes for me, with some tiny stuck in rubber patches, that sorted them out fine, and I can now play them well in tune. They also lowered the register key a bit for me, rounded off the cork pad on it, and so on.

I have had no troubles with it since then at all. I think I may need to make the left pinky C key cork a little larger, and perhaps add a since layer of paper to the low E/B crowsfoot mechanism to hold the low F/C pad down slightly firmer. I forgot to mention these when I took the clarinet up to them. Anyway, it’s not complicated.




We’re off to the UK tonight. I’m still not packed yet, and am now sending the last of the emails which I need to do, with contacts in the UK, and so on.

I’ve got all my references sorted, and am finishing off the last one or two questions on the OM application form. I will hopefully be going for an interview on the 17th of October about joining Doulos. All very exciting!

Anyway, I probably won’t have much chance to update the blog for a few weeks or more. But I may, and I definately will once we get back from the UK (25th of October).

If anyone feels like praying, that’d be awfully nice.





This is a 3d representation of the Doulos Toaster:


Strange things happen with this machine.

I’ll explain how ought to work:

1) You put your bread on the metal mesh conveyor belt at the front.

2) The conveyor belt slowly slides the bread inside, where a double grill toasts it.

3) The (now) toast reaches the end of the conveyor belt, falls off it, and slides back to the metal toast-catching tray at the front (just below where you put the bread in).

4) You pick up your perfect slice of toast, a happy smile upon your lips, and head towards your table, while others in the dining room cast admiring glances at your beautiful slice of gastronomic delight.

There. That’s how it ought to work. This is what actually happens:

1) You stand in a medium sized queue waiting for your turn at the toaster, while people push past you to put their finished trays onto the rack, napkins in the bin, and so forth.

2) You eventually reach the toaster, and now have to wait while the bread already on the conveyor belt moves forward enough for you to fit yours on.

3) You put your bread on the conveyor belt, and realise someone has changed the speed that the conveyor belt moves at, so now it is too fast, and your bread wont get toasted at all!

4) You set the speed back down to the slowest speed again.

5) Someone comes along with their bread, peers at yours sitting on the conveyor belt which is just entering the toaster, and they push your bread forward so that they can fit theirs in.

6) This really annoys you, because it means that YOUR bread won’t get as much toasting as you want!

7) They then set the speed up to the fastest.

8) This annoys you even more.

9) You patiently and with loving brotherly kindness explain that the dial changes the SPEED that the bread goes through the toaster, and NOT how hot the toaster will be, and that they just made their bread get less toasted, which wasn’t what they wanted, was it?

10) It wasn’t, and so they set it back to slow again.

11) Your toast pops out of the toaster.

12) You pick it up and…

13) Wait a second, this isn’t your toast! You put in brown bread, from the middle of the loaf, and this is a white crust!

14) You put back the toast into the toast-catching tray, and peer inside the toaster to see where your toast is.

15) There is no toast in the toaster. It is now empty.

16) Puzzled, you pick up the white toasted crust, and wander around for a while holding it, and asking random people if it is theirs.

Eventually you give up, and confusion oozing from every pore, head back to your table.

18) You trip over someone who was pushing their chair out, and drop the toast on the floor.

19) Someone treads on it, and appologises.

20) You sigh, say “A little dirt never hurt anyone. Especially on Doulos!”.

21) Everyone in the near vicinity nods sagely.

22) You pick up the crushed white now-cold crust, and continue on your way to the table.

OK. So that’s what actually happens. The question is :


Now, we could either conclude with a rather trite, but possibly true conclusion that it is all part of God teaching you about patience, but my answer is slightly more believable.

The Doulos toasters (referred to now as “a“) are actually a multi-dimensional hyper-space teleportation and transformational location-modification device, which maps your bread ( now “b” ) through a quantum-bread meta-matrix and returns it utilising a state-switching algorithm which aligns the spinless iso-toast (“c“) with a 7 digit hexadecimal Glenn-Mann style vectoral frame reference so that, obviously, the anti-toast (“d“) particles of the sub-heliotropic “b” (also known as “your bread“) are accelerated to a state where by critial mass is reached simultaneously with the point where another semi-random peice of toast is displaced from the meta-matrix, and arrives in the toast-catching tray.

So keep this in mind next time you want some toast on the Doulos.




Man, I really have abandoned this poor blog, have I not?

I spoke at church, last Sunday. Seemed to go OK. I was quite nervous, but managed to make people laugh a few times, and a lot of people have said how much they liked me talking at church. Thing is, I don’t actually like the whole “Sunday Morning Church” thing. Particually having a 30 to 45 minute “Sermon” or lecture shoved in the middle. I talked for 20 minutes, and feel kind of guilty for taking so long.

I’ve got the OM application form, and thus far have not yet filled it out. I really need to. We’re going back to the UK in about a week, for an entire month. I wonder if they can post the next set of forms to me there? Hm.

One of my friends from the STEP sent me some photos of my cabin! I’ll see if I can put some online over the next few days. Here is a picture of the bathroom of our cabin…

I was going to go on a 5 day woodwind repair course in Wales in about 3 weeks, but 2 days ago I phoned them because they had still not sent me the accomidation details, and they said “Ah, yes, well, you see, the tutor we have hired just told us that he cannot come until a week later. We were just going to phone you later today to tell you…” Well. A week later than the course is the week we come back to Cyprus! So not a whole lot of use! The guy says we will get a full refund, and he is trying to see if he can find a woodwind repairer friend of his to take me on as an apprentice for a week… Who knows.

This is one of those things, you know, when all your plans just jump right out of the window, and there is nothing you can do at all. I just have to trust God again in this. I know that He can change dates and things, like He did with the Doulos when I joined, with them having a place for me in June rather than later in the year. So I know He can do the same now too. Both ways. If He wants me to do this course, He can change the dates back again, and provide the accomidation. And if He does not want me to do the course, again, the same thing. So this could be His way of saying “Not this time, boyo” (He’d say “boyo” because the course is in Wales). So yeah.

On a lighter note, it looks like I will be able to buy my new clarinet in about 2 weeks! Woo! There is a shop in Worthing which is right close to where my Grandmother lives, and we will be visiting her for a while, and will try to visit then to go clarinet shopping. Yeah! I’m currently planning to get a Buffet RC Greenline. We’ll see. I think a greenline would be best for being on the Doulos, with all the crazy humidity and other conditions and all.

So. Signing off…




This is a photo from my E-day in (I think) Beira, where we spent the morning clearing up rubbish from the roads, and then from the beach area by the hospital, and then did an open-air outreach in the afternoon. We were told what to do with the rubbish by the local volenteer (who was told by the municipality rep he knew).

Dig a great big hole, and bury it.

The europeans in the group thought this was very funny. Anyway, so we did. The photo shows Yours Truely in a deckie uniform (that blue thing). I spent most of the 2 months wearing that thing.

Kind sexy, isn’t it? Well… OK, not really. The shoes are alright though. Nice solid things, with steel tips. I was quite glad of those steel tips at one point. During Sabbath Week while I was on watch, the Bosun called me over to help move a cargo converyor belt, just the two of us, and it dropped onto my foot. The deckie manual says that one should always wear deckie boots while on watch, even though I was told by other deckies “Naw, don’t. Just wear black shoes, so it looks smart. Your deckie shoes are all messy, so you’ll get shouted at if an officer comes up.”

I’m quite glad I ignored them, actually. That conveyor belt was heavy! But thanks to wonderful super-magic deckie shoes, I didn’t feel anything, and we just then lifted it up again and put it up where needed.

I went to Karate last night, at the local centre. I started attending (once a week) about 3 months before leaving to join the Doulos. I hadn’t really had a chance to keep it up while on board, although I did try to do some excersize some days. Right up on top of the ship is the “Sun-Deck”, which is for crew only, and has some excersize equipment, an excersize bike, weights, a punching bag, and so on. There are also some hammocks, which aren’t for excersize, but are nice anyway. It’s quite noisy up there, because it is right above the engine room hatch, so you can talk privately if you want, and it is out of the way of visitors. Some of the guys would go up there every night to work out, do weights, and so on. Weights have never really been my thing, but I occasionally did some stretching, juggling, push-ups, and so on. It’s amazing how much better you feel if you do some excersize each day, or every other day, or so. It’s so easy on board the Doulos to just ignore that kind of thing, as the work on board (deck, catering, etc) is quite hard, and can leave you feeling quite tired, but without actually working out your whole body. Anyway. It’s well worth it.

And this is a photo from the same day as before. You can see me in the background, watching the other two who were doing a drama, during the outreach bit. They didn’t really want to do the drama, much (Statue drama), but they had organized it without asking if I wanted to act, and so when they found out that I love acting, they were a bit annoyed afterwards… Oh well. It was OK.