Summer really does seem to be here now. Over thirty degrees in the shade, mid-morning, and (worse) becoming sticky too. I'm very thankful that we seem to be well over half-way through our packing, even though Richard has done most of the work! I think we're going to be doing an hour per day now, rather than two, and I've quite lost track of which day I'm on. I suppose the plans and the first ten days were the most significant, anyway.
Yesterday Richard cleared some of the grey metal shelving in the corridor outside our kitchen, where we keep tools, gardening stuff, the vacuum cleaner, painting equipment, barbecue bits and pieces... and, of course, other random clutter which has nowhere else to go. We threw out an entire bin-bag of almost-empty paint tins. Yes, I know, if we were in the UK they'd have to go to a special paint-tin collection place, but such a thing doesn't happen here. Recycling and separation of waste is almost unknown.
We also packed a box with Tim's winter clothes - or most of them, anyway. He did remember to keep aside sufficient for the youth group camp at the end of the month. This takes place in the Troodos mountains, where temperatures can be quite chilly in the evenings.
I sorted out another three medium-sized boxes of unnecessary old paperwork for our friends to take to the paper recycling in Dhekelia (the British army base.. hence why recycling is popular there) and this morning Tim and I sorted out the large collection of stuff which had accumulated in the base of his sofa. Initially it was knitting wools and sewing materials, but he seemed also to have acquired outgrown underwear and pyjamas, and tiny scraps of material that could never be used for anything. There was also a fair amount of Lego, a few pencils, and other bits of random clutter. We rescued the useful items and the rest went in a couple of large black bin-liners to be thrown.
Tim took his first singing exam today. Only Grade 1, but then he only started singing lessons in November last year. As a child he sang in a children's choir but it's taken a long time for his voice to settle as a teenager, and he's really enjoying learning to train it. Currently his range is 'baritone' although he hopes to sing tenor eventually. He wasn't particularly nervous about the exam, since he had already been doing Grade 3 level sight-singing, and Grade 5 level aural training, and knew his pieces well. He does sometimes have trouble with 'glue ear' which impairs his hearing, but has given up dairy products in the past couple of months, with remarkable results. He's been particularly conscientious about avoiding every trace of cow's milk products for the past fortnight, and his hearing was fine today.
He said, when he got home, that he was probably the most relaxed person in the building! All the teachers were stressed, knowing their students would be examined and having to calm them down or cheer them up as appropriate. The schedule was running late by the time Tim got there, and after a few minutes a girl with a saxophone emerged in floods of tears. He eventually discovered that there had been some mistake: she was expecting to take Grade 4 classical saxophone, and the examiner was expecting to test her in Grade 6 jazz saxophone! There had been some mix-up in the UK (where the examiner comes from) so this poor girl had to cancel the exam. The next girl, a pianist, also emerged from the examining room in tears, so Tim began to worry that the examiner was strict and unfriendly, or asking difficult questions.
However, he said it was fine. His teacher (who accompanied him) apparently made a few mistakes on the piano but said that Tim was note-perfect on all his three prepared songs, so that's encouraging. Obviously they don't just judge on the accuracy of the notes, but it's a start. He said his sight-singing question was very easy (basically just a scale!) and he thinks he got most of the aural questions correct, other than fluffing the last one - which he realised, as he finished, but didn't mention.
So now he's at the piano, practising scales (which he finds tedious) as he's doing the Grade 5 piano exam tomorrow. He plays several pieces at a higher level than this, but the discipline required for exams is quite exact, and he's not the most disciplined of people. Indeed, as I typed this last paragraph he got completely distracted from exam preparation and started playing some of his favourite John Rutter music...