with 3 Comments

Bananas in the bathroom and mangos in the kitchen

This week: Bananas in the bathroom and mangos in the kitchen; Nictitating eyelids; Progress in the Utility room; Sunset colours; Looking back;

Snow on Svete Jure
Snow on Svete Jure, Dinaric alps, at sunset

This week started badly because of the complete failure of my internet system.

I have had the Tooway satellite system since I moved into my Dol house.

Satellite internet dish
Satellite internet dish

But in recent times the monthly price has doubled to €93 per month. In the spring, my monthly data allowance was cut from 40GB/month to 30GB, but without a reduction in price.

So I in the summer started to pressure the national telephone operator for a land line.

My long standing request was of course met with a refusal.

So I emailed the CEO of Deutsche Telekom who are the owners of the local company. Within 12 hours of emailing my complaint, it had been escalated to the head of T-Com customer services.

It still took six weeks and some road excavations to repair an underground cable (wonder how long it had been faulty?) before I had a land line installed.

I then started asking Intersat, the ISP for the Tooway system, about how much notice I needed to give to cancel the contract.

I asked and asked, and asked…

Then at 09:12 a week last Friday my internet was suddenly cut.

Again I started asking Intersat for technical support, but then this is a local company which doesn’t do technical support, or customer service either!

The days ticked by to Tuesday without any internet access. Finally I had a call from Intersat to say they had terminated my contract and I wouldn’t be charged for any use in December.

A little bit rich because I am in credit, but it meant I could arrange for Hrvatski Telekom to activate my new line. This was done very quickly and I had internet again on Friday.

Have I missed having internet access? Yes and no.

I realised how essential email is for ordinary, everyday things. I also couldn’t pay any bills without having internet access.

Just being able to look up technical questions as well, is something I do more often than I realised. But social media I have not missed in the slightest.

At least by this weekend things are getting back to normal.

Bananas in the bathroom and a mangos in the kitchen

With the forecast of a cold northern Bura wind for the week, I thought I should protect my two tender new acquisitions, at least until the new year.

When I look back at previous years, the current cold spell is very reminiscent of what happened in early 2017, although three weeks earlier.

A deep low pressure system has been moving east across the central Mediterranean, dragging cold air down from the north.

Low pressure over Sicily
Low pressure over southern Italy

One advantage of my weather statistics is that I can compare and contrast. In this case the rolling average with 2021 / 2022 so far and with the 2016 / 2017 winter. They are quite similar, although the cold is three weeks earlier than 2016/ 2017.

The long range forecast for Europe is that the winter will be milder than average. However that hides the fact that Europe is a VERY large land mass, from above the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean basin and from Turkey in the east to the UK in the west.

The climate models are a mess at the moment because of climate breakdown, with the different super computer models reporting wildly different possible outcomes.

On the advice of the plant’s suppliers in Zagreb, they were in my small greenhouse. However it is unheated, although the temperature has not dropped below eight degrees Celsius, so I decided to move the tender plants indoors.

The banana is a hardy Japanese variety, Musa basjoo, and is capable of growing and fruiting here in Dol. With root protection it will survive ground frost, but as it is still in its pot and is straight from a greenhouse, I moved it into the warmth of the bathroom.

Banana in the bathroom corner
Banana in the bathroom corner

My Mango is a variety called Kensington Pride and comes from and area of Australia with a similar climate to Dol. It is also cold hardy, once its root system has established and like the banana is currently in a big pot.

I brought it into the kitchen, where there is only residual heating, keeping the temperature to 10ºC. It has not liked the move from Zagreb and I am watching it very carefully because it is showing signs of stress with curling leaves.

Mango Kensington Pride
Mango Kensington Pride

Looking ahead to Christmas, the forecast is for the weather to become warmer, with some rain, so they may be going back in the greenhouse before too long.

Nictitating eyelids

I’ve been to our local vets four times this week with Argen.

Of all the kittens, he has the most perfect, beautifully shaped eyes. They are a perfect almond shape and the colour of Amber. All the felines have nice eyes but his are especially noticeable.

He looks at you with great big pupils and he always appears to be so sad. I don’t know how felines change their face muscles to create an expression, which we then anthropomorphise, but they do.

However my interpretation of his expression is probably not at all what is going on in his grey matter, but the impression is of sadness.

So when I noticed last week that his nictitating eye lid was showing, it immediately rang alarm bells.

Gizmo and Argen
Gizmo and Argen, best friends an bunk buddies
Close up of Argen's eyes
Close up of Argen’s eyes

In Spain we had a young cat with the same problem. Alex our Vet tried everything he could on Dylan, but eventually had to euthanise him because nothing worked and the condition steadily became worse.

Alex asked if he could carry out a Post Mortem to try and establish a cause. What he found was that Dylan had blood parasites, nematodes, which had even reached his brain. This was the cause of his mood changes.

Over last weekend, more of the third eyelid began showing so first thing on Monday I took Argen down to the Vet’s clinic.

The Vet took blood samples and slowly worked through a list of things that it wasn’t. He doesn’t have Leukaemia, Aids, Toxoplasmosis or feline Parvo Virus. All of which is good because these are fatal conditions.

All his vital signs were normal – apart from the eyes – a slight temperature and a slightly high lymph count. This suggests a low level infection.

But he’s eating and drinking normally, playing and being boisterous, the only visible symptom is his eyes.

We have then been back every morning for more antibiotic injections. Then when his temperature was back to normal I came home with antibiotic tablets to give him until next week.

He will go for a full dental check-up in the new year, in case it is a dental problem which is causing the eye lid to become visible.

For now he’s back at home and doesn’t appear ill in the slightest.

Progress in the utility room

Cvjetko has done another sterling job on the walls this week.

The English proverb is “You can’t make a silk purse from a Sow’s ear”.

So when the walls are so extremely uneven, although they have had several layers of mortar, they are not quite as vertical in places as he would like them to be.

Compared to what I had as the ground floor of the cottage previously, I am not in the least bit worried.

Half a dividing wall
Half a dividing wall

Even before any walls are painted and the first floor tile is laid, the progress is a 100% improvement.

Newly rendered walls
Newly rendered walls

However this does mean that I am probably not going to lay many floor tiles before Christmas, but I can live with that.

The double glazing man came and measured up for the new door and window and also the arched-top door for the Konoba.

However the double glazed units will not be delivered before the end of January. So I will have some time to work on the inside.

By the end of the week I had a new floor installed too. It is so smooth and level all I would need is some green baize and I could play snooker on it.

The floor has been insulated with 4 cm of polystyrene insulation, laid on a 10 cm concrete slab.

block polystyrene floor insulation
Block polystyrene floor insulation

This was then covered with a damp proof membrane.

Damp proof membrane
Damp proof membrane

Finally another 5 cm of concrete was laid as the surface for the ceramic tiles.

A new doorway has been constructed and all that it needs is the double glazed door for the utility room to be ready for use.

This is how it looked before.

Narrow to wide
Narrow to wide – old doorway removal
New doorway constructed
New doorway constructed

There has been a significant amount of progress this week!

Sunset colours

The year is quickly drawing to a close and the daylength is within a minute of the winter minimum of just eight hours and fifty eight minutes.

Once September arrives it never seems to take long before it is mid-winter. Equally by January the days have become noticeably longer.

What I have noticed though is that the best sunsets always happen either side of the mid-winter solstice.

Sunset behind Purkin Kuc in Dol
Sunset behind Purkin Kuc in Dol this week

In summer we have clear skies so there are no clouds to reflect the setting sun. During spring and autumn, it seems to be either overcast or clear. For a colourful sunset, or sunrise, there needs to be a clear sky in the distant east or west, so the sun can illuminate the underside of the clouds from beyond the horizon.

A question mark at sunset
A question mark at sunset
Autumn sunset
Autumn sunset

It soon grows dark in mid winter and I need to go and put some more logs on the fire.

There is something extremely comforting about a real fire in the corner of the room, heating the house as logs crackle in the flames. NCG

Looking back – Week 50

This is the start of the weekly section, with links to past issues of the blog.

2014/50 Spiderman and St. Lucy

2015/50 Fruit from the Dentist

2016/50 Deconstruction complete

2017/50 Taking the pledge

2018/50 Bend it like Beckham

2019/50 Rib tickling – Not

Svete Jure
Friday night storm leaves snow on the Dinaric Alps

2020/50 Skywatching

On a clear day
On a clear day

3 Responses

  1. Branimir Puskaric

    Hi Norman,
    pleasure to read your blog, as always.
    I’m sorry to hear about your internet access problem. A really good solution, at least as a backup one, would be a 4G cellular connection from one of the GSM providers. They’re very good and reasonably priced nowadays as well. Glad to elaborate if you would be interested, just let me know.
    Best regards,

  2. John Bailey

    Missed you blog last week. You appear to be making good progress. Before and after photographs clearly show this.

  3. Steve

    Hi Norman
    Just a quick note to say;
    Have a fantastic Xmas and a safe and healthy New Year
    Keep writing the blog, we enjoy the welly update
    All the best Victoria and Steve