Combing the depths
This week: Laying the floor continues; Combing the depths; An unstable electric supply; The natural world is awakening;
I have had another week working on laying the hardwood floor in the hall.
But what is obvious as the days warm and lengthen, is that we are on the threshold of Spring.
It is fine to be working inside when it is cold and wet, but I am really torn between continuing and finishing inside and starting the spring works in the gardens and orchards.
In the plant nursery I have several fruit trees which I need to plant in the next week to ten days, so I need to prioritise some planting time.
I was in the polytunnel at the weekend, gathering herbs for lunch on Sunday. The temperature was a lovely 22ºC inside and plants have never stopped growing over the winter.
As days lengthen, the temperature inside has reached 30ºC. A little warm for this early in the year!
On Sunday my kitchen was a hive of activity as I prepared a lunch for friends, using my home grown produce as much as possible.
On Wednesday we were treated to a spectacular sunset.
This was followed by a beautiful sunrise on Thursday. The reason was dust and fine sand whipped into the upper atmosphere by a Saharan desert storm.
The densest dust cloud was to the west of Spain, but the whole of the central and western Mediterranean basin experienced the light show.
Laying the floor continues
Early in the week it took a whole day for me to lay just singe length of hardwood flooring.
The problem was the newel posts at the edge of the stairs. Once again the lack of square corners complicated the task at hand.
The cuts in the floor board had to be made at an angle to fit around the post.
Once fitted, the next problem was a small gap between the boards. Measuring it, I found it was only 1.73 mm wide, but even so, the gap really stood out.
I discovered this required a thin shaving to be taken of the board around the next newel post to correct the gap.
However my attempts with a wood chisel were not successful, so I removed the whole board again.
I lost count of how many times I was up and down the stairs with the plank, shaving a “bit off here” and some more some where else.
Because the Konoba is still unfinished, I have a Black and Decker Workmate inside with a variety of wood working tool. Even so, there was a lot of toing and froing involved.
Eventually I had shaved enough wood off the corner for a perfect fit, however it took a lot of time.
Combing the depths
Laying tongue and groove boards is easy and relatively quick when there are no obstructions.
Obstructions come in many forms and for me they include the uneven walls. But there are also the door frames.
A door frame is made using a number of different parts. There is the door jamb, which is the structural part, but attached to this on either side are casings or mouldings.
My door frames have curved decorative mouldings fixed to the frame jamb. They look nice, however being curved they need some sophisticated cuts to make the floor boards fit nicely and so you don’t see any gaps.
The first task is to cut a length of boarding and offering it up to the wall.
Then I used a contour gauge or comb gauge to very accurately get the profile of the frame moldings.
Once I removed the board, I transferred the profile to the board with a soft pencil.
The next step was to cut the board to shape and then refit it. I was happy that the 1 mm gap, is as close as I can get to perfect, so I fixed the board in place.
I then used a mitre gauge to fix the angle of the end of the boards which will butt up to the floor in the guest room.
Even so, there are three cuts needed for every board. The first is to get the 4 metre lengths to an approximate size.
The second is an exact cut where the board end butts up against the already laid boards. Then the third is at the other end so it is flush with the staircase.
Needless to say, I will be continuing with this project next week…
An unstable electric supply
I had just started work on Thursday when the electric supply went off.
It was exactly 09:00, the time that the local electric company turns off power when they are working on the infrastructure.
So that was it. No coffee break or any work which involves using power tools was possible. There is no attempt by the power company to warn people of planned maintenance, the first you know is when everything goes off!
In a corner of the hall is an absolute eyesore. This is the network cabinet, made for fibre optic internet cable termination, which came with me from Abu Dhabi.
A neighbour who is a jobbing builder installed it for me soon after I moved to Dol. The problem was he never returned to finish the job and plaster the walls again.
Fast forward and the cabinet was too small to take my satellite internet router, and much too small to take the UPS I bought, because the power supply regularly goes off.
So I bought a larger, standard 482 mm network cabinet, to replace the original. I have been waiting for the right moment to fit it.
So with no power and no alternative work plan, I decided to remove the cabinet – it didn’t require any power tools.
My kindly neighbour used copious quantities of expanding foam, to fix the cabinet in place and fill any gaps. At the time I didn’t know any better. Now I do…
Using a craft knife I gently pared away the foam and then cut between the foam and the metal cabinet wall.
With some effort, after the adhesive bond had been broken, I was able to remove the cabinet completely.
The new network cabinet comes as a kit, so I need to assemble it. I will also have to remove the rest of the expanding foam and enlarge the hole in the wall. However those are jobs for another day…
I eventually got my power back on at 14:00, so just a five hour break.
The natural world is awakening
When the sun shines, it is really warm. However there is a caveat: we are in a northerly airflow, which brings cold air from central Europe, so “warm” is a relative term.
This means that in the sun it is lovely, but in the shade and wind, it is decidedly chilly.
I was out with two of of the felines at lunch time on Friday. The air temperature was 15.5ºC and there was little wind.
Looking back, I saw that Živa was intently focussed on something in the grass. Here ears were facing forward and down, and I thought she had something in her front paws.
When I looked closely, she had caught a Common Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis.
My intervention meant that Živa lost focus for a few seconds – just long enough to let the Wall Lizard to escape to a nearby wall.
All that was left was the lizard’s tail, which had separated as they do in a defence mechanism, and was thrashing around. Živa wasn’t interested in the movement. Rather she was trying to find which hole in the wall the lizard had disappeared into.
The lizard will grow another tail, but will live to tell the tale, or is it tail….
The Brown Bears, Ursus arctos arctos, are still hibernating (there are around 900 bears in Croatia), but this week I have noticed Blackbirds and other birds starting their courting rituals. It is early for reptiles to be sunning themselves, but they think winter is almost over.
I have more spring bulbs in flower and buds continue to swell on a number of trees and shrubs.
Although still January, early spring has arrived here in Dol. NCG