Gates and fences
This week: Gates and Fences; Tee shirt weather; The end of another week;
It is Christmas Eve and the end of a strange week.
I say strange because the weather has been Spring like, with warm sunshine, even so people have been slowing down, getting ready for the big day tomorrow.
On Tuesday morning I went to the biggest supermarket on the island. They were just getting the store’s Christmas tree out of its box and assembling it.
This does confirm everything I said last week about things being very low key here.
The shops were almosty empty and there was little traffic as I stocked up with some more lengths of timber, enough to see me into the New Year.
Stari Grad was much quieter than on a normal Tuesday.
I had tried to get Gismo into the transit box to take him for his Flu vaccination. I got him into the box, but before I could shut the gate he forced his way past and fled.
Oh well. I’ll leave it until next year I think…
Considering that the Christmas season just does not have the “buzz” that it does in other countries, it just seems that someone hit the “pause” button on Monday, and will press play again on the second of January.
So because it is Christmas Eve, I thought a short video of some Christmas Carols would be appropriate.
Gates and fences
I have been working all week on the polytunnel roof.
The days are at their shortest and the Northern Winter Solstice was on Wednesday. This of course means that there is just the bare minimum number of daylight hours to do work outside.
What I did discover was that I had only half prepared the additional timbers for the roof. Having said that, the timber is just awful quality. It is warped, twisted and barely usable.
The whole problem of not being able to get the correct aluminium extrusion to fix the roof panels, so allowing the wind to lift the panels out of the plastic “H” strip has had so many “knock on” effects.
I think I probably got frustrated with the whole project and it was only when I took the additional 3 x 5 cm lats down to the orchard, that I found I had only cut one half of each pair.
Rather than trust my pencil marks from a month ago, I re-measured and marked everything.
The major task was to cut six lap joints, to join the three pairs of timber together.
With nice weather, I brought my table saw out of the workshop and set it up in the courtyard.
I had decided that if I carefully set the saw up, I could cut the joints far more quickly than by using any other tool in my arsenal.
The table saw has a safety gate, which restricts the height of the cut. However I needed the maximum available height for these pieces of timber, so removed it.
The machine has one adjustable fence to help guide timber through the blade, but I have found that if I add a second fence on the other side, I can make far more accurate cuts.
So I added a second fence, held in place with clamps.
Everything was set up to run and it took less than an hour to cut all the lap joints, to precise tolerances and then do the final cutting with a hand saw.
Tee shirt weather
The sun appears over the hills to the south around 09.30 at this time of year and then bathes the polytunnel in warmth until 12:30, when it sinks behind the trees again.
This was one reason for siting the polytunnel in this location.
While I was beavering away in the sunshine, I found myself getting hotter and hotter.
I have been wearing a NATO sweater and a woolly hat for outside work since the middle of November There have only been just one or two days when there has been a cold wind requiring a jacket on top.
Discarding the hat first, I soon had to take my sweater off too. With the top layers removed, I was extremely comfortable in the sunshine.
This is the first time ever, since I came to Dol, that at the end of December it has been warm enough to work in a tee shirt.
Meanwhile across central North America the warning has gone out that because of the extreme cold, even as far south as Florida, as little as ten minutes exposure of bare skin to the cold will lead to frostbite.
Severe Weather Europe published a chart this week showing the above average temperatures across the Mediterranean Basin and into the southern European mainland.
Every day of warm weather means a day less of winter, but when I see Tarantellas and grasshoppers foraging, moths like the Humming Bird Hawk Moth, which should be hibernating and many other insects, if we do get a sudden cold snap, it may set everything back.
Th end of another week
With double the amount of timber in the roof, I decided that I had better add a metal central support to hold up what was to have been a free standing, 8 meter long roof.
I always have materials in the architectural salvage area, so I recovered a three meter length of square steel box, just the right length for the purpose.
After a little trimming to make the cut ends square and a rebate cut for the steel hoops, I filled the central void with expanding foam, drilled a hold for the fixing bolt and sprayed it with Rust-Oleum.
With the support bolted in place, I removed some more roofing panels and then spent some time to very accurately set up the wooden base for the plastic “H” strip.
If I can’t get the materials I want, I will fabricate my own!
With the first wooden strip in place I bolted the plastic strip in place on top, using ENOX fastenings, making sure everything was square.
On Saturday morning I slid the first roofing panel back into place.
I couldn’t believe how different it was when compared to the first installation. Although it took a little bit of time, the roofing panel went into the “H” strip easily.
Then I bolted it in place. Even though the first time I did this, the panels were fixed, they were a little floppy. Not this time, they are held firmly.
Stopping work at lunch time – well it is Christmas Eve – I am happy I now have the system in place to relatively easily finish the roof next week.
At the end of a mild week, there are still a lot of leaves on the fruit trees and the sunshine has been nice.
I have been joined by Tigger on my knee, for some “cuddle time”, so all that remains is to wish you, where ever you are in the world and whether you are celebrating or not, a very Merry Christmas. NCG