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It just seems so sad

This week: It was going to happen sooner or later…; Work in the cottage; Digital pencil time; Yesterday I wasn’t sure, today I just don’t know; It just seems to be so sad; Looking back;

Blue skies and autumn fruits
Blue skies and autumn fruits

With a mixed bag of weather this week, I have done little work outside. That is apart from watching the weeds and grasses grow.

I had thought I would run the Flymo over the drupe orchard, but everything has been much too wet.

A couple of weeks back I did buy a new pair of wellies and it would have been their first outing. But when all the leaves are soaking, even a Flymo will struggle.

It has mean though that I have spent a lot of time inside the cottage on this latest of my ongoing building projects.

I have to say that I will be delighted when I can finally say that all the work has been finished. Living in the middle of what seems like an interminable building site, does get wearing.

The washing machine will be moved next week. So knowing Saturday night would be the last time I can just switch it on, I made more mess first.

One of my jobs is to connect the new consumer unit to the incoming power feed.

The 3.5mm coper core cable has been laid in, except where it emerges from the electrical plant room. Here I need to cut a channel into the wall.

Cutting stone is really the most messy of jobs. So on Saturday morning I was using my Stihl saw to slice the stones on either side of the channel.

Cutting a stone wall
Cutting a stone wall

It wasn’t an especially long job, but it created vast amounts of dust. Everything, me included, was well coated.

All my work clothes have gone into the washer. In the full knowledge that it will be the last time it will be easy to use. That is until the new Utility Room is finished.

It was going to happen here sooner or later…

On Sunday the town of Hvar, on the south side of the island and 35 km to the west of me was flooded when it received torrential rainfall.

Ninety mm of rain, or 90 litres of water PER SQUARE METRE fell within an hour. There was a cumulative total of 120 mm for the whole storm.

Three weeks ago I posted in blog 43 the video of the extreme rainfall in Sicily. Then this last week, the Maltese island of Gozo was affected by torrential rain, but up to now Croatia has been spared.

No longer though. We had had rain, thunder and lightning from 02:30 on Sunday morning. The sound of rain beating on my lean-to greenhouse roof had woken me, then there were bright flashes of lightning followed by the thunder.

I found myself counting the seconds to see how far away it was. At three or four seconds between the seeing flash and hearing the bang, it wasn’t far.

Getting up at sunrise, it was still raining so I spent almost the whole day on the computer. I can always find things to do, no matter what the weather is.

A wet Sunday morning
A wet Sunday morning

Around 11am I could hear the rumbles of thunder so I checked Blitzortung.com and saw there was a storm moving slowly up from Korčula in the south towards the island.

Approaching storm
Approaching storm

I put a warning message onto the Hvar Weather Facebook Group and kept on working.

Around an hour later, the thunder had stopped but the rain continued. When I checked Blitzortung again, there was a storm cell centred over Hvar.

Storm over Hvar
Storm over Hvar

Later in the day, the photographs began to emerge of the damage.

Shops had been flooded by muddy water and the Vatrogasci (Fire & Rescue) were busy pumping out and clearing up the mess.

Flooded main square
Flooded main square Photo: TCN

There are two weather stations in Grad Hvar and one had been knocked offline when the electricity failed, the other recorded the intensity of the rainfall event.

The problem is when there is a slow moving storm which is delivering large volumes of precipitation. Whatever is underneath rapidly becomes sodden and the falling rain then runs off and downhill.

I’ve been thinking about what mitigation I can put in place for my home, bearing in mind I am towards the bottom of a wooded hill. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get my own sandbags, fill them and have them ready to deploy. I already have a small electric pump, but that will only work until the power fails!

This is the problem with being a trained Emergency Planner. I can identify issues, foresee problems but then need help to put the mitigation in place, especially here!

Work in the cottage

Cvjetko has been this week again. I’m more than happy to be the filling between his other jobs. It means that I can work at my own pace on my work but also see progress on my building’s restoration..

With three guys working, jobs take a lot less time. The old concrete floor was removed in an afternoon. We also had a discussion about the new floor.

Old concrete removed
Old concrete removed revealing the soil underneath

I am so happy with the new Konoba floor, a sandwich of concrete and block polystryene, that I am going to do the same in the cottage. I already have the styrofoam in stock, so it was just a case of digging a little bit deeper.

The floor was just 1 cm of old concrete was on top of just a rocky soil infill between the walls.

This meant additional digging out was not a problem. Another truck load of spoil was removed taking the depth down 15 cm.

Ready for laying
Ready for laying the new sub floor slab

It was then just a two hour job to batch mix concrete and create a new sub floor on top of the soil.

Digital pencil time

Notes help me to think. I’ve always been a planner, even though I may not have always used my plans.

We’ve had a good week of progress in the Cottage this week. Digging out went well, as I described above. Then on Wednesday morning Cvjetko was back with bags of cement, steel reinforcing mesh and a truck load of aggregate.

He and his team very quickly laid the sub strata of half the room and just before lunch we were putting the barriers up to keep the felines at bay.

Feline defence barriers
Feline defence barriers

It is impressive watching a master craftsman work quickly, methodically and accurately to lay an 18 m² floor. It is level and after a couple of days needed to allow it to dry, will be ready for the next stage.

The next job will be to line and seal the walls. But before that happens, I needed to get the central heating pipes in place.

On a damp and gloomy Wednesday afternoon, I was busy in front of the computer, with “Notepad” open, part of the Windows 10 software suite, writing my to-do list.

I like using a pencil and paper, but also use digital lists as an aide-memoire. I finished with a list of 18 items which need to be done inside the cottage.

One advantage with a digital list is that I can move the order around and add tasks, as I think of something I have forgotten.

With the new sub floor dry, I removed the barriers and started work on connecting the central heating pipes.

Central heating pipes
Central heating pipes

Pipes are marked with coloured tape so later I know which is the hot and the cold supply and return pipes.

They are all fully insulated and have been let into prepared channels in the stone walls.

As well as the heating piped, I have also fixed the wiring for the sockets and lights.

Electrical conduit now fixed
Electrical conduit now fixed

The walls are now ready for the first coat of render.

With good luck and a fair wind, I hope to have the room finished – apart from the new double glazing – by Christmas.

Yesterday I wasn’t sure, today I just don’t know

Goes the old saying!

Six weeks ago in Blog 21/40 (was it REALLY that long ago?!) I wrote about finding some Caper seeds and planting them.

Caper pod
Caper pod

They have been in my currently unheated propagator ever since. The propagator has a heating coil, but I don’t turn it on until I have seeds which need bottom heat.

Inside the temperature has been between 22 during the day and 14 C overnight, so comfortable temperatures. When I opened the lid this week, to check on the dryness of the plant pots, three of the Caper seeds appear to have germinated and sprouted.

Germinating caper seeds
Germinating caper seeds

Everything you read about Capers is that they are notoriously difficult to sprout from seeds.

I did mention at the time of planting, that the online propagation instructions all refer to old seed, whereas mine were 24 hours from picking the pod to planting.

I planted two seeds to a pot and these sprouts seem to be coming from about where I planted them. However having only just emerged, they only have their cotyledon (first pair) of leaves.

Therefore I am really not certain that these are the seeds that have germinated, but as I was using new compost, I think it is a reasonable chance. Only when their first true leaves appear will I know for sure.

We are four weeks away from the winter solstice, so another eight to ten weeks before there is a noticeable increase in daylight again.

My next concern is to make sure that the seedlings survive over the winter. Normally I heat the propagator to 18ºC, so I’m ready to turn it on if there is a sudden cold spell.

Having tried and failed before to get Caper cuttings to root, I’m happy to see these first shoots but I know I am not out of the wood yet.

I have to keep them alive, help them to thrive, and allow them to grow so they can be planted out in 18 months time.

It just seems to be so sad

Suddenly the sun has gone below the hill to the south. Of course it happens ever year at this time but even to a diligent observer, it seems to be very sudden.

We are into winter now, although the official start is not until the 21st December.

There are still leaves on some trees. Here the first rays of the morning sun catch one of my Pomegranate trees at 9am.

First rays of the sun
First rays of the sun

Then by 1pm, my solar water tubes are in the shade. The roof behind, which is still sunlit, will be renewed and at the atime I will move the solar unit completely, and put it where it will get most sun.

Long lunchtime shadows
Long lunchtime shadows

That old grey roof would not take the weight of a 300 litre water tank, which was why I didn’t put it there in the first place.

The reduction in day length and change in temperatures triggers the leaves to change colour on deciduous trees and shrubs.

Some of the leaves on trees just turn yellow and fall. Even though they are starting to look decidedly tatty, when the sun catches these fig leaves, they do seem to glow with a radient, golden hue.

Fig leaves radiate colour
Fig leaves radiate colour

In the top orchard my Persimmon still has most of its leaves and they have put on a spectacular display this year. However this year I have not had a single fruit.

Persimmon leaves
Persimmon leaves

The tree really hasn’t liked the dry spring and summer.

Although there was a number of flowers in the spring, every fruit fell, as part of the tree’s natural defence mechanism against drought.

Just a couple of hundred meters away on the flood plain, there is an old Persimmon which is covered with ripe fruit. Every year that I have been here it has had a similar crop.

Persimmon fruit
Persimmon fruit

But it is just so sad because no one picks them.

When I took the photograph in the warm sunshine on Saturday morning, they are all ripe and many are starting to rot. Butterflies were feeding on the fermenting liquor and as I approached a flock of small birds that had also been feasting, flew away.

Persimmon are a wonderful fruit, soft, full of flavour and juicy, and filled with all the good vitamins and minerals that we are supposed to eat.

So quite why the owner of this tree chooses to just leave them all until they fall to the ground, I do not know. NCG

Looking back – Week 46

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

2014/46 A hammer and chisel to plant an orange

2015/46 A little push to get things finished

2016/46 Strange the things you find…

2017/46 An adventure playground for cats

2018/46 Always, always carry a camera

2019/46 Winter preparations

Stari Grad Fjord
Stari Grad Fjord

2020/46 The rattles have arrived

Autumnal sun
Autumnal sun

3 Responses

  1. Rick

    Persimmon are a wonderful fruit, soft, full of flavour and juicy, and filled with all the good vitamins and minerals that we are supposed to eat.
    So quite why the owner of this tree chooses to just leave them all until they fall to the ground, I do not know.
    ** Have you approached the owner and offered some of the finished product in exchange for the fruit? **

  2. Marcy

    Norman, I’m so sorry for the flooding in your city. Hvar. It’s a tragedy anywhere. I hope you can get your work all done by this time next year. But, after that I think you will become a chef. With all of your fruit and vegetable trees and plants, I suspect you will spend a great of time cooking, canning, and entertaining. LOL.

    From the US, I hope you have a lovely Thursday (our Thanksgiving), and the rain only brings neede water to your wonderful plants and trees.


    Very impressive, thank you for sharing.