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It’s cold outside!

This week: It’s cold outside!; Back in the utility room; A big cat in the courtyard; I’ve started building a hotel;

Blue Hyacinth and yellow Daffodil
Blue Hyacinth and yellow Daffodil in the orchard

The sun is shining brightly this Saturday afternoon and I have just put my NATO sweater back on.

I took it off when I was working down in the orchard this morning. However now I’ve come inside, I can feel the chill, especially when sitting down.

We had one of the coldest nights of the winter last night, with the temperature being close to a constant 0ºC or below.

Overnight temperature
Overnight temperature

Yes, it is only the second week of March, but usually Dol is much warmer by this point in the year.

I’ve dug up and divided three clumps of Narcissi this week. The leaves had almost died back to ground level. It’s another of those small jobs which need doing.

Sunlight on a Hyacinth and Cyclamen
Sunlight on a Hyacinth and Cyclamen

At the same time, my late spring bulbs look and smell beautiful.

It’s cold outside!

I run a FaceBook weather group for the island and this week I repeated a severe weather warning for cold which has been put out by the Severe Weather Europe (SWE) organisation.

SWE Polar Vortex warning
SWE Polar Vortex warning

This spring has been the coldest since I moved to Dol. My weather station shows how far away from the average we are.

First week of March
First week of March temperatures

Since New Year we have been under the influence of an almost constant northerly air flow. It’s all the fault of a persistent Polar Vortex.

This has dragged artic air down to southern and south eastern Europe. Having said that, during the day when the sun is out, it is really warm.

Bitter cold
Bitter cold coming down from the Arctic

I have only needed the wood stove on intermittently for the last couple of weeks. Which has been just as well because I am almost out of firewood.

Most years I don’t need a fire by the third week of February. However I lit the fire again on Saturday night and on Sunday afternoon too.

I was down to literally my last log, so on Monday armed with the knowledge of the SWE warning, I ordered some firewood.

Usually I cut my own, either from timber on my property or on the hill behind.

This takes time. It needs time to cut a tree down and into manageable lengths with my chainsaw.

Then there is the time needed to bring the timber down the hillside and reduce it to the correct size for the fire. Finally there is the time needed to stack it and for it to thoroughly dry out.

So with another bitter week in prospect, time was the one thing of mine which was in very short supply.

I was at Volat at 8am on Monday and ordered a cubic meter of firewood. This all comes from sustainable forests on the mainland and I thought I would get in while they still had a supply.

The Volat driver delivered it at 10.15am. I had my wheelbarrow ready and eight loads later, it was all neatly stacked.

Wheelbarrow at the ready
Wheelbarrow at the ready
A cubic metre of stacked timber
A cubic metre of stacked timber

I have used a cubic meter of firewood already this winter, but this load will now see me through the next week and leave me with plenty for next winter too.

Meanwhile, I think I will need to light the fire again before I have finished writing this week’s blog.

Back in the Utility room

I got help to move the washing machine and big fridge out of the Konoba and into the new utility room on Monday afternoon.

That meant that for the rest of this week I have continued working to get things operational again.

First up was cleaning the fridge because it has been in the line of fire for dust and building debris. With that done, I started mounting the sink next to it.

It took quite a while to get the case completely level and fixed to the wall.

Although I pre-drilled the wall after careful measuring, it was before the walls were finished and before anything was inside the building.

At this point Murphy’s Third Law came into play, “if things can go wrong they will!”

When I was determining the final position for the sink base, one mounting bolt hole was over a water pipe, so I had to make a new fixing point to avoid the pipe.

In the end the supporting cabinet was fixed to the wall and I moved on to connecting up the washing machine to the water pipe.

Starting to look finished
Starting to look finished

Although I am still waiting for the double glazed door and windows, at least there is progress and compared to what was there before, the room looks very, very nice..

A big cat in the courtyard

I made my neighbour cry on Sunday morning.

But I’m not in the least bit ashamed, in fact I am pleased: they were tears of laughter and I made his day. He was doubled up laughing, until he had to wipe away his tears…

My neighbour likes cats and has three. So on Sunday morning I went round and told him (in Croatian) that I had a new, big, grey cat in my courtyard and could he come and look.

He followed me then when he saw my new cat, he burst out laughing.

New Cat
New Cat

I’ve been trying to order a baby Rhinoceros for 12 months. The attitude of some companies here never fails to surprise me.

Baby Rhinoceros
Baby Rhinoceros

You would think that when a customer knocks at the door with cash in their hand, companies’ would be delighted to relieve the customer of their burden.

Not so. After 12 months of trying to get the local dealer to respond, answer questions, emails, just respond at all, I gave up and looked for a different company.

I found another make for sale in Zagreb. This one is made by Jansen in Germany. It has still taken three months to organise and get it delivered to Split.

I went over with Cvjetko in a van on Saturday and collected it at the docks.

Van sized excavator
Van sized excavator

Back home, it was unloaded, covered with a plastic sheet to keep the dust off and safely locked away in the courtyard.

It fits nicely
It fits nicely

I have the manuals which I am studying before I take it out to start digging holes and moving boulders.

I’ve started building a hotel

I’ve been thinking about building hotel for some time. It just hasn’t been raised very far up my list of priorities.

However with beautiful warm sunshine in the orchard and my desire to really have the orchard “fettled” before summer, I decided to make a start on the hotel on Friday afternoon.

I laid and levelled some concrete blocks outside the end of the poly tunnel.

Hotel foundations
Hotel foundations

Next I needed to dig out a couple of briar roots and then lay some plastic weed suppressant matting. The blocks went on top and I put a base inside of broken stones for the underground parking

The finished foundations
The finished foundations

All that neatly too me to lunch time on Saturday. At which point I called a halt for the weekend. Next week I start on the ground and upper floors….

This will be no ordinary hotel.

Visitors will be able to select their own rooms, on whatever floor they wish.

They can stay for as long or short a length of time as they would like and there will be no charge.

Bug Hotels have been around as an idea for many years. They began in Germany as a way to encourage insects into highly managed forests.

Now they can be found all round the world, in cities, towns and wilderness areas, private gardens and public spaces.

I am going to make my Bug Hotel with materials I already have laying around. There are some old wooden pallets, pieces of pipe, plastic tubing and a variety of natural materials.

Insect life is SO important. At the moment my plum trees positively hum with the sound of bees pollinating the flowers and collecting nectar.

Later in the year all manner of insects will appear and I hope they and the small mammals and reptiles I have around my home, will find their new hotel to be acceptable accommodation. NCG

One Response

  1. Marc

    Loved all of the pictures. Still cold here at night and some days. I’m so ready for spring. The bug hotel sounds so cool. Excited to watch that being built. Have a great week.