Just a bit deeper
This week: Big construction kit; A very wet November; Water spouts; Car service; Just a bit deeper; Changing wheels;
I don’t know where time goes. I started the week with a list of things I was going to do, and I finished the week with most of them not done.
Some of the delay has been weather related, but looking back I’m not at all sure that I can use that as the reason. And, I’ve only had one coffee with my neighbours!
In the orchards there are already spring bulbs in flower. Here some Narcisi, with the red stem and black seed pods of the invasive American Pokeweed.
They look pretty but the berries are poisonous and birds spread the seeds far and wide.
Big construction kit
My new rotating garden riddle was delivered on Monday. I hadn’t expected it until next week, so it was a nice surprise.
Coming in a sturdy box, I started by reading the instructions manual, helpfully provided in 16 languages. It took a little while to assemble because whilst the drawings are clear and well labelled, the large bag of assorted nuts, bolts and washers was less so.
Bolt no. 16, of which there were a lot, wasn’t described, so I just sorted everything out into the different sizes and worked from there.
For now, I’m leaving it in two halves. The rotating drum unit, and the frame and wheels. I need a few days fine weather to dry the soil in the top orchard enough, so I can start putting it through the machine.
Isn’t it ironic that having wanted rain all summer, and now having started on the winter wet season, I would now like my soils to dry a bit, so I can start using the machine!
A very wet November
From a ten month rain deficit last month, we have moved to a rain surplus this week. My rain gauge has recorded 110 mm in the last 7 days, which has brought us well above the yearly average.
It is still mild though, with both the high and low temperatures much above the seasonal average.
It’s mild enough for the Tiger Mosquitoes to bite too, albeit not in the numbers they bite with in the summer. During the main biting season there is often a swarm around any exposed skin. Now there are just one or two.
Running through the bottom orchard there is an intermittent ephemeral stream . I haven’t seen if flow for the past two years.
In the other half of the village (Dol Sv. Maria) there is another intermittent ephemeral stream, which was in full spate when I passed on Wednesday. For some reason, it flows a lot more regularly than the one close to my Dol house.
The Italians have a name for these seasonal streams, “Torrente”, which of course in English we know as a torrent or torrential to describe the rate of flow in a water course.
Almost every language has a name or term for these temporary streams which only flow after period of heavy or prolonged rainfall.
In Dol it is only after the most substantial downpours that the streams flow and I have only seen the main stream that dissects the village flowing once in five years.
As I was driving down to Stari Grad, I could see the funnel above the olive groves, at a distance of some 8 kilometres to the north. Brač was mostly hidden by sheets of rain.
The water spout was moving quite quickly from west to east but was already starting to dissipate. When I was able to safely stop, the only photograph I could get was of the very end, as the funnel retreated upwards into the clouds. (centre of the photo)
The Adriatic, being a warm sea is known for water spouts. They are a well know phenomenon and are called “Piavitsa” by locals.
I’ve been over to Split this week to take the car for a service.
Although the Škoda handbook says every 10,000 miles / 16,000 kilometres /12 months for a service, the previous owner had had it serviced last in July 2018.
It was over the distance too, so I decided after seeing the colour of the engine oil on the dipstick to get it serviced.
After my experience with the local auto fitter, who replaced the wheel bearing on my Suzuki Ignis and six weeks later the wheel came off, I decided to take it to the main Škoda dealer in Split.
Any visit to the mainland is a full day event, but I was extremely impressed by the efficiency of the company, who are the Porche, VW and Skoda dealers in Split.
I was off the ferry and at the reception by 07:45, having left home a tad before 05:00. Everyone spoke English and there were a lot of people bringing different vehicles in for service.
I had booked a courtesy car, so that while my car was being checked, I could go to Bauhaus with my shopping list. I was given a very nice, almost new VW T-Cross a compact SUV.
Sitting behind the wheel was like being in a glass cockpit. With the ignition turned on, the screen in front of you comes alive with more information that you could ever need.
Exactly two hours after leaving my car, the garage called to say it was ready. The oil had been changed, all the filters, including the pollen/dust filter, and it had been checked and found OK. The cost was a very reasonable 800 Kunas, or US$118/£90.
Does the car run better? Well not so as you would notice, because it was running well before. But it gives me peace of mind and a baseline for future maintenance.
Just a bit deeper
As well as my Bauhaus list of wants, I also made some impulse purchases. The Christmas section had opened, but there were very few people about in the store.
In the garden section there were lots of trays of Cyclamen, in various colours. I chose a Royal purple and a deep scarlet to bring home.
There were just three lonely packets of Snowdrop bulbs left in the box. So they came home with me as well.
Friday being fine and sunny, I did some digging, planting and weeding.
Bordering the patio there is a small raised bed to which over time I have added bulbs to. It is also home to an ancient vine that produces hardly any grapes, but lots of leaves which provide shade in summer.
The bed is home to my garden Hare.
I dug out a Clematis that I planted three years ago. The plant has never thrived and I potted it up for the winter.
I’ll find somewhere more suitable for the Clematis to grow later. With one of the Cyclamen planted, I weeded the rest of the bed. Then I moved an errant Madonna Lilly planted by the previous owners.
That was immediately replanted along with two Allium bulbs, on the edge of the Citrus orchard.
When I came back Gizmo was exploring the hole that has been left. I dug the hole a little bit deeper and after watching me, Gizmo continued the effort making it just a little bit deeper still.
The second Cyclamen went in and I can now see them from the kitchen window. It’s a splash of bright colour in amongst a drab landscape at this time of year.
Gizmo seems to like the Cyclamen’s scent too.
While the weather was good, I also dug out all the Jerusalem artichokes. These spread by underground runners. They had started to take over the flower bed I created on the edge of the Drupe orchard. In their place I put another favourite of mine, a fragrant Magnolia.
Thje final job was to dig up a Hibiscus that I found as an almost dead specimen in the £0.50p/€.50¢ tray at Bauhaus a couple of years ago.
I planted it close to the path, but also close to a Pomegranate tree. It survived and grew, but hardly thrived and clearly hated being so close to the Pomegranate.
It’s now in a deep pot for the winter, to get over the relocation. I’ll plant it out in the spring in a more suitable location.
Depending where in the world you are reading this, you may or may not be surprised to learn that some countries mandate a change between summer and winter tyres.
Across Europe there is a huge variation. In countries marked red, winter tyres are compulsory. Those in blue, they are mandatory during winter driving conditions, and pale grey they are not required.
For Croatia they are mandatory so on Saturday I jacked the car up and changed all the wheels over. That is easier said than done. The wheels had been fixed with a power tool, because my wheel brace would not shift the bolts.
So I used the old truckers method of a long pole on the arm of a wheel wrench to apply the necessary leverage to break the bolt tension. If I had been at the side of the road with a puncture, I would never have been able to undo the securing bolts.
Many people have two sets of wheels, one for summer, the other for winter. Fortunately my car came with a set of winter tyres on steel rims.
Your can get “all year” tyres, but like everything, they are a compromise. In summer here, the road surface temperature can reach well over 50ºC. However baring just a couple of nights in a year, the winter temperature is above freezing.
Winter, or snow tyres won’t help much with ice, the clue is in the name. But the all year tyres may also not deal as well with summer heat.
As the tyres I removed are getting towards the end of their life, I’ll have to think about what I replace them with, but for now I’m legal once again. NRC