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Just an epic failure

This week: The weather in three charts; Just an epic failure; Analysing the problem; Tradesmen or just workmen?; Chasing wires;

Ripening garden raspberries
Ripening garden raspberries

This has been a funny old week. A week of odds and ends.

I was bringing out some boxes from one of my stores and found some winter clothing which has been packed up for a few years.

The coats were ever so slightly damp, so I hung them, still on their coat hangers, in the sunshine from an airer on the terrace.

In the wind and the sunshine, all trace of dampness soon evaporated. Then I noticed a tail and some paws sticking out from underneath one winter coat.

The tail of a Kitty
The tail of a Kitty

Yoda had found somewhere warm, comfortable, out of sight, but also out of the direct sunshine and wind, to snooze.

One hidden kitten
One comfy, hidden kitten

On cloudy and windy days, I have debated whether to go back to work trousers instead of shorts.

As well as inside jobs I have been attacking my weed problem.

With some empty boxes I have an amount of cardboard to lay as weed suppressant. I just need a little more time…

The weather in three charts

Climatologists say that the 1st June is the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, especially the Antipodes, it is the first day of winter.

I have to say that our weather in Dol is more like early spring than full blown summer. I still have not opened all the windows around my home.

Usually by early May, they are open 24/7, with insect netting installed.

Looking at precipitation, at this point in the season, we are more than 200mm above the average. That is 200 litres per square metres.

Annual precipitation chart
Annual precipitation chart

This together with lower than average temperatures, this amount of rainfall is the reason why everything is still a verdant green and weeds are having a field day.

Weeds in my neighbours garden - No wonder I have a problem!
Weeds in my neighbours garden – No wonder I have a problem!

Often by the start of June, our annual plants are brown with the heat and dry conditions.

Average temperatures in Dol
Average temperatures in Dol

This is just another example of climate breakdown. I have barely had to irrigate so far this year and certainly not turned on the automatic system.

The 11 day average temperature has been around the 10 year average for the last six weeks. This is in contrast to the very high temperatures in February and at the beginning of April.

11 Day running average temperature
11 Day running average temperature

Charts make it so easy to compare and contrast, but they do not provide a reason for the variances. They are just a historical record of what has happened.

Our forecast for the next week is that summer will arrive around Tuesday or Wednesday with a ten degree increase in daily maximum temperatures.

Just an epic failure

I am a planner.

I spent much of my public service career planning: planning for the future, planning for the present and planning actual incident management.

Planning is something I continue to do. However I am also aware of the Military Doctrine which states, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

The quote is succinct paraphrasing a longer quotation by Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke.

Herr von Moltke was a military “planner” and Chief of the Prussian General Staff for thirty years from 1857. His planning was for the Prussian wars with Russia and France.

The quotation is truism, just as is “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” is.

Well I have had my own epic planning failure this week.

While I was reorganising in one of my stores last week, I found a box containing IKEA Lindmon Venetian blinds.

Their width exactly matched the doors in my Konoba. Their length was 20 cm more than I needed, so they were perfect for the job.

I spent all of Monday morning making a wooden mount for the blinds. I carefully cut some timber and tried fitting it to the beams in the Konoba.

A “dry fit” showed that I needed to remove some of the wooden beams, to make sure the timber was perfectly level. This was achieved using my oscillating cutter.

When I was happy with that, I pre-drilled holes for mounting screws and then treated the new mounting rail with two coats of Sadolin timber preservative.

After lunch I fixed the mounting rail in place and then the metal mounting clips for the blind. Everything was measured three times, checked with a spirit level and was perfectly symmetrical. So far so good.

The moment I tried to install the first blind, I discovered that it was fouling the doors.

Blind fouling the main doors
Blind fouling the main doors

These blinds are made of real wood, so do not retract into such a small space as traditional Venetian blinds, and some 10cm of wood was stopping the doors opening or closing.

I really did not plan for that. I planned for everything else, but not the slats fouling the doors.

In complete disgust I left everything, turned the lights of and went and pulled up some weeds!

A second but less well known quote by Graf von Moltke is “Strategy is a system of expedients.”

I needed to work on a different strategy….

Analysing the problem

The problem was the lack of space between the top of the door arch and the bottom of the exposed roof beams.

Although they are 2.3 metres above finished floor level, it was the size of the actual wooden slats, even when retracted, which was causing the problem.

The open door and slats in profile
The open door and slats in profile

There was some 12 centimetres of wooden slats which protruded below the door level.

I lowered them to the floor and I had 4 cm which were surplus, but even removing these would not give me the required clearance.

Reluctantly I dismantled everything and put the blinds back in their box in the store.

When I was hunting through an IKEA parts box, looking for a pair of shelf brackets, I found some curtain rail brackets, and I know I have the curtains to go with them.

IKEA curtain rail brackets
IKEA curtain rail brackets

The curtains will need shortening, but they will work.

I had to do some more adjustment to the wooden support mount, however it didn’t take long to fix the rail brackets in place.

That is another job I can tick off my list.

Tradesmen or just workmen?

One of my friends in the next village has had some abysmal quality work done by a contractor. He has a swimming pool but the floor is too low, by 10cm, for the pool liner.

I spent a morning early in the week, with a contractor from Split, who came to fix the first job. This involves pouring 4 m³ of concrete, to lift the base and make the base slope towards the drain rather than away from it!

The first fail was when the concrete pumper got stuck trying to access the site.

One stuck concrete pumper
One stuck concrete pumper

If a two axle pump truck can’t get up the hill, there is no way a three axle, 4 m³ mixer would get up!

This once again got me thinking about how poorly served the island is.

At trailer concrete pump would work.

A trailer concrete pump
A trailer concrete pump

There has been an orange German Hog trailer pump parked for six months at the bottom of the hill, but this week it has gone and no one will admit to owning it or knowing where it has gone.

A self propelled mixer would work, but although there is one nearby, the person whose land it is on says he knows nothing about it?

A self propelled cement mixer
A self propelled cement mixer

Sometimes locals can be just plain awkward when it comes to dealing with expats.

There is a tool and plant hire company on the mainland just outside Split, but they do not service the island and we have no hire companies on the island.

My experience is that you have to be present and almost micro manage a project to get it done something near to what you want.

Drawings and plans mean little and there is a significant language and technique barrier.

With no recognised trade associations or qualification bodies, you are left with workmen who have a certain level of knowledge. But as I found out when I employed Ivan the Terrible plumber, who left me with 14 burst pipes, there is nowhere to go to get redress.

There are some exceptional craftsmen on the island, however many so called “tradesmen” are little more than “workmen” with knowledge.

In the meantime I think I might have found a solution through knowledgeable and reliable friends, but I think I will be “project managing” a small pool project over the next couple of weeks….

Chasing wires

This is why I take photographs: Lots and lots of photographs!

I need to drill the Konoba walls to hang a picture rail and some photographs, but I know that behind the nice plaster there is the wiring for the niche lights and all the power sockets.

It is a long time since I chased the bare stone walls to install the wiring, so I do not remember exactly around which stone the cables run.

Normally chasing wires is not difficult. You cut a path for the cable, install and fix conduit to the outlet point, install the cable then cover the conduit with plaster or whatever material the outer surface of the wall is made of.

Then “voila”, you have a very neat solution for the cable runs.

With old buildings a different approach needs to be taken to achieve the same result. Here it is often the path of least resistence, which is neither smooth nor straight.

Wiring routed in between stone in the walls
Wiring routed in between stones in the walls, before pointing

The stones vary in hardness and where in the case of Dol, most building were burnt to the ground during WWII, the heat has affected the properties of the stones themselves.

So after chasing out the path of the cables AND photographing them before the walls were pointed, I returned to the photographs this week, together with a new set of images of the walls as they are now, so I could see the route the cables take.

The red circle is where I need to drill a hole. Fortunately it is just far enough away from the nearest cable.

The next photo is the same place n the Konoba, taken today. You cannot see the wires, but you can see the outline of the stones. Again the red circle is where I need to drill.

This illustrates the problem but also using the earlier photograph, the solution that my drill is clear of the cables.

Drill here
Drill here

The result is that I was able to drill holes in my walls for wall plugs, safe in the knowledge that I am nowhere near any live cables. NCG