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Like buses: None for ages then two together

This week: Laying a strong foundation; Working with timber; Do you recognise this?; Like buses: None for ages, then two together;

Hvar in the distance from the ferry
Hvar in the distance, from the ferry

There is a lot of discussion internationally about having a four day week.

A three day weekend, every weekend sounds quite nice.

I’ve had a four day week this week and it’s not going to work for me!

Weekends are different, in that I usually stop work at lunch time on Saturday to write this blog in the afternoon (although not so this Saturday).

Sunday’s are quiet days when you do not use noisy tools or machinery. However providing you don’t make too much noise, you can still work, so I do.

But just having four days this week, all sorts of things I had planned have not been done. Still, there is always next week.


The Ukrainian Flag
The Ukrainian Flag

It is only 1,200 kilometres by road to reach the Ukrainian border from Hvar, so geographically we are close. The invasion by the Russian forces is terrible and will leave scars on the country and its people for decades to come.

Whilst it is of course a topic of conversation here over coffee, of much greater concern are the Russian backed Bosnian Serbs, just across the border in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).

The Bosnian war of the early 1990’s is still very fresh in people’s memories, with many, like my friend Cvjetko, who had been drafted and fought in the war. There is however, a lot of unfinished business.

Whilst Croatia is settled, our neighbours to the east, in Kosovo and Macedonia, are still disputing borders and territory. The hope is that what is currently happening in Ukraine does not spill over into neighbouring countries, because BiH is a place where fighting could easily start again.

Balkan Countries
The Balkan Countries

Laying a strong foundation

I’ve got on well with the poly tunnel this week, making a lot of visible progress.

A lot of my preparations though are now invisible.

Digging foundations
Digging foundations

Everything I have done in my home is about doing things once and doing them correctly. No short cuts or poor quality materials [except where they are the ONLY materials I can get here].

So I am making sure the framework for the poly tunnel will stand the test of time.

After filling the trench with hardcore, it was compressed firmly, then more was added and the whole length was made level. I followed this with a double sheet of thick polythene and stone buttresses on either side.

Taking shape
Taking shape

Between the stones I packed in some clay soil, which will bed down and harden in place.

Lastly I filled the gap between the stones with sand and tamped it level and flat. Onto this I laid the large stone where the doorway will be and packed it with more sand so it is level and firm.

Then working away from the centre I laid more flat stones. These stones are the base on which the wooden end frame will sit.

Being stone and elevated off the foundations, means that there is less chance for rainwater to pool and rot the wood.

It didn’t take me long to write that description, whereas there is a days and a halves work involved!

Working with timber

I like working with timber. It is one of the few DiY skills that I actually have a qualification in.

I began cutting the wooden lats to make the end frame. Although I chose them myself at the builders merchants, I found that one length is split in the middle.

This is what I mean about poor quality materials, but the only materials you can get.

Making the frame has been a process of measure, check, measure, mark and cut. Followed by another check on-site and then on to the next piece of the frame.

I have made the door wide enough to take a wheelbarrow, so at 66 cm wide, it is wider than standard.

This of course means that standard 50cm clear panels will not fit, so I think I will use thick plastic sheeting, even if it is only for the first couple of years.

With the base and the uprights cut, I gave them their statutory two coats of wood preservative, before doing any installation.

At four meters long and 2.5 metres tall, the frame is a little unwieldy.

I pre-drilled the screw fixing holes while all the pieces were in the courtyard. Only then moving everything down to the orchard for assembly.

Flatpack assembly
Flatpack assembly

There was one tensioning piece which I needed to measure with the frame in situ. However with the basic elements constructed, it was not difficult to measure and cut.

Upright at last
Upright at last

Now I have to wait for the Cuprinol to dry before assembling everything.

Do you recognise this?

What do you see?
What do you see?

What do you see? I see a miniature greenhouse for starting seeds…

I was at the supermarket this week and there were several really good offers, like this one.

A BOGOF for 1.19 HRK, or €0.20 / £0.12 per pack, was a treat to have with my coffee, in the sunshine on my terrace.

Miniature greenhouse
Miniature greenhouse

But what also came to mind, instead of putting the container in our spanking brand new recycle bins, all provided with European money, was to use them to start seeds in the greenhouse.

Our new EU recycling bins
Our new EU recycling bins

I added John Innes seed compost and then some Tomato seeds, to start my early tomatoes. This is upcycling in action…

Like buses: None for ages, then two together

I have been waiting to go to Split to take my car for a full service for a while.

Škoda Roomster
Škoda Roomster

The main Škoda dealership is the BMW garage just outside the town on the road to Kastela.

Because of the pandemic and island living, I probably only drive 1,200 km a year, so it is not a huge distance.

After I bought my Roomster in October 2019, I had a full service done and got all the filters changed.

So after almost two and a half years of gentle motoring, it is due for a service based on months not kilometres.

My experience with mechanics on the island has not been good. With a quoted cost of 1,120 Kunas, a little over £120, it is worth taking the car to the main dealer, knowing that it will receive proper attention.

I was up at 4am on Friday morning, to catch the early ferry to the mainland. I delivered the car to the dealer a few minutes before 8am.

It is a minor service, so although I had been offered a courtesy car, I opted to stay in the dealership and wait, doing some writing.

If I had really thought ahead, I could have taken this blog with me – but I didn’t!

A little over an hour and a half later, I was on my way. Next stop was Bauhaus to stock up on nuts, bolts and screws, followed by the electrical wholesaler for light fittings, then the City Center One Mall and back to the port to catch the 14:30 ferry.

I sat in the sunshine on the top deck on the way back. There were only a handful of other passengers outside.

The empty top deck
The empty top deck

I didn’t get back home until after 5pm, so a whole day away and no work done!

On Saturday morning, it was back to Split again on the ferry, only this time with Cvjetko. Once again, I was not back home until after 5pm.

However you will have to wait for next week’s blog to read about the story, because I am running very, very late already…. NCG

One Response

  1. Andy Robinson

    It won’t have done you any harm having a couple of days off…