Mending the Fifth Bridge
It’s almost the Northern Vernal Equinox (on Sunday 20th March). It really does not seem long since I was saying it was the Autumnal equinox, last September. Where does time go?!
So this is the time of year when there is exactly 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night.
I have just been sitting on my terrace, in hot sunshine, enjoying an ice cream. This was while I gathered my thoughts before I start writing this blog.
I’ve been in the olives with the felines this week. It’s the time of year when the wild flowers are out in profusion.
What is worrying though is the lack of winter rain, at least since December.
We have had more than our usual total of winter rainfall for the 2021/2022 winter. However almost all of it fell before new year.
In November and December we received 463 mm or 463 litters per square meter. Since the 1st of January, just 43 mm has fallen in Dol.
The result is that I have been watering plants in the garden and orchard this week. This is because they were so dry, some were already wilting.
I was playing around with the figures on my weather statistics spreadsheet on Thursday, looking for patterns.
Examining data for the four most recent winter seasons, when the climate breakdown has really become noticeable, this winter and the average are much closer than the 10 year average.
The irrigation season in 2022 looks as though it will be a long one again.
Meanwhile down in the orchard, the Bug Hotel is taking shape.
I have filled the space between the four concrete corner supports with dry leaves and twigs. Then I added different size plastic tubes into the centre. These will cater for everything from Pygmy Shrews to Hedgehogs and everything else as well.
Then the ‘first floor’ layer of an old pallet went on top.
Now I need to hunt out old plastic bottles, garden canes and assorted other receptacles of different sizes to cater for all the different potential visitors and resident’s needs.
Fitting out the niches
When I was in Split a week ago, I was at the Brodomerkur wholesale warehouse and found some nice, small 10W LED spot lights for the niches in the Konoba.
I wanted white ones, but they only had black, so I bought one to bring home and try.
It worked well, although it was perhaps a little bit bright. However I need nine for the niches, no make that ten, so I have a spare for when one breaks.
Knowing of the supply chain difficulties in this country, I decided I had better go back over to Split again this week, to buy what I need.
There were some other things that I needed to buy as well, which would make the trip worthwhile.
So on Tuesday morning it was up again at 04:00 to catch the early ferry to the mainland.
The sky was clear as the almost full moon set into the Adriatic just before dawn. Then the sun rose over the Dinaric Alps to the east and the world was bathed in warm light.
Coming into Split the Bergen registered Viking Star was just arriving from Kotor, Montenegro. This is one of ‘Viking Cruises’ vessels and was on its way up the Adriatic from Sicily to Venice with 950 passengers on board.
So the tourists are already returning to Split despite the pandemic still being with us!
I was off the ferry quickly and my first stop was Brodomerkur.
You will no doubt be surprised when I tell you that they only had five of the LED lights that I wanted left, and no more coming into stock.
This was exactly the reason why I wanted to come back over to the mainland so soon after my previous visit.
However the helpful man in the electrics department said they had some new lights which had arrived and pointed out some very neat, 6W flat panel LED lamps.
I bought ten, whilst they had them in stock. Once bitten, twice shy as the old saying goes.
Then it was on to Bauhaus where I had a good mooch around. Usually I am pressed for time and just buy the things I need, without looking round. This particular morning, I could browse at my leisure.
I found some precast concrete edging that I have not seen before. I need some for the courtyard to go round the fruit trees, so brought a piece back to try.
Then it was up to the Centre One Mall to the big SPAR Hypermarket. I was delighted to see that IKEA have recently opened a big ground floor showroom in the shopping mall.
They still do not have warehousing on site, but you can order in the store or on line and then collect.
Finally it was back home on the afternoon ferry and an early night. Another full day just to get a few essential items.
Mending the Fifth Bridge
This could be a BBC Round Britain Quiz question! To someone who has British English as their first language; if I ask which bridge name might follow the Forth Bridge, the answer could be the Tyne Bridge or the Humber Bridge (the reason is at the end).
However a discussion about the Forth bridge can also be synonymous with a continuous requirement for maintenance.
If someone talks about the Fifth and Sixth Bridges, they are probably discussing the famous Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park, Alberta
Well I’ve fixed my fifth bridge this week. It’s not as long as the Forth Bridge, but is a very important communication link for users here in Dol.
I realised the felines needed a way to easily move between the houses, terrace and orchard at first floor level some time ago.
So when I rebuilt my machinery shed in the old fold yard, I included a 10mm marine plywood bridge for them to use.
And use it they all have. Often negotiating the narrow bridge at considerable speed when chasing or being chased.
After a couple of years and a lot of wear, I noticed that it had a considerable sag in the middle when Tigger was sitting on it.
Being out in all weathers may not have helped, or it may just be that the adolescent kittens are reaching their adult size (and weight).
Being wood, I used a spare length of kantonela roofing lath as reinforcement to repair the sag.
I used some clamps to firmly hold the wood ‘box section’ support in place, then drilled and fixed it with 4.5 x 35mm wood screws.
I’ve yet to see any of the felines take the bridge at a run, but at least now it will not bounce as much as it did…
In the daily shipping forecast, the reader goes clockwise around the UK and hence the order would be Forth, Tyne and Humber in the forecast.
When I’m painting windows
As soon as I realised that the new double glazing that I have ordered will not be here for…. Well, I’m really not sure when the units will be delivered.
Because of the delay I slowed down the painting of my small window frame.
This is the wooden window I have constructed, to go on the wall, outside the cottage.
Please bear in mind that the double glazing had been promised for the end of January or beginning of February.
Here we are now approaching the end of March / beginning of April, so the delivery is late.
I have given the window frame a coat of sealant on the bare wood, then two coats of undercoat followed a by a coat of gloss paint on top.
I left the frame outside in the sun to thoroughly dry for a couple of days before I installed it.
On Friday morning I could be found in the courtyard, up the ladder fixing the window frame to the wall.
I had already pre-drilled the stone wall and fitted 40 mm wall plugs. With everything pre-prepared, all that was required on the day was to fix the frame to the wall with some 45mm screws.
It is just about level.
Which is just about what I intended.
Next I cut some wooden beading to the right size to hold the sealed glass unit in place. You can see the orange wedges holding the pieces of beading in place.
No, this is not because I have cut the pieces a little short. It is because there is deliberately a 1 mm gap at each end to allow for the wood to expand.
These pieces of strip wood have four sides and two ends, which all also need priming and painting.
I have my own method of doing this with small pieces. It involves having four 30 mm panel pins in a piece of wood and a 1.5 mm hole drilled in one end of each piece.
I can then paint all six sides while the wood is on the pin. Being able to paint all the faces at the same time, means less time is needed before they are ready to install.
All I need now is for the double glazing to be delivered… NCG