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On the tiles again

This week: Ready, Steady, Paint; The shortest day; Christmas in Dol; Roof top service; On the tiles again; Looking back;

Christmas Day in Stari Grad – in the rain

Well it’s Christmas again. And just for a change, it’s raining…

A very Merry Christmas to everyone who is celebrating.

Depending where you are in the world, if you are celebrating then it may be mid-winter or mid-summer.

This is the first time since I moved to Dol that Christmas Day has fallen on a Saturday.

I have debated bringing the blog forward a day, or putting it back a day, but eventually decided to publish as normal on Saturday evening. Then the curse of the internet happened and I couldn’t upload any photos.

Being Christmas night, there was no tec support either, so the decision was taken out of my hands and I had an early night!

But we’re back now, ready for whatever curve-ball life throws at us.

Wherever in the world you are as you read this and whatever you are doing, I hope you have wonderful weekend.

Ready, Steady, Paint

I’ve been working in the cottage on and off all this week, beginning on Monday morning.

The walls are all nicely dry now, courtesy of the wind we have had for the past 10 days or so, with just a damp patch in the corner where the roof guttering drained outside in the orchard.

The wiring and pattress boxes have all been fixed, however I needed to clean around the edges, ready for fitting the sockets after painting. During the rendering of the walls, cement has found its way into the pattress boxes. However it is not difficult to remove.

Cleaned pattress box
Cleaned pattress box

With all the debris on the floor, I then gave the room a good sweep out. I am not going to have any edging tiles around the skirting. This is a working utility room / pantry, so I will paint the walls down to floor level and then lay the floor tiles.

In mid-winter here in Dol, sunset is 16:21 on the Winter Solstice, with very little twilight becuse of the hills which surround the village.

Effectively it is too dark to work inside with out lights by 15:30, even on cloudless days. The electricity supply into the cottage is yet to be connected and I don’t like using inspection lamps. So I had everything finished and ready to start painting on Tuesday morning.

I started in a corner. If you begin in a corner you rapidly see progress, however it still took me four hours to paint half of the insides.

Painting out of a corner
Painting out of a corner

I then realised that at the rate the paint was going down, given that I had already added 10% water by volume, that I would need another tub of paint.

Partially finished
Partially finished

This new concrete render had already been treated with a sealing solution, but it was still using a lot of paint. This type of wall tends to be quite porous so it is not unexpected.

I also needed some timber so packed up at 2pm and went down to Volat for supplies. By the time I got back, the light was going to go, on the shortest day of the year, so I retreated inside to the wood stove.

The shortest day

December 21st is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Official sunrise is at 07:24 and sunset at 16:22 giving us 8 hours 58 minutes of daylight.

Winter solstice
Winter solstice

However it is not until 08:50 that the sun creeps above the hills to the south to illuminate this part of Dol.

Mid winter sun 21st December
Mid winter sun 21st December

The days are starting to lengthen now, by 22 seconds a day. By the 1st January it is a minute of extra daylight each day, rapidly increasing to three minutes a day by mid March.

The climate breakdown is once again showing how it affects the natural world.

In the Top Orchard my yellow plum still has most of its leaves and I caught this photo of the light on the leaves between showers. Other trees have only just lost their leaves, so they are very late.

Mid winter leaves
Mid winter leaves

Meanwhile the rain we have had so far in this winter “wet” season has taken us to almost the whole winter total with another twelve weeks to go…

Winter rainfall
Winter rainfall up to 26th December

At the end of December, we have the same amount usually received by the first week of March.

Christmas in Dol

Christmas on the island is quite a low key affair.

Here in Dol, we have just two Christmas decorations in the street, both outside St. Anne’s Church at the entrance to the village.

Christmas street decorations
Christmas street decorations

In Stari Grad there is a published programme for the week.

Christmas programme
Christmas programme

Stari Grad highlights – Tvrdalj Square
23rd 1100 Kids comedy show โ€Mi o Vuku / Talk about the devilโ€
24th 1100 Bakalar / Codfish stew lunch
25th 1200 Traditional concert by city brass band
26th 1100 Walk about Stari Grad plain ‘Hora Farou’ – start at Tvrdalj Sq

There are different traditions in different parts of the Country, but these are the sort of things you can expect.

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas

Roof top service

I have been awaiting the precisely right moment to service my roof solar water heating system.

As a brief recap, back in the summer, I noticed a weeping leak from around three or four of the eighteen seals.

Solar pipes weeping seals
Solar pipes weeping seals

I ordered replacement seals and gaskets, but because the system was providing hot water I didn’t drain the system down to replace them.

I’ve been waiting for the right weather conditions for fancy foot work up on the tiles. That means no rain, no wet or slippery tiles, no hot sun, preferably no wind etc.

Ever since November, when the solar heating was reduced enough to drain the tank without problems, the weather has been against me.

The 300 litre tank is in two pieces. The inner tank is part of the pressurised hot water system and is open. Cold water from the rising main comes in at the bottom, when a hot tap is opened. Then hot water flows out of the tap.

There is then the outer sealed system, where a special “Vaillant” fluid is in the solar tubes and around the hot water tank. This is what I have to empty.

Valliant solar fluid
Valliant solar fluid

The fluid has been “cooked” after five years of hot summer sun. I have four 20 litre containers of the new fluid. But I also need to flush the system out too.

I had planned this for Wednesday, but although I was ready, it started raining, just enough to make the tiles slippery and unsafe to work on.

Thursday morning came and I made a good start. I had a bucket and container for waste fluid, Styrofoam inserts to hold the delicate and expensive pipes that I removed, then the sun came out, so I added a cover because when empty, the high efficiency solar tubes can be damaged by sunshine.

At which point I had an early lunch, to wait for the sun to go behind the hill.

It is the only time EVER that I have wanted the sun to sink behind the hill!

When I came out after lunch it was just starting to spit with rain. I was up on the roof to remove my tools, but to leave the rest of the equipment.

Gradually the rainfall became heavier. The roof was absolutely soaking, so not a place I waned to be running up and down the tiles.

I lit the fire, knowing from the lowering clouds that I was not going to finish the job before dusk. Oh well, tomorrow’s another dayโ€ฆ

On the tiles again

I was up before sunrise on Friday. That’s not at all difficult because sunrise is at 07:25.

However I was concerned because I had left some pieces of polystyrene on the roof and if there was any wind, they would have blown away.

I needn’t have worried. There was hardly a movement of air to disturb the smoke from my neighbours chimneys.

I had barely started work removing more tubes after breakfast when the rain started again. It was like that on and off all morning.

Solar tube removal
Solar tube removal

Some showers were heavy enough to make the roof tiles quite wet, others just enough to make work unpleasant.

After lunch I continued until I needed a new pressure valve to replace one which had seized up. Being Christmas Eve, no shops were open after lunch, so I secured everything and left it in situ.

Ready for reinstallation
Ready for reinstallation

With more rain forecast until the middle of next week, I can see this being an on/off operation. I defiantly don’t want bright sunshine, but I also don’t want rain either.

So that’s it for another week. I’ll not be doing much over the weekend but I’ll no doubt return to my roof top tales in next week’s blog. NCG


Looking back – Week 51

This is the start of the weekly section, with links to past issues of the blog.

2014/51 34 and counting

2015/51 ๐ŸŽ… ๐ŸŽ„ Danger Men – At work

2016/51 ๐ŸŽ‡ – Seasons Greetings, wherever you might beโ€ฆ

2017/51 I’๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ„ The 29 Steps ๐ŸŽ… ๐ŸŽ

2018/51 Waiting for Mince Pies

2019/51 Feet of clay

Svete Jure
Friday night storm leaves snow on the Dinaric Alps

2020/51 I need a bigger horse

Bare branches
Bare branches and blue skies

3 Responses

  1. Tony Griggs

    Merry Christmas Norman. Nice cool day here 38 degrees south of the equator. About 23 degrees. Back to work tmrw for a few days then home to Flinders Island. Havenโ€™t been able to get home since May! Wishing you good things for 2022. Tony & Linda

  2. Michael Charlton-Weedy

    Happy Christmas Norman and best wishes for a better 2022.
    Despite being triple-jabbed I contrived to catch Covid-D a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully, and largely owed to vaccination, my symptoms were very mild, more akin to a routine cold. Indeed, I didn’t even know I’d got it until Julia remarked that as I never catch colds I should test for Covid. I emerged from isolation just in time for the whole family to arrive for Christmas, 6 children and spouses, 6 grandchildren under 5, and 6 dogs, wholly chaotic but utterly wonderful. Best wishes, Michael.

  3. Marcy Fletchall

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Norman. We haven’t had any snow or rain for over 231 days. So we are having climate breakdown up and close. Ski resorts are suffering a bit, but here in Colorado Springs, I had to turn on my sprinklers for a day because of lack of moisture. I am always energized by your ongoing repairs and what work you do on your own. It is inspiring. I just finished tiling my bathtub (here they had nasty carpet on it, so I replaced it). It’s not a fabulous job, but it’s definitely clean and presentable. Thank you for your beautiful opening picture and loved the band. There is a great deal to be said for small towns. May your New Year bring you good health, joy, peace and love. Marcy