This week: Starting another project; One day…; Very, very smelly; Greening of the roof; Looking back;
I’ve been doing some tidying up since early in the week.
The 1½ m³ pile of “Nula” aggregate which is to be used in the rendering of the walls, has become a play area and impromptu latrine for local felines and canines alike.
So to prevent it being spoiled, I was out before 7am on Monday, shovel in hand, while the air was still cool.
The first job was to move the edges which had been run over by cars. Once this was down and the pile covered a smaller footprint, I covered the heap with a layer of plastic.
The edges have been well anchored and I raked away some debris before rolling the polythene sheet over the pile.
The pile can stay like that until the builder returns after the summer building work break.
The temperature has continued to rise this week.
Today (Saturday) is the 19th June and we are almost at the northern Summer Solstice on the 21st June. When I checked my weather station reports, we are still below the average for the past six years.
The weather this year has been quite a bit cooler, and dryer, than the average.
That has benefited some fruits. I have had the best crop of cherries ever and my red Myrobalan plum is laden with fruit. They will be ready in a couple of weeks.
I completed my Springwatch calendar this week when the first of the Circadas emerged and started their chirping. The sound will be with us now until the cooler nights begin in October.
Talking of cool nights, they are around 18ºC at the moment. From sunset the Crickets are out, so by both day and night there are the sounds of our insect’s striations.
Climate change continues to be a critical issue for the world, but it is affecting different places in different ways each year.
He noted that the “butterfly effect” is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado (its exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as a distant butterfly flapping its wings, several weeks earlier.
There are a lot of butterflies around my Dol house!
Starting another project
The decision on my planning application to build above the workshop is still being processed. I have said in past blogs, I am doing nothing until I have ALL the required permissions in place.
Looking back at my notes from 2014, before I even bought my home in Dol, this build was going to be the first part of the building project to restore and join the buildings together.
I had allowed three years for the work to take place, having been assured that getting planning permission “was not a problem”.
That we are now six years into the process says more about the bureaucratic stagnation here, than any lack of effort.
The language barrier is not really a problem. It is the interminable requests for more and more documents from different organisations, none of whom seem willing or able to talk to each other.
There is no joined up approach to anything. This frustrates locals just as much as it does the expats who are trying to stick to the rules.
In my original plan, the very last part of my building work was to be the ground floor of the cottage. I reroofed the building and renovated the upper floor in 2017.
My architect thinks that this is the oldest of my buildings. It certainly features on the 1880 Austro-Hungarian survey. This was the first ever land survey carried in this part of the world.
The local Kadaster office is still using the maps and ground plans that the Austrian engineers and surveyors produced.
The outside of the building has two Donkey hitches. Inside it is divided into two.
There is a single room on the right hand side, which is adjacent to the old bread oven.
I have been using it as the utility room. The deep freezer, large refrigerator and washing machine are all inside.
The single room on the left has a narrow door and window below the remains of an old arched entrance. There is a donkey hitch outside, so this may have been a store or Konoba.
When I bought the property it had been used as a bedroom.
I’ve been using it as a pantry and for storage space. Now that I know it will be some months before the Konoba is finished, I will start renovating the inside of this building.
My plan is to close the doorway on the left and put a new, full width window across. I’ll remove the inner partition wall and make the two rooms into one large pantry and utility room.
The renovated ground floor will have a floor area of 15 square meters.
The first job this week has been to pack things into boxes and move them into the Konoba. This is so that I have a blank canvas to work on, beginning with the room on the left.
That can soon be said, but coupled with clearing the courtyard, it has taken a couple of days.
I have no idea what I am going to find when I get down to removing the plaster and stone floor flags, but that is all part of fun of a renovation.
I can get the car into the courtyard again, so I count that as a successful objective that I have achieved….
For the past twenty years I seem to have been surrounded by boxes of various shapes, sizes and strengths.
This week I started to pack up the pantry, the left room of the cottage. This is in preparation for the plaster coming off the walls and the floor being lifted.
The island being less than well supplied, where I can, I always buy in bulk.
However that means having a place to put things. As work on the workshop and Konoba have progressed, I have just added more shelves and more “stuff” inside the pantry.
IKEA shelving is ideal because it is modular, but it also just becomes somewhere else to “put” things.
This week I’ve found things I didn’t know I still had!
Looking back, I can’t honestly say that moving lock, stock, three smoking barrels and two felines has not been especially stressful for me.
My old cat Risha used to get stressed at the sight of boxes and would climb in, to prevent things being put inside. Then promptly go to sleep.
He had suffered three moves so had an uneasiness about empty boxes.
Moving from England to Spain, then to Abu Dhabi, moving twice in Abu Dhabi and then here to Dol, I used to keep the best boxes. They have almost all since been used as weed supressant coverings in the orchards.
I preserve a lot of fruit, as it comes into season, so that I have garden produce all year round. The Apricots will be ready this week and then there will be a couple of weeks of plums.
As I use a glass jar, for example the nice screw-top honey jars that you get in the Supermarket here, I sterilise then carefully put them on the shelf in the Pantry because they are just the right size for a kilogram of fruit.
They stack well, can be reused and sealed and also because I can’t get Kilner preserving jars, or seals, on the island.
Buying bulk packs of cat food and the like requires storage space, so the room has been very useful.
This week it was time to box all these things up, move them across to the unfinished Konoba and start on what will be the last building to be restored.
One day I’ll be free of cardboard boxes!
Very, very smelly
I do all my garden and orchard work according to the weather.
Weekly and daily I keep a sharp eye on the 10 day forecast from my weather station.
This week I’ve been doing the same, but this time it is in relation the Konoba.
You are probably as bored hearing about this building, as I am working on it… It is definitely time for something else, but before moving on, I’ve done two last jobs inside.
After the dust of the sand blasting, the wooden beams were, like the walls, covered in a thin translucent white film.
With the pressure sprayer, I was able to wash it all off. Probably for the first time since I moved in, I can now see the beauty of the tree trunks which make up half of the wooden beams.
Wood here is subject to attack by a variety of insects. These are not the woodworm that we have in the UK, which make darning needle size holes in untreated timber. Although we do have those as well.
Here some of the holes are large, measuring 5.05 mm in diameter. I’m not sure of the insect which lays the eggs, that turn into the grubs, which eat their way through the wood. But they are obviously large.
In the past, the locals found a way to deter wood boring insects.
After cutting a tree down, it was de-barked then an Adze was used to roughly shape the beam and the resulting facets were left in the wooden surface.
For some reason, this scalloping of the surface acts as a deterrent to the wood boring insects.
Today, I pop along to Volat and buy Kemocid, a clear, viscous and foul smelling liquid wood preserver. The chemicals, with a solvent smell also protects bare timber.
All the wooden fittings in my workshop have been treated. It is easy with a paintbrush to slap a couple of coats of Kemocid onto a work bench or shelving.
Regular readers may recall that I have a degree of disdain for painting. Especially when the ‘painting’ in question is a ceiling. It’s messy, takes time and I do not enjoy it.
Applying a chemical with the consistency of wet water, to a ceiling, while working on steps, is quite simply not my idea of fun!
The label on the Kemocid provides advice on the level of personal protection needed, and this is one case when I am complying.
If I am working outside in the fresh air, I will wear eye protection, but probably not a mask. Working inside is a whole order of magnitude more dangerous and required proper PPE.
One sentence on the label caught my eye: “Dispose of any clothing impregnated with Kemocid carefully. Used impregnated clothing is likely to spontaneously combust!”
So very carefully picking Tuesday afternoon, between two o’clock and five o’clock, when the OAT was forecast to be above +30ºC, humidity below 40% and a wind speed of 30 KPH, I started spraying.
An hour and a half and 10 liters of Kemocid later, the job was finished and I have to say I’m not sorry!
The chemicals have impregnated the ceiling beams and they now look ever better than after being washed.
Greening of the roof
My senior cat Callie who came with me from Abu Dhabi and has just celebrated her 10th birthday, went missing last Saturday.
She didn’t appear for supper or to chivvy the kittens at bed time. When I went out at dusk and whistled to call her, there was no answer.
On Sunday morning she wasn’t waiting in her seat in the dining room, ready for breakfast or by the gate to go for a walk.
As soon as I had fed the other felines I went out again to see if I could find her.
As I stood at the gate and whistled, I heard her unmistakable answer, rather faint and muffled. It took me a minute to identify that she was inside my neighbours property.
This old building with which I share a party wall, has not been lived in for 50 or more years. Running water is provided by rain collected from the roof.
It is slowly deteriorating, becoming a ruin, as the owner wants €100K for it, another building and a separate ruin. You would need deep pockets because it would need at least another €100K to make it liveable.
I couldn’t get in, so called the relative of the owner who has a key and shortly after Callie was free and enjoying breakfast.
She had got in through a hole in the roof, where a tile had slipped and where the ceiling had come down inside, but then she couldn’t get out.
I was up on the roof shortly after to replace the tile and cover the hole.
This is another of the buildings that were burnt in January 1943. Only part of the roof was destroyed, so there are some of the stone slabs remaining, which didn’t collapse inwards after the fire, and then some newer tiles.
I have let my old grape vine grow, really to disguise the eyesore adjoining my home, but what did surprise me is how the vine has almost completely covered a flat roof.
It is probably two years since I have been up there.
For my new building, I had asked the architect to explore the possibility of having a “green roof”.
The problem is the cost. It will almost treble the price of the building, so I have gone to plan ‘B’.
I have found that a self seeded Passiflora caerulea, the common Passion Flower, is quite quickly taking over wherever I allow it to climb.
This spring it has almost covered the wood stove flue and frame holding the extractor fan.
This week I have moved some of the Passiflora shoots onto the roof of the dining room, to see if I can get it to climb over and “green” the roof.
If they spread, which they already seem to be doing, the leaves will reduce the solar gain from the tiles and with the flowers, then later fruits, actually make use of a space whilst reducing the ‘Heat island’ effect that exposed tiles have.
This plant, as so often happens with self seeded “weeds”, has survived the winter cold unscathed. So watch this [green] space. NCG
Looking back – Week 24
This is the start of a new weekly section, with links to past issues of the blog.
2014/24 No more camping
2015/24 Getting rid of nuisance neighbours
2016/24 I’ve got a nasty virus
2017/24 Grow your own Chocolate Puddings
2018/24 Nobody here to talk to
2019/24 Creating a bit of a stink
2020/24 Here comes the rain again