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Perianths and Tepals

This week: Wood working; Framing the door; AAAA at an end; Perianths and Tepals; COVID-19; The 6 P’s;

Carpet of flowers
A carpet of wild flowers under the olive trees

Exactly as planned, I was at Volat first thing on Monday to get supplies for this week’s work. But I made the friendly staff there laugh.

After wishing the cashiers and the boss ‘Good morning’, I asked if they knew what had happened at the weekend when a lady had gone in the local Konzum supermarket and near caused a riot when she bought 100 litres of long life milk.

They said yes, they knew, so I said, “OK then, I don’t need milk, or rice or flour, but how many nuts, bolts, screws, washers and litres of paint will you let me have?”

You have to laugh, it keeps you sane.

I’m carrying on as normal with the blog. I don’t plan on giving a running commentary on how COVID-19 is affecting my part of the world. But inevitably I will from time to time mention it as the virus affects aspects of life here in Dol.

Yesterday (the 20th March) was the Vernal Equinox. This is the day when the sun is directly over the equator and there are twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness.

The Scops owl, a migrant diurnal feeder
The Scops owl, a migrant diurnal feeder

The first of our summer migrants has arrived. The noisy little Scops owl was calling from the trees behind my Dol house this week.

From now until they leave at the and of summer they will be calling. Their call has a sound reminiscent of the ‘pips’ that we used to hear on the police VHF radios.

It is a very welcome signal that summer is upon us.

Wood working

It was not a long job on Monday afternoon to use my new wood boring bit to make the holes in the ladder support posts.

A boring job
A boring job

The wood then needed priming and painting. But I wanted to do it all in one go with other new wood, so I set too to cut the mortise joints for the workshop door frame.

I think everyone has a favourite tool, whether it is a crochet hook, wooden kitchen spoon, or workshop tool.

One of mine which I have owned for well over 40 years is a woodworkers marking gauge.

The Marking Gauge scribes a line on timber, parallel to an edge. This is essential when you are making tenon joints, and I need to cut several for the new door frame.

Marking gauge
Marking gauge and scribed lines

My Marking Gauge is a very old Stanley which just has a hardened steel pin. None of the fancy knives and interchangeable scribes that modern gauges come with. But it is more than adequate for the job.

The way I was taught was to cut everything by hand, just using hand saws and chisels. I tend now to use the best tool for any particular job, so it might be a hand tool, electric tool or a windy tool.

For this job, I set the gauge to 15mm and marked the first cut lines. The gauge was then reset to 30mm for the second cuts.

This is where my thicknesser machine pays dividends because I know all the timber pieces are exactly the same dimensions, to a millimetre.

Framing the door

Everything needs careful planning, especially when you are working with natural materials.

I wrote a couple of weeks back about cutting the profile of the top bar for the door into the new workshop. Before marking anything, I had to do a trial fit and some adjustment of the top bar.

The profile was spot on. But so that there is just a minimum gap between the wood and the stone, I needed to adjust the profile in a couple of places.

It took several attempts, so I didn’t cut away too much wood, before I got a nice even 5 to 10 mm gap – and closer in places – along the full length.

Top bar trial fit
Top bar trial fit

The way the stones had been made into an arch 100+ years ago is somewhat different to today.

The stable builders would have used a former to make the curved arch. However the stones were placed much closer together and with just lime mortar in between as the jointing compound.

The arch is what is called a Segmental Arch, having an arc of less than 180º. When I dismantled the old arch, as soon as I started to break the lime mortar it simply collapsed.

The old donkey stable
The old donkey stable

The mortar was providing stiffening and some degree of adhesion between the stones, but mainly it was the artisan skill of the builder and mechanical forces which kept the arch in place.

Mechanical forces of an arch
Mechanical forces of an arch

As the force (F) generated in the arch by the load tends to cause the arch to spread (i.e. increase in span). The vertically downward load from the masonry on each side of the arch (W) produces a compressive stress in the masonry on each side.

The resultant loading, (L), of the forces from the arch and the masonry above each side of of the arch is distributed into the masonry at each side of the opening.

Not so the new arch. It has strong concrete between each stone. The stones were laid on a wooden former to get the segmental curve. Everything above and around was encased in a reinforced concrete beam.

This means that there will be no weight, even during an earthquake, placed on the top of the door frame. The small gap between the wood and the stone will be filled with mortar but it will not be load bearing.

This is building things the wrong way round, because I am starting at the top of the frame and working downwards!

Checking the levels
Checking the levels

Once I was happy with the top bar in place, I measured down to the floor. This is to calculate where the bottom of the tennon joints will be.

With that measurement known, I could mark the frame uprights and then start to cut the mortice and tennon joints. With the frame being exactly 75 mm wide, it is an easy 15mm between each cut mark.

AAAA at an end

The Association of the Annihilation of the Aberrant Apostrophe is no more. Better known as AAAA, its founder John Richards has given up on the task!

I try my best every week to make sure there are no errors in the blog.

I proof read everything before it is published on-line, but when you write the text, check it, format the text into paragraphs, then eventually you see what you think is there, not what is actually written.

Of course I have spull chick – and my predictive text is disabled – but the check programme only finds spelling errors, not wrong words correctly spelt.

Punctuation and grammar are important too, but I am aware that sometimes in my haste I get things wrong.

Then there is the difference in the English used. Mine is very definitely British English, which varies considerably from American and Australian English.

But on the whole, with the odd apostrophes excepted, I think I get the text and punctuation right, most of the time.

But my question is, when you read the blog, does it make sense?

Perianths and Tepals

Do you ever think back to your school days and wish you had paid more attention in certain subjects?

One of the subjects I took at ‘O’ level was “General Science” – and I failed.

The biology element I especially enjoyed and in my exam year, I asked to change from General Science to Biology at ‘O’ level, but my request was refused.

I passed the Physics and the Biology elements but failed the Chemistry. I never could get to grips with the periodic table of elements.

Physics helped me understand the theory of flight, the movement of air over lifting surfaces – which is probably today called fluid dynamics – and other aspects of the Laws of Physics. All this gave me the immense privilege of being able to break free of the bonds of gravity that tether most things to Terra Firma.

In biology I remember studying flowers: Stigmas, Styles and Ovaries, Pistils and Stamens. At the time it seemed like a foreign language, but this week some of it came back.

Parts of a flower
Parts of a flower

I have a lovely Hippeastrum in flower. At least I think it is a Hippeastrum, although there is a chance it might be an Amaryllis.

Hippeastrum flower
Hippeastrum flower

A century ago they were all in one genus but now they are separate. Hippaestrums come from South America and Amaryllis from South Africa. I have been trying to decide which it is.

Reading up on the differences, it seems to come down to Perianths and Tepals.

It was at this point in my studies this week that I realised I wished I had taken more notice of Mr Allen, the biology teacher.

I realised my inadequate knowledge when the discussion was about a “monochlamydeous perianth with non-petaloid calyx only”.

From my Latin, I understood that ‘mono’ means one, but the rest could have been written in Martian, so I went and got a coffee…

I have a very vague memory of discussions about “Monocotyledons” but had to go to Wikipedia to see what they were and if they were the same. They were not.

With a feeling that my brain was full, I decided that for the time being I will just enjoy the beautiful inflorescence and will wait for a wet day to spend some time reading and trying to understand the science.


There really is only one topic of conversation here on the island at the moment. You guessed, it’s COVID-19.

Although we are very close to Italy, and all our 168 cases so far seem to have been the result of being infected in other countries. But there is the suspicion that local transmission is not far away.

Social distancing and home isolation for everyone in a vulnerable group is now being enforced with fines for non compliance.

Last weekend there was a near riot in the Konzum supermarket in Jelsa when a woman purchased 100 litres of long life milk, but it seems there was nothing the shop could do to stop her.

When I went to the biggest supermarket on the island on Monday, there was no flour, rice, potatoes or pasta. But everything else was in good supply.

I saw no sign of panic buying, no overloaded trolleys and there was just the usual one checkout, out of a total of five, that was operating. I did my usual weekly shop and went on my way.

The land and sea borders have been closes and it’s likely the number of daily ferries will be curtailed soon. Ferries are restricted to island residents and good vehicles only.

All cafes, bars and restaurants have closed and we have the first two cases of COVID-19 on the island in Vrboska. They were workers at a ski resort in Austria who were sent home when the resorts were closed.

There are some interesting restrictions, for example funerals can still go ahead but only immediate family can attend. Hand shaking is banned and in Parliament members must sit one row apart from each other.

Under the microscope this is what the virus looks like.

COVID-19 virus
COVID-19 virus

The 6 P’s

Along time ago when I was on a training course, I was told about the 6 P’s.

Perfect Planning Prevents Profoundly Poor Performance

Home grown fruit and vegetables are nice, but it takes time and effort.

With a ready supply of locally sourced vegetables in the market, I’ve not really bothered to even try and grow much more than lettuce and tomatoes.

I have got my box of seed packets out this week to see what there is that I can grow, so I can reduce even more the need to go to the shops.

Time to apply the 6 P’s I think… NRC

7 Responses

  1. Marcy

    Love the blog and so glad you are keeping it going. It’s a bright spot in my life especially the flowers and those details. We are all hunkered down in the US with no international travel, and I anticipate interstate travel will be limited soon. Our government allowed failure to happen before we even got started, but it will all work out.
    Thank you for your upbeat comments, pictures and just overall interesting read. Looking forward to more. Be safe, sanitize and take care, Marcy

    • Mike

      I first read that as “interstella travel”. I was impressed.

  2. Richard Ellis

    Greetings mate,
    Yes, I do, enjoy your blogs, very refreshing and informative.
    Was wondering if you have encountered any “keystone” arches in any of your property buildings?

    It seems that the elusive “common sense” has left a large portion of this Country, and other Countries as well. I do not understand why people are buying all the toilet paper, this is a respiratory virus. Anyways, we are continuing as before, just with an abundance of caution. I like your 6P’s.

    Any type of seeds I can send (I believe your climate zone is similar to Arizona)


  3. Tony Griggs

    Good to hear life is reasonably normal for you Norman. I figure avoid watching the idiot box and carry on with natural living! Carry disinfectant gel with you and be careful each time you have to go out. Your knowledge of carpentry never ceases to amaze me. I think you missed your vocation in life 😉

  4. Hyder Sakota

    Dear Norman, thank you for let me know the 6 Ps. Good to know you are in daily activity. Stay safe, stay protected, unfortunately no one is immuned to the fatal Covid 19. I wish you all the best.

  5. Elizabeth

    Dear Norman, of course your blog makes sense!

    You can be forgiven the odd error… I know only too well the dangers of checking one’s own work. You do see what you think you have said. One way we get round that is to print to pdf and then read check that. It is like seeing something printed… the number of times we have done that and immediately seen an error are beyond counting!

    Sounds like you will be well occupied during the coming months! I love all your carpentry, building and nature comments.

    I wish I’d had a camera with me on Friday, late afternoon. I was coming back from a much needed trip to John Tomlinson’s, the Optician in Newbald. As I was driving through Everthorpe and came towards the bend at the top of the hill, I picked up movement in my peripheral vision (up to my right). I slowed the car and looked to see a barn owl flying parallel with the car over the rough ground at the side of the road. S/he (I don’t know how to sex an owl) then landed on a fence post and looked at me. As the road was empty, I stopped the car and enjoyed a brief communion with a beautiful bird. When I eventually decided it was time to carry on home and started to move, the bird took off and floated across the open field back towards the farm buildings. It was such a wonderful sight and so uplifting in these rather stressful times.

    We are working to get the next edition of the Village Link out with printed versions of all the offers of help. The community seems to be pulling together and there are lots of people offering to help those in need.

    Work-wise – we have rethought our working practices and now both members of staff are 100% home-based… with communication via Zoom for conferencing and sharing screens. We had our first virtual meeting on Thursday afternoon, which worked quite well. Thankfully, for the time at least, we have work to continue with and heard, on Friday, that we have been appointed to undertake new landscape and visual assessment. We are hoping that we will be able to get out to the Grimsby area to undertake the site work as soon as possible, just in case we have to go into total lockdown. At least, for us, we are very used to working from home and being with each other 100% of the time and not falling out (apart from just occasionally – and only briefly!). We both have our hobbies, to keep us out of each other’s hair when we have time to do them, the animals and garden. Lots to keep us occupied.

    Take care Norman. Keep well. Keep writing the blogs.

    We send our best wishes to you and your feline family. X

  6. Hajo

    As usual very interesting information about the Dol situation. Please keep us informed – especially we dont know when we can come to Tonka´s birthplace. We have booked a flight with Condor to Split on May 8th. But who knows.
    All the best to you and your neighbours at Roica Dvor.