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Some builders marks

This week: Fully winterised; Awkward corners; Some builders marks ;

Low sun, clear skies and bright light
Low sun, clear skies and bright light

For the past few years, the seasons have all seemed to have merged into one another. Winters have been cool and wet, summers warm and wet and there has been little to denote the spring and autumn.

We certainly do not follow the defined meteorological spring, summer, autumn and winter! Here in Dol ,neither is it the defined Mediterranean climate of “winter’s cool and wet, summer’s hot and dry”.

What has happened in the past fortnight is the day time temperature has dropped by ten degrees. So we are in that transition between late autumn and early winter.

The sun is very low in the sky and it has disappeared behind the hill by 13:20.

Low winter sun
Low winter sun

It always seems to happen suddenly. In mid October I was sitting in sunshine on the terrace at 15:45. Now there is a decided chill on the terrace in the afternoon.

Leaves of the Virginia Creeper are at their best. I have two varieties, one with yellow autumn colours, which is now completely bare and this scarlet leaved variety.

Virginia Creeper taken on autumn hues
Virginia Creeper taken on autumn hues

At the same time, I have the strap leaves of spring bulbs showing all over the place. They are six to eight weeks earlier than usual!

I lit the wood stove on the 14th November, for the first time this year. Everything worked as it should and the central heating was soon pumping out heat into my home.

I did have one slight problem when I let the fire get a little too hot, too quickly. My newly painted air radiator began to smoke and smell. Not pleasant, but it was going to happen some time and I opened the windows to get rid of the smell.

I’ve had a delivery of 3m³ of wood for the fire.

Fire wood delivery, neatly stacked
Fire wood delivery, neatly stacked

I usually use around two cubic metres each winter, so this should last me well into next year too. I need to move it down into my wood shed, so I can get the car inside again.

In the sunshine I have seen a lot of Common Darter dragonflies, Sympetrum striolatum, this week.

Male Common Darter dragonfly
Male Common Darter dragonfly

I found four mating pairs laying eggs in the tub where I have the water lilies. So they are confused by the weather too…

Fully winterised

Finally the weather is settling into our winter pattern.

Mediterranean winters are characterised as wet and cool, or sometimes wet and mild.

“Cool” is of course a relative term. That is relative to where in the world you live and/or read this. The average high temperature this week has been 16ºC, the low 10.4ºC.

In the sun it is warm and in the polytunnel the temperature has reached 29ºC.

At the start of the week I finished fitting ringlets to the plastic film and installed it over the shade netting outside the polytunnel. Another job was to fill the air gaps in the roof.

These act as ventilators in the summer and they allow precipitation run-off to fall inside the building. Letting warm air out in winter is not sensible, so I filled the gaps with rockwool.

Filling ventilation gaps
Filling ventilation gaps with Rockwool

This will allow rain to still drain through to the plants inside, but will stop draughts. So the building is now sealed for the winter.

Because the building is now reasonably well sealed, it means there is high humidity inside.

That is of course a double edged sword. Many plants like high humidity, but so do moulds and plant diseases like Botrytis.

On Friday when I walked into the polytunnel, my glasses immediately steamed up. It wasn’t cold outside, but was cool enough so that when I went in, with 98% humidity and 28ºC I immediately couldn’t see.

Inside the plants are still growing. The sweet potatoes will be ready for harvest just before Christmas. There are still tomatoes and I’m picking herbs from the herb bed.

I think I could probably get more produce out of the space, however I need to really make sure that what I plant will enjoy the summer heat as well as autumn and winter humidity and temperatures.

More work in planning is needed for next year – which will very soon be upon us!

Awkward corners

I have a number of odd corners, small spaces and awkward areas around my home. With my old buildings not having square corners, inside or out, it does mean I have to deal with what I have.

One such space is outside my kitchen window.

Outside the kitchen window
Outside the kitchen window

This was a door when I moved in and it seems that before being converted to being a small kitchen, the room had been where the animals were kept.

A hole had been knocked through the wall between the present dining room and kitchen, So I had the external doorway partially bricked up and turned into a window.

Outside it was a space for plants, for leaves to blow into and where dirt could accumulate.

It is also a spot which receives sunshine, even in winter, so is an ideal place for a seat.

I have had the wood to make the seat for a little while, but this week I have run the timber through the Thicknesser to make all the pieces a uniform size.

This created quite a pile of wood shaving which will go into the polytunnel to surround the strawberry plants.

Left over wood shavings
Left over wood shavings

Although the courtyard still gets some winter sunshine, I was being bitten by mosquitoes, so have only partially finished the project.

With some colder days forecast for next week, I will continue the work then.

Some builders marks

I have already mentioned that the sun is low in the sky at the moment.

The low angle combined with the brightness and clarity of the light sometimes makes thing visible, but only when these precise lighting conditions exist.

I know some of the history of my home, but not everything is written down. In fact the property records in the Government’s land registry, here called the Kataster (or cadastre) have some significant gaps.

One of my elderly neighbours has detailed knowledge of the history of the property, but he mainly speaks dialect and no English at all. I was having coffee with other neighbours this week and said I would like to get round the table with Mario and record what he knows about the history, including a “family tree” of names.

There is just a single stone which records that part at least was built by Luka Roić in 1890.

Builders stone
Builders stone

I know that in the first decades of the 20th century there were three brothers, each with their own families, who lived in the three main buildings.

Then this week, as I walked past a wall, soon after sunrise, I saw that there was an inscription, scratched into the mortar of some stones in the wall.

Inscription scratched in the mortar
Inscription scratched in the mortar

I have walked past this wall thousands of times and never seen anything.

I knew that alterations had been made to the building, and it seems that it was in 1912.

The date is 1912
The date is 1912

The initials KR (K Roić) and the year 1912 are clear. Then may be 2 (February) and a date.

The weathering of a century has made the marks unclear and had it not been for the angle and the low sun, I would never have seen them at all.

12 - VI roman 6?
12 – VI Roman 6?

Now I will experiment with some photographic techniques to try and enhance these inscriptions so they are readable. NCG