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The end of the Teenage years – Part 2: 2015 – 2019

This week: 2015; 2016; 2017; 2018; 2019;


In Part 1, I looked back at 2010 to 2014. In this edition I will cover from 2015 to 2019.

Looking through the before and after photographs, even though I am still waiting for the extension to join my buildings together, there has been a lot of progress.

Just seeing some of the “before and after” shots, the difference is incredible. Changes which are incremental, are of course not necessary remarkable until you see the big picture.


2015

The winter of 2014/2015 was quite mild and sunny. I started the year by building an Arbour. First job was to cement anchor points beside the path.

Arbour anchor point
Arbour anchor point

It required several trips to the mainland to get the timber which was not available on the island.

Mainland timber
Timber from the mainland

It looks a bit bare, but now has plants growing up and over the framework, which was what I had in mind.

Completed framework
Completed framework

I had protected the new orange, lemon and grapefruit saplings with bubblewrap and cardboard.

Heath-Robinson protection
Heath-Robinson protection

However a cold Bura killed of my mature lemon tree. This was my introduction to the different cooling requirements of the citrus family.

Dead lemons
Dead lemons

Inside I started to renovate the bathroom. A large breaking hammer was needed to remove the 30cm thick concrete floor, held up by old railway track underneath. Don’t you love the yellow tiles!

Breaking a concrete floor
Breaking a concrete floor

I used the dry spring to burn dead shrubbery.

Roaring bonfire
Roaring bonfire

Dismantle Biily’s home before it falls… The goat shed had developed a bit of a list. Good job the goats had gone!

Leaning walls
Leaning walls

This was the start of my architectural salvage pile.

Architectural salvage
Architectural salvage

With the goat shed gone, I laid a concrete base and then assembled the garden sheds which came from Abu Dhabi in the container.

Foundations first
Foundations first
Under construction
Under construction
Storage complete
Storage complete

The perceved wisdom is that when you move somewhere, wait for a year to see what grows. Here Iris burst into fdlower in the spring.

Purple Iris
Purple Iris

I also had to try and get to grips with all the different flours in the supermarket. I was used to just two, plain (all purpose) and self raising…

Different kinds of flours
Different kinds of flours

More building work started in late spring. Remove the decaying dining room floor and create a new one, then the ceiling, build a new roof and decorate.

Remove the floor
Remove the floor
Check the walls
Check the walls
Mind the gap
Mind the gap
Remove the ceiling
Remove the ceiling
Then rebuild
Then rebuild
Paint everything
Paint everything
Install the wood stove
Install the wood stove

Add the wood stove in the corner and then light it just before Christmas.

Then light the fire
Then light the fire

I bought a big rotorvator to till the soil in the orchards.

Industrial size rotorvator
Industrial size rotorvator

It looks a lot better without the weeds.

The dig the weeds in
The dig the weeds in

I needed to design, create and install a modern ring main system for the electrical supply to the buildings.

Left over right then right over left
Left over right then right over left

In the autumn I designed and built a lean too greenhouse – somewhere to propagate plants.

Lean to greenhouse
Lean to greenhouse under construction

As boxes were opened and unpacked, I used the cardboard to suppress weeds.

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted

As winter approached it was time to protect the trees again.

Bubblewrap protection
Bubblewrap protection

But I now had a finished bathroom and shower.

The finished bathroom
The finished bathroom


2016

Early January was quite cold.

Cold January morning
Cold January morning

In February, I made my first visit to the Tree Fair, held in Split every year at the Dioclethian Palace.

Split tree fair
Split tree fair

I started to explore around my home more. I discovered there is a problem with Processionary Pine Moths.

Processionary Pine Month
Processionary Pine Month caterpillar’s cocoon

The exploration led me to start looking at and identifying the local native trees.

Leaf identification
Leaf identification
Tree bark identification
Tree bark identification

I was experimenting in the orchards. Here with a Green Manure crop.

Green manure
Mustard – a Green Manure

Everywhere there are small shrines, known as Kapelista. I began to photograph all the inscriptions I could find.

Ancient Kapelisata
Ancient Kapelisata

There were decisions to make about the existing trees. This very old white Mulberry, Morus Alba, had been badly pruned.

Old white Mulberry
Old white Mulberry

When I examined it closely, it was diseased, going rotten from the centre.

Dying from the inside out
Dying from the inside out

In the forest I could find Prickly Pear cactus and orchids in profusion.

Prickly Pear cactus
Prickly Pear cactus
Wild orchids
Wild orchids

A chance encounter in the village led me to being able to explore the cobweb festooned village still. A museum piece if ever there was one…

The village still
The village still

Mediterranean summers are hot and dry, so I installed an underground irrigation system to water the newly planted fruit trees.

Installing underground irrigation
Installing underground irrigation

I also tried my hand at artisan cheese making in my new kitchen.

Dol artisan cheese
Dol artisan cheese

I dismantled the old stables and outhouses, saving all the materials and making space for my new building.

Dismantle and save everything
Dismantle and save everything
The old donkey stable
The old donkey stable

The roof of the old cottage leaked. Not surprising really. At well over 100 years of age and with nothing more than stone slabs laid on tree trunks, rain was driven in through the not insubstantial cracks. It was added to the list of jobs to do.

A leaky roof
A leaky roof


2017

The first week of 2017 was bitterly cold.

Frost on the soil
Frost on the soil
And on the paths
And on the paths

A strong Bura blew, resulting in a windchill of -15ÂșC being recorded on my weather station. Everything froze.

Bed was the only warm place
Bed was the only warm place

There were more than 1,000 burst water meters on the island, including mine.

When your water meter freezes
When your water meter freezes

I had 14 burst pipes, because the idiot local plumber had used indoor grade copper pipe and insulation, for outdoor pipe runs between the buildings. Then he claimed an “act of God” and refused to repair his shoddy workmanship. Another lesson for me about the level of local craftsman skills.

Frozen pipes burst open
Frozen pipes burst open
Fourteen in total
Fourteen in total!

More than ten of my citrus trees were killed out right, including a mature Washington Orange.

Frozen orange tree
Frozen orange tree

The Mulberry tree was felled, ready for the long awaited building work.

The felled Mulberry tree
The felled Mulberry tree

The contractor arrived and started digging.

Another tool I need
Another tool I need

Then the local council stepped in and stopped all work. Despite employing an architect, the paperwork was not in order. It took two more years to sort that problem out!

Work comes to a halt
Work comes to a halt

Spring came late, but there was a profusion of blossom when it did arrive.

Plum blossom heralds spring
Plum blossom heralds spring

I started to see new species in the forest and orchards.

Tiger moth
Tiger Moths like raspberries
Wild Cyclamen
Wild Cyclamen
Blue chaser dragonfly
Blue chaser dragonfly
Orchard katydid
Orchard katydid

The summer was hot too…

Lazy days of summer
Lazy days of summer

I started renovating a room to turn it into my study. The ceiling was properly insulated first.

Proper ceiling insulation
Proper ceiling insulation

Then the walls were papered with lining paper and I laid a new, level hardwood floor.

Varnished hardwood floor
Varnished hardwood floor

We had a forest fire on the border between Dol and Vrbanj.

Forest fires are a constant danger
Forest fires are a constant danger
Small fires quickly grow
Small fires quickly grow

What could have grown into a major conflagration was stopped by the rapid intervention of the Canadair water bombers. But a large area of the forest was destroyed.

Airborne firefighting
Airborne firefighting

Throughout the year, I find evidence of garden visitations which I don’t see at the time.

Skelitalised snake
Skelitalised snake

In the autumn I got a contractor in to remove and replace the roof of the cottage. Plastic sheets was no substitute for a proper tile roof.

New roof required
New roof required

Thinking ahead, I installed underground services to the building, so in the future it will be connected to the central heating system.

New services
New services
Completely underground
Completely underground

The loft space which had existed under the stone slabs was made into useable storage.

Loft taking shape
Loft taking shape
And the new roof
And the new roof
Then fill the available space
Then fill the available space

I also had the opportunity to see the pressing of olives to make the oil which the island is famous for.

From this...
From this…
To this...
To this…

Finally it was time to winterise. I replaced all the sub-standard copper pipework with plastic. The loft header tank was fully protected.

Hep2O replaces copper
Hep2O replaces copper
Insulating the header tank
Insulating the header tank – not done here!

The pipework on the solar water heater was double insulated. I was ready for winter!

Removing the old insulation
Removing the old insulation
And replacing with new
And replacing with new


2018

People are starting to talk about climate change. In Stari Grad, the sea is starting to regularly come over the low walls and flood nearby properties.

Rising sea levels
Rising sea levels cause tidal flooding

In February we had a one in a 100 year event – snow.

First snow in decades
First snow in decades
A February covering of snow
A February covering of snow surprised islanders

Not a lot by northern European standards, but enough for people to enjoy.

Cats will play
When the mice are away, cats will play

It also showed where I was losing heat from my buildings.

Melting snow
Melting snow = heat loss

While it was winter outside, I started another indoor job. I renovated the guest room, installed central heating, a new hardwood floor and re-decorated.

More hardwood flooring
More hardwood flooring

April showers

April showers
April showers

Bring forth May flowers. I had bought some Spider Lily bulbs, not as large as the ones I had in Abu Dhabi, but nice none the less.

Spider lily
Spider lily

For the first time I saw at close quarters the Mongoose who have colonised the island. Brought in the last century to control the venomous snake population, they are now year round residents.

Mongoose in the grass
Mongoose in the grass

Outside renovations included turning a wine vat into a container for strawberries.

Wine vat repairs
Wine vat repairs

I also planned where I would like to have a small ornamental pond in the top orchard.

Pond shape
Pond shape

In the summer I installed a rainwater harvest system, to take the rainfall from the courtyard, to where it is needed in the orchard.

Courtyard drain
Courtyard drain

This was followed by the realignment of a path and the removal and rebuilding of a dry stone wall.

Laser level to align the path
Laser level to align the path

With the realignment complete, I built a new wood shed.

New wood shed
New wood shed

November 2018 was the centenary of the end of World War I. In the churchyeard there are three war memorials listing the names of villagers who did not return from WWI, WW2 and the Balkan War. There was no memorial service to honour the fallen though.

WWI War Memorial
WWI War Memorial

The wood stove in the dining room puts out a lot of heat, but the flue filled with ash and cinders and needed emptying every two weeks during the burn season.

A sooty pipe
A sooty pipe

I invested in a chimney fan, but had to design a metal frame to support it’s weight. It has worked extremely well though. Once again I was ready for winter.

Flu extractor fan
Flu extractor fan


2019

I have already written extensively about 2019. All the blogs are available, month by month using the tabs on the right of this page.

I started the year experimenting with hydroponics. I grew tomato plants, but they were the wrong variety and had very few fruit. Must try harder in 2020.

Hydroponics - learning a new skill
Hydroponics – learning a new skill

I started the year by building steps out of reclaimed stone, down into the orchard. When finished and with a gravel path, they look really nice.

Constructing stone steps
Constructing stone steps
Completed steps
Completed steps

The dry stone walls have been extended. There is much more to do in 2020.

Extending the walling
Extending the walling

I discovered that I had a damp problem in one of my stores.

Rising damp
Rising damp

So I built an outside store to take some of the boxes, but also all the materials I have had in store for the building work which I desperately want to be done.

Design and build a shed
Design and build a shed
Then fill to capacity
Then fill to capacity

I’ve continued to find new species throughout the year.

Peacock Hawk Moth
Peacock Hawk Moth

And plants which I have grown as bulbs have flowered for the first time.

Fox Tail Lily
Fox Tail Lily

Not everything that grows is welcome however. Ivy is a major problem. The birds eat the berries and seed new plants everywhere.

Ivy everywhere
Ivy everywhere
The roots destroy stone walls
The roots destroy stone walls

I have started experimenting with extreme closeup lenses. Watch for more examples in 2020.

Extreme closeup photography
Extreme closeup photography

When I was talking to one of my neighbours, I was invited into one of his store rooms. It is an “Ala-din’s Cave”. He no longer has any donkeys, but still has the saddles, bridles and carrying frames from when these were the only means of transport. I wonder what else is lying forgotten?

A donkey saddle
A donkey saddle

In October the family increased by one. Gizmo, a tiny frightened kitten, desperately calling for his Mum appeared outside my gate.

New arrival Gizmo
New arrival Gizmo

A little over an hour later when I returmed from town, he had invited himself in (or may be it was Risha?) and was making himself at home.

Now properly vaccinated he is a fully paid up member of the family.

Growing into a lovely house cat
Growing into a lovely house cat

So as the last teenage year comes to an end, I wish you all a very Happy, Prosperous and Healthy 2020, where ever in the world you may be.

See you next year! NRCG

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