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Autumn approaching

Sunrise Stari Grad2
Sunrise – Stari Grad

This week: Sunday, Sunday; Autumn rains; September equinox; Twice in a week; That was the week that was;

I was already at work on Sunday morning when the sun came up over the hills to the east of Dol.

As I mentioned last week, I had been watching the weather forecast and could see that we would receive some rain and thunder from Sunday evening.

So the task of the day was to finish the garden shed and make it watertight.

Sunday, Sunday

Sunday’s are “quiet” days, more to do with this being a devout Catholic country rather than the summer noise bans so our many visitors are not upset by building work.

But with some plywood to cut I opted to use a jig-saw cutter rather than a circular saw. The jig-saw is a little less noisy. Notice I didn’t say it was quiet! ‘Quiet’ and ‘Power tools’ are mutually exclusive terms.

By lunch time I had the end wall in place and while the sun was still shining, I painted the last of the exposed surfaces and edges with waterproofing.

Three walls in place
Three walls in place

The next task was to fix the hinges, so I offered the cut door up to the side walls and marked where I needed the hinges to go. I found some neat and strong hinges, bearing in mind this is a single sheet of 12mm waterproof plywood, so it is quite heavy.

But I needed to recess the hinge into the plywood, so there is a good weatherproof seal on the door.

With the door laid flat, I cut a 2.5mm rebate, to match the shape of the hinge, into the door, then fastened them with a bolt and two screws. With the hinges in place, I offered the door back up to the walls, now trued to perfectly vertical and fixed the door in place. It swung easily.

Routing rebates2
Routing rebates

The final construction task was to fit latching hasps and staples. I had purchased two from Volat, one for the top and one for the bottom. But what I found was that I needed a third in the centre of the door edge.

With the two hasps and staples fitted, the door was held tightly in place. The building is waterproof ahead of the anticipated rain!

All that remained was to clean the tools, clear up and put the unused timber into the store.

A few minutes before 5pm, I locked the Konoba doors and came in. After ten hours of work, in ideal conditions, I had finished my shed.

Autumn rains

The rain duly arrived on Monday morning, just over 25mm in total and when I checked the inside of the shed it was snuff dry. So that was the first test passed.

However early on Wednesday, I was woken by more rain beating on the roof of the greenhouse.

This was coming from a different direction, the south east, and was bring driven by wind. When I checked the inside of the shed in daylight, there were some tell-tale watermarks on the south-east corner seam, where rain had penetrated through the joint in the wall.

Nothing too serious though, just the marks in the plywood where water had soaked in slightly. I bought some more waterproof paint and went over the external seals.

When I made the shed, I sealed the joints with exterior sealant which has cured hard, as it should. I then painted over the joints, hoping to complete the seal.

Quite why this one joint has failed, I am unsure, unless it was just the wind driven rain penetrating inside. I have covered the joint and the surrounding wood with paint, in two additional coats and hope that will be all that is required. There is some more rain forecast for Thursday, so I will wait and see what happens then before I start to move anything in.

I bought the extra latching hasps and staples from Volat, but trying to fit one, in the gap between the wall and the side of the shed was difficult. That was until I remembered in my computer tool box I had a flexible snake drive.

I bought this as a set of tools 30 years ago but have never needed it. So this week, for the first time, the snake drive came out and enabled me to easily fix the staple in place. Some tools you rally don’t use very often, but when you need them, they are the only thing that will do the job.

Ratchet snake drive
Ratchet snake drive

September equinox

Monday the 23rd September was the Autumnal equinox.

The word “equinox” comes from Latin ‘aequus’, meaning “equal”, and ‘nox’, meaning “night”. The day when the angle of the earth relative to our annual orbit round the sun means that the sun is vertically overhead the equator from sunrise to sunset. It is also the day when most countries have just about equal daylight and darkness.

National Geographic video describing the Equinox

I say “just about” because the equinox is not the equilux.

The “Equilux” is when the daylight and darkness is exactly equal and happens three to fours days after the September Equinox and three to four days before the Vernal Equinox.

This is because the moment the first part of the sun appears above the horizon to the moment the last part of the suns disc disappears below the horizon is classed as daylight, rather than when the centre of the sun crosses the horizon. The BBC have a good explanation.

The precise moment of the Equinox here in Dol was 09:50. But because Monday was cloudy, I didn’t see it, not that there is a great deal to see when it happens anyway.

What is noticeable is the acceleration in the change in day length. The September equinox in the northern hemisphere is generally thought to be the start of Autumn. Although this varies depending upon your latitude. Whilst in the southern hemisphere, it is the the change from winter into spring.

In Europe the clocks will not drop back an hour until the end of October, whereas in March, the clocks change around the same time as the equinox, so there is an immediately noticeable difference to the time of day when it gets light and grows dark.

Driving through the vineyards this morning, they are are taking on the autumnal hues. The grasses and sedges at the base of the vines are turning brown while the leaves of the vines are the colour of burnished gold in the strong sunlight.

Autumn vines
Autumn vines

In my orchards the vine leaves are also starting to change.

I have trained a dessert grape along the length of the arbour that I built and there is a noticeable change along the whole length.

Arbour vine2
Arbour vine

In my nursery some of the cuttings I potted on in the spring, especially the Chinese Witch Hazel are looking very autumnal.

Witch hazel2
Witch hazel

I’ll need to go round this evening with the watering can because despite the rain this week, it only takes a few days of warm sunshine and everything starts to dry up again.

This winter I will plant these Wych Hazel in their permanent positions now they are thriving and have aclymatised.

I have several Japanese Maple trees and these are starting to take on their gorgeous scarlet autumnal hues too.

Japanese Maple and Lantana
Japanese Maple and Lantana

There is always work to do, whatever the weather…

Twice in a week

I left home early on Monday and drove to Grad Hvar at the west end of the island.

Hvar main square2
Hvar main square2

As the island’s police station opened, I was ready and waiting to hand in my documents and application to change driving licences. I could tell immediately from the expression on the face of the lady behind the counter that this wasn’t a normal request.

Just the way she shuffled the papers around on her desk, wrote notes on pieces of scrap paper and spent ages populating the screen on her computer made me realise that this wasn’t a normally requested transaction.

Then she said that I would need to get a new photograph as the one I had supplied was too old. I had to have a coffee while I waited for the only shop that does passport photos in the town to open. There were long queues waiting to catch the ferry to Split.

Queuing for the Catamaran
Queuing for the Catamaran

With my new photos, I went back to the police station, paid my (equivalent) £18 fee and was told to come back in four weeks. After messing around for two hours, I was pleased to escape.

Driving licence fee2
Driving licence fee

It was only when I got home and examined my existing UK licence and the form the lady had given me, did I realise that not all the vehicle groups I had requested had been put onto my new licence application.

A bit more digging and I discovered that she had copied exactly what the doctor had put onto my medical form, so I immediately suspected that the problem was with the doctors form. I couldn’t get any answer to any phones – government offices shut here around one or two in the afternoon, so I went across to see my neighbour.

He tried to contact the police station in Hvar, but they have changed the number and have gone ex-directory! So there was no one to ask.

First thing on Tuesday I was back at the health centre in Jelsa and saw the doctor. He was extremely apologetic and said he had misread my licence and not put the correct groups on the medical form. I came away with a replacement medical form, all duly signed and stamped. It was then back to Grad Hvar.

Back at the police station, I showed the various form to the lady, who also immediately recognised the problem. However it took around 45 minutes and several phone calls to get passwords to make changes to the computer application, berfore I came away with another confirmation slip, but this time with all the right groups.

I will still have to go back in four weeks time…

That was the week that was

This has been a strange week. I’ve been busy with lots of odds and ends: jobs which had to be done and got out of the way; odd jobs, finished the shed and adding a couple of extra latches to keep the door tight shut against the frame; visits to neighbours for coffee and sticky cakes; discussions with my friend Cvjetko about a replacement car I am looking at.

But as usual, it is Saturday afternoon and as I commit these words to paper, add the links in the blog text and hunt for the right photographs to illustrate my prose, another week has come to an end.

I should be back, usual time, usual place next week, for more of my Life in a Dol house. NRC.