with 5 Comments

We’re on Cannabis

This week: We’re on Cannabis; Back to basics; IKEA hacks; Free wheeling; Throw away society; Madonna Lilies;

Flowers on an olive tree
Flowers on an olive tree

This week it was announced that the UK has in 2020, had the most hours of spring sunshine that have ever been recorded, over 550 in total.

At the same time, it has been the driest spring since the 1880’s. My weather station UV sensor has stopped working, so I can’t tell what the UV rate has been, but in any case there is a difference between the number of hours of sunshine and the amount of UV radiation recorded.

My perception is that we have had more cloudy days than previous years, but UV radiation still penetrates through cloud. What I can confirm is that it has been and is warmer and more humid than normal.

Cloud traps warmth underneath, so my perception may be correct. But as I walk through the olive groves which surround my Dol house, everywhere there are flowers.

Olive grove
Olive grove early morning walk

I realise that I am incredibly lucky to be able to take a daily perambulation, safe in the knowledge that I will see no other people, in such lovely surroundings.

Many people who are living under the COVID-19 lockdown have no green spaces to enjoy, no matter what the weather is outside.

This week the first of the big dragon flies have appeared. I have had a male Broad Bodied Chaser, Libellula depressa, zooming around. It would be nice to think they are going to breed in my water garden.

Broad bodied chaser
Broad bodied chaser


We’re on Cannabis

№1 cat Risha has been off colour again.

It was the same as last month, he suddenly stopped eating, retreated to the laundry basket and refused to come out.

Laundry basket
Laundry basket safe space

So on Monday morning we were at the vet’s clinic in Stari Grad.

A month ago when he had a full blood scan, there were some anomalies, but the principle one was his glucose level. The vet wondered if he was starting/suffering from with diabetes.

Cats can become diabetic too, and bearing in mind he is almost 14 years of age he is definitely classed as a senior cat, as well as being The Senior Cat!

In comparative terms he is 72 human years, so well into pensionable age and has definitely slowed down. (No senior’s bus pass though – because the village doesn’t have a bus service!)

Cat to human years
Cat to human years

After a repeat of the blood tests on Monday, everything was normal, but he has clearly been “off colour” for a couple of days so I asked the vet what he suggested.

He reached for a bottle on his shelf and asked if I knew about CBD.

It took a moment for me to connect CBD oil, which is a cannabis extract, with veterinary CBD, which is also a cannabis extract, in fact the same cannabis extract.

After a discussion, I came home with a bottle containing a 100 days supply.

Feline CBD
Feline CBD

On my way back from the vets, I called at the supermarket for some fresh chicken.

Since being a tiny kitten, the ONLY time he has every jumped on a kitchen work top, is when there has been some fresh cooked chicken there on a plate.

So we had fresh cooked chicken for lunch, with some added vitamins, minerals and cannabis oil for Risha.

I did say to the vet that if it was so good, may be I should have some as well !

After six days on the medication, his appetite is back and he seems back to his normal, happy self, although he still retreats to the clothes basket for his nap.


Back to basics

How the people of the last century moved the stones they used for buildings here, goodness knows. Without winches, chains and mechanical tools it can only have been by pure muscle power and the help of an odd donkey.

Wherever possible I have dismantled and saved stones from my old buildings. Some have been reused as they were, for example the ones which surrounded the stable entrance are now the entrance to my new workshop.

The old donkey stable
The old donkey stable

Others have been used in my dry stone walls, but a sizeable number are more or less when I left them when I pulled them from the buildings.

In some cases, I literally have pulled them out of an old wall, using a block, tackle and winch. Others I could lever out and onto a sack barrow, to move away from the work areas. The largest and heaviest remain more or less where I left them.

Many stones are semi-dressed, by which I mean they have had one or more faces cut so they are flat.

Others are just boulders but both can be moved, not without some difficulty, using the Egyptian method of wooden rollers. For the lighter stones I use a sack barrow.

But what I need to do, is to get ready for the block pavement in the courtyard and along the side of the new building.

This area was the fold yard, so the soil is good – once I can remove the builders rubble to get to it. I have a hollow area and my plans for the fold yard call for it to be levelled. There is just one small problem…

Piles of stones
Piles of stones

This is where I moved some stones to when I was preparing for the building.

Once again I am back to the nine hole square, moving the full squares around to create an empty space.

9 hole square
9 hole square

This week I started by lifting out the stones I can physically pick up and carry. I haven’t weighed them, but I suspect they are up to 35 kilograms.

I have had to pile them up, simply so I have space to work. Larger stones I transported on the sack barrow, which has a capacity of 250 kilograms.

Then there are the largest, small boulders of 300 or more kilogrammes.

By the end of another week, I have moved quite a number of stones, but as I needed to do other jobs, there are still quite a few to shift, mostly the very heavy ones.

But there is always next week…


IKEA hacks

For the advisers working in Abu Dhabi, IKEA was a godsend. Firstly we knew the company, because they are all over Europe and North America.

Secondly the store, originally at Marina Mall and then later next to the Formula 1 track on Yas Island, looked the same and had the same catalogues as the rest of the world AND everyone spoke English.

IKEA Yas Island

The result was that we all bought lots of things from IKEA with our furniture allowance. I still have lots of IKEA bits at home.

They are sturdy and stand the test of time, not to mention being packed into a container and shipped a few thousand sea miles via Malta before being delivered to my door.

Many of the ADP advisers sold their possessions when they left and I was lucky enough to pick up an IKEA Fredrik desk from Jim and Brenda.

When it arrived here, I turned it into a Router Table, so I had somewhere for my big routing machine and it has been in my workshop ever since.

Routing timber creates a lot of sawdust and shavings, so I have tended to do everything I can outside in the courtyard. But the old workshop was down three steps, which made moving large machines difficult.

The new workshop is on the flat and will be level with the courtyard paying stones when they are eventually laid. So I decided that now was the time to make a small change to the “router table”

There are several websites which are solely devoted to hacking IKEA furniture, but my idea seems not to have been tried before.

I saw that the adjustable feet on the desk were standard M8 thread bolts with a black plastic foot on the bottom, so I ordered four M8 rolling casters from Volat. They phoned on Tuesday to say they had arrived, so I popped into town to collect them.

It didn’t take long to fit the new casters, with some added lock nuts.

IKEA desk with added casters
IKEA desk with added casters

It actually took me longer to dismantle the table and bring it out of the old workshop than it did to make the change.

I now have an easily movable, wheeled router table that has been added to the new workshop area.


Free wheeling

In clearing out the small workshop, which is down three steps, what I realised is the mess that wood working makes, even when the sawdust is regularly cleared and burnt on the wood stove.

Dust pretty much covered everything, and under the woodworking machines, in corners and crevices, there were piles of sawdust and wood shavings.

Wherever possible I have done work outside, especially when using the planer/thicknesser, which can create a huge volume of sawdust in a very short space of time. Other tools like the bed saw also create a lot of waste.

Woodwork in the courtyard
Woodwork in the courtyard

I don’t want the new workshop to get into the same state, so I’ll continue to work in the courtyard where possible.

But that means having machines which are easily movable. All of them!

My largest machine is a circular saw bench and jointer. The maker’s label says it weights 170 kilograms, so it has not been something that has been easily moved.

It needs to come out of the small workshop, but that will be a job for when Cvjetko is next here and can help.

I bought some heavy duty casters some time ago, with the intention of putting wheels on it, but to make it more stable (the base is quite narrow and intended to be bolted to the floor) I needed to add timber baulks.

After cutting a 12 x 10 cm beam into two 1 metre lengths, I added the casters. Then I hit a snag. With one side fitted, I couldn’t lift the machine high enough to get the second baulk into place.

Fitting casters
Fitting casters

So with a bit of ingenuity, I used a 1½ tonne hydraulic jack to lift the machine sufficiently to slot the second baulk into place and bolt it down. Once again, it takes quite a lot of different tools, drill bits and spanners to fit the casters and then secure the baulks.

But now I have the advantage of having all the tools in one easy to access space.

With the job done, I could wheel the machine out of the way, while I finished the clearing operation.

Ready to roll
Casters fitted and ready to roll


Throw away society

I don’t like throwing things away.

Let me repeat that, I hate throwing things away, but the result of my cautious habit is that I have an awful lot of stuff (read junk) which takes up space.

In the workshop there are several boxes marked “fixings”. They hold all kinds of items of hardware, from things like angle iron brackets to screws and wall plugs.

You know the score, you buy something which comes with four screws and four wall plugs, so you can fit it to the wall, without having to buy anything extra.

However they are the wrong length screw and plug, or the wrong type for the walls that you have, so you use the correct screws and plugs, but the little plastic bag is put to one side. This is just in case you need them later for something else of course.

I have lots of these and similar items. A pack of six left-hand thread widgets, that I used four of and so there are two left over etc.

Buying food for №1 cat Risha has always been fun. He has certain tastes. He likes Felix, and also likes Felix and Felix!

With no wholesale warehouse here, of the likes of Costco, Makro, Booker or similar, I shop at the Tommy supermarket.

When I can, I buy 12 packs of Felix pouches which come in a substantial cardboard box.

These have always seemed a waste just to put in the paper recycling bin, so I have ended up with a pile of them, neatly stacked in the corner. What I realised is that I can re-purpose these cardboard boxes into a pidgin hole storage system in the new workshop, for all of the “fixings”.

With my old office Stanley Bostitch staple machine and a box of Velos copper staples (so they won’t rust) I could make a series of pidgin holes by simply stapling the Felix boxes together.

I cut three of the flaps off, leaving one to write on what is inside, then got to work.

Building pidgin holes
Building pidgin holes

It helps that multiples of the boxes fit exactly above the screw, nut, bolt and washer drawers in the new workshop.

Adding storage capacity
Adding storage capacity

It beats just throwing things away, I now have more storage and feel I’ve done my bit for the planet. They are also free….

Now if I really wanted to go over the top, I could paint the outside of the pidgin holes too, but that is perhaps a little OTT…


Madonna Lilies

I inherited a large number of Madonna lilies, Lilium candidum, when I bought my Dol house.

They were liberally spread all over the place, so over time I have been lifting them each autumn and replanting in a couple of stands.

One is by the path which leads up to the old donkey track, the other is in the citrus orchard, between an orange and a grapefruit tree. They are all in flower this week.

Madonna lilies in flower
Madonna lilies in flower

The stand by the path comes into flower slightly earlier than the orchard stand. I suspect because in the orchard they are close to a Šipac which shades them from the early morning sun in winter and spring.

Madonna lilies only flower for a couple of weeks before running to seed, but while they are in flower, they are really nice, especially in groups and clumps.

Madonna lily flower
Madonna lily flower

Although they will die back in the summer heat, new leaves and crowns appear with the first autumn rains so over winter they provide a dense, green carpet.

I mentioned two weeks ago that my Honesty had been attacked by Great White butterfly caterpillars.

Skeletonised Honesty
Skeletonised Honesty

Rather than pull the plant skeletons out, I left them alone. This week new leaves have started to develop and also a lot of new flowers.

New Honesty flowers
New Honesty flowers

This was somewhat of a surprise to me, as I didn’t expect them to regenerate from such a severe attack and especially not so quickly

They still look ragged after the caterpillar ravage, but I’m going to keep them and see how much new leaf they put out. NRC


5 Responses

  1. Brian Homans
    | Reply

    Another great read Norman. Our garden here is desperate for water but under lockdown we have time to wander round with the hosepipe in the evening.

  2. Jonathan Mcauley
    | Reply

    Good to see you are still keeping busy Norman! Enjoyed your blog as always. Keep safe!

  3. Michael
    | Reply

    Desperate for rain here in Yorkshire after a mere 6mm in March, none in April and 7mm in May against monthly averages of around 55mm. Yorkshire Water have just issued an edict telling us not to water our lawns. But the sunshine has been fantastic: we’ve been eating outside almost continuously since the third week of March – shades of 2003.

    And now we know that your cat’s a junkie!

  4. Hajo
    | Reply

    You are perfect!!!!

  5. Lynn Woolsey
    | Reply

    So glad to know Risha is improving! Thinking of you and the lovely daily strolls. You are blessed, Norman!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.