Life in a Dol house
2017 - Week 38

🚨 A "Blue Light" response 🚨

This is our birthday week! 

It is just two years ago that I wrote the first of the blogs using Shorthand, as well as a straight email. There are now 105 of the enhanced immersive editions available online.

All the previous editions of the blog still exist as emails, but as yet I have not found an easy way to migrate them all over to Shorthand.... perhaps a project for a long winter night sometime. 

It really depends on whether anyone would be interested in reading about ancient history?!

I believe in an easy life. 

Or at least, the easiest life I can arrange. So on Sunday, when I took the mosquito net down in the study, so I could undercoat the reveal between the new double glazed windows and the shutters, I also took the opportunity to bring in a four meter length of hardwood flooring.

It is a lot easier to manoeuvre it through an open window than between doors and around furniture.

Because the room is a Lebesgue Space, which to cut a long mathematical definition into bite size pieces, is a space with angled corners that are close to but not at 90º, and with shallow convex curves that join the corners together, it means that all the normal work you do in estimating goes out of the window.

Think of looking down on an open cardboard box that has bulging sides and ends, and you get the idea of a Lebesgue space. If you want to know who Henri Lebesgue was, he has his own Wikipedia page.

To estimate the quantity of wood I need, I multiplied the widest measurements and added 10%. With a room that is over four meters long, if I laid four meter lengths of wood longitudinally, the gap at either end would have to be filled by small pieces, and all the lengths would have to have additional tongue and groove joints cut into the the short sides. 

That would take considerable time and effort which I feel would be disproportionate the the end result.

The solution is to lay the four meter lengths across the room, at an angle of approximately 55º. 

There will be some wastage as you cut a triangle off each end, but this method also allows you to factor in and individually cut each piece to match the convex curve of the walls. 

The optical effect will make the room seem bigger; its different; and less time consuming than cutting a lot of tongue and groove joints.

There are then two schools of thought about how to go about laying a floor. Either start in the middle and work outwards, or start in a corner and work across. 

I didn't have strong feelings either way, so brought in the single piece, to cut and then to see which was going to be the easiest for me. See, back to my easy life again...

When laying any kind of floor covering, there will be wastage. The key is to minimise the wastage, so with the board laid across the widest part of the room, and cut to fit, I then had to use the laser and a long square to make some chalk lines at 90º to the board and into the master corner - the one that is sort of 90º.

With fine, dry and sunny weather from Wednesday, I set up my saw horses across the courtyard and then brought out lengths of hardwood flooring, until I had no more room to work - 15 lengths in total. Each was checked for damage and then painted with yacht varnish.

By the later afternoon, the varnish appeared dry, so I started to sand the first piece, ready to give it a second coat.

I have decided it will be easier to seal and varnish the flooring outside, than cut pieces to size before sealing the cuts and fitting, rather than trying to seal and sand the floor once it is in place. 

However, the sand paper started to clog up because although the surface of the varnish was dry to the touch on the outside, it had not fully cured, so all the boards were left outside overnight ready for their second coat on Thursday.

The next morning I had all the boards sanded and re-coated with varnish by lunch time. 

After lunch, it was time to complete the jigsaw of the 100 x 50 cm expanded foam floor insulation panels between the beams, but not before all the lighting cables for the room underneath were installed.

Friday morning was a 'write off' of meetings to try and solve some of the issues around getting the building permit I need for my extension (another failed attempt), so it was late on Friday when I cut the first corner piece of floor board and fitted it. 

It's close, but not quite right. I am acutely aware that I need to get the first few pieces in perfectly, for the rest to go well, so after a bit of trial and error, I gave up for the evening.

I have inherited a lot of tools from my Grandfather and put a pair of his engineers dividers to good use to get the obtuse corner angle perfect.

Starting again fresh on Saturday, I had the master corner piece fitted after about an hour's work.

I am aiming for less than 1.0 mm ​gap between the wood floor and the walls, because I do not want to put a wooden moulding around. 

It takes time, careful measuring and accurate cutting, but is achievable.

The day went well - until it started to rain at 16:30 - and by tea time, when I needed to get this blog ready to go out, I had finished 9 strips, all blind nailed for neatness. 

I will start again next week.

We have had some much needed rain in the early part of the week, with some 76 mm recorded between Saturday and Wednesday. 

These first autumn rains - and the first rainfall since 8th May - mean I have not had to use the irrigation system all week so have gained an hour of extra work time every day. 

There were several thunder storms, but they were all minor, short duration storms, or just the edge of a storm which passed Dol by.

On Tuesday evening, I kept losing the satellite internet connection, which I put down to heavy rain, because the modem and routers are behind a stabilised UPS unit. Then shortly after midnight I could hear the "popping" sound made by electrical circuits shorting out.

I went outside to investigate and could see that the problem was on my incoming mains power line. 

This is on a steel mast, high up on the end of the building. There were sparks coming from the wiring accompanied by the "popping" sound. In fact, rather a nice firework display.

The electrical circuits in the house were dimming and then brightening, and we were also on the edge of another electrical storm, with rain, thunder and lightning, so I went round and turned off all unnecessary power. 

It didn't stop the wires shorting and arcing but minimised the possibility of damage to sensitive electronic equipment.

Both rural and urban power cables are routed overhead, from house to house with a system of steel masts. Fly leads then connect individual properties to the mains cables. The arcing was coming from my fly leads.

There is no "Earth" connection, just a brown and a blue 2.6 mm solid copper core cable, in very thick insulation to the meter.​

As soon as the local electrical company opened on Wednesday morning, I called them to tell them about the problem. Literally 12 minutes later I got a call from the engineer to say he was now in the village and asking for directions. 

By the time I had walked to my gate, they were outside.

It took less than 10 minutes to isolate the wiring at the top of the mast, cut out the two damaged sections

and make new connections.

I didn't say it was an emergency, but I certainly received a "blue light" response. 

I had been concerned all night because of the old wooden roof which the sparks were falling on. But as this is my first request for help from Electro Dalmatia, I have to say I am impressed.

The rain has completely changed how the countryside, orchards and gardens look. 

In the Mediterranean, the native flora has developed coping mechanism over the aeons, to protect itself. Small plants tend to shut down in the late spring and go dormant, then when the autumn rains start, they burst back into growth. 

The same applies of course to weeds! Trees tend to be evergreen, with small grey leaves, which can survive the sun and heat.

One look at the small bed, close to my kitchen window shows the first bulb leaves appearing, and an awful lot of weedlings.  A week ago, this was just bare, brown earth.

​​A job on next week's list will be to do some ho, ho, hoeing in the orchards, to cut the weeds off before they can establish.

It's tea time and everyone is hungry! And it is with that thought that I will leave you for this week.