Life in a Dol house
2018 - Week 07

Some cold and frosty mornings

I've been across to Split this week. 

I was last there in early December, but this trip was about getting some supplies I need, to last me for the next four to five months.

As time passes, I need to go less frequently because I have a huge range of supplies "in stock", and I am better as estimating what I will need and what I can get locally.

After laying a couple of Euro pallets on the floor of my workshop, I spent a couple of days moving boxes out of my big store.

I mentioned last week that I was going to attempt to clear the big store so conversion work could be done, pending getting my building approval. 

Well, I've decided that it's not going to happen!

First problem was making a plan of what might I want to access and how soon, to determine the order of the boxes. 

Second problem was a space problem, fitting a quart into a pint pot. I should have remembered from primary school maths, that five into three won't go!

At this point in the story, please bear in mind the following:

1. Before I bought my Dol house, I knew there would be significant work required to renovate it and bring it up to standard. Things like wiring - a complete replacement and renewal with 21st century materials, but then I like a challenge...​

So for example, I brought with me large quantities of electrical materials to do the work, because I had seen what was available (or not) locally.​

And then there was the plumbing.​

2. I had a plan for the building alterations that I would need to do, a new kitchen roof, a new dining room roof, then joining the different buildings together, and creating a nice lounge. 

Neither of these last two have happened, so my zero to three year plan for constructions, as I approach the start of my fourth year here, is still firmly stuck at year 1.5.

3. My plan was for a logical and successive approach to the building. Instead, we started well in the beginning, ground to a halt in the bureaucracy, and having done almost no substantive work for a year and a half, last spring I started at the end of my plan and began to work backwards.

My plan was drawn up on the plane back to Abu Dhabi, after one of the site visits, but before I had actually purchased the property.​

Yes, I know, "The Motto of the wise is, be prepared for surprises"

I was prepared, but couldn't do anything and in fact there have been no nasty surprises. 

I have a very large store room, wherein lies my worldly goods, but I need rooms to put things in, and with two new rooms yet to be constructed and a loft still to be converted, my available space is limited.

4. Here you need to buy ahead, because I can guarantee that if you want anything from the specific flavour of cat food, that No. 1 cat Risha likes, through Wholemeal digestive biscuits, to specialist buildings materials, when you go to the appropriate retail premises on the island and ask for them, you will be met with a shake of the head and "Ne!".

So that means that an infrequent, time consuming and costly trip to the mainland results in returning with very large quantities of things you may/will need in the not-too-distant future, which have to go into the store, somewhere.​

So when I was moving the boxes around, I was also moving doors, door frames, double glazed window units, baulks of timber, sheets of plywood, packs of insulation, waterproof floor tile cement and a myriad of other other items, all of which need to be kept dry and under cover and none of which could be moved anywhere else. 

The solution is to get the building work under way and to go back to my original plan, which foresaw this, and took account of the issue.

Even sorting boxes into groups, by when I am likely to need a particular item did not work. I might as well have fallen back on the old Parade Ground command, "tallest on the right, shortest on the left, in single rank, SIZE..."

Things would be arranged neatly, but but there is still the problem of available space.

The ferry was almost deserted on the trip to Split. 

It is not our usual ferry and has much more comfortable seating.​

On the way back, less than half of the vehicle deck was in use.​

I have added to the supplies in the store after my trip this week, with high quality 36mm diameter water pipe insulation (50 meters), 2.6 metre lengths of MDF, two drums of 2.5mm three core mains electric cable and a large coil of plastic conduit, to mention just a few of the items I brought back.

Then there were the trees.

February is when there is the annual tree festival in the undercroft at the Diocletian Palace.​Being a once a year event, I had a list of things I wanted. 

There were the citrus trees to replace the ones killed in last year's extreme cold event and I was also looking for some Hamamalis for winter flowers - they didn't have any but I came back with a Beautyberry, Callicarpa bodirieri instead. 

I also made an impulse purchase of a lovely deep red Callistemon.​

Plus all the usual nuts, bolts, screws and washer, door furniture for the new doors, fort the building which hasn't yet been started etc., etc. 

All in all a productive trip, but it has increased the amount of items in my store, rather than decreased them...

The rest of the week has been spent in fixing things that needed fixing, now I had the right supplies, except.... 

Having had a leak under the sink from the cold water feed pipe to the dishwasher, when I replaced the washer, that had cracked, the connector still leaked!​

So I went down to the white goods store and bought a complete new pipe and installed it instead. 

It was ten times the price of the washer, but still not expensive. 

Now If I had done that a week ago, I could have put all the clutter back under the sink, where out of sight is out of mind. 

Does anyone really know what they have in their cupboard under the sink?​

We had a Bura from Wednesday evening, which has made it cold, but has cleared the sky. 

Working in the warm sunshine is lovely. Working in the shade in a cold northerly wind, less so! 

But I still managed to install a new rain water drain to connect the patio roof to the cottage roof rain water evacuation system.​

My aim is to reduce the rain water going into the courtyard and to recover as much as possible for my orchards, trees and plants. 

A water but is not an option because of the summer mosquito problem.

With gin clear skies overnight, we have had some radiation frosts and one night the air temperature at 1.4 meters was -0.4ºC, only the second time this winter that the temperature had dipped below zero.

Having weeded more of the citrus orchard, especially around where I am going to replace some of the citrus trees killed last year, the frost will have done some good in breaking up the clay soil.​

On Saturday the window fitters arrived to install the guest room window and the garden door into the loft. 

Two very nice guys from Dubrovnik worked hard, and quickly to remove the old window and fit the new one.

One change I made was in the design spec. 

When I had the windows made for the study, I specified the same style as the originals - a double casement, but in powder coated aluminium instead of wood.​

However when they were fitted, I was very disappointed because the centre styles were so thick, due to the window construction, that they reduced the light coming in by around 30%, as the window reveals are quite small.​

So for the guest room window I requested a different style, with a single pane and both opening and tilt mechanism.​

This means that the room is now fully insulated. I will try and see if the double glazing makes any different to the room temperature. 

I now need to finish the decorating round the window, but with a rainy week ahead, I was looking for some inside jobs to do - not that I am short of work, I should say.

The wooden doors that I made for the garden entrance to the cottage loft have kept the weather out over the winter. But I also wanted to use modern materials and double glazing to insulate the room and let more light in.​

When I built the frame, I took into consideration that I would soon have to remove it, and after removing the doors, undoing three screws, and cutting the foam insulation round the frame, it took just a couple of knocks with a mallet for the frame to come cleanly out in one piece.

​It did not take long for the new door and lower window into the utility room, to be installed.

​And that is it for another week. 

Lots of jobs completed and a plan prepared for the next couple of months.

I was looking today at the area where the building work will take place, and have decided to build the workshop doors and frame ready. 

Although it is extremely disappointing that exactly a year on from when the building work started and was then abruptly stopped by the municipality, I actually have a number of things that I need to finish and so the delay can be put to good use.