Life in a Dol house
2017 - Week 47

An adventure playground for cats

Sunday - Rain; Monday - Rain; Tuesday - Rain; Wednesday - Rain

yes we have had another wet week, but we need the rainfall to replenish the depleted ground water. Such as it is on a porous limestone island like Hvar! 

The two Caspian turtles (if that is what they are) which have made a home on the Stari Grad Plain, at the Dračevica - the only permanent fresh water pond on the island - will be pleased because their little lake will be filling up.

​Being too wet for outside building work, on Monday I installed the pattress boxes in the loft. 

There was a lot of cutting of the red clay blocks to do, but because of their honeycomb construction, it was not difficult to get neat, straight channels for the cable conduits and neat, square holes for the actual boxes.

On Wednesday, all the boxes were taken out again, as a specialist company came and fitted the plasterboard to the walls and ceilings. 

They have used a system of aluminium racking and neat strap fixings, together with a laser level to get everything square and even. It seems very simple to set up and the system makes the installation very easy.

By the end of the day the ceiling was complete and they had started on the walls.

The rain has allowed me to get on with some inside tasks and I have had the little gas space heater lit for the first time this winter. 

One of the several strange things about this old house is the door furniture. 

Door (and window) hinges are let into the wooden frame and then have a couple of nails driven into the wood and through the metalwork, as you can see in the photograph below, to hold the hinge pin in place.

​That's OK, except when you need to remove the hinge pin. The only way is to remove the complete frame and cut it apart. Hardly ideal.

​Door locks have been fitted, but of course the keys are long gone, so over time I am replacing the door furniture on the inside doors. 

The study door has the new lock fitted, but there was no striker plate on the door frame and the hole where the plate should have been had been filled in. 

The new striker plate which came with the lock wasn't the right type, so I have had to fabricate a new plate from a piece of steel.

On Monday I finished the fabrication and drilled the screw holes. It then had a couple of coats of rust proofer, followed by a coat of white undercoat. 

Then during an especially wet Tuesday, I fitted it in place. I had to do a bit of adjustment, but the door now closes and latches properly. It is a bit "Heath Robinson", but not being able to change the position of the lock in the door, or the way the door is hung, without removing the frame and starting again, it is as good as it can be.

Just another of those little adjustments that have to be made to get something working when there is nothing in the shops to help.

By Thursday the weather was getting better and on Friday we saw the sun for the first time in a week. 

Rapid progress was made, the roof has been finished completely after the half tiles for the dormer windows arrived. The focus has now turned to the outside walls. 

The first job was to build a set of formwork to concrete the holes in the north east corner of the cottage.

This was where there had been a tall stone pillar.

​I have never been able to ascertain what the pillar was for. It was substantial, around 60 x 60 CM square and made of large pieces of dressed stone.​

The corner of the cottage seems to have been built around it, so it may have predated the old building. 

It wasn't connected to the cottage and rainwater was seeping down the back, between the pillar and the cottage wall, making the inside corner somewhat damp.

​Once I removed the pillar, it exposed a damp void in the cottage wall, but the heat of the summer has dried it nicely. 

Today it was time to fill in the hole, before the cottage walls are rendered next week. A lot of work went into nailing and securing the wooden formers. 

It is surprising just how much hydraulic pressure is exerted by heavy, wet concrete.

​As well as the formwork, scaffolding was erected to allow access to the top of the walls so that wall insulation can be fixed. All in all, it has made a wonderful "adventure playground for cats".

​A large quantity of supplies has also arrived.

Sheets of insulation, special adhesive to attach it to the sides of the building, huge sacks of compound, sacks of render to coat the walls, lengths of drain piper and lots of miscellaneous fittings.

And it all has to be stored somewhere.​ But with clear skies for the next two weeks, at least rain is not a problem.

While all the building activity has been going on outside, I have been busy inside the loft. 

Building work creates mess. Lots and lots of mess! 

Just the dust from the plaster on its own has coated the floor in a layer of fine, white powder, which then gets spread by boots into the house.

​Sunlight now pours into the room through the garden doorway at the end. 

It really has made quite a large room.

I have also spent a couple of days cleaning the aluminium dormer window frames.

They were a pair that the builder had which were left over from another project. Double glazed and perfectly serviceable, they have needed a bit of cleaning from where they have been stored at his yard. 

Each time I do something, it is another tick off my list of tasks.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny too... 

The builders were here before 8am and stayed until 5pm, by which time it is now dark.

​Large quantities of the special adhesive were mixed and slabs of insulation were covered with the adhesive, neatly spread and then the slab was fixed to the wall.

I did suggest that the team's professionalism with the trowels and mix would mean that they could most definitely moonlight as cake decorators!

As the day wore on, more and more cladding was added to the four sides of the building.

​Then in the afternoon, the down pipes for the guttering were fitted to the walls. 

This has been very neatly done, with all the pipes embedded into the insulation, so that once the final coat of render has been applied, they will be completely invisible.

By the end of the week, there is a small hole where we ran out of insulation, and another length of fall pipe will be required on Monday as well. 

Apart from those small jobs, the walls will start to be covered with render on Monday.

And with that, I have realised that apart from occasional forays into the gardens and orchards to check after the rain, I have done nothing this week except inside work and building work.

The sun is lower and lower in the sky, and with just 4 weeks to the Winter solstice, this is the time of year when by 13:30, the sun has dropped behind the hill to the south. 

We will continue to loose a minute or two of sunlight every day now until then​, so it is the time when in the mornings you can work in a T-shirt and in the afternoon, I have my NATO wooly-pully on, as the Katabatic wind starts at mid day, every day, creating a chill around my Dol house!