Life in a Dol house
2015 - Week 52

Introducing CSI Hvar

Christmas is over for another year. I have No 1 cat, Risha, sitting on my knee and demanding that I have at least one hand (and preferably two) stroking him. That does make it a little difficult to write anything! But the big difference is that I am sitting in front of a roaring log fire in the wood stove.

Ivan the plumber and Darko the heating engineer have worked long and hard this week to get the central heating working in time for Christmas and they succeeded! The week has not been without it's difficulties. The main component, the header tank for the system, to go into the loft, did not arrive until the afternoon ferry on the 23rd.

Cvjetko opened the hole that he had left in the wall above the fire and then connected up the pieces of flue to the wood stove.

The local plumbers merchant (the only one on the island) had run out of copper piping, so Ivan had to contact colleagues to get any spare bits they had to complete the pipework, and the same plumbers merchants did not have any thermostats to replace the one they had supplied which was broken.

That isn't that they didn't have any of the same model. No. There were no thermostats - just an ever so slightly important part of any heating or cooling system - of any shape, size or kind. So with a chocolate block and some wire, I bypassed the thermostat circuit and got the pump working in a manual mode. Not really ideal, but I have had heating since Christmas eve, and very nice it is too.

Every so often, smoke can be seen coming from the chimney.

And yes, the chimney is not quite vertical, but it is deliberate, so that any moisture collects in the bottom of a bend and does not move into the fire itself. It has been a rush to get everything working and I am going to have to spend time learning about the idiosyncrasies of the system. This is not like the wood stove I used to have when I lived in the UK and the controls will take a little bit of setting up. I do need to have the thermostat working too. But it is very nice to have a living fire again.

Cvjetko has been this week with his team, to put the Silica coating on the dining room walls.

With their protective suits, they could double as a CSI team, although the hand tools would probably only be used in the most coarse investigations. However the weather conditions this week have caused some problems for them in one area of the wall, where the coating has resolutely refused to dry, and in fact has slipped rather like soggy icing, and will have to be redone once the weather changes.

But overall, the effect is magical. The problem has been that it has been mild with very high humidity this week and drenching overnight dews, and just to compound things, there has been little or no wind. So things which are needed to help wall coating like this dry have not been present. But, it will be fixed as soon as the weather allows.

They finished the bit of concrete by the cottage wall, which has allowed me to shoe-horn the car into the courtyard. It is a VERY tight squeeze to get through the outer opening - which was after all just wide enough for a donkey and cart - but with a mirror retracted just to be sure, I can at last get it in.

A job for the new year is to build some nice wooden gates. Some of the wood I need was delivered during the week, Other bits are on order from the mainland. But first, I need to finish the bathroom!

In the picture are a couple of my neighbours cats. The neighbours have gone to Germany, so their felines have been coming for breakfast. And lunch, (and tea and supper!).

They do take turns, well sometimes they do.

I put the Christmas decoration up, with a slight difference. There are not as many light displays here as there are in the UK, USA or even Abu Dhabi, so in this part of the village I created my own lit Christmas trees, in the greenhouse. This is the smaller of the two.

I can't get both trees in the same picture. Sorry....

On the culinary front, I have made a batch of traditional Mince Pies, to be shared with friends and neighbours. ​ 

I experimented this year with a recipe from my BBC Good Food Magazine.

On Christmas morning, I was in Stari Grad. I had been invited to a traditional Hvar lunch with Cvjetko and his family, but first I listened to the 38 members of the town band in the main square in Stari Grad, perform a lovely selection of carols and Christmas songs. The brass, woodwind and percussion played in perfect tune, standing in front of the Christmas tree in brilliant winter sunshine, with a small but appreciative audience around them.

The Riva was a little windy as a westerly breeze was making small waves on the normally glass smooth harbour, but it was a very nice walk.

​ All that remains is to wish you a very Merry Christmas, where ever you may be in the world.