Life in a Dol house
2015 Week 41

Soup only comes in Packets!

Thank you everyone who replied to my question last week about the weekly newsletter being available as an on-line Shorthand edition. The response has been positive and enthusiastic so I will keep producing both versions.  If you have a Twitter account, you can follow Life in a Dol house, and receive a tweet as soon as the latest edition is published. Just click on the Twitter link.

I have spent the week almost exclusively on the tiling of the floor in the dining room, but at 17:45 on Friday, I cemented the last of the wall skirting tiles in place. I have used 9 sacks of tile cement, at 25 kg each, a whopping 225 kg. It's a good job we put double steel reinforcing into the concrete floor! But at least the floor is level, to within 1 degree anyway.

Having cut the stone hearth for the wood stove last week, on Sunday I dusted off my geometry skills and measured the corner, working out the angles for the hearth stone.

I finished up with two tangents, one which is the perfect geometric centre of the corner, given that the angle of the corner is only about 75 degrees, and the second a more pleasing to the eye line, which follows the diagonals of the tiles on the dining room floor.

Having decided that following the natural line of the tiles I have laid will trick viewers into thinking the hearth is square, because they will not see the corner when the wood stove has been installed, I will actually install the hearth on this natural line. But to make sure it looked OK, I did a dry run with the hearth stone.

Having made sure it looked OK, I then marked the corners that needed cutting to set the hearth back a little bit and make it flush with the walls. First job on Monday morning, I cut the stone with a diamond tipped steel blade in a Black and Decker saw. It took some time to cut the two corners because the stone was so hard. It might be a type of shale, but it is certainly going to stand the test of time.

I did a check to make sure it was square to the line I had chosen, which it was.

So the next task was to mix cement and create a pad on the floor where the stone will sit, then I wet the underside of the stone.

It took just a tiny bit of adjustment to get the hearth in place and to ensure it was completely level.

I then laid the last of the tiles in this corner and began the task of cutting all the odd shaped pieces that I need to go round the edges of the room. One piece of tile, which had to fit around stones needed 6 separate cuts. These had to be accurately measured and marked on the tile in pencil.

I started to put tile grout down in one corner on Wednesday, so I had one area which was finished and where I could build the IKEA 'Billy' bookcases which came in the container from Abu Dhabi. It's my OHIO principle again. The large and heavy boxes which were in the dining room needed to be moved so I could tile up to the wall, so I decided to build them and put them in place. 

The result was worth the effort. I gathered up various books that I have been using over the last year, from their various boxes and put them back into the bookcases. Callie did not take long to explore them, sniffing each shelf in turn, on her way to the top of the book cases. 

I wonder whether the scents they contained reminded her of her time in our villa in Khalifa City? They have been packed for almost a year and a half, but she was certainly sniffing every corner.

On Saturday I grouted more of the tiles, but it is time consuming. Grouting around the skirting tiles is fiddly, messy and takes ages. Mixing 1 kilo of Ceresit  aquastatic grout is as much as I can mix in one go, because by the time I have completed 3 metres of skirting, the grout is starting to harden and I have to quickly fill in around two metres of floor. With 17 metres of skirting to do, it is going to take a little while longer before all the tiles are grouted.

I also put together another two small bookcases, but with the tiling now finished, the room is really starting to take shape.

The weather has turned considerably more Autumnal this week. Whilst the day-time temperatures have been in the low 20's, it has rained. I have recorded some 84mm of rain, brought in on a very strong jet stream, direct from the North Atlantic.

The rain and the temperatures have meant that the Tiger Mosquitoes are still here and biting well. Whilst we have had nothing like the amount of rainfall that Nice and other places on the northern Mediterranean coast, which were on the path of the weather systems, have had, it has still been an appreciable and very welcome amount.

There are some things which just do not exist on the shelves here and I am not just thinking about in the builders merchants. I was looking for a tin of cream of chicken soup  in my local supermarket. Actually I looked in all four supermarket chains on the island, Studenac, Konzum, Tommy and Ribola. I wasn't worried about the brand, Heinz, Campbell's, Maggi or any other, but there are no tins of soup, nema, nada, لا شيء, not one. 

No tomato, no cock-a-leekie, no broccoli and cheese or beef and bean and no cream of chicken. Simply soup here does not come in tins, soup only comes in packets.

So I did what all cooks do and improvised. A packet of cream of mushroom soup, with some added cream went into the slow cooker, along with the chicken breasts, cream cheese, some herbs and seasoning

In the garden things look decidedly autumnal. I have lots of šipak ready, and this week I need to make time to juice some.

One slight disappointment has been that my new wood stove was delivered on Tuesday. Only when I opened it, it was the wrong one. The company has accepted full responsibility for the error and are sending the correct stove, and will have the other returned. At least the floor will be dry and grouted for when it arrives. 

It's time to sign off after another week. It's raining cats and dogs outside at the moment and there is a gale howling in from the east. So I will leave you with the Windyty picture as I go.