Life in a Dol house
2017 - Week 26

Slowing down for the Summer

I am up early most mornings now, mainly because sunrise is at 05:15, but day break is an hour earlier and by 04:45 it is fully daylight. 

The morning is the best time to work outside. The air is cool and sweet with the scent of Lavender, there are few biting insects - they only wake up when the warmth of the day arrives around 9am. 

It is also very pleasant just being in the quiet, with only the twitter of the swallows as they swoop and dive, collecting insects for their young and the call of the Golden Oriol, Oriolus oriolus.

This year's brood of Oriol chicks have fledged this week and the parents have been trying to coral their young who have suddenly found the freedom of the skies. 

Always heard, but seldom seen, my neighbour Steve managed to get this nice photographs of one of the fledgelings. Even with their bright yellow plumage, they are very difficult to spot and I really don't spend any thing like enough time trying to photograph them.

On Wednesday I was up to see the sun rise on the northern Summer Solstice

At this time of year, the sun rises above our horizon over the Biokovo National Park, which is the Dinaric Alps above the town of Makarska on the mainland. 

The headline photo this week is of the second the sun's corona appears above the mountains, taken from a point in the hillside Maquis where there is a view over Dol, the Stari Grad Plain, the cloud covered Brać channel to the mountains, some 70km in the distance. 

I tried to take a spherical video of the sunrise, but the lighting conditions fooled the camera and you cannot see very much. There is one spherical image worth looking at though, using this link, of the second before sun's corona appears.

I have been fixing the floor joists in place in the study this week. 

That is in the late morning, when it is too hot to work in the orchards, but when there is a cooling breeze wafting through the room. 

I needed some long wood screws to fix the joists and noggins in place. I was looking for 90 or 100mm screws, but came home with the longest the local builders merchant had, 80mm. 

All 7 of them! 

That was their total stock of long wood screws.... As I needed at least 45, 

I finished up buying Hex washer head self tapping screws instead.
It helps to understand why there are different types of screw. 

50+ years ago, the choices available to the casual buyer were limited to the length and diameter of the screw and the material it was made from. 

In the UK, everything was in Imperial measurements, so for example, 2" 8's, meant a screw two inches long and with a gauge size of 8, which is approximately a diameter of 4mm. All screws had a single lateral slot, but you had a choice of brass or steel.

Then came Metrication together with the introduction of Pozidriv screws. I still have my first Pozidriv screwdriver, a sample my Dad was given when they arrived in the UK.

Pozidriv and Phillips are different, and even today it is why when you get a pack of impact driver bit heads, there are two types of cross head bit.

Those with the + symbol are for Phillips screws, whilst those with the diagonal lines between the cross are for Posidriv. Have a look at the screw head as well, because it will also have the symbol identifying which type of bit is required. This is my new Erbauer box of drop forged bits and they now supply only two sizes of flat blade head. Soon slot head screws will be museum pieces.

There is now a bewildering array of different types of screw, made for special purposes. I like using the SPAX T-Star TORX screws, because whether tightening by hand or with an electric screwdriver, the chance of the driver bit jumping out of the screw head is almost nil. Another reason for buying SPAX is that they include the right size head bit for the screws in a little plastic bag in the box. 

Bauhaus carry a good range of SPAX screws, but by no means have all of them. Sadly on the island here, you just have to manage with what you can get. The Hex washer screws will hold everything in place and are easy to drive home. But to make sure that the wooden joists and noggins don't split, I have been pre-drilling all the holes.

Yes, I know that the hex washer head screws are "self tapping" but in relatively thin wood (48mm x 80mm) there is nowhere for the drilled debris to go, except by forcing the grain apart, so although it has taken longer for me to put the flooring frame together, the result is better. 

Also the thread is fine, rather than the coarse thread needed for wood, so drilling an undersize hole makes the threads grip better. I was thinking about including some information on thread tensile stress areas and loads here, but perhaps not in a family publication......

As the daily temperature maximum creeps above +33ºC everything, including me, is slowing down for the Mediterranean summer. 

I did get my velocipede out of the Konoba storage room this week. It has been hidden and virtually inaccessible since last October by bales of insulation and packs of polystyrene. 

As all the insulation has now been used and the polystyrene is about to go under the new wooden floor, so I got the bike out, pumped up the tyres, did a little bit of critical lubrication, adjusted the brakes and went down to Stari Grad.

It's lovely going down the hill at 07:30. It's not so pleasant coming back up the hill after 09:00, by which time the heat of the sun is being reflected off the road surface and even though it is only a moderate and steady up-hill slope of 100 meters in 5 kilometers, I decided it was not much fun.

The spring bulbs have all gone into hibernation for the summer and birds like the Cuckoo and Nightingale have stopped singing. 

As I look out of the window writing this at 16:30 (my weather station is still recording a temperature of +32.5ºC with 50% humidity), I can see my little feral cat who is still desperate to be adopted, sprawled out on some cool stone under the spreading shade of the big Fig tree. Number 1 cat, Risha has just had some tea and has now gone back to sleep on the cool concrete of the patio and there is only an intermittent call from a distant blackbird to break the limpid silence of the hot afternoon.

Perhaps some of the lethargy is the result of last night. No to be left in the shadow of Glastonbury, Dol had a music festival last night. With a huge sound stage and lighting rig, live bands were playing from sunset until the first light of dawn was visible in the northern sky. I woke to the music a couple of times in the wee small hours, but would not say that it disturbed my slumbers to any great degree.

Yesterday, the 23rd June was St. John's Eve, called Ivanje in Croatian. 

Traditionally large bonfires are lit, usually somewhere so people can see them from a long way off. 

There is a tradition that young people jump through the flames to cleanse their spirit for the coming year. But in Dol, where we are surrounded by forest and maquis, all fires are banned in the summer, so it was just music, drinking, singing and dancing instead.