Life in a Dol house
2018  -  Week 33

It's rude to say No! ​

It has taken five visits to two different suppliers this week, to get the parts I need to complete the refurbishment of my incoming water supply. 

At the start of the week I mixed a few buckets of concrete by hand - it wasn't worth getting the mixer out, then kept it moist until the concrete had gone off.

Next job was cutting the concrete blocks to size, ready for the installation, then it was back to the pipework.

After the stop-start visits to suppliers, on Thursday I had everything I needed and by later afternoon, I had welded the various pieces of Vargon pipe into the correct configuration, had connected everything up, turned the stop cock on and surprise! No leaks. (Then just for good measure, I went back down to Volat on Saturday to get some pipes for next week's work!) 

This photo says it all though. On the right is the installation made up by the local so called "qualified plumber". 

He had done this work three years ago when the water pipes were moved to make way for the first tranche of building work. 

If the pass/fail assessment is whether finished work leaks, then it passed, although he had used the original gate valve as the stop cock and it was this that I discovered to be leaking when I started this project last month. 

No longer made, I couldn't get a replacement gate or screw thread, so everything has been renewed in Vargon. 

On the left is my replacement, which also doesn't leak. However there is no strain on the joints. All the joints are at 90º and it just looks so much neater and more professional. 

But then this is the same plumber who did the initial install of my central heating, using interior grade thin copper piping and insulation, on outside walls, which burst in 14 places when we had the big freeze over New Year 2017. So I am not surprised that this joint was another example of shoddy work but I am pleased that I have now renewed almost everything that he put in. 

With the pipework finished, I set about mixing some mortar and cemented into place the blocks which complete the access pit for the water meter, associated stop cocks and pipework. 

These have been very carefully levelled, so that the top of the cover will be flush with the eventual stones that I want to lay throughout the courtyard and on the path down to the top orchard.  I told my builder friend Cvjetko that I had levelled the blocks to within 1 millimetre.  He laughed and said he work to an accuracy of 1 centimetre!

Once the mortar was dry, I could start to cover and bury the large diameter pipes installed to harvest and remove rainwater from the building roofs, back fill the trench and make the yard look a little more presentable. There is of course more to do, and I have planned a future extension to the system to remove further water, but in principle now, this project is finished. 

Next week I'll be installing the earth cable and rods, a tap in the orchard and outside power, but there is only so much you can do in 7 days! 

We've had a public holiday this week too, Wednesday was Velika Gospa, The Feast of the Assumption of Mary, so it was a quiet day with all the shops closed and an excuse to have a breather and take stock of the progress.

We had some much needed rain on Tuesday when a thunderstorm passed through in the early afternoon. 

This was of course the same day that the Morandi bridge collapsed in Genoa during a storm with such devastating results, and our storm was part of the same unstable weather pattern that moved across the Adriatic from Italy. 

However, the main part of the storm and the majority of the rainfall was well to the south over Viz and Korcula. The circles are active lightning strikes, the white crosses recent lightning strikes and then through yellow, orange and maroon to strikes within the past hour.

Here in Dol we received just 4.5mm (4½ litres per meter). So better than nothing, but it only allowed one day's respite from irrigating. 

Looking at the summer weather statistics so far, with 155.8mm since April, we have had a little more rain than last year (115.4mm) , but less than half of the  2014 total (265mm), 2015 (202.8mm) and 2016 (142.2mm). 

Based on the current weather chart we may actually get some sustained rain in a little over a week's time, and whilst they say a week is a long time in politics, the same applies when you are looking at weather charts...

On Friday I was talking to my neighbour, in my pidgin Croatian, because he speaks on English, while he was picking figs for his market staff in Stari Grad. 

He invited me to join him in a glass of Rakija in his Konoba. This is a building, like mine, which he told me was set on fire by the Italian Facista Camicie Nere of Mussolini in January 1942. 

He then opened a 75 litre keg of Rakija and filled a tumbler almost to the brim. 

All of this was before my tea and before the clock had reached 17:00. 

It's very rude to say no to hospitality, especially from a neighbour! 

Rakija is a fruit brandy which here on the island has Myrtle berries added. In the glass it is slightly straw coloured and had a slightly bitter taste. 

In terms of the alcohol percentage of this home made drink, it is probably around 50% proof. 

On the tongue there is a very slight herbal taste, but as you swallow a small sip, the fire-water tends to grip you by the throat and squeezes. 

Home made Rakija is a staple at every home (except mine) and is offered usually in small liqueur glasses, rather than by the tumbler. 

My experience is that every home made version is slightly different, in flavour and by how much it grips your throat. 

My neighbour Mario's was actually quite pleasant, although I was aware that I still had work to do and so didn't drink it too quickly. 

We had a discussion about bees - he has a number of hives - honey, wax, Prosek, a sweet wine, and then he produced tools that belonged to his father snd described their use. 

The problem with the local Chakavian dialect, is that I understand even less of it than I do Croatian, and this is one of the occasions that alcohol doesn't help! 

Around the garden and orchards, the insects and butterflies are out in force. 

I have two Buddleja Davidii bushes - known as butterfly bushes because they are so attractive to pollinators - however it is only now in late summer that the white flowered variety is attracting the butterflies. 

Elsewhere, as the desert grapes that are left on the vine start to fully ripen, insects are using them as food sources. 
I'm using them as a food source too. 

I keep thinking that I should try and make some grape juice, but they are just so refreshing to eat, straight from the vine. 

As the sun is dropping and the thermometer has just dropped below 30c, I need to crack on and start the irrigation sequence for this evening, so until next week, happy watering....