Life in a Dol house
2018 - Week 24

Nobody here to talk to

It's been a bit of a bike week this week. 

Just a bit of therapy you understand, for pulling up weeds and trying to keep the place looking tidy. 

Gardens and orchards give a lot of pleasure but are both demanding and therapeutic at the same time.

As the Day Lilies have finished flowering and died back to brown stems, while I could see where they were, I dug some out, then replanted them in the stand I made on the edge of the Citrus orchard.​

Someone who lived here previously must have liked them because I have a lot. The problem was that they were dotted all over the place, so each time I spot one, I move it so they are all clumped together. Difficult to believe that this was the stand just three weeks ago and now they are gone.​

The Yellow Lucerne, which has provided such an efficient weed suppressant has died back and gone to seed. 

I have been collecting the spiral seed capsules, so I can spread them but also leaving a lot of the capsules in place so they self seed for next year.

Meanwhile in the drupe orchard, the line that I sowed with blue Lucerne, Medicago sativa, has been completely weeded and one or two of the plants are even in flower.

When I was pulling the bits of grass and Groundsel that had started to appear between the Lucerne, I found that it is already deep rooted and resisted being pulled up.​

I chose this variety because it develops a very deep root system that will extend down to bring nutrients to the surface and also find moisture deep in the underlying rocks. 

It is a perennial, needing minimal maintenance. I just need it to bulk out more and start to crowd out the weeds.

The cordon fruit trees I planted on either side of the test row have a lot of fruit this year, the first year I have allowed fruit to set. 

On some trees, I think I will have to remove some fruit because the weight is dragging the branches down, bending them into 'U' shapes and still being thin, I am concerned they may break.​

I am also at the end of the raspberry season. I will really have to get in amongst them as soon as this years fruiting canes dies back, to thin them out.​This variety are a black raspberry, with quite small fruits and very sweet.

We have had quite a lot of rain this week, 47.5 mm ( 2" ) which has been welcomed and is much needed. 

Several thunder storms have been in the vicinity, but whilst there was a lot of thunder and lightning, we only caught the edge of the storm, most of it passing to the east of Dol. 

The white area are active lightning discharges, turning through yellow to red for the past hour of the storm.​

Because of the poor electrical infrastructure on the island, lightning storms generally cause power cuts, so I tend to watch their approach, to decide what I need to do. 

Do I batten every hatch and prepare for a violent storm, unplugging all appliances, or can I leave sensitive electronics plugged in? 

But despite applying covers everywhere I can, not everywhere can be protected.

After the heavy rain last weekend, where we had 20 liters of rain per meter², in just 25 minutes, so just less than a liter per minute falling, I had a damp patch appear in the new ceiling of my study.​

When I went up in the loft to investigate, I discovered a Heath-Robinson contraption behind old wooden crates, through the party wall with my neighbour, which is taking rain water from his side, bringing it through the wall into my loft, then into a funnel and down a tube to the outside.​​

Only it wasn't and I think because of the sheer volume of water, some has spilled and gone through my ceiling.​

I had to go up onto the roof to try and see why I have this system. 

What I found reinforces my belief that this building has been built on the foundations of an earlier structure because what is not visible from ground level is that there is an overlap on the roof over the wall, where the two properties abut and because the roof pitches are different, the older one being much lower, there is a valley between roofs, four tiles down from my ridge.​

For a reason I am not able to explain, the valley drains through the wall of my home, and then into the contraption pictured first above. 

Bearing in mind the walls are 600 to 800 mm thick, it is quite an engineering feat for precious little gain. 

Rain water here is a valuable commodity, but this is taking the harvest of water to an extreme!​

Obviously the sustained flow of water during the storm overwhelmed the system resulting in the ceiling damp patch. 

I mixed up a batch of mortar and then filled and contoured the valley between the two roofs so no more water will follow this old course, but rain will instead be directed safely away. 

I've never had cause to go up onto this part of the roof before, so I was unaware of how the "plumbing" had been organised.​

I continue to take the daily cloud observations which I send to NASA for evaluation to calibrate the weather satellites. 

I am now receiving updates with the "look down" satellite images.

These are available to anyone by using Worldview, and zooming out to see your part of the world, today and back over previous weeks.

There are a number of different satellites which constantly fly and photograph in the visible and infra-red spectrums, but also measure moisture content, cloud height, density and moisture content. 

Some fly singly, others are in pairs and they all do a pass between 10:00 and 13:00 UTC so they are passing around and either side of the solar noon.

The look-down shots are sometimes at an oblique angle. They do not pass vertically overhead every day, but these are the pictures you see in your weather forecast.

The images cover a very wide area, but in the one above, the "Heel of Italy" is clearly visible in the lower centre and most of the Adriatic is cloud free. The coast of Libya and North Africa is in the far left of the picture.

If you look closely you can see the red dot, which is my observation, and the cloud which is sitting neatly over Dol, with another to the north over Brać. Sunshine is nice, but on hot, summer days, so is cloud.

I've ordered a number of parts of my Triumph bike, and this week a couple of boxes arrived, with a third one on its way. 

I want to try and get the bike back to how it looked before it was stolen, so when I found an original petrol tank from a Triumph TR6P, with the special inset made for the police bikes, at a small garage in West Wales, I ordered it.​

It is black, and there is a little bit of external corrosion underneath, but inside the tank is perfect and ready to use. I will get it sandblasted and painted white here. I have a couple of other things I need sand blasting and painting. 

The mid 1960's was a time when a lot of police motorcycles were painted black, but the change to white was just starting, so I am not especially surprised. 

I also received a PYE W15FM RG radio, but the fitted handset was broken and I needed to replace it.

These items are rugged and well made.  I needed to record which wire went where, so I could re-attach them. Another use for the digital camera.

​I had to de-solder all the joints to remove the wiring loom from the broken handset, and then completely reconstruct the connections in the replacement.

With a few damp days, it is easy to fill a morning and afternoon with intricate work on vintage electronic components.​

But when everything has gone back together and the devices all look like new and work, it is both satisfying and enjoyable and the broken bits may come in for someone else (who is less picky).​

This is where having a dedicated work table in the study, with all the various tools to hand and a magnifier lamp come in very handy when working on small components.​

The replacement has been somewhere damp because the steel parts had started to corrode. However after cleaning up everything, you would not know. 

The re-assembly was smooth and when I tested the handset, the transmit button works perfectly. 

However being a very long way from the Weedly hilltop site, M2XH wasn't contactable and there is no one else locally using FM PMR, so I have no one here to talk to... ;-)

​I continue to see large number of bugs where ever I go around my home. This year's grasshopper nymphs have all hatched. Whilst looking for aphids on one tree, I came across six newly hatched nymphs amongst the leaves. There are four of them in this photograph.​​

Coloured the same as the young leaves, they are almost invisible, a good defence against predators. 

I included the tip of a standard pencil in the photo so you get an idea of their size.​Elsewhere, their colours vary from muted to greys and browns, to match their surroundings.

And with that, it is tea time on Saturday and another week has passed in the blink of an eye. So until next week...