Life in a Dol house
2016 - Week 31

Visit to the Moulin Rouge

Let me start with an admission, I really have not done a great deal this week. 

It has been hot and humid - the sort of weather where you retreat indoors after lunch every day to take a well deserved Siesta. And some days have been devoted to specific issues too. Today, Saturday, we have had a line of thunderstorms come through. Starting at just after 5am, right through until evening. I suspect it will be dark early today, and as an aside, the sunrise is now noticeably later and sunset comes earlier each day.

This was the watery sunrise as the storm moved away over Brać
With the power going off numerous times because of the lightning strikes on the overhead wires, the UPS system I installed in the spring has enabled me to stay on line and be productive, even without mains voltage. 

This was the view of one of the storm cells which passed just to the west of the village on Saturday morning, each white lightning bolt is a recorded lightning strike,

So the seasons are starting to change. The first of my figs have ripened this week, leaves are starting to change colour on the grape vines and the summer tomato plants are reaching the end of their productive life, with big fruits and few new flowers. After weeks without rain, the 25 mm, or 25 litres per metre (an inch in imperial measurements) which fell today in Dol will have done some good, but it has been in heavy bursts, rather than a long soaking rain. At least with overcast skies all day, it was not immediately evaporated off after falling.

Writing this newsletter with the patio doors open, listening to the soft patter of rain falling outside and intermittent rumbles of thunder, while number 1 cat Risha snoozes contentedly in my my comfy chair, all is well with the world.

He had a birthday on Monday this week, turning 10 years old - 56 in human years
There is now accepted evidence that aging in cats is not linear. 

Once the received wisdom was that 1 cat year equalled 7 human years throughout their life, but modern veterinary science has show this not to be true. During the first two years of life, they develop and age rapidly. By their first birthday, they are at the same stage of development as a 15 year old human. By their second birthday, they will have reached adulthood and be equivalent to a 24 year old. But of course, like humans, adult hood does not equal maturity! From then on, they age at a steady rate of 4 human years per year. One of my books notes that older cats like to sleep more. Not so Risha, he has always liked to sleep!

I was concerned by a discover that I made this week. Delving into the depths of my large Konoba, where I still have furniture and books stored, when I opened the doors there was a smell of mustiness and bringing some wooden garden chairs out, there was evidence of white powder mildew on the wooden legs.

The floor is the old stone flags and the walls are all exposed stone. There is of course no damp proof membrane so in one sense, I am not surprised, but it means I really need to get on with the building work. The delay has been and is, in getting the planning consent from the local municipality, but there seems to be a way forward. 

I also had a letter from the Urban Planning Council, saying that my request to build had been passed and I should call next week at the office to collect the paperwork. I need to get a few other paper approvals sorted out before we can start, but I hope it will be the autumn project.

August is when my car has its paperwork renewed. 

I was pleasantly surprised when the annual insurance cost had reduced from last year, as my "No Claims" bonus had increased. It's not often these days that costs go down. 

Then I took the car to the local vehicle testing station for its annual test. They open at 7am and I arrived there about 7.15 and was third in the queue.

The tests are thorough and use computerisation checking all the points of possible failure; brakes, steering and tyres of course. Then there are the lights, indicators, horn, wipers and washers. A probe is inserted into the exhaust to measure the emissions and two more go into the engine, one in the oil dipstick tube and the other into the brake fluid. The test is a 'drive through' process starting with a rolling road, then with different things being tested at different stations.

An engineer in a pit examines the underneath and a printer spits out a printed list of the various parameters. It passed and after paying my fee of 900 HRK, or £102 / €120, I was off with a new window sticker confirming I am legal for another year. Looking at the paperwork and the printed report which I received, when I compared it with the one from August 2015, there is barely any change. But then I have only travelled just over 1,700 kilometers in a year - you really can not go very far on an island! 

I also spent a day with my German friends on their ancient and well travelled Land Rover Series 3. With some of the original body colour now visible

I am certain it was once a Milicija vehicle

Milicija was the name the Yugoslav era police went by. 

The Milicija used vehicles from a number of UK manufacturers, like British Leyland, and all painted in a rather fetching colour of blue with white bonnets and boots.

In these days of road policing being carried out in large, powerful vehicles, it is often hard to remember a time when small was beautiful (and normal). There were a number of UK police forces who used Mini's. The the Liverpool City and South Shields police had fleets of Mini Cooper 'S'. These are from Liverpool in 1967.

And just for fun, this is a photo of one of the first police vehicles I drove

Taken on a sunny winter morning in 1973, just before I escorted an 'Abnormal Load', an excavator as I recall, from a quarry
There was also a time when the police here used to wear 'Metropolitan' pattern helmets too

Now that is one helmet I would very much like to find!

This year is quite a special one for the City of Stari Grad. 

In the year 384BC, Greeks from the island of Paros in the Aegean Sea founded a city here and named it Pharos (Φάρος). The city grew and prospered but the Grecian legacy lives on, principally in the system of land division, known as "Chora". The main 2400 celebrations will be held from the 7th to the 11th of September, but in the build up, there are events taking place throughout the summer. This week I happened to be in the town and heard the band playing in St Stephen's square. It was a concert by the Stari Grad Brass Band with guest performance of soloists Stjepko Franetović and Tamara Franetović Felbinger in honour of the band which this year celebrates 140 years since its foundation.

The square is framed on two sides by churches, on the west side is the Parish Church of St Stephen and to the north is the tall bell tower, built in 1605 using the old Greek City Wall as its foundation stones. 

St Steven's Square stands at the original gated land entrance to the city and is a well known landmark. With appropriate lighting, the band was playing in the lea of the tower, surrounded by chairs filled with visitors and behind them, it was standing room only.

The programme was lively, with many well known classical and contemporary melodies.

The guest Tenor and Soprano sang in both Italian and English, gave encores and were shown deserved appreciation by the people listening in and around the square. Towards the end of the performance the audience was encouraged to participate as tunes like the Can-can were played.

I would not have been surprised if dancers from the famous Moulin Rouge or Les Folles had appeared to accompany the rousing performance. 

Suddenly the band reached a climax and it was over.

I have of course continued to do jobs around the house, irrigated trees and plants before Saturday's rain and pulled out innumerable weeds, but with odd exceptions, like this small day flying moth, nothing out of the ordinary has crossed my path this week.

I have been trying to identify it

but it is not in any of my books, or on the Project Noah website. ​