Life in a Dol house
2017 - Week 18

The results are almost in....

With the new ceiling sanded on Sunday morning, until it is billiard table smooth, (another very messy job) it was time to do something with the walls. 

I have installed wiring for wall lights​, but until the walls are finished, there is little point in fixing the new lights I have purchased. In the meantime I am using an inspection lamp.

Hanging this from one of the wall lamp wires, it casts a vertical light on the walls and so shows up the imperfections, of which there are many. It also showed in stark relief the laths. 

The room has small windows so is quite dark, but I had no idea how uneven these old walls were. The fact that I have never noticed I think is a positive sign, but I would still like to improve them.

A bit of online research showed that lining paper for walls comes in a variety of thicknesses, from 600gsm to 2000gsm. GSM or grammage is the weight of paper, which means the thicker it is, the more it weighs. Most printer paper is 80gsm, so 600gsm is a little under ten times the weight.

To cover old walls with lots of cracking, a weight of 1400gsm is recommended. I did not even try to get this on the island and was thinking about another all day trip to Bauhaus on the mainland when I looked at the Screwfix website.

They had everything I needed, paper, size to treat the walls, Polycell flexible filler and Polycell wallpaper paste, so I ordered everything online, together with a couple of none decorating items, it came to 600HRK and so qualified for free delivery. A very quick cost benefit analysis told me that just the cost of the return ferry to Split alone is 350HRK, without the day it takes or having to try and find what you need only to be fobbed off with something else because what you want is not in stock. So in this case buying online is a good option.

With the ceiling sanded I started on the walls. When I thought the ceiling was a dusty job, the walls were infinitely worse. Between the old yellow paint and the grey cement dust, I was coated in a fine greyish, whitish powder.

I was wearing a dust mask, but the fine particles even slipped round the edges of the mask where it was not quite an air tight seal. Once complete, even with the windows open, there was a dusty haze in the room, so I shut the door and left it all to settle for 24 hours.

Carefully sweeping the residue from the floor removed the majority without raising it into the air again. I ventured into my various stores for paint, brushes and the other accoutrements of the decorating trade and started on the ceiling. After two coats of undercoat, I left the paint to thoroughly dry for a day before I painted the top gloss coat.

The undercoat covered the plasterboard and left a perfect finish. Having hand painted the top coat - I am not a fan of using paint rollers, I find them messy, waste paint and difficult to use - I must express some disappointment. The brush strokes are very clearly visible, although the silk finish looks nice. I had a look at other ceilings I have painted and the brush marks are not as noticeable. However this ceiling is a lot lower and I did use paint from the same 18 liter bucket, so it may be past its use-by date. Either way, I think I will use an air spray gun next time.

I have made another decision (but don't worry, no more this week, I've reached my decisions quota!) about the room. 

Having finished painting the ceiling, then painted the walls with size to stabilise the surface and seal them and I will start moving furniture into the room, from what is currently a store, but will be my study.

The work on the guest room has gone so well, I will take this opportunity, while I am waiting for the building work to start, to refurbish the big room next door as well. The guest room is so much warmer with the insulation and the plasterboard ceiling, I want to make the same changes in the big room too.

Moving boxes into the guest room means that there is little point in papering and painting the walls, incase the boxes and furniture cause any damage. It is a job which was on the list to do, but once again it is not happening in the sequence in which I had planned it. But while I have a mess in that building, a little more will be neither here nor there and once finished, whatever happens next winter, I will have some very warm and snug spaces to retreat into.

There was one benefit of being able to see the ridges in the plaster where the laths run. I could precisely locate where I should mount the fixing brackets for the central heating radiator.

I have created my own Springwatch calendar of local indicator species, with the results tabulated on a spreadsheet. 

This project it still absolutely in its infancy though, because this is only my third "Spring" and I really only developed the full suite of indicators this year.

In Spring 2015, I only recorded 4 events. Last year it was better at 17 events. This year I have 33 species indicator events across plants, trees, birds and insects. I am still waiting for two more; the first Cuckoo calling and the first bite from a Tiger Mosquito.

This year just three events were earlier than last year, by an average of 9 days. Everything else has been later than last year, which I attribute to the very cold week we had at the start of the year. The events have been delayed by an average of 9.25 days, with a number being more than two weeks later than 2016.

As the years pass I will no doubt add some additional species, but it will be quite a few years before any real trends become apparent.

I am really impressed with the raspberry plants I purchased last year. 

They are a variety called Sugana and were from a local garden centre near Zadar. I had purchased two varieties at the same time, the second, Autumn Gold pretty much all died but Sugana show signs of taking over the place!

Not only that, they are attracting large numbers of butterflies, moths and pollinators. This week I have had a lot of Green Hairstreak butterflies, Callophrys rubi, darting from flower to flower and with males and females engaging in courting dances, I expect to see caterpillars later.

This small butterfly has chocolate coloured upper wing surfaces, but the lower surfaces are an iridescent green. Their belisha beacon striped antenna are clearly visible, as are their black oval eyes surrounded by a white rim. They are not too disturbed by humans being around and will dance around your hands and face.

When I checked my columnar apples this week, I found a number of the top most leaves had been half eaten. 

Then I noticed what I took to be a cocoon on the support cane nearby. It was perfectly camouflaged against the cane and was wrapped around it.

As I went to get hold of it, it moved, showing coloured bands behind its head. It was actually a caterpillar. Whilst I have not seen any of the moths, It is a Lappet moth caterpillar, Gastropacha quercifolia. They feed on apples, so the plant is right and they are called "Lappets" because of the flaps which surround the caterpillar body that allow them to meld into the stick or twig on which they cling to. A Lappet is a milinary term for the the decorative flaps or folds that were generally made of lace and which adorned the fine bonnets of 18th and 19th century ladies. They are still found on ecclesiastical head dress.

The moths so resemble dried leaves, when they hatch in the late summer to autumn, that they are almost invisible. which would account for why I have not seen any.

I keep seeing different species each week and wonder just how many I actually have around the orchards and garden, hidden in corners, camouflaged against predators, hiding in plain view.

Not everything has fared badly over the winter. The Iris "Bronze Perfection" that I planted last year have doubled in height and have some offshoots.

The same variety that I planted last autumn have actually turned out to be slightly different and are more yellow than bronze. I hope that next year their display will also improve.

Pollinators are everywhere at the moment. Some are easy to recognise, like this solitary Bumble Bee.
Whilst others, like this furry Shield Bug and an unidentified red insect, I have yet to positively name.
Sometimes they do not want to cooperate to be photographed. 

I think it may be a variety of Assassin Bug, Rhinocoris iracundus, but I'm not sure.

With some rain forecast for tonight and into tomorrow morning, I need to clear up a few things so they don't get wet. 

I will leave you with a photograph of a Giant Peacock Moth, Saturnia pyri, that I found on the sand in my courtyard. I moved it to a safer place to rest for the day.