Life in a Dol house
2016 - Week 04

Spring is almost here

What a difference a week makes! After the cold weather of a week ago, this week has been positively balmy - or perhaps barmy? It has been warm and pleasant most days, warm enough to require only a tee-shirt when working outside, which has made a nice change. 

But it is also confusing nature. I have had butterflies conducting the courtship dances around my orange trees.

I also spied a very large grasshopper which had emerged from hibernation into the warm spring-like sunshine.

There is no sign of cold weather returning for the next fortnight and with weather variables, I try not to look more than two weeks ahead. With the average last frost of winter here on the island being the 14th to the 21st February, there is a chance that we have seen the last of the cold weather for this winter. We will get a little rain though next week.

I have not been lighting the log fire until late in the afternoon on most days, and then only because the rooms tended to be colder than the outside air. My storm porch is doing a brilliant job of keeping the big building warm, and during the day time when the sun is on the enclosure, I have recorded temperatures of +28º c in the greenhouse. There is only just enough room to sit inside, which is a shame as if it were bigger I could put an arm chair in there to enjoy the warmth. I will have to wait and see what the temperature is like in the summer - probably unbearably hot.

This has been a week of waiting. The bathroom is ready for tiling to commence, however I have been waiting all week for the special purpose tile cement to arrive from the mainland. 

I had ordered a specific Ceresit product, CM22, which according to their website is for "difficult strata". This they define to include tiling onto a wooden floor. 

The new floor I have put in is what is called OSB conditioned flooring. The acronym OSB stand for Oriented Strand Board, it is strong and waterproof. Creating the wet room on top of the new flooring, with the sealed corners and then the Ceresit latex sealant (which has eventually dried) is complete, although I did have to resort to ingenious methods to get some of the wall flashing tape to adhere to the wall.

But although I can buy a generic local flexible tiler cement, I want to use a Ceresit product, to ensure that it adheres to and bonds with the latex sealant. I was told that the CM22 is no longer available, something I find a little strange because on the company website it is listed as a "New Product".

So I have ordered a slightly less flexible CM17 cement instead. I am still waiting for my 25KG sack to be delivered from the mainland. I have learned that such delay is a normal part of ordering anything which has to come from the mainland. I should have ordered it sooner, but as I already have a workshop bulging with bathroom fixtures and fittings, I didn't bother as I didn't want to take up more space.

In making the preparations for laying tiles, I did some planning and accurate measuring to decide where to lay the first tiles and how to get them all absolutely straight and with the right slope to drain water into the shower sump. After several tries, I kept getting measurements which were 1.5 to 2 centimetres different. Until I put a level on the rear wall and found that it slopes outwards by 1.5 to 2 centimetres from bottom to top. It brings back memories of tiling the kitchen just over one year ago!

At least the discovery has been useful, because I now know exactly where I have to start tiling, to ensure that I have no awkward gaps and tiny fillets to cut.

So with progress on the bathroom on hold, I started to design and make the new wooden gates for my enlarged drive.

One of the first issues is where I am going to position the screw hook which will hold each strap hinge. As the stone wall on the Konoba door side is especially uneven, the location of the hooks on the two opposing walls will be have to be asymmetrical if I am going to mount them on the strongest part of the wall, directly into large stones rather than into the lime mortar which fills the gaps between the stones.

With the the hinge positions determined, I set too cutting cutting the gate rails and stiles. I selected the best wood that I could get on the island. It is rough cut softwood timber, so I am making do with the best I can get. But when the gates are finished, have been painted with wood preservative etc., and have nice hardware, the blemishes and knots will not be notable.

I have toyed with the idea of running the rails and stiles though the planer to give a smooth finish, but have decided against it, because any benefit will be disproportionate to the time and effort involved. What I will do though, is to run the facing edge of the boards I am using on the outside, through the machine, so they will have a lovely smooth surface.

It has taken me quite some time to accurately cut the Lap joints with a router.

Lap joints are very simple and when I have glued them with Cascamite powdered resin glue, and screwed them as well, they will form a very strong frame for the board facings to be attached to.

There will be three gates, this first one being the largest at 1.65 metres wide. The centre rail has still to be fitted, followed by braces.

On the other side, the larger gate will be 90 cm across and there will be a single gate ​of 75 cm just for people, and with a cat flap at the bottom.

My architect friend, Željko, called in on Friday to discuss the way forward now that the ownership of mu courtyard has been regularised. Following a very useful meeting over coffee and Christmas cake, I have to fill a form in and take it with some copy documents to the Infrastructure Office in Hvar, then a surveyor will call to discuss the plans and tell me what I can and cannot do, and then with plans drawn up, what is called a "Project", Cvjetko can make a start on joining the buildings together.

Although the actual work is unlikely to start before the end of April. It seems that I can legally extend by 50 square metres without planning permission. I can also raise the height of a building by 60 cm, again without permission. It is good to know that after a lot of time spend waiting and going through convoluted processes, at last I seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Building work is going on everywhere. There is a legal moratorium on noisy building work from June to September, the peak time for holiday visitors, but also the municipalities and Church authorities are very keen to commission work over the winter, and have it all finished by the start of Easter week, when the first tranche of visitors will arrive.

In Stari Grad this week, I had to go to the Post office and in the square outside The Tvrdalj, the preserved 15th century castle of renowned poet Petra Hektorovića, monumental work is taking place to level the Trg and pave it with new limestone setts. There was even a man with a theodolite - not something I have seen used on the island before.....

There has be a light mist on most mornings this week, which changed the perspective of the harbour. The wooded slopes of the hills which line the fjord were no longer visible.
Blossom is appearing on trees everywhere. In the village, this Almond which is on a south facing slope, has burst into blossom this week.
Meanwhile, my Almond which is north facing, will not be far behind.
Outside my kitchen window, the Hyacinth and Crocus are in bloom, always a sign that spring is almost here.