Life in a Dol house
2015 - Week 44

Orange/white, Orange, Green/white, Blue...........

On Sunday, a quiet day here, I cleared and cleaned the greenhouse. Considering I built it as a temporary construction, made of wood and plastic sheeting, it has worked well throughout the year, helping to keep tender plants warm in the spring and protecting plants from summer extremes of heat. But now, as winter approaches, I need to plant some over-winter crops and use the warmth from the water bottle insulation inside to protect them.

I cut down the grape vines that had draped the outside for the last 5 months, keeping it cool, to let the sunlight in. Immediately the day time temperatures have risen to 30+ degrees, and the night temps have fallen to 18c, when outside it has been 10c.

The plant pots were emptied and sterilised and the floor was swept. The potting table was cleared and I put in another shelf and a 4th row of water bottles, for the sun to heat. I still have a couple of jobs to do, principally to draught proof it, as much as I can, but judging by the insects that are still active in amongst the plants on the back wall, it's OK.

This is a Preying Mantis - Sphodromantis viridis

one of two that I have found, sitting on some young Dwarf Poinciana - Caesalpinia pulcherrima - which I have planted, that will be over wintered inside and planted out in the garden next year.

I also found a brown Preying Mantis

Mantis religiosa - distinguishable because of a black eye spot on it's front legs, crawling up the outside, apparently trying to seek winter sanctuary in the greenhouse. 

Mantis are not a long lived species, 12 to 15 months maximum, but as they are voracious insect eaters, I am happy to share the greenhouse space with them. I find the way that they tilt their head and turn to look at you rather endearing too. In many countries, where they are not found naturally, people keep them as pets in a home vivarium.

On Monday afternoon, I put the remains of the grape vines through the garden shredder to create an organic mulch, ready to put round the bottom of various tender plants that I have in the gardens and orchards. Apart from planting onion sets in the kitchen garden, I have done little else outside this week.

We had some welcome rain on Thursday, not a lot, but enough to keep my plants happy.

Even though we are at the very end of October, I still have large numbers of Morning Glory flowers every day, adding colour to my boundary wall and the Arbour. The flowers last a lot longer, almost all day, now the heat of the summer is over.

I said last week that I was going to have a smashing time this week and I have! I've smashed tiles and pulverised concrete, then moved it out of the bathroom by the bucket load. All the tiles have now been removed. Most came off easily, in blocks of 4 or 6. The white tile glue they had used had ceased to attach the tiles to the cement render on the walls. I moved the wash handbasin round to keep it functional as long as I can, but it will go this next week.

A neighbour is building a small car parking area and very helpfully has allowed me to dump my rubble there to build up the corner of his land to the same height as the road and there is still some space left for more.

What I did realise early on was that I would need to do a supply run to the mainland and that the best time would be the end of this week. I had been adding things which I needed to my list and the number of items was approaching 50.

So on Friday I went across on the 05:30
 ferry to Split

And I was waiting outside Bauhaus when it opened at 8am. I bought most of the the things I needed, the big exception being the floor and wall tiles. Having seen the ones I liked, measured and worked out how many of each I needed, when I spoke to the helpful guy in the tiles section, I found that the tiles were discontinued (although still on display) and they would not be getting any more. He tried calling other stores in Croatia, but there were not enough to be had. Similarly, my plan B tiles were also not available, so I left without any. I will have to see what I can get from a different supplier. At least I am not ready for tiling yet!

The market in Split, close to the quays was filled with flowers for this weekend (All Saint's Day) and people were buying huge floral displays and taking them away.

Moored alongside the road was the Croatian Sail Training vessel Kraljica Mora - Queen of the Seas.

My car was loaded with bathroom materials, insulation and fittings, which got me into pole position on the ferry vehicle deck..

Leaving the harbour in the early afternoon sun, I sat on the top deck, thinking probably for the last time this year

As we cleared the mole the sea plane from Jelsa was just landing and approaching it's pier.

The crossing was very calm, although towards the end of the 2 hour journey, the sun sunk behind the island of Hvar and it became decidedly chilly.

An important job this week has been planning the rebuilding process of the bathroom. Where services will go, the location of light switches and how I get a slight fall on the floor, so water end up down the floor drain. How much fall is a moot point. Depending which web site you look at, at one end of the advice scale it is 2.5mm in a metre and at the other a fall of 85:1, so 1 cm in 85 cm. I think I will go for some where in the middle.

I went up into the loft and discovered the bathroom ceiling is 4 mm hardboard, with no insulation and that will be the first job next week.

Remove the ceiling, build a frame to take a replacement and install insulation, wiring for the new lights and make it ready for a proper waterproof plasterboard ceiling. It looks as though the builders have nailed a wooden frame to the loft floor joists, but only where they touched. Once I get the ceiling down I will see how I can make a more substantial and long lasting structure.

Saturday was another beautiful autumn day, very warm in the sun, but cool out of it. I spent much of the morning unpacking and putting away my purchases of yesterday, then after lunch, I sat in bright sun trying to solve a puzzle. The CAT 6 Ethernet network I installed did not work well in the kitchen. I need to add a router to extend my WiFi network, so I can sue a laptop and tablet in the dining room. The walls are just too thick for the signal to reach from the router in the hallway. But when I tested the installation, it failed, one wire of the eight, the orange/white, was not working. I put new Ethernet connectors onto the cable, but with the same result, but I had built the cables at night under artificial light. Using a piece of spare cable I built a test rig, with one end in a connector and the other with the 8 wires bared to copper and I ran the test again, but this time with the outlet unscrewed from the wall in the kitchen.

The result was the same when I used my test rig, but I was getting a signal to the back of the outlet. I re-cabled the outlet, but with the same result. Finally I disconnected the outlet completely and removed the small printed circuit board so I could test it with a multi meter. After that failed, I examined the PCB under a magnifier and found the problem. 

There are eight copper wipers which the Ethernet connector mates with to make the connection and one of the wipers was bent, so it was not making contact.

With a tiny jeweller's screwdriver, I bent the wiper back into shape, tested the PCB again and it worked. So I re-assembled everything and did final test. Everything is now working. It's nice to finish the week on a positive note. Daylight is a much better medium to work in and tomorrow I will install and configure a small cascading router.

I am looking forward to next week. It's nice when the demolition stops and rebuilding starts.