Life in a Dol house -
2015 - Week 48

Calling all hunters!

Winter has arrived in this part of the world. Night temperatures have fallen, to an average low of +4C (and to just +1.9 Celsius early on Saturday morning), while the daytime maximum temperatures have been around +11 degrees. Down in Stari Grad there have been frosts around the area known as Šiberija Ulica - little Siberia street, because it is the coldest part of the town, especially when a cold Bura wind is blowing in from the north east.

 But on sunny days this week, in my greenhouse it has been almost 30 degrees. There has certainly been a temptation to work in there on warm days. 

But inside the work has continued on the bathroom. Ivan, a really good local plumber from the village, has been this week and having someone else has really moved the project along. Suddenly we have leapt forward, the reconstruction has started and there is significant progress. On Monday the old toilet and rusty, pressed steel cistern were removed, followed by the last remaining bit of concrete floor.

Then the wall was breached completely so that new soil pipe can be installed.

Afterwards, the void was rendered with concrete to seal the old stone wall, together with two concrete pads where the new cistern will sit.

Then the whole of the new internal plumbing was fixed into the void in the wall.

​That was the point where I did a first fixing of the new wooden sub floor that I have made. This is to replace the 20 centimeter concrete floor that the old bathroom fittings sat on. Next was the pipework. 

There are hot and cold feeds to the bathroom fittings, and also the hot and cold for the central heating, together with the waste pipe for the sink, shower and bidet.

I also made the decision ​to move the shower slightly so that it is in the corner, rather than taking up more space on a flat wall.

A hole had to be opened to the outside for all the new pipework. The old incoming water pipe was cast iron, and ran exposed on the concrete bridge which currently links my buildings. In January when we had the very low wind chill temperatures, it was this pipe which froze for three days. It did not take a great deal of effort for me to remove it. After turning the water off, I used my large, old Stilson Wrench to unscrew the pipe from the fittings, and I cut the redundant pipes in the bathroom with an angle grinder. Ivan has a light put powerful Makita breaking hammer which eats stone walls for breakfast!

One problem in a small bathroom is how to make the best use of the available space.

Rather than having a shelf for soaps and shower gels, I decided to make a niche, the size of one wall tile, in the thick end wall. First I had to work out where the tiles will go, then cut back the plaster to the stone and finally drill the stones to the depth I want so that the break in reasonably square lines. Drilling was very hard work, because these stones are extremely hard.

Next job with my small breaking hammer was to remove the stones, leaving a void that I will tile inside.

Finally, with all the pipes in place, I could star to install the sub-floor. 

This has been made, so that there is a 3% fall towards the shower drain, but with hand finished fillets under each cross joist, cut to match the shape of the uneven wooden floor underneath. The joists and wall purlins have been bolted to the surrounding walls, screwed together, then screwed to the floor. As the floor will be tiled, I do not want it to move! Styrofoam insulating block has to be cut to fit between each of the joists.

I have a very old wooden handled Compass saw which is ideal for cutting sheets of styrofoam block. 

With the joists all fixed tightly in place, it was with baited breath that I used my long level to see whether all the measuring and planning had worked.

And it confirmed that I have at least a 3% slope to the shower drain. With all the voids filled with styrofoam, and cut-outs made for the underfloor pipework, the next job was laying the wooden floor.

And this is what it looks like on Saturday afternoon, after Ivan has started to fix the pipes in the wall with cement.
There is still a lot to do, but we have really made progress this week.

I still found time to do a few jobs in the gardens and orchards. 

With the approach of mid winter, I laid new weed suppressant mats around the young fruit trees that I planted 12 months ago, then I wrapped the tender Lemon trees, which are the least hardy, with a fleece and bubble wrap to prevent frostbite. The young lemon which suffered the worst damage last winter, was frosted to the graft joint. I dug it up and coaxed it back to life, and it is now a healthy 60 centimetre plant, in a pot in the greenhouse.

Citrus are strange trees. It is usual to find flower buds, young green fruit and ripe fruit, all on a tree at the same time. They also need cold - but not too cold - weather, to make the fruit sweet and juicy. On one of my lemons, I found larger number of flower buds. I carefully removed them before protecting the plant, as I want it to put its energy into root and shoot growth, not fruit, while it is small.

I took a walk on the old donkey track, up to St. Michaels Church on a fine and sunny afternoon.

This was once the main thoroughfare from my part of the village to the Church. Its gradients are gentle as it hugs the hillside following contours. But what I did find was very disappointing.

The wild boar have been extremely active, rooting in the walls looking for food. In a number of places, there is evidence of well used tracks, together with damage to the walls and pathway.

Ivan is a hunter, and I mentioned to him that perhaps he might like to see if he can catch them, but I think we need to put a call out to any hunter to come and try to remove these environmental vandals who are wreaking havoc.

Along the paths around Dol, there are still wild flowers blooming.

And there are some glorious autumnal colours to be seen.

I just had a look at my weather station - it's +3.3 C outside at the moment, so another cold night is in store. Little wonder that Callie is curled up asleep on my knee.

So until next week, I will leave you with a photograph of the picturesque Jelsa harbour in winter. Norman