Life in a Dol house
2017 - Week 41

Is there a Spoor expert in the house?

It has been another good week for weather, and for progress in the new study. 

I used a profile comb tool to create an accurate profile of the door jamb,

then transferred the outline to one of the boards with a stylus knife.

Then I carefully cut the outline with my bandsaw.

Straight edges have been cut with a mitre saw.

I have spent a couple of days connecting up the pipework for the central heating radiators. 

This includes running 22 mm feeder pipes through the walls and under the flooring, to connect with the hot and cold leads to the radiators.

​On reflection, I think I should have made the holes to access the joints - just in case there is ever a leak - a little larger. 

But despite the snug fit, the pipes are now all connected, but there is not a lot of space. 

However, I am very happy with the way everything looks. You need a lot of pipe, insulation and connectors, even for just two radiators.

​Having fixed the position of the pipes, I then needed to position the fixing brackets for the radiators. 

Once again some accurate measuring was required, so that the 8 mm diameter Lag Bolts I am using would go into the specialist wall fixings, through wooden laths in the old plaster wall, rather than just into ancient lime plaster.

There was of course one problem. I had drilled fourteen of the sixteen required holes, when I sensed the drill had hit something metallic. A check of the hole with a penlight showed I had managed to find a nail, so I changed drill bits to a HSS - High Speed Steel - bit, and promptly broke it. 

Delving into the workshop, I found some larger diameter German HSS bits, and slowly drilled out the broken bit and enlarged the hole to 8 mm, without compromising the level or placement of the fixing. But all of that takes time.

With the holes drilled, I mixed a small batch of wallpaper paste and attached the reflective radiator covers to the walls, behind where the rads will sit.

​I want all my buildings to be thermally efficient. 

They might never meet the requirements for LEED certification, as it is very difficult to make old buildings anything like energy efficient, but currently the European Energyy Rating for my home is "G", the lowest of 7 ratings. I doubt I can get the buildings up to "B", but if I could make them just "C" I would be happy, and would save money on heating and cooling too.

It is much easier to fit all these things before you attach the radiators to the walls.

I had to stop laying the flooring while I was doing the pipework, then light rain on Friday curtailed outside work which meant an end to cutting and routing floor boards, but with a fine end to the week, I was able to get a few more done on Saturday. 

Once I turned the last corner, the board lengths started getting shorter, but also because I did not reverse the direction of the tongue and groove in the centre of the room, deliberately, I am now working to very tight tolerances to be able to knock the boards into place, so it still takes time, around an hour to cut and place each individual board. 

At the end of the week, I have just seven fairly short boards left to fix.

Following the local custom of burying a dated newspaper in building work, I have included an English and Croatian newspaper, together with a supermarket "deals" paper, all sealed and protected in a polythene bag, in a specially cut-out section of the insulation under the new flooring.

Some time in the future, someone may find them and find them interesting...

So as always there are still one or two things which I need to finish off at the end of the week. 

Curtain rails for one, but I need to find some curtains to match the decorations. 

I have in mind curtains which I had at my home in the UK, they were cleaned after moving to Abu Dhabi, and then carefully put into a box.... 

One of many that remain unopened in my storage area, I know the box number - 348 - I just need to locate it from my plan of where things are stored, and to do that I need a fine day, so I can shift boxes around outside to get at the curtains and a few bits of furniture that will go into the room.

I like to think I am reasonably observant, even if i do not always know what it is that I am looking at. 

In fact at the moment I need a Spoor expert to help me with some identification. Now a ferroequinologist will immediately think of Spoorwegen,

the Netherlands gold and blue trains which you see speeding along beside highways and canals. But I am actually thinking of something small, black and shiny.

I placed a plank of wood in the courtyard, so when I was resting the new floor boards after cutting to size, they were on wood and the cut ends were not damaged. 

One morning I found that overnight I had had a visitor that had left its calling card on the wooden board - a small Spoor (polite term for droppings!).

Not a cat or dog, too small and they dig holes, the wrong shape for a rat or mouse, but what it immediately reminded me of was a Hedgehog, Eerinaceus europaeus

But in three years I have never seen one here on the island. I've not seen any road kill, or any signs, not heard them calling at night, nothing. 

The evidence it left shows that the mammal has been feasting on the fallen Figs. But this in not the first time I have seen this kind of spoor left in plain view.

Always it seems to have been left on the top of rocks, stones or wooden planks - at least that is where I have seen it, but there may be more which is hidden in amongst the plants in the orchards.

There are a number of Mammals around Dol. 

We have Pine Martins, Martes martes, close by. Also there are Mongoose, Herpestes javanicus, imported in the 19th century to try and reduce the poisonous snake population. I have seen a pair down on the road to Stari Grad, and they resembled large beige ferrets, but you can find their spoor on websites, and it is different.

The IUCN Red List does show hedgehogs as a resident of Croatia, but my books and other websites say they are absent. It would be interesting to set up some camera traps to see just what there is that moves around at night, unseen by human eyes.

The rain last month and again this week has really made things go green. 

The baking heat of the summer seems to have fooled a lot of trees, because several, including my myrobalan plum have come first into full leaf again, having dropped a lot of their leaves during the drought, and now into blossom.

​One morning this week, the bees were going crazy feeding on the nectar and the tree is covered in flowers.

​As the temperature drops to the low teens at night, we had 13ºC one night this week, and then as October progresses, into single figures, all the leaves and blossom will fall.

It does illustrate how this topsy-turvey world of climate change affects species, fooling them into doing things they would not normally do. A number of trees have suddenly produced spring growth.

​One of the Cordon Pear trees has also produces blossom this week.

​While the Pomegranates are ready to be picked and eaten.

There are always jobs to do...