Life in a Dol house
2017 - Week 39

Life in a Dol house - We're OK, the milk is Halal!

It's Friday night: 

I'm sitting down writing this on the Autumn Equinox, which actually happens at 22:02 local time Friday evening, so the sun will have long gone for the day, but with a clear sky, the stars will be out, but in all probability, I will be reading as I prepare for sleep. 

The heading photograph this week is of the equinox sunrise in my Drupe orchard.

Outside, the sun is still shining on the other side of Dol, the side not in the lea of the southern hills, and in the distance it is illuminating the limestone ridges of Brač.

The southern side of Otok Brač, the towns of Bol and Murvica at the base of the limestone cliffs I can see from my temporary study in the dining room, only get evening sunshine in winter. 

In summer, the sun sets too far north of West. But today and tomorrow, the sun rises at due East and sets at due West, whatever hemisphere you are in and where ever you are in the world.

Although officially the autumn equinox is the first day of Autumn in the north, trees and plants around my home have been looking decidedly autumnal for some weeks.

Most of our avian summer visitors have gone and the first of the birds that will over winter here are starting to arrive.

​It is as though the "autumn" switch was thrown at the start of the week. 

A weather front came through bringing more rain and lower temperatures. Suddenly the night time minimum has dropped from +18ºC to +13ºC.

As the autumn tasks are here, I cut down half my vines - the ones which make the most mess on the paths and the courtyard on Sunday afternoon.

​I actually woke and felt a chill one night - time to get the winter thickness duvet out I think!

​I have been doing more work in the renovated study. 

I finished laying the last of the first group of floor boards over the new level frame and insulation. They do look good, even though it takes about 4 days for the varnish to properly harden.

My architect friend Željko came on Tuesday and we spent the morning in discussions about the application for planning approval, together with an inspection of the work completed so far.

He thinks my new floor is 1.0 mm out of true. That will do for me!

While it was wet outside, I attached the decorative border paper to the walls. Somehow, as you get closer to completion, the work seems to take on a life of its own. 

The border paper went on well, far more easily than the lining paper underneath, and it really sets the decorations off as I intended it to.

I pulled out some of the furniture from the store, which will go in the study. The corner settee was first and after unpacking, I fixed the feet then moved it onto the completed corner flooring.

​I discovered that the packers had also included some rugs and a foot stool in the packing that I didn't know about. 

Opening these well wrapped and protected boxes almost always ends up in a discovery of something I didn't know I had lost!

Another 16 four metre lengths of flooring were unpacked from the store and have received two coats of varnish, before six more were laid on Saturday morning and a further 6 from the store given their first coat of varnish, late on Saturday afternoon.

Because they have to be left for 24 hours between coats of varnish, and as they fill my courtyard, I have to wait for two successive fine days to do the work. 

I calculate I need the 6 lengths to complete the flooring.

However, I have almost run out of nails, and when I went to get more this week, the builders merchants didn't have any of the right length and weight that I need.

Not that I am too worried at the moment. I need to install the pipework for the central heating radiators, then paint the actual radiators before I fix them to the wall, and lay the flooring around the pipes. I also need to cut tongue and groove joints in the ends where the door is, so there is an interface for more boards to lock into, when I continue the flooring into the hall. 

So already the list of jobs for next week is growing. By the time I have all that little list done, they might have some of the right size nails.... maybe....

It is the finishing touches which always take time. 

I spent a full afternoon connecting the ring main wiring, and it is still not finished. Then I have to connect the Satellite TV dish coaxial cable, the CAT6 ethernet cables to the router - there are several to cater for future needs and a 70 OHM VHF antenna coax as well.

When I installed the new wiring, I then covered the pattress boxes with the lining paper before painting the walls. Now the border paper has been added, it was time to start cutting open the paper over the boxes and making the connections.

This part of the circuit is not connected to anything, so I am working on dead cables, which makes life much easier. I had completed one box, but when I cut the paper to access the next one in the circuit, I was surprised that there was a considerable draught coming from behind the paper.

Opening the pattress box reveal completely, I could feel the draught was coming down a piece of conduit that the incoming cable runs in.

​I was reminded of some advice I read on The Family Handyman website. This is an American website, on much the same lines as the UK's DIY Doctor site. 

One particular article is all about draught proofing your home. The article talked about how to check for draughts, especially around wall electrical sockets.

American construction methods tend to be quite different to the ones found in Europe and it did strike me as a little odd that stoothing walls could allow cold air into a room, but here was exactly what I had read about - only my walls are VERY solid!

In a couple of places where cables pass through walls and a ceiling, or are close to wooden beams, there was not space for the conduit as well as the cable. I presume that one of these is where the air is getting into the conduit. I sealed the end of the conduit, where it entered the pattress box with some silicone. 

I know where the other end of the conduit exits to a pattress box in another room, and I will be sealing that end too. 

If I had been making the electrical connections on a windless day, I would never have known...

For me, Autumn always feels to be a sad time.
The days are shortening now by three minutes of daylight a day. The leaves on the trees are turning but have not yet taken on the glorious hues of autumn - that is those deciduous trees which do change colour. 

I have managed to get a Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia growing from a cutting. This creeper has the most striking of colours in late autumn and I am looking forward to seeing it his year, even though it really is its first full year and leaf cover is sparse.

A long term aim of mine is to have some Japaneses Maples as specimen trees, just for their colours, but I am not sure how they would stand the high summer heat here. 

But maybe one day I will get a couple to try. 

I have said many times, a lot of what I am doing is experimental horticulture!

On Saturday I was having coffee with friends when I was presented with milk, clearly marked as being Halāl - حلال - in Arabic, meaning allowed or permissible. The opposite of Haram - حَرَام - meaning forbidden.

Anyone who has lived or worked in a Muslim country, or who has Muslim friends will be intimately acquainted with foods that are Haram; things like pork, anything containing a pork product and of course alcohol. 

The opposite is Halāl and in the UK there are more and more signs outside butchers and meat purveyors, indicating that they products are "Halal". 

This is the first time I have seen milk labelled as being Halal, but it's good to know someone here is thinking about it, even if the product in question is intrinsically pure, so would be considered halal in any case....