Old Player

I bought this album for 10kn (£1.20) from Hrelić two weeks ago. How old am I becoming?

Some of Joan Baez’s work moves me to tears (good ones! not from boredom you cycnical punk!) but I can’t quite bring myself to spend £50 on a ticket to see her last world tour show in London this coming Feburary. It’s an anguishing personal battle betwixt the DIY anti-capitalist frugal anarchist on one shoulder and the devil may care, you only live once punk rocker (we’re talking about a Joan Baez gig?!!?) on the other.  Maybe I should stick to second hand LP’s from the flea market?

Home at last.

The last few days have been shelf buildung days (and fixing the wall thatbthe plumbers messed up wheninstalling my new boiler).  The first thing I install on arriving in a new space is my hifi but I didnt have the right wood for my plans so a set of shelves for my day to day clothes came first this time, closely folowed by the Hifi and Lp shelving.

My first DIY custom built clothes shelves for my room.
Hifi and Lp shelves almost finished.

Since escaping the family nest many years ago I’ve moved around quite a bit, mostly within the confines of the London Borough of Hackney but still. If asked to pin point one of my “rites of passage” in my miserable life, the purchase of my beloved KD-W5 JVC twin tape deck back in the early 1980’s is a defining moment. I couldn’t afford an amplifier and speakers to but with a pair of headphones plugged into the front of the deck – which had an headphone output level control amongst several features that made this machine stand out.- I could listen to tapes of my more affluent mates records late into the night.  I gradually built up a little stack of HiFi seperates that now look archaic but still make the floor vibrate happily with my “music”. When Sony brought out their ground breaking Walkman cassette players portable music has been a big feature of my life. I was one of the bicycle couriers who shot around the London streets on two wheels with headphones in only just not loud enough to stop me hearing my company’s “pager” alerting me to phone the office for another job. A world of my own! I cycled from London to Glastonbury in a day once and I’m prett sure I wouldn’t have made it without The Ruts and Killing Joke giving me a beat to pedal to. In recent times as a van and truck driver my nano ipods plugged snuggly into the vehicles stereo system. I lost two Nano’s during my time as a delivery driver but I still have two and they are perfect for the cycle ride in to Karlovac from here.

My “blue” pod, now an outdated piece of hifi!

The point of this ramble was to say that ever since I spent all my paper round and Sainsbury’s saturday job savings on my tape deck I have felt that my home is where my HiFi is. Now I have The Interrupters blaring out from the one set of speakers temporarily set up on my window sill, I feel I have a new home at last.

Hif fi installed and playing at last!

Hrelić, more than just a flea market

The flea market of Zageb is stuck between an army base and a land fill hill next to the river Sava only a couple of miles from the city centre. It is huge. The only one I have seen larger was in San Francisco and that was a long time ago. Anything and everything is for sale at Hrelić, I have seen wooden dildos, Olympic mascots made of lego, vintage machine guns, pianos, and white elephants amongst the piles and piles of clothes, books, tools and tat! The weather and the season effect the nature and number of stalls that set up each Sunday, Saturday and Wednesday morning. On average it takes about 2 hours to walk up and down every row but allow 3 hours if you want to look properly. This time of the year there are masses of skis and ski boots on offer  in the summer there are more sunglasses available than on could possibly imagine!

The perfect Sunni stall sells both books and clothes.
Sunni rummages amongst a clothes stall, each item probably costs 50p or so. The green thing is an old army diesel powered air heater.

This market is the source of most of the books that are sold in the Sto Citas bookshop. Markos and Sunni have been “doing” the Sunday market for so long that the are well know by most of the regular stall holders (as is Ena their dog  who begs an incredible amount of bread and bad dog diet stuff from stall holders and customers every week!) Some give them advance warning of new books coming and even invite them to come and collect books from their houses or storage units. There are many “business stalls selling new stuff mostly cheap clothing and tools my favourites are the wooden product stalls from where I recently replaced my wood dining plate. The rest of the stuff is second hand, “knocked off” or in some way “shady” as all the very best flea markets are. (RIP Hackeny Wick car boot sale!).

I cautiously took a photo of these two “rent a bike” bicycles – from somewhere – for sale!
There has been a tantalising increase in the number of mugs on stalls!
Cat (an old flame) would love this selection of potential doll victims!
Who said unicorns don’t exist?
A wooden barrel with Croatian flag engraved in to it.
A strident white elephant.
I could maybe take up piano lessons again!
A portable gramophone, very chic!

The Barabrith crew tend to go most Sundays. We get up early enough to make it to the books before most of the other book dealers do. There are several hideous cafebar’s around the edge of the market in shacks that I doubt would pass any H&S inspections and stink of dead burning animals but thankfully some only do drinks. Inside the market are two mini bakery outlets one of which often has vegan croissants! They are vegan by default rather than intent, the margarine being cheaper than butter, we guess! The best local speciality food wise though comes from a little stall in the middle of the rows stalls that do large flat Pogacice which are a cross between a donut and a pitta bread, most folk have them with nutella on, I have mine covered in garlic oil, lovely!

The land fill hill grows all the time!
In the background you can see the rising appartment blocks of Novi Zagreb, which is the ‘in vogue’ area for new housing.
Just look at this beast, what a beauty!
Stall holders pay more to bring their cars on site so some drag shopping carts and bags from the car park and other more inventive arrive by bike with a trailer often homemade.

If you are visiting Zagreb and want to see something real  and maybe bag a bargain I can’t recommend Hrelić too highly.

Visitors in the snow

Yesterday we had visitors from Banja Luka, which I think is a great sounding name, not sure why but there you go! The snow remained all around and I reckoned it was time to go visit our woods whilst they are covered in this photogenic white stuff. So off we went….

Heading off down the snowy slope and in to the woods.
I can not fathom where and why these people called “parents” get the energy or inspiration from!
The sledgers make it down the hill first!
Our forest path is blocked by fallen trees and covered with snow
Snowy trees in our woods.
Ena add’s some colour to the white canvas of snow
Sunni “the photophobe” finds herself trapped between two photogoraphers.
Could this be the next “must try” ski slope of Europe?
Our little stream snakes its way through the snow
Our house from the otherside of our valley.
Say “cheese”!

Back in at the house Matchka was getting a bit annoyed by the “attentions’ of the visiting infant. She tried to escape by climbing on my shoulders and stayed there for 20 minutes or more even remaining in place when I got up and started doing the washing up!

Todays “cat on internet” photo.


White out

The winter view from the plum tree orchard.
The picturesque snow scene of the gazebo.
The wooden house under attack from the elements.

The weather forecast said it would snow last night and they were right.

The view from my stairs of the pear tree.
The view of the barn and garage from my steps.

Sunni and I dug out the snow shovels and cleared some paths.

Sunni in serious snow clearing action!
The snowy white balance is rather out of balance.

Ena loves to run around in the snow and bury her snout into it in search of something live to kill.

Ena loves the snow and goes out searching it for “game”.
Ena the black dog in white.

Access to my room is by two outdoor steps both of which needed clearing of snow. Untill I get my ‘bathroom’ plumbed that means a rather tricky trip down snowy stairs at night to reach the toilet ( or I just pee out of a window!).

Clearing my wooden steps

As I said before it’s pretty but cold stuff and my poor feet had had enough of being outside. Now I’m staying inside, keeping the stove lit and putting draft excluders on my door frames!

A combination of silly slippers and a good fire in the stoe and my tootsies begin to thaw out.


Rug cleaning in the bright sun

Over my last few  visits to the flea market in Zagreb I’ve been picking up random rugs and carpets that caught my eye. I was bit unsure about what price to pay for a rug but when the stall holder for the first rug I bought started the negotiation at 50kuna (about 6 quid) I knew I was on to a bargain. Further purchases have cost the same or less so I now have the beginnings of a small collection of rugs to cover my shiny, cold and rather unwelcoming laminate flooring.

A clear sunny day gave me an opportunity to clean my new carpet acquisitions

Anyway my rugs have come from ‘who knows where’ so I decided to give them a good scrub before introducing them to my home. A bright sunny day, washing up liquid in a bowl of warm water, on my knees with my right hand in a rubber glove, my rugs proved thankfully to be relatively clean. The rugs stayed out for the remains of the day and were dry enough to bring inside by sundown. I’ll give them a thorough going over with the vacumn cleaner and then cover up some of my new laminate floor. I think I’ll keep an eye out for more rugs and rotate them around occasionally.

The rug rat cleaning with marigold glove and brush in hand.


Hard at work again!

or should that be flawed?

My room is approx 14 x 5 m in size.

The laminate is all down, tomorrow once we have returned from the Zagreb flea market – that is the source of much of our wealth! – we will install the stove and then I will begin to fill this virgin space with my stuff!

I’m seriously thinking of getting a set of plastic skittles.

Both Marko and I are still suffering from the hours spent on ours knees laying this stuff out. Well that and getting old.

The last but one line of laminate.

Today I did the plumbing supply shops with the son of Mr Voda Karlovac’s premier plumbers. It was like visiting sweet shops with the son of Mr Cadbury! We ended up at a store calle Frack which although unfortunately named is very friendly and “good quality” according  “son of Voda” . After choosing my sink, pipes and shower base,  I asked if I should leave a cash deposit (the shops computers were out of action due to a stock check) and was told that “Mr Voda was my deposit”, Mr Voda beamed.

This raised area is destined to be my computer space.
This bit will be my sleeping area.

Anyway here is my room all floored and vacuumed and ready to be filled with my stuff. There is gonna be a lot of shelf building in the next month!

A self portrait by the photographer inspired by Killroy.

Laminate lay down.

The last two days have been “flooring” days. We checked out the options and prices at the local wood supply places and ended up choosing to get a laminate that looks pretty similar to the wood on my ceiling.  We calculated that we’d need about 92 square meters to do the whole room with a bit left over for mistakes.  That was 43 packs which at 15kg each proved to be too much for our little van to manage and so we left half behind and slowly drove home, very slowly in a struggling first gear on the final hill!

After much “umming and ahhing” Idecided on this stuff, quality 32 8mm thick not the cheapest but a lot cheaper than some of the stuff available.

It cost me about 5000 Croatian Kuna for the laminate and the green underlay, that’s about 600 quid in “real” money which besides the plumbing bill I hope is the last of the large financial outlays I have to make for the foreseeable future!

My floor is gonna be for walking on and partly covering with rugs, is that living?
At 15kg a pack we decided to split the load into two trips rather than risk the van’s suspension.

The laminate is pretty easy to lay once you get the hang of it as long as there aren’t any pesky beams in the way or awkward un-straight raised platforms. Yeah we have a few of those, so the jigsaw got a lot of use. Today we picked up the second half which is now acclimatising to its new residence and tomorrow we will click it in to place where according to the 25 year guarantee (if used in a residential space) it will probably out last yours truly. There’s a happy thought!

You need hands to lay your laminate down.
Old wooden beams surrounded by new fake wood laminate.
Ready steady and Action, go Jigsaw man go!

The green stuff in between the chipboard and the laminate is for sound proofing. But never fear I’ll be able to make the ground floor chandeliers shiver  and swing once I get my HiFi system set up. Then I’ll finally feel like I’ve moved in properly.

The gazebo roof ends

The last two days have been incredibly bright, warm and sunny. Difficult to believe how cold it was a few days ago and that it’s December. Anyway this gave me the chance to get on the gazebo roof and finish the shingles whilst they and the glue were not all but frozen solid as they were last week.

Matchka comes to inspect the work the gazebo roof
Gluing down the last of the shingles.
Hammering down the last of the shingles.

The top of the gazebo provided the last tricky bit to sort out. Maybe we’ll get a metal cap and weather cock later! In the meantime let’s hope that this combination stays put over the coming winter months.

The apex of the four ridges provides a bit of a dilemma as to how to finish it.
No idea if this will stand the test of time but it looks pretty today.

The view from top is rather special a 360 degree vista of our house, land and the hills and forest further away.

It may not be perfect but at least the gazebo roof is finished today!