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!

A cold start.

I was already sitting on the toilet of the wooden house when I noticed the state of the water!
A cold clear morning

Fantastic tools

A few of my favourite tools.

I’ve always enjoyed “doing things with my hands ” as they say. Not just sexual things but DIY, fixing, building and creating things. It started with my early bicycles and adapting them to have oversize handlebars, double back brakes and the like. When I started doing the book distribution the joy of putting up shelves became part of my life. I kid you not. When I was working at my first “proper job”, doing mail order and wharehousing at a record label we had to build  loads of shelving. The boss brought in a mate of his who “needed a job”. This guy used to be in the early London punk band called Brigandage and now he was going through a mid life crisis and the rest but he was amusing and he tried hard to convince me that he needed nothing more in life than to be building shelves. “More satisfying than sex” he used to say, I wasn’t convinced but I knew what he meant!  Anyway back then I was slowly building up a tool kit with special bike bits and pieces and a few other tools I had picked up along the way. After my Dad’s dad died I was really annoyed that his great collection of tools was given away. I had spent working holidays with him and Alice his wife painting and fixing things and had really appreciated all old hand tools  that he had. I managed to inherit a caged lamp on a long old cable from him that I both treasured and used extensively for illuminating hundreds of stalls in dingy gigs all over Europe. Twas a sad day when it went missing. One of the few tools I did pick up from my Dad was an old school G-Clamp, a wickedly robust and powerful device that has also been used to secure numerous bookstall constructions. This is one of my favourite tools.

This type of tool will outlive all of us.

Around the same time my cable lamp went missing I had the good fortune to be associated with PA Rik a squatter electrician who had lots of interesting contacts and with whom I was working on the Emmaz Social Centre project. Rik was going to be  big part of our dream music venue and he once told me that he knew someone who might be able to supply us with loads of free equipment. Free equipment always makes my ears prick up. Turned out Rik knew someone at the BBC who was responsible for getting rid of studio equipment every year regardless of its condition to make sure they have the best and new stuff. A couple of weeks later Rik produced a huge extension cable with the thickest rubber cable I’d ever seen for me courtesy of the BBC (unofficially so don’t tell anyone!) This cable has been in use ever since and was used last week when the builders doing my room accidentally took home Marko’s extension cable and it took us a day or two to work out where it had gone!

Just look at the width of that cable!

Vanja, mi amor, has  a very generous nature and she bought me a Makita drill far superior to any I have previously owned. This beauty has helped build and dismantle many book shelves and since moving here it has been in almost daily use. Its not heavy, the battery packs are super quick to recharge, it has multiple speed options and a light! I love it!

My super drill and circle cutter.

A drill is of course not much without its “bits”, you could say the same about people I guess. One drill bit I particularly like that I acquired I’m not sure when but think it was at the sadly long gone Hackney Wick flea market is this wonderful (yellow) circle cutter. The joy of cutting a perfect circle to feed wires through instead of making multiple holes and linking them up with a chisel is profound, trust me I know it sounds “dorkish” but once you’ve tried it there’s no going back.

This camouflaged little beauty is getting lots of use.

And finally where would be without my newest Swiss army knife. This little beauty has been used all over Barabrith. I lost it for two days back in June and cursed the fact that I had told Vero that the camouflage colour looked cool! Vero was staying in Switzerland with her brother at the time and asked me what she should bring as a present! What else would I want from there? It took me  along time to get over the loss of my favourite Swiss army knife that I bought from a store in Switzerland whilst driving a band around back in the early 2000’s. I’ll never forget the enormous range of knives on offer and the fact that the shop was happy to accept any of the various currencies I was carrying at the time (this was long before the euro came into play). I transgress. I spent hours looking for this little knife out in the field where I last remembered using it. Eventually I got a fork and moved a large pile of brambles and other vegetation we had cut down with machetes. There glistening in the sun right under the bottom of the heap was this knife, phew!  I would have hated having to tell Vero I had lost it, I felt bad that my Mexican friend had spent so much money on me in the first place, but by now I can truly say that this little knife has justified itself several times over as a useful present. For starters, I’ve picked several splinters out of my hands with the little tweezers which usually I always lose quite quickly.

Thank you Dad, Rik, Vanja and Vero.

If you felt this was geeky just wait for my Leatherman posting!

A good day…

I was up till rather late last night (this morning) doing the wall tiles for my bedroom  en suite  toilet.  I was woken up this morning by the postie who brought me another little package that miraculously made it to me even though it wasn’t  registered (signed for). The night before I had been moping on how I have so little chocolate options over here and indeed how little chocolate I have been eating since moving. Then this morning I get a packet from Vanja with three bars of a brand new vegan sugar free chocolate that was really really good! What about that for synchronicity!

Vanja’s “pick me up” present of new vegan chocs.

Most of the rest of my day was spent preparing the floor tiles for my bathroom. It was a large simple jigsaw with two tricky bits where the jigsaw pieces needed reshaping to fit around the waste water pipes in the floor. Having been unable to find a replacement tile drill bit in the local Pevec DIY store last night I had to resort to the clipping method. The clipping method of tile cutting involves using a pair of pincers (end cutters) to gradually trim the tile by snipping off little bits at a time. It requires patience, but hey time is something I now have by the bucket load! Anyway the tiles are all now laid and drying. I will take a photo of the finished look, before grouting, when i have tidied up a bit but for now ……

Cutting and laying out the floor tiles
Tiling my future bathroom or preparing to audition for the muppet show?

All in all I felt rather good today after finishing the floor and indulging in another small chunk of chocolate. So good I have decided to try out “Blog comments”. For a trial time I will turn on the comments option so if you feel like giving me feedback or whatever you may do.  I asked a couple of my “avid readers” (ha ha) and they said they would appreciate the option so there goes the gauntlet thrown down on the cyber floor! Let us see what happens.

This week was..

Two sides done two to go!

We thought we’d finish the gazebo roofing job this week. We knew we’d have to work around the forecast rain and fog but Marko and I had got into a pretty good rhythm of  cutting, gluing and hammering down the shingles regardless of the miserable weather. Unfortunately our logistics department failed us with its miserly materials purchases and we ran out of glue and shingles just as the end came in sight! I made a trip in to Karlovac especially to buy another packet of shingles only to find none in stock anywhere though one place did try to sell me some that looked “similar” Ha! I’m no stupid tourist, I live here!

Three and two thirds of the roof done and we ran out of shingles. DOH!

The other job for this week was planting the new fruit tree and bush saplings that we bought at the Zagreb nursery on Weds morning before Sunni went to do her 3 day stint in the bookshop.

Planting our second batch of saplings.

Ena and maybe the neighbours dogs have been digging holes in the “garden” so its not surprising she came to inspect the ones we were digging.

Ena comes to inspect my digging in of a new cherry tree.

The green “lawn” in the background is not our future golf course but the field of wheat that our neighbour Stonky planted a month or so ago for next year. But the weather has been so mild that it is growing like mad already!


Marko makes an effort to give a cherry tree a flying start in its new life.

There were three little kittens next door they all had some eye infection at birth, one died last week, the male survivor has decided to stay mostly next door but “Three Spots” has totally decided that she is gonna live with us. Marko and Sunni being real animal lovers have accepted their roles as kitten guardians, carers, feeders and bed makers much to the consternation of a visibly jealous Ena!

We have been adopted by this creature.
“Three spots” or “Mačka” as we call “it” has decided one of her fave places in the world is the back of Marko’s neck!

The end is also in sight for my room being ready to move in to. The builder informed us by email tonight that they have finished! Why the fuck he didn’t tell us that when they left on Friday I can’t understand!  Once I’ve finished the tiling the plumbers will come and install my new sink and toilet (not the same things lads!) then we put down the laminate floor, install the wood fired stove- for heating and bobs ya uncle I’m ready to move in! Oh yeah!

Odd job man or odd man doing job! Toiling with the tiles! Well it looks like I know what I’m doing, doesn’t it?

We’ll see what actually happens!

Some things last.

My best jumper ever, knitted by the wonderful Bridget many years ago.

Snow is two things, a sign that it is cold and also rather pretty to behold. Behind the door to the right of me in the above photo are boxes and boxes of my stuff still unpacked since I moved over here in April. My room is nearing completion and then all these boxes will be moved upstairs to safety and warmth. In the meantime I’m living in a small fraction of my wardrobe and by chance that includes the above jumper, my favourite and dearly prized ‘pully’. Many moons ago I worked for Alternative Tentacles,  Jello Biafra’s record label in their London  office.  That was where I became friends with office manager Bridget. Besides sheltering me from the bosses wrath when I fucked up, teaching me how to wrap boxes properly and giving me an excuse to take the company car to gigs outside of London  I couldn’t have otherwise easily got to.. …… she also knitted me this incredible jumper. A friend indeed! It makes me feel very sad and unworthy that I have failed to keep in touch with her over the last decade. I bought her a compilation of the Farside cartoons that I remember she never failed to find most amusing, even the ones I didn’t “get”. It sat on my shelves for years as I kept putting off making a visit to Mile End where Bridget lives, just down the road from where Emma was killed but that’s another story and no excuse not to visit her. I have promised myself that I will make amends next time I am back in the U.K.

i tried knitting once and failed miserably but it made me even more aware of what a fine job my Ruts jumper is. The Ruts endure in my life like a teenage best friend who becomes a cop. I still love them for what they were rather than what they became. I saw the Ruts DC play a couple of years ago and about 25 years after I should have seen them play at a festival in Nuneaton that got cancelled at the last minute. I wish I hadn’t.  It was a sad affair and ruined my dreams of a gig I never saw and never will. Still if I put The Crack on my turntable, or more likely when it comes up on my iTunes, all is forgiven, my foot taps, my fists clench and I ‘ll try and sing along once more, for the zillionth time! Look carefully at the photo and you will see my Ruts road sign. That was swiped from roadworks in Leicester back in the early 1980,s and redesigned. It has followed me around ever since, Swansea, Hackney squats, tower blocks and now Donji Budaćki.  I can’t decide wether or not to display it outside as a roadsign guaranteed to confuse the locals or in my future room but it will stay with me like the band till my end.

My Ruts jumper used to only come out on special occasions but at the moment it is the only warm “woolly” I have not packed away protecting my mugs (that is another story). So like the snow my jumper is two things, an indicator that it’s cold outside and a creation that’s rather wonderful to look at.

Thank you Bridget x

Snow go!

For the last two days Marko and I have braved the wind and the rain on top of the gazebo. All I’m the cause of getting the roof shingles done before winter descends and screws up its chipboard roof. Our progress was pleasingly swift by our own measure given that we are total novices at shingle installation. By nightfall last night we had three of the four sides completed with the hope of finishing the last today in our hearts.

“We could have done this in August”
Clowns at work.

I reluctantly gave in to a call of nature at about 1 am this morning, threw on a shirt and trousers and ventured out into the unheated wooden house’s loo. Stepping through my door I thought the moon must be out in force but looking up realised this was not the case. Looking down revealed a thin blanketof snow vaguely illuminating Barabrith, oh well!

This morning the brave moped riding  postie got me out of bed with a bill from the electricity company and this months London Review of Books which a dear comrade subscribed me to for my first year away from London. Then ignoring my supposed duty to shovel snow – before breakfast? I don’t think so! – I took photos of the first snow of the winter and our gazebo neatly covered in white.  No gazebo work today.!

Who said life isn’t black and white!
Our first taste of snow in winter 2018
The big Apple tree goes white.
A white sheet protects our gazebo?


Snow clinging on to the smallest of twigs.
It’s everywhere!