Red and Black

Getting to the end of the great black and red attack on the wooden house. I’m wearing two layers of trousers in case you are thinking he’s getting a bit rotund!

The sun came out today making the outdoor painting business a lot easier! There I was finishing off the intricate and imaginative colour scheme for the wooden house doors when I heard our “door bells” ring! The door bells are in fact the four legged barking creatures that reside at our neighbours opposite. Anything, and I mean anything, that dares pass by between our two houses will be treated to voracious yapping and barking. This is a bit of a pain and also rather useful when it comes to knowing that the postie or bin men has arrived. So the dogs let me know there was someone i.t.a. and I poked my head around the corner to see if it was for us or Stonky and Nada, our neighbours. Three guys were getting out of an unmarked white car stopped in ¬†the middle of the road – which to be honest is a single lane road – and looking in my direction. Being of sound mind and with a clear conscience I immediately thought “cops” ūüôĀ ¬†the one with the clipboard called something to me and I thought ok better find Sunni! Sunni didn’t respond to my calls so I headed away from the ‘cops” very aware that they wanted to talk to me and strangely aware that I was wearing a black and red combination coming out of a black and red painted house! Oh how the mind races without much sense when confronted by “cops”. Sunni eventually appeared and asked me who the guys were! Like I knew! She bravely approached them with a “Dobar dan” and it turned out they were from the HEP – the electricity board. ūüôā I then recalled that the Solar panel guy had warned us that we might get an inspection from HEP but it “wasn’t very likely”, ha! Clipboard guy spoke good English and introduced himself by saying “you must be Jonathan” which did make me think they might be cops in HEP disguise!

After a brief inspection we were informed that we need a new junction box accessible to the HEP at all times. The box is too big to fit next to the fuse box so there began a bit of a debate as to where it could go. To be fair “clipboard” guy was pretty friendly, mostly spoke in English and was genuinely keen to install the junction box somewhere where ¬†it would not “spoil the beautiful look of this house” – I was beginning to positively take to the guy! It was decided that the box could go on the west facing wall and I can build a wooden box around it as long as it is not locked. The idea of placing the box on our wooden electricity pylon was dropped when one of the guys leaned on it and it moved alarmingly. We will have to arrange for the box to be connected to our meter and solar system but otherwise it all seemed simple and sorted. Nice to be involved in the decision making process for a change I thought.

The bedroom doors in colour sync!

Later it turned out that clipboard guy had not used English during the bit where he explained we would have to pay 2000kn (about ¬£240) for this service! Oh well at least they weren’t cops!

Caught in black and red mode sewing up my fave trousers.

Back on the sofa tonight I finished sewing up my black “hamburg antifa” trousers whilst wearing my red “zagreb flea market” trousers. A colour theme is emerging!

Gutter goofs make progress

The gutters are going up and around the gazebo, almost as slowly as the Croatian post arrives here, but it’s happening at last.

The second gutter goes up or rather along the edge of the gazebo.
Our shiny new gutters are gradually being installed.
What do you think the chances of these gutters actually working properly are? Yeah me neither!


Talking of not working properly. We got a letter from  HEP the Croatian Electricity Board on Thursday. It came from Karlovac, 17 km down the road and took 10 days to get to us!! It informed us we had 15 days to submit some documents about our solar panels so rather than risk posting them back and missing the deadline we took the documents in on Friday morning.

Solitary soul seeks sun.

Sunni possibly contemplating the lack of sun!

This bit of land is part of the old corn field that we have reclaimed. You can see some of the new grass that I planted in hope that it will help keep the brambles  and weeds at bay. The small trees in the foreground are fruit trees I moved to this maybe future orchard. the saplings by Sunni are fruit bushes we bought from  nursery.

Sunni’s mission is to create “nests” of twigs and biodegradable material around the base of all our trees. Here she is working on our new saplings.

Foraging for food

Nothing makes Sunni smile more that coming back with a bag full of foraged food from the woods around the house (except maybe when Ena does her crazy curly jumping tricks in excitement at Sunni’s return from somewhere!)

We ate all these, some in batter!

Anyway tis mushroom season. We have loads of inedible ones growing in our grass. Luckily Sunni knows which ones in the forest are edible and so collected two loads like this lot in the last week! Parasol mushrooms I believe they are called. We just fried thump and then did a few in batter. Apparently its not good to reheat them once cooked so we had cold mushrooms on toast for breakfast the next day too. Life can be good, sometimes.

The kittens come in from across the street.

Isn’t this what the internet was invented for….

I hope you are getting all these moves on video and not boring still images?
I’m winning this fight, I’m sure I am!
Quick before the cobra strikes!
What did mum say.. remember to keep three paws on ground and strike with the fourth? Or was it two on the ground and two to scratch with?
Now I’ve got you!
Once I’ve thoroughly dealt with this snake I’ll get the other one before it escapes.
Kitty concentration
Shhh I’m stalking a very tricky chair leg.
How on earth did I get all the way up here? And how will I get down again?
Is that a pair of scissors I see before me?

This last comment is a lie! Kitty was actually momentarily transfixed by my computer screen. Please note the exquisite positioning of tail, this one is a poseur!


Wood house work.

To work on the wood house appealed to me from the first moment I saw it. I can understand and even contemplate building things from wood. The concrete and metal structure that makes up the main house is rather alien to me. Last September Vanja and I made an abortive attempt to paint the worn patches but rain soon stopped that. I have made it my mission to protect the wood house before this years winter strikes. I have been lucky with the late warm weather, today was blue skies and sun, in mid November!! but we all know… winter is coming!

No caption required.

Anyway below are some images from this last week of my mission’s progress. I am now working on the outer wall that is under the “balcony” roof and so potentially I can continue even in the rain but its much quicker and more enjoyable to do such work bathed in the warmth of the sun.

The last window to get the red and black treatment!
The last outer bit of wall prepared for painting.
Its not called Polyfiller over here, but Akrilin and comes in white, coffee and chocolate colours.
This beam needed a lot of filler!
The end of the yellow is nigh.
My paint, and my preparation tools and stuff for filling holes.
A close up of on of the lovely joints of old wood freshly painted.

Gutter Dreams

It was a couple of months ago that Marko, and I worked under the direction of Jacz and with the help of Nils to build the gazebo. The next step I was told was the guttering -before the roof! Рand yet there the project stalled till this week when we drove out to the guttering specialist shop in Jastrebarsko and spent about £200 on gutters, down pipes, supports, corners and metal glue. The 6m pieces of gutter were sawn in half spoke as to fit in our car and now we have reconnected them to the correct 5.35m lengths ready to hang.  Here is Marko hard at work joining two bits of 3m guttering together.

A gutter worker in the gazebo.

Talking of tools, one of my longest held personal goals is to have a space for organising my tools so that finding a certain size spanner, screw or nail no longer involves rummaging in an overcrowded tool box or “box of bits n pieces”. I am painfully aware that this sounds very “middle aged man in garden shed” but I have desired such efficiency and organisation for my tools since I first bought a tool box and started collecting a useful DIY kit in my late teenage years. So no apologies for the following pictures of the early stages of my “tool room” and expect more as it develops.

The garden tools…. as yet unsorted!
The shelf of stuff to be sorted and the “moonshine” equipment.
A dream gradually coming true!

And then there was light…

Progress on my future lair has been rapid of late due to the involvement of professional electricians and plumbers. The plumbers sorted out the piping but can’t install the utilities until the floor is finished. The builders promise to be back tomorrow – a Saturday!- to get on with the floor. The results of the electricians efforts are already easy to see especially at night.

My attic has lights! the orange pipes are the electrical conduits that will be hidden under the floor.
My bedroom area, all illuminated like!
My windows lit up at last at night.
This light will probably end up being as annoying as it is useful! It being triggered by a sensor.

Hello Kitty!

Not a good time for the solar panels!

Today was meant to be sunny but it started misty and progressed to grey and even some rain! Still our plans today were to plant the various cherry, blueberry and other trees  we bought last week so a bit of rain was probably a good thing. And the inclement weather did not deter an invasion of curious kittens from across the road.

Barabrith says “Hello Kitten”

I was about to take Marko to the station for his 8.35am train commute to Zagreb this morning when we noticed that Nada and Stonky were getting in their car. The two of them being out simultaneously ¬†doesn’t happen too often so a shopping trip to Karlovac must be their plan. I quickly suggested to Sunni that she find out if they could take Marko to the station and I could then go back to bed. She did, they were, he went, I didn’t. ¬†Instead I made a big breakfast and then Sunni and I prepared to plant the new saplings. Thing is when Nada and Stonky leave their property those members of their little zoo that can roam, do so! Sunni was soon feeding dog treats to four dogs and two of the three kittens were boldly prowling across our grass. The third, the male, ¬†never made it past the gate!

The brave and the not so brave.

Ena, our dog, was almost as curious of the kittens as the kittens were disinterested in her! Pretty soon Ena realised that they didn’t want to play with her like a puppy might and then Ena began to get jealous of their hogging our attention! ¬†Cats and dogs eh?!

Hello who are you? Do you want to play?
Thats funny you don’t smell like a dog either!

The boldest little kitten followed us across the field checking out every emptied plant pot and the compost bag as well as climbing on both our backs. But the first place it went and stayed for some time was the just opened oven of the wood stove in the apartment’s kitchen. Warm I guess!

Baked Kitten anyone?

One of the downsides of living out here in “Bogu za hrbtom” as the Slovenians say is having to make critical decisions about where to plant ones new bushes and trees! Back in Hackney such stress was generously lifted from my shoulders by the ever caring council. The “Judas Tree” we agreed should be near the entrance the White Magnolia too but where did we decide to place the Gingko tree?

I know we chose somewhere to put it but where I can’t remember!

The Siberian and Mongolian Blueberries we spread over the reclaimed corn field.

A future blueberry bush
A cherry tree in the middle of the reclaimed bit of our field.
Another blueberry bush starts its new life in Barabrith.


Wild dogs in the woods!

Vanja popped over during her brief Slovenian theatre trip this week to check out the latest developments at Barabrith. She hadn’t seen our “other bit of land” before so we took an afternoon stroll to have a gander. This piece of land is about a kilometre from our house and there is no easy track or road to get you there. It is about a hectare of wooded land and rather nice once reached.

The official Croatian land registry map of our “stray” bit of land.
Just to the left of the middle of this picture is the hectare of woods that we own but don’t really have much use for… a weird idea innit!

We walked down our “unnamed” road to the house with the wind turbine that never turns. As we approached a small black dog that looked like a mini black bear came cautiously towards us. He had been just sitting by the side of the road apparently waiting for something to happen….. not very likely round here but one lives in hope and dogs are nothing if not optimists, I mean look at the way Ena sits by the table drowning ¬†in woeful eyes of abject faux hunger and never gets a crumb!¬†I digress.

Two black dogs play in the woods, guess which one is the male!

The little bear dog was male, Ena is female, the rest of their time together was rather predictably spent with the thankfully smaller and submissive male trying to have his way with Ena, who’s having none of it. But the “chase” was fun and the two of them ran around like, er.. ¬†“dogs on heat” and funnily enough when the little bear got tired and stopped running (the poor thing had a limp) Ena came and tried to get him to chase her once more! Ena the tease!

Ena and friend “tear it up” in the woods!

Sweet though this brief romance was the two hounds often looked like some dark and demonic creatures as they scampered in and out of the trees.

Ena and her latest “boyfriend”.

Vanja and I took a selfie in the sun’s warm evening glow. By the time we made it back to the house the sun had dipped behind the hill and the temperature had plummeted.

This is the “heightism” friendly selfie angle for photos of Vanja and I. But I look a bit fat from this side…..