The first weeks in September brought us a flurry of friends and activity. Fresh blood on the scene is always welcome – extra hands, fresh ideas – and an excuse to have a break and some fun…
We had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Ray, our electrician friend ( sometimes also called Frank – don’t ask!) who was going to help Steve purchase and install all the right kit to make our power supply safe.
Ray did a brilliant job in a short space of time – he only had 2 days with us and was on a mission to achieve as much as he could. Bless him, I think he was quite frustrated by Steve’s very Montenegrin approach: chill out, drink another cup of coffee, smoke another cigarette… With just a few loose ends for Steve to finish, by the time Ray left there was a proper distribution box, everything was fused and safe, there was single cable in place that could be plugged into the genny to operate all the lights and sockets in the shower block and we had power in the workshop for the first time too!
The added bonus was Ray’s friend Shona. We had never met Shona before & certainly weren’t expecting her to sing for her supper but she mucked in with everything and we warmed to her immediately.
We wanted to start our wine bottle window. We’d been collecting bottles and finally had enough to complete one window but the tedious bit was taking all the labels off, cleaning and drying them. Thankfully Shona was happy to help. Here she is de-labelling bottles in the garden:
Once in the garden, we couldn’t get her out of it! She was so happy pottering around doing all the little things I just didn’t have time for: staking the tomato plants which were laden with fruit and toppling over and also getting a bashing from the wind becuase they weren’t properly supported; dead-heading all the marigolds to keep them flowering; digging over the beds and weeding; transplanting herbs…
Jess & Dunc turned up to stay for a week around the same time. Dunc did his usual trick of saying he was coming to help – “N0, honestly, I’m going to work this time” blah, blah – and then taking a wee afternoon kip the first day, skiving off on a lads day out and getting us drunk & making us stay up late every night so that we wasted most of the day waking up and drinking coffee! No, to be fair he did do stuff: he helped Nik dig out, sieve and barrow gravel and soil for the last 2 baths in the greywater system; he helped Jess & Nik move 2 tents down from the top land; he helped shift a load of railways sleepers into a pile and he did a brilliant job of encouraging us, giving us ideas and telling us what to do! Look, there’s even a picture of Dunc working:
Us girls cracked on with the wine bottle window. We figured out how to cap the bottles to prevent them filling with dust/ water – we reused the little metal cases left over from burning tea lights, held in place with a little splodge of silicon and when we ran out of those we used metal tops from the beer bottles and 1 litre wine bottles. Here’s Jess & Shona with a production line going:
I laid some tile adhesive on the ledge to provide a smoother base for the first line of bottles to sink into. It took us a while to learn where to apply the silicon to effectively stick the bottles to each other and keep them straight and level but once we got into the swing of it we got a couple of rows placed quite quickly:
All that working made us hungry… we cobbled together some great meals. Here’s a great picture Jess took of one of our lunches. There’s grated beetroot & carrot (from our garden), dressed with a little balsamic vinegar & oil; tomato & basil salad (from our garden); rocket salad with fresh chives, coriander & parsley (from our garden – there’s a theme here!) and Shona’s divine cucumber & dill salad (special ingredient is the dressing of organic cider vinegar & sugar) – now immortalised in our Guest Book.
It wasn’t all work though… Ray & Shona took us out for a meal on their last night to say thank you for working them every day; making them camp again after 25 years; risking life & limb on ladders wielding drills on a windy night; and putting up with Duncan! We literally couldn’t remember the last time we had got scrubbed up and gone out for a meal and we had a fabulous evening: melt in your mouth steak & a bottle of wine; a leisurely stroll in the balmy evening air; lemon & chocolate ice cream and great coffee people-watching on the promenade. It was lovely – we were sad to see them leave…
I have been looking at ways to reuse plastic bags for ages. They use so many of them in Montenegro, it’s ridiculous. I’ve also been looking for a way to make a bead curtain out of recycled materials to cover the entrance from the kitchen area into the main shower block – as an additional fly deterrant and to obscure the view directly into the compost loos! One evening as Jess, Steve and I were discussing these things and coming up with ideas, Jess started to plait strips of plastic bags. We realised that plaited and weighed down with washers, these plastic bag strips could form a colourful curtain to serve our purposes! Watch this space for news on whether it actually works!!!