Monday 10th August
With just 6 and half days before our guests would arrive, the schedule was tough. Realising that we would never complete everything in time, it was time to call in Miso – if anyone could help us achieve the impossible, he could. He agreed to build us a set of steps connecting the shower block to the lower camping terrace and to tile the entire floor in the shower, wash basin & toilet area. The tiled rug idea had long since been abandoned as we acknowledged the complexity of using tiles of different thicknesses and our limited skill in tiling large areas quickly. By the time Nik & I arrived on Monday morning to start the final countdown in earnest, Miso had already completed the steps (out of railway sleepers as we insisted he use natural materials and minimise the use of concrete) and just had some tidying up to do of the surrounding area.
Our priority for Monday was to get all the work done in the main shower block area to leave it clear for Miso to tile. Nik & I cracked on with painting the toilet walls and doors and Steve got the first shower plumbed in. Here is the moment when we turned the water on for the first time…
The excitement turned to concern as the fitting leaked and there seemingly wasn’t enough pressure to get the shower element to work. This was something we had dreaded – that the pressure from the top tank would not be enough to provide a decent shower. There was nothing to do but wait until the entire shower hose etc was fully installed and hope. Maybe there was air in the system? Maybe the Monte fittings would only work on higher pressure than we had? Undeterred, Steve continued with plumbing in the wash basins…
Now we had water coming out of the taps, it was critical to get the grease trap connected to the first bath as we would start to generate waste water that needed to be filtered & piped away from the buiding. The greywater system was a real mission involving: cutting holes in the metal baths for the sewerage pipes delivering water to the bath and out the other end (after much experimentation, the angle grinder proved best for the tricky job of cutting circles!); getting the angles of the connections right so the water flowed down from the grease trap at the right rate and finding the right rubber bungs and plumbers material to seal the holes where the pipes enter and leave the baths to minimise potentially smelly grey water leaking out before being filtered by the sand and the plants. Here’s the pipework to the first bath complete:
We found enough crates to complete the floor in the last compost toilet chamber so they were cut and placed in position with the mesh secured over them. All 3 chambers ready for use!!! Now the fans to install, the panel to mount and the wiring to be done… Mmmm. We went to bed worrying about those things and the water pressure issue.
Tuesday 11th August
I was up early glossing the toilet door frames before Miso arrived and cracked on with the floor tiling. When I had let Miso in at 8.00am and warned him of the wet paint, I went back to our camp up top for toast & coffee only to find we were a man down. Steve had had a really rough night apparently spending most of it on the toilet (shows how deeply I sleep up there – didn’t get disturnbed at all!). He looked dreadful, felt very weak & still had diahorreah. He was out of action all day sleeping and sipping water and mint tea so just Nik & I left to crack on with the greywater system, whilst Miso assisted by our neighbour, Milerad, made great progress on the tiling:
It was a tough day on the greywater project. First we had to dig out more earth to get baths 1 & 2 positioned correctly for the right flow rate. We took turns with a mattock and a shovel, breaking up the hard, stony ground and shovelling it out, sweating buckets and drinking gallons. Then we fitted all the pipes and sealed them and then the really hard bit… filling the baths, first with large gravel and then a layer of smaller size gravel and then earth and compost. Getting the different grades of gravel meant sieving the huge pile of sand and gravel we had using different sized mesh. We adopted the local approach and simply leant a frame up and chucked the sand and gravel at it (I came up with the idea of using a pallet for the frame which worked really well). The bigger sized gravel bounced off the pallet covered with mesh and was barrowed into the baths first and the pile that went through the mesh was re-seived with a finer mesh to separate the medium-sized material from the fine sand. It was hard work in the hot sun and we were absolutely knackered at the end of the day but very happy with the result…
Thankfully Steve was feeling a little better and ready to put some food into his poor body so we all had a nice meal together and crashed.
Wednesday 12th August
Steve woke up feeling better although still a bit fragile. It was a relief to get him back on his feet because Matt had agreed to come and help him mount the solar panel on the roof. He spent the morning checking all the diagrams and info, figuring out how it was all going to work:
He found he didn’t have enough solar cable to run from the fans to the PV panel & the battery! Luckily he was able to source something similar that would do for the initial installation and he and Matt cracked on with getting the panel mounted and the wiring underway. The frame that Zoran had built & installed for the solar thermal panels proved to be a great structure to give strong, stable platform to access the roof for the mounting of the panel:
Meanwhile, Nik was busy with wood again, making a beautiful structure to fit in the corner of the kitchen next to the sink and be an additional draining area. Here he is sanding down the wood for use:
I had a day in the grounds, strimming, raking, clearing stones and generally trying to prepare the lower terrace for tents. It was hot, slow work and very depressing as a whole day’s graft had seemingly made no difference – there was still loads of levelling of ground and stumping to be done and no time to do it. I was hoping to chip all the brash & branches I had cut down in our shredder and use the shredded mulch to cover areas of the ground that were scarred by cement and building material but we couldn’t get the shredder to work. I began to feel the task ahead of us was too great and panic and depression crept in. However, my spirits were lifted by Miso finishing the floor: