Bye-bye Summer, hello to good cat-mother week.

My expat life in Istria

With bad weather forecast, we put the summer kitchen, pool and garden to bed – always a sad day. I take the cats for their jabs and make new internet friends, the gardeners attack the lawn, P hunts a leak, and we have our first fire of the season – which means Autumn’s finally arrived.


Monday 3 October

Drying pool cover in the sun‘They’ say this will be the last week of warm weather. After two months of wall-to-wall sunshine, it’s hard to believe it will ever come to an end. But in a rare attack of forward-thinking we decided to use the last few days of sun to put our life outside to bed. First was the pool, which, even with its cover, is down to 21°C (from 23°C on Friday) and far too chilly for us wimps to swim. First step was to take the cover off and dry it in the sun, then wrap it up and tuck it behind the Little House for the winter. It can now sit for a bit to cool right down, and then we’ll put the winter chemicals in and winter cover on. It seemed strange doing this in shorts and T-shirt.

Back in the office this afternoon it was booking dance time again 🙂 – a couple have rented the Little House for their honeymoon. I love getting honeymooners, the Little House is just perfect for a romantic get-away.

P’s birthday trip to New York is coming up fast and we’ve only got the flight (from the UK), hotel and ship back booked. Time to sort out the rest of the trip – a long tale for another day. Of course, I didn’t get everything finished and ended the day more than slightly narked :(.


Tuesday 4 October

Tally’s got a feline friend – a.k.a. The Interloper. Well actually we assumed he/she was an enemy, as we often hear catty scrapping at night and are fairly sure  he (another assumption – could be she) is involved. However, Tally appeared to be inviting him/her in for breakfast this morning and he got quite a shock when I turned up at the door.

Aerating machine and scarifying the lawnGardeners aerated, scarified and fertilised the lawn. Scarifying’s tough work with a rake, and they had a lot of lawn to cover. I was astonished to see the amount of dead material they pulled out!

Live Istria’s got plenty of words now, but unfortunately, ‘if you post it, they will come,’ just doesn’t work :(. Decided to step up promotion and started e-mailing everyone who enquired about booking the Little House this year. (After all, they were interested in Istria before, maybe they still are?) Doesn’t feel very targeted, but what else to do? Met David (another expat-Brit) who’d spent a year researching how to make money from websites for coffee to discuss SEO (search engine optimisation).

He had a lot of advice on how to boost us up the Google rankings and I realised I had misunderstood how keywords are used. Very useful, but came home feeling rather tired and despondent, and realised I’d completely exhausted myself getting this far with the website. As SEO and Google rankings are proving complicated, I decided to shelve the whole subject until we’re back from New York and focus on recharging my batteries, or I’m going to ruin P’s 50th birthday present.  


Wednesday 5 October

Both cats at the door this morning: Tally beating the glass to come in – she must’ve been hungry. She’d be less keen if she knew a vet trip lay in her future, for her annual jabs and check-up. 

Baggy in cat boxI took Baggy first and, as the vets was wonderfully quiet (and dog-free), I decided to take Tally straight in afterwards. Normally I stage this over two days, as it’s torture – for me. Both cats cry all the way there and back, with  meows ranging from ‘I’m pathetic, please let me out of here’ up to ‘I’ve had enough, let me out or ELSE!!’ temper tantrums. It’s only a 10 minute journey but I can only take so much feline emotional blackmail in one day. But a quiet day at the vets is an opportunity not to be missed.

Needed a strong coffee when I got Tally home, to get over the trauma. Relief that I’ve done right for my cats for another year, :), which is tempered by the annual debate over how to get worming pills down them. Grind the pills, sprinkle it on food and hope they each eat the right amount (of course they need different doses), or dilute and squirt in their mouths? Ah, the tricky questions of cat-motherhood.

Into town this afternoon, for the weekly shop and the plastic tubing needed for P’s water-feature tests. (How do we cope with the excitement – P). As I’m a girly, P thought I’d have more success with the salesmen at the DIY emporium, so he hit the supermarket while  I was dispatched to Elektrometal to buy 15 m of plastic pipe. Yes, they had pipe of the right internal diameter … but only had 8.5 m. After a little debate and a lot of  flirting (from the salesman, not me), I bought the pipe – together with a bit of metal tubing and some hose grips to improvise a connector to the 5 m of pipe we had at home. P’s opinion: “why couldn’t they stock a proper pipe connector, they’re common enough in civilized countries.” Nuff said.


Thursday 6 October

Davor and his power sprayerSuch a beautiful day, it’s hard to believe this is supposed to be our last day of sun. Picked 5 kg of tomatoes, pruned raspberry canes, gave fig treelets a good feed and did some weeding. Just as I was finishing, Davor turned up with his heavy duty spraying gear, to do the laburnum and oak tree.

Slowly, slowly I seem to be making good contacts for Live Istria. Heard back from Taste of Croatia, a great food and drink website, and have linked up with Wines of Croatia. Also joined an expat social network Insego. OK, it’s mainly aimed at expats living in Holland, but  hopefully they’ll be interested in expat life somewhere a little warmer – an expat’s an expat (right?). I wonder if all this incestuous linking between sites will really help gather momentum and spread the word? Only time will tell, I guess.

P joins 2 pipes together for water feature testP started his water-feature leak test. First, after the obligatory swearing, he joined the pipes together with my Heath-Robinson fix  – which worked (more or less)! Then he started the test itself – a complex procedure involving pumping water for fixed intervals between various ponds. And good news (in a way) … it seems the first test already narrowed down the leak to the top pond. P of course wants to run the test again using the original pump to check flow rate hasn’t affected the results … or something. (I can’t help it, I’m a scientist – P)

While that was running we finished our outside shut-down, teak oiling and then wrapping the table and chairs in the summer kitchen, and stacking and wrapping the pool loungers. It’s a wrench to see them being put away, it really marks the end of summer.

With all this excitement, forgot to give cats their worming pills – tomorrow.


Friday 7 October

They promised us wet, windy weather and that’s exactly what we got. It’s been blowing a gale and chucking it down all day. Temperatures have plummeted: 9.5°C at midday – a real shock to my sun-loving system after the 26°C of yesterday.

Spent the day safely tucked up in front of my desk, praying the flickering lights would not turn into a full-scale power cut (storms and power cuts go together here). We had a few short outages, but I managed to work on.

First fire of the seasonDecided to continue in the good cat mother theme and give the cats their pills in liquid form, to ensure they each get the right amount. Then forgot to do it – again.

Summer’s had a very good run for its money this year – but it’s over now. The house temperature is plummeting: I’m back into jeans, socks and a jumper, and we had our first fire of the season. Not sure if that’s 🙂 or :(.


Saturday 8 October

Bad weather seems to have blown through quickly – it was windy enough. Day dawned beautiful, but still windy and chilly.

Cat saga continues: Baggy turned up late and skittish, somehow she knows there’s a worming pill in her future. Squirting it was a total failure (cats too wriggly) so I ground the appropriate quantities and sprinkled it on their food (half a pill for Tally, who’s 3.6 kg, and a whole one for Baggy, who’s 5.9 kg – she might look like a sack of potatoes, but honest, she’s just big, not fat …). Of course today, for a change, Tally did all the eating, not Baggy. I wonder what one whole worming pill will do to a skinny cat? Guess I’ll find out.

Ian cleaning the carIan round again, this time in Car Cleaning Elf guise. Hadn’t realised we had a blue car, thought it was grey. Don’t think the car’s been cleaned in over a year – bad car mother, aren’t I?

After a morning battling unproductively at the typeface, I lit the fire and retired to the sofa with a book to recharge my batteries. So I had a lazy day … but P was very busy. He chopped wood and restocked the log basket. He then cleaned the pool (scooping out loads of leaves, vacuuming the bottom, CIF-ing the sides and backwashing) – it’s no small task :). He then moved on to the Little House, attacking the shower mastic with chlorine to prevent black mould over the winter … and finally cooked dinner. What a hero! (An idiot, more like – P)


Sunday 9 October

Beautiful bright, if chilly day. Both cats on doorstep this morning and nearly swept me off my feet in their hurry to get past to their food. I imagine this is what it’s like having teenagers in the house?

Went for a walk by the sea after lunch. Real contrast to last Sunday. Just a week ago, people were swimming and sunbathing: now I’m bundled against the cold, speed-walking to keep warm.

Finished the week curled up in front of the fire with an episode of Spooks on the TV.


The tale continues next week, when I make the departure for a trip as complicated as possible.

Read my blog in the right order – from the start in July


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