Live Istria fires up, a cat winds down

My expat life in Istria

In a hot, sunny week, I start promoting Live Istria, P tackles the water feature and the wood pile shrinks. We worry about Tally, then send her to the dog-house. I go grape picking and we drink the mušt – juice from the first pressing. The week then ends with a bang!


Monday 12 September

Weather still amazingly gorgeous in Istria … and I’m still spending most of my life indoors. Something’s definitely wrong here.

Now I’ve finished building Live Istria, there’s not much point having such an exciting site if no-one knows about it. So I have to find out how to get Live Istria to the top of Google’s search page – it’s nowhere at the moment (so thank you if you are reading this because you found it yourself!). And I need to start spreading the word, so beware, there’s probably an e-mail from me in your future (or past, depending when you read this :))Along with ensuring there’s a steady stream of new material, my future looks very busy.

Tally, big eared cat a sleep on the sofaWe’re worried about Tally. All cats spend a lot of time just sitting, but it’s like her batteries have gone flat. She just stops wherever she is – hunched over her water bowl, looking at the wall, staring at the axe handle – and switches off. When I pick her up, she simply flops, like the boneless cat in the Peanuts cartoon.“Perhaps she’s got brain damage,” said P. “Maybe you should take her to the vet.” Maybe, but she’s terrified going to the vet. She’s sneezing a lot at the moment and I think she’s just feeling tired and run down. I’ll keep an eye on her, for now.

 In case you wondered, Baggy’s now completely recovered and back to being her usual slobby, cushion-cat self.


Tuesday 13 September

Spent the morning at my desk rather than in the garden – same old, same old…

P’s made a determined start on trying to find where the worst leaks are in the water feature. He’d switched off the pump timer, so he could operate it manually – only to discover later that it had switched itself back on, so he’s going to have to start all over again :(. Initial assessment is it loses 2 cm in 2 hours: less than he was expecting, but more than I’d hoped.

Ruptured drip line in irrigation systemAnd talking of leaks … after lunch I popped out into the front garden (to take some rubbish to the bin, if you must know) and noticed the garden was looking really dry, despite increasing the irrigation to the drip lines a few days ago. Something was obviously wrong, and it didn’t take long to Nicky waters the dry front gardenfind the leak, or ‘gusher’ should I say. A pipe had come off a connector, so nothing was getting to the front beds and obviously hadn’t been for days. P jammed the pipes back together again and I took remedial action with the hose.


Wednesday 14 September

Lovely morning: already 22°C at 7 am, when I hit my keyboard with breakfast (you know what I mean). Then into the garden for a couple of hours of weeding, which got me wondering: why, when you’re trying to be careful with your feet, do you end up standing on exactly what you’re trying to avoid? (result: squashed lupins.) Why do weeds always grow next to the plants they most resemble? And why, when you’re trying to weed round a seedling, do you always end up pulling it out?

Had a silly half hour just before lunch taking a photo to go with the launch article. We posed with glasses of wine, which then went back into the bottle when we’d finished – I had a sip, but neither of us really wanted a drink mid-morning. Launch article went on-line just before lunch, preceded by my 1st Live Istria tweet – which I got it wrong (forgot the http:// ahead of the website address) and had to quickly do again. Not a very auspicious start!

Ian stacks wood into the wheelbarrow while Tally looks onP’s built up quite a pile of chopped wood and stacking this in the wood store is usually my job. But because I’ve been so busy with Live Istria, this year we have a ‘Stacking Elf’ in the form of SnS’s son Ian. First, he cleared out the store of old stuff and cut back the intruding bamboo (it grows everywhere). Then he ferried and stacked load after load of logs. I was impressed how hard he worked, he got far more done than I would have … and it was lovely having someone else doing ‘my’ hard work :)!

Marija called this afternoon. Did I want to go grape picking tomorrow? Absolutely! The pickers start at 7.30 am – too early. We agreed we’d go a bit later, at 8.30.

Tally update: good news, she bounced in all perky this morning. Unfortunately, by the end of the day she’d gone all ‘rag-doll’ again. Something’s definitely not right, but I don’t think it’s life-threatening. If she’s not better next week, I’ll take her to the vet.


Thursday 15 September

Nicky picking grapes in the vineyardMet Marija in Radmani to go grape picking. Hot, hot work (you can read all about it as soon as I’ve written it!) After a thank-you lunch, went home and dived into the pool to cool off and sober up a little – a rakija and glass of wine (honest, just one) at lunch can have that effect.

After that excitement it was difficult being back at my desk in the afternoon, trying to remember everything I’d been told while picking. Then started some SEO (search engine optimisation) research, which is how I’ll go up those Google rankings. Found it all very complex and full of jargon. Feeling overwhelmed, I quit at 5 pm to have a swim, and then flopped on the terrace with a glass of wine and a book.

P back testing the water feature again today. It’s a bigger problem than we thought. Today it lost 4 cm in 2 hours – that’s a lot. 🙁


Friday 16 September

Mad, crazy day. Started early (6 am) and Tally joined me for my morning session at the typeface, curling up on my lap while I worked. She’s normally a wriggle-puss, demanding attention, but she’s still a bit sneezy and seemed happy just to settle down quietly. It was nice, for today, if a bit awkward typing over a cat (albeit a small one).

Went into Porec to meet Azra to start work on the various property articles I want to write. Then the weekly shop and off to a design studio to sort out business cards. I really need them – it’s getting a bit embarrassing, telling people about Live Istria and not having a card to back up my story. I roughed something up in PowerPoint yesterday and took all the files with me. I expected to have to wait at least a week, but no – they’d be ready today! Fantastic! 🙂 And it was only just lunch time.

After lunch I made tomato soup and started a fig article. Then it was into town to pick up the business cards and, in conversation with the owner, managed to arrange an interview on wine (another yummy topic). It’s exciting: it’s starting to feel like a real business now!

Had a dip when I got back and then shot over to Marija’s to discuss the Konoba Kaštel articles. We’re going there on Sunday and I need to get them translated, so they can check them. We’re going to give Google Translate a try. I wonder how good it will be? Sat chatting over a glass of wine afterwards – lovely.


Saturday 17 September

Another beautiful day, so of course I spent it at the typeface (tell me, am I mad?) Very productive session though. Had a dip about 4 pm, then helped P prepare moussaka for dinner – yummy.

Tally’s now in the dog-house (should that be the cat-house?) She seems a bit perkier today,  but first I caught her sitting on the printer in the office and then on the draining board in the kitchen. Of course she knows they are off-limits, as is the top of the kitchen cupboards, where she ended up, out of sight. She gave P a start when she jumped down while we were cooking, breaking spice pots. So it was in the sin-bin for her. Odd, but it’s like she’s forgotten where she is and is not allowed to go. P’s theory is early on-set Alzheimer’s.


Sunday 18 September

Must tasting at Konoba KastelOff to lunch at Konoba Kaštel with MnG to taste the mušt (the first pressing from the grapes we picked earlier this week) and get my articles checked. But they had a tour party of 49 coming in and were run off their feet. Apparently it’s an annual outing: this group of Italians comes every year for a walk by the sea and then lunch at the Konoba. By the singing that started up soon after they arrived, clearly they were having a good time. So I didn’t get any articles checked, but having some downtime, eating lunch with friends in the sunshine and drinking mušt was perfect. Mušt is fantastic, soft, smooth and fruity, and nothing like I expected. As it’s so young, it’s not really alcoholic – well that’s what they say – but I felt decidedly tipsy when we got home, so spent the remainder of the afternoon snoozing with a book by the pool.

A huge storm is due in tonight and clouds started to gather from mid-afternoon. So before we quit we stacked the pool loungers and battened down the rest of the house, covering outdoor sofas, closing shutters and pulling furniture as far under cover as possible (we’ve learnt the hard way, it’s best to prepare for a storm). At 8 pm (right on schedule), the thunder rolled, the heavens opened and it poured – for half an hour! It then turned into a gentle summer shower. A real anticlimax, but exactly what the garden needed. 🙂

Storms here usually roll round and round, and often have a sting in the tail – lightning, which can cause a lot of damage. So it sounds paranoid, but we unplugged electrical devices and phones before we went to bed. (SnS have lost two internet routers through lightning strikes and other friends have had their whole wiring fried. They were lucky and it didn’t start a fire – it just burnt a pattern into their wall by all the electrical outlets!)

The tale continues next week when we almost lose the summer – but not quite

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


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