Saturday July 21
Weekends are for us not really very different from weekdays, although I tend to use it as an excuse to drink a bit more perhaps. When we bought La Mina the German real estate agent said that Mallorca has a wonderful climate but you should be away in July and August being too hot. I did not believe this back in 2012 when she said this. But now I agree with her. We like to do things outside on our finca and although we are not afraid of hard physical work, it becomes very hard with temperatures higher than 30 degrees, especially in full sun of course. So you should have one long siesta during this time or do more online inside the house which is much cooler (no airconditioner, just some fans). But we can't work online all day long, so we still do lots of stuff. Ans does it mainly in the morning and I do it mainly in the late morning till 6 PM which for us is always the time to stop, Summer and Winter. The good thing with still doing stuff during the hot Summer months is that it's like a kind of bonus; you don't have to do it, there is very little stress involved if there already was some.
The past weeks have been focused on getting the concrete patio done before the cottage. French guests were expected - for the third time - and we wanted to reduce the building site view as much as possible. Just before they came I removed the last forms which hold the concrete in the right shape, so we were pleased with this. Now in the back of my mind I always keep thinking about reforming the former coal bunkers, the three arched building which currently is more a ruin. In order to not lose my enthusiasm in this huge project I felt that I needed to move one step ahead with it. The first thing that needs to be done is extending the 3 arches for another two meter. It's covered right now but with a flat roof of concrete beams and hollow blocks in between them. But before this can be started we need to remove these hollow blocks; no need to remove the beams as the arches will be constructed below these beams. We just need to be able to pour the concrete on top of custom made form for the concrete arch - made of our our wood, I think I will start with this in August. But in order to remove those hollow blocks we need space and over the years we have put more and more stuff in the building, many of it not really necessary as it could also be outside (like tiles, pallets of marble etc).
So this weekend I have been busy with removing everything from one of the 3 rooms. Everything needed to go out as I need to be able to get in there with our biggest loader and the dumper and the smallest excavator. I had the idea to put many pallets on the spot where had dumped about 15 tree trunks, which had never been milled (I should never do this again and mill them immediately after being cut; the wood is much softer and insects will less likely lay eggs in the bark and eat the wood). Most of Saturday I was busy with removing the trunks to another place and the smallest trunks were brought to the place where we store the firewood.
Sunday July 22
I was updated today by email about the high expanding mortar shipment...
Do you remember the special cement like mortar which I experimented with on piedra, the hard natural rock type here on Mallorca? I ordered 1 pallet of 1000 kg of this stuff, packed in carton boxes with 4 plastic bags each. On top of this pallet they also stacked a special rock drill, gasoline fueled, some drill rods and diamond drill bits. The final part of the ordering part was kind of messy and not what I expected. As I don't want to arrange all the hassle with the custom clearance I contact a shipping agent in Rotterdam. They advised another shipping agent in Barcelona. The first thing they asked me was: "Under which shipping condition did you order the pallet with goods?". I had agreed with the Chinese company a price based upon CNF = Cost No insurance Freight, from China to the port of Barcelona. My shipping guy Carlos in Barcelona said that this was 99.99% not the case and I still had to pay for the shipping costs from China to Barcelona. He assured me that all Chinese companies play this trick in order to make more revenue. So what happens is: the pallet arrives in Barcelona and will not be cleared until you pay the shipping costs, which you assumed to have paid already. Carlos said that I should try to change the shipping condition to FOB = Free On Board and so I did. The Chinese company send me updated documents which clearly stated FOB. But ... you would expect that the transport costs would be lower as they only had to transport it to the port of Xiamen, not all the way to Barcelona. This is not the case. The transport costs stayed the same. I did not want to create any more turmoil on this matter and left it for what it was.
Two days ago a container vessel departed the port of the Chinese port of Xiamen on it's way to Barcelona. Although it will first go to many other ports on route. I googled the name of the vessel - MV Brighton 1810E - and immediately found it on the website Marine Traffic. One of the photos shows this huge vessel of 300 meter long and 40 meter wide. You can track the movements of the vessel continuously, right now it seems to be in the South Korean Sea (and today, Friday July 27 it is moored in the container terminal of Busan in South Korea, a voyage of about 1600 km).
Monday July 23
On Monday morning I did the first test with the hospital infusion pump, which I bought on eBay. This infusion pump came from the UK and the powercord plug needed to be changed for a EU plug. I connected it to the mains and pressed on the on/off button: nothing happened. I pressed it a bit longer: nothing happened. I pressed it together with the start/stop button, nothing happened. It was time to download the manual of the Acromed VP7000 and checked the fuse which proved to be ok. Pressing the on/off button should have lid up the display at least, so something was terribly wrong. After some more attempts to get live into the machine I decided to contact the seller, explained what did and asked them for advice. A few email later they offered to send a replacement, which I accepted. So now I am waiting for this. To be continued.As usual for Monday morning I chatted with Nand and Ali, the programmers in India, discussed the progress of the tasks they are working on and assisted where necessary. Right now Nand is working on replacing a date range slider bar feature for a more regular calendar look to select dates. It proves that many users don't like the more modern date range slider where you drag the start date and the end date of a help exchange period on the Hovos website. Ali (his full name is Mohammed Ali like the boxer) is working on Admini. His current task is making the transaction module better with using less code and adding more logic structure to this.
I also received a few messages from Logius, the IT department of the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs, which I need for connecting Admini to the Dutch Tax Office. This involves a lot of red tape, approvals, security certificates, registrations etc. But we have to get through this in order to be able to send in sales tax declarations of our users through Admini.com.
Around 13:00 we usually have lunch. Inside the house as outside it's too hot. So we watch DMax, which is Discovery Channel's name in Spain and watch the program Dual Survival. Not really super interesting and we make jokes about it daily like saying at random "In a survival situation like this you need water and a shelter." At 14:00 Wild Frank is starting, which we do not really like and so we drag ourselves off the couch and do something. If it's too hot I crash again on the couch at 16:00 and watch 'The Last Alaskans', which is kind of interesting.
This day however I really wanted to get started with achieving some major progress for the coal storage building so from 14:00 till 18:00 hours I have been drilling concrete away.
Tuesday July 24
Tuesday we received a lot of inquiries from people who would like to stay here. All relatively last minutes. Mallorca is very desired and if people first book flights assuming the accommodation will be of less importance, they could be wrong if they want to come in July or August. Everything is fully booked, so people will search through Google and smaller website than Airbnb, Booking.com and HomeAway and so find us. Unfortunately we had to reject all booking requests.
I also received a few more messages related to the transport of some construction machines which I bought on an auction in Germany 6 weeks ago. They are still there, reason: suddenly the prices per pallet from Germany to Mallorca have kind of exploded. The last transport from Germany to Mallorca was a pallet with hammer of 200 kg, which cost €150. Now I have 2 pallets (one with a walk behind compactor plate and one with a walk behind asphalt saw and a handheld asphalt saw) and the price for these 2 pallets is over €500. I still do not have a deal for this transport. The communication with those truckers and transport companies is always very slow and blunt, there are always issues, almost never arriving conform promises.
The afternoon was completely spend on drilling the blocks away.
Wednesday July 25
There were some issues with the bookings of the guests houses in Sweden. It really seems that we are starting to float on top, we have never been renting out our 2 houses so much as this year. Maybe it's the hot weather in Holland which brings creates these last minute requests, trying to find cooler places in Europe. I am afraid however there are no cool places anywhere in Europe right now. Several times I have seen a comparison with the year 1976, which also I remember well. I was 15 in this year and picked strawberries for a farmer just outside Leeuwarden, the town where I was born. We had a kind of a tropical schedule, working from 6 in the morning till noon. As working on the fields was really too hot in the afternoon. Every day I brought my mother a kilo strawberries which she produced in her very tasty strawberry pies. About the bookings, we managed to squeeze in some bookings and there are still a few pending bookings, also for Mallorca.
The afternoon was fully spend again concrete drilling and at the end of the day I was half way the job.
Thursday July 26
Sorry... not much achieved, no progress on the drilling front, hanging on the couch watching TV.
Friday July 27
No drilling of concrete on Friday either, one of the guests stayed home and the noise of the drilling is really nice for the ears. It did try to 'catch' the noise a bit bit by hanging 2 blankets near where am drilling, which I hoped would absorb it. It probably does, but not enough to not hear it in the bad house.
I did achieve something though. The neighbor from whom we got the plums a few weeks ago is a builder and stores his building machines and stuff not far away from our lower gate. Ans is walking by every day with her morning walk with Borre. Just after Ans came back with Borre I mentioned him, maybe he was prepared to sell me some special steel forms for making walls of concrete. Wooden boards are too weak for this, they can ony withstand a pressure or weight of 500 kg and if you make a wall of 4 meter high, 10 cm thick the pressure at the bottom is very high. The steel forms are much stronger and you connect them one to another using pins, all very rigid and no risk on bending. Ans told me that the gate to his place where he stores his stuff was open, so he might be there. I walked to it, but he was not there. Then phoned him, offered him first of all a jar of the jam we made from his plums and asked him if he had any of these forms. He did and when I asked him how much the rental price would be he said that he did not want money for it, but just return it clean.