Welcome to the grove blog, an archive of all the work we have done here.
For booking and further info, visit thegrovemontenegro.com.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Southern Soul and the Tale/Tail of the "Dragana" Fish

Greetings from the Crno Gorski contingent of our pan-Europe (if you can count UK as Europe) conglomerate. Much has happened this weekend.

It began with a flustered attempt at signing up various contractors for pipes, insulation and other things necessary to get poo away from you and keep you dry. And to stop rocks falling on your head, especially if you're staying in a top bunk. This relatively ill-timed session of to-ing and fro-ing from our friendly neighbourhood bank interfered somewhat with the first hangover of Southern Soul Festival, a 5-year-old party down on Velika Pla┼ża, a long sandy beach south of Ulcinj, a stone's throw from Albania.

This festival ( http://www.southernsoulfestival.me/ ) will no doubt become a part of our summer season, as it's a short drive from the Grove, and takes place entirely in sand, making for a very summery atmosphere indeed. Alas, the sand hid a rare and oft-neglected creature, the Weever Fish, or "Dragana" as it's known here:

Doesn't she look just delightful?

On the final evening of the festival, the long-suffering Zoe, (escaping the incoming hordes of mosquitoes) was blissfully unaware of this angry upturned face, plonking her foot right on top in attempt to dive for a wayward frisbee (such was her commitment for the epic grab).

Cue excruciating pain. Upon being dragged out of the water by the rest of the team, Zoe was then met with a hundred action plans by relatively inebriated kitesurfers and bar staff, varying from, "PUT IT IN HOT SAND!" (the sand was no longer hot), to "You need to burn it with a cigarette!", to "maybe some rakija?" "I was stung by one of these up my bum and it hurt like hell", was probably the most entertaining comment.

Eventually the doctor turned up, looking decidedly relaxed / self-medicated, and casually offered the advice, "Hot sand, or we use a cigarette. Get this girl some rakija!" In between nabbing drags of the ciggy for himself, he used the heat of the lit end to "deactivate the toxin", which turned out to be the legitimate medical response, albeit using techniques not found in hospitals. Meanwhile Zoe got steadily more wasted as she was administered quince rakija in ever-increasing doses. Plus a couple of actual shots in the form of injections.

Needless to say, that with a pronounced limp, and too much medicinal alcohol, Zoe's night was over. Until next year, Southern Soul!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Today We Slaughtered A Sheep And Poured Its Blood Into The Concrete

        Custom dictated that we must slaughter an animal and pour its blood into the concrete, and afterwards eat it. The only animals that were mentioned were the goat and the sheep, though i am sure any other Bovid would do. Probably a mouse wouldn't do. It wouldn't be dramatic enough. And perhaps a little disappointing after being portioned out between 20 overworked Bosnians. 

           It's a huge turning point, the pouring of the ground floor slab. Because from here onwards we are going up up up. 

           You can see metal bits pointing upwards from the slab - the beginnings of the reinforcements for the columns. This is part of the concrete frame that is being built within our stone walls - which will look like this, in approximately 4 weeks. Perhaps. Not the roofy bit though. That will be a while longer -


       It has been an expensive, time consuming, tiring and dangerous job. This pic highlights just how much of the stone wall has to be dug out in order to fit the concrete in. 


       With every stone removed, the walls weakened. What is more, the buildings foundation was smattered with huge solid limestone. One rock (about 1m diameter) took 3 men 5 days to clear, with pneumatic drills, ye olde rock fracturing techniques, sweat, profanities and even one pointless attempt at using fracturing powder. Ordinarily they would have used dynamite. But there was a massive house on top of it, and little room for error. There were times where the pneumatic drills would vibrate the walls so much that bits would drop off them above. Truly terrifying. But the lads did it. And now the building will just get stronger and stronger. 

          In the UK, we wouldn't need this concrete skeleton. But here it is a legal obligation to use a certain amount of metal/concrete in order to protect against seismic activity. So this was our way of being able to be compliant. It is because of this that there are so few old stone buildings being renovated in Montenegro. It is cheaper to just knock it down and build a concrete monstrosity. 

            At the moment the Southern Soul Festival is happening on the gorgeous long sandy beaches of Ulcinj, just down the road from us. Hopefully some of you lot will be able to join us next year. 

                Here are the next couple vids in the Grove story - our journey to Stari Bar in Lenny, and our first coupla months living here. 

      We hope all of you are doing well. 

    Loads of love and olive oil.