Our Full Monte Life…

Monthly snapshot – September

The month in which…

… we made huge progress with the ongoing project of re-building stone walls, when volunteers Tom & Jerome arrived for a week with motivation & muscle!

Sept stone walls before

The guys worked so fast that we didn’t even record the full progress so I don’t have a true ‘before’ picture!

Sept stone wall nearly done

This is the wall nearly finished – here you can see the new lower wall built mostly by Tom. In between the lower & higher wall we have a new area for growing veg, which we hope will be our Squash & Pumpkin patch next year if we can improve the soil enough.

Sept Steve destroying wall

Some parts of the wall had to be demolished before they could be repaired. Here’s Steve levering rocks from a bowed part of the old wall…

Sept Steve & Tom & big rock

Steve and Tom and another bloody great rock!

Sept Den digging for rocks

Den digging for rocks and trying to keep the boys supplied with small stones for infill and nice flat finishing stones

Sept baby tortoise

Jerome found a of tortoise nest whilst destroying the wall.  The eggs were just hatching out and here are the babies…

Sept - stone wallers

Great pic of the ‘Stone Wallers’ Tom, Jerome & Steve – sweaty, filthy but triumphant, the new ‘rock & roll’!

… we had a few guests but hardly any and most of them were from Belgium!

Sept belgians

Indian feast with the Belgians – only Graham was the token Englishman!

We waved goodbye to Graham at the beginning of the month.  He was with us for 2 weeks and was such good company – not just for us, but also for Daisy:

Sept Graham

… my school friends came to stay for a long weekend!  Becky has visited us before with her hubby & kids but this time she came with Paula.  We 3 have known each other for 30+ years and probably haven’t spent a weekend together since schooldays!  It was great fun and the weirdest thing was none of us have really changed.  The girls narrowly missed a bit of grey and drizzly weather so the first night the temperatures had dropped a lot.  Good excuse for a fire!

Sept - Supper with the girls

First night with the girls at the campsite – all wrapped up, eating dinner

Sept - girls round fire

Becky & Paula by the fire

The next day was bright & sunny – perfect for a boat trip to Zanjice!

Sept Beck & Paula

Dave at the wheel of his RIB, whilst the girls soak up the experience

Sept Berni & Theo

Berni & Theo came too!

Craft fair 4

The Craft Fair at Zanjice was amazing, thanks to these talented folk – over €1000 raised for the dog shelter in Tivat!

Craft fair 3

Fiona’s beautiful bowls & jugs

Craft fair 2

Jan’s amazing felt characters

Craft fair 1

More beautiful things made from felt by crafty Jan

Craft fair 5

Gorgeous glasswork and mirrors made by Fiona

Becky & Paula went away laden with gifts for the family!  After lunch, a few beers & some sunbathing it was time to whizz back to Herceg Novi.  We had a couple of hours to rest and change before heading into town to meet up with my girlfriends here and enjoy delicious food & wine at Portofino… and lots of giggles.  We 3 headed back to the Topla house for the night and sat up til the early hours drinking, reminiscing and swapping stories of the intervening 30 years.

The next day, their last full day before leaving, we did a road trip round the bay – swimming at Perast, a walk around Kotor, an ice cream and window shopping in Porto Montenegro, Tivat and back to Herceg Novi for burger, chips and beer.  Here we are posing on the trusty Transit:

Sept girls & the van

Girls on tour!

… the weather was GORGEOUS!  Hot and sunny, but not stifling.  In between volunteers, friends and the last of our guests we had a few days relaxing in the sunshine:

Sept yoga space

Yoga in the morning, sunbathing here all afternoon (sometimes even with a cheeky homemade Pimms!)

Sept Den relaxing

Nice quiet place to read a book

The downside of the continued amazing weather was that the garden needed a lot of water and at the same time the water in our tank got very low.  The pool in the stream that we pump from was also very depleted so we could only pump once a day.  Inevitably the weather finally broke and the rain that had been eluding us for 2+ months came all in one, long, wet, miserable day on 24th September when we made the final dash from the campsite with the last of our stuff.  Timing, eh?

… we hosted some very memorable volunteers!

Sept Jerome & insulation

Jerome from Holland – insulating the solar hot water system

Sept - Tom & uke

Tom from NZ – stone waller extraordinaire, who played the ukulele and sang beautifully and holds the record for the only volunteer not to leave the campsite for 10 days (even tho he had his own transport!)

Sept Michele

Michele from Venice in front of the Loquat tree he helped plant, our most unusual volunteer to date

Sept Jessa

And the lovely Jessa, from Oz – whose vegan requirements meant we ate a lot of healthy veg in the last few days at the campsite

Sept palm planting

And here she is again with the palm she helped plant, during which she learnt to use a pick axe!

… we emptied the grease trap in our grey water system. It had not been cleaned for 4 years:

Sept grease trap

Steve scraping the sludge off the top of the grease trap!

Sept grease trap 2

We assembled a huge pipe which ran all the way down to the bottom of the camp, which we filled with water and used to syphon out the grease trap completely

… both Steve and I read some good books.  Steve actually finished 3 books this month: Mr Phillips (reviewed here last month), Atonement (reviewed here last August) and a Mavis Cheek book which he found mildly amusing.  I struggled my way through my first Cormac McCarthy book, on Jim’s recommendation:


Wonderfully descriptive writing and worth the struggle but not a book with a clear story as such so it left me feeling a little empty. Sometimes I found him overly verbose and there were so many words beyond my ken that I was permanently glued to the dictionary. This is NOT a jolly read – you can positively feel the grime and the despair coming off the page. But Jim was right about it stretching me and I’m defo up for more of his books.


Boyd continues to impress me. I raced through this book, light relief after ‘Suttree’ and with a cracking story and great characters.

… Annie came for her second visit of the season.  She was a great help on the campsite, as ever, loading the van & packing stuff up.  She was my excuse for a morning on the beach here and there:

Sept Annie & Den on beach

Den & Annie on Nijvice beach – 29th September & still swimming and sunbathing!!!

and Daisy was delighted to have her back for their walks to the church every afternoon.  As well as helping out with all the packing & unpacking and washing and cleaning involved in the move from the camp back to the house, we enjoyed some fun stuff together too:

Sept Jens bday 2

Jen’s birthday at Topla house – cake #1

Sept Jens bday

Cake #2!

Sept Annie

Annie looking gorgeous at Emma’s 40th birthday BBQ

Sept Ems bday 5

The venue for the 40th celebrations – Villa Miela and Piglet Cottage in Virpazar, stunning location

Sept bday girl

Emma, the birthday girl with daughter Evie

Sept Ems bday 3

Evie trying to feed her twin, George


Sept Em bday 1

More kids! Enjoying the slide and swing…

Sept Emma bday 4

Den, Berni & Liset – what a view behind us eh?

… Jelena gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Lana and Nikola became a proud Daddy:

Sept Jelena & Lana

Jelena & Lana

… the garden started to struggle in the continuing hot temperatures.  With closure imminent, it was time to start pulling veg.  I picked 2kgs of green tomatoes & made chutney.

Sept green toms

Sept carrots

We pulled most of the carrots – final total to be confirmed next month, but we’re pretty happy with the shape and size of most of our crop this year. Not too many forked ones. And REALLY tasty! We now have a freezer full of chopped carrots for the autumn.

The chillies cropped really well and I have 2 big bags of red and green chillies in the freezer now.  And despite it being too hot for lettuce, the rest of the salad greens continued to delight – fresh rocket, sorrel, chard and parsley made salads extra tasty:

Sept salad

Marigold leaves and petals became a staple for salads this month – the leaves give the salad a peppery tang and the flowers provide an appealing splash of colour…

… we returned the campsite to nature again and really enjoyed the comforts of our lovely house: tea made in seconds with the electric kettle; toast and chips (no toasters & deep fat fryers at the off-grid campsite!), vegging out to movies on our luxurious leather sofas, sleeping in our big bed (such a welcome contrast to being cramped in the caravan!) and of course, our stunning view:

Sept Topla view

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