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



Wednesday, 3 May 2017

OPENING PARTY.

  We had our ‘opening’ party last weekend. It was the most incredible combination of great people, good music and a full beer fridge. Thank you, so much, to everyone that was there and contributed their selves. We danced, laughed, ‘fixed’ a plumbing disaster, sang, ate, and only slightly annoyed the neighbours. A result. It was a special time for us here, because the building worked. Despite the lack of beds, toilets and showers, it hosted everyone with ease. This space, this unique, adaptable, magical space, has so much potential, and we cannot wait to see what you all bring here. 

   We have a few more days left of work - the showers need finishing. But we expect to be able to welcome guests by the weekend, depending on drying time of varnishes/paint. 

      The website will be live in the next couple of days, keep your ears peeled and your nose to the ground. 

        Many, many thanks for your support, you are the fuel that keeps us plasterboarding.


    Loadsa soppy hugs.


THE GROVE SQUADRON

Friday, 6 January 2017

Brrrr.

         We have been awake since 3am. A big phat phreezing wind came, after 40 days of constant sunshine. Bits are falling off the roof, shutters are slamming and doors blowing open. The electricity shut off 10 hours ago, and as that powers our water pump, we cant do our ones and twos and to get drinking water we have to venture out and visit a spring. We have one fire place in the Grove, and it is not powerful enough to keep us warm in the negative celsiuses. Little breezes penetrate you, no matter where you are inside - one of the less good aspects of living in an old stone building. We will plug all the gaps eventually. 

     Hurray! 



       It is 2017. The year that we will open. 150 years after this building was first built (my cuz recently pointed that out).

        

          Life is generally lovely - we eat well in our bonkers kitchen, sleep well in our bonkers bedrooms, watch TV in our bonkers living room, and shit well in our bonkers dunny. The dunny wins the prize for being the weirdest place at the Grove. It’s nice to sit in there and laugh at how strange life is. 



      That's the dunny there, right behind the wicket keeper. It takes about an hour to walk there and back. Or maybe it just feels like that at 4am.

               
           We work hard, but reward ourselves with beer and nice trips. For example we went to Zabljak for chrimbob. It was white and wonderful. Nice people surround us, injecting the Grove with the positive energy that will one day fuel it. Or something.  

                  

As usual, keep an eye on Instagram for the best idea of whats going on. 

    Big Love.

  The Grove Lot x



                  

Saturday, 17 September 2016

September Upd8, M8.

Merry Mid September one and all. 

    Grovey McGrover here, reporting from The Grove HQ, Stari Bar, Montenegro. 

            I hear you like concrete frames, cleverly hidden within a massive stone shell? Well you have come to the right place.

          I am sitting inside the Grove on a ‘seat’ botched with 3 bits of timber, back leaning against a concrete column, on the 1st floor. As if to give us something audible to describe, a car alarm is going off up the road. Our stone workers are shouting in Albanian, gesticulating at each other, presumably casting blame for the alarm. Dust has just fallen as a wheel barrow trundled along the temporary wooden walkway, 8 metres above ground level. A small balding man, with oversized gloves, wide shorts and a bucket hat captains the wheel barrow. He is often on the receiving end of loud criticism. So we make a point of thanking him the most. The stone workers are working on the gable ends. Something they were livid about, as it is time consuming, and requires tons and tons of rock to be hauled up to the 2nd floor. The concrete shell is almost complete - the final beams were poured, on which the timber roof will sit. There is exposed stone externally and internally. Sadly most of the internal stone will be covered, with waterproofing on the underground walls, and insulation on the others. But the external view is quite something. Breathtaking. That view keeps us enthused. Tells us that it is all worthwhile. 
  
    Yesterday we were at a quarry/stone mill. We need some more stone window frames. 

                    We are pouring our polished concrete floor in a few days. The roof is going up in 2 days. 

       It is hot, but not hot, hot. 

   We eat burek for breakfast a lot. We get excited a lot. We get stressed about cashflow a lot. 

    We drove to the Accursed Mountains in Albania last week. It is just over 100km, but took an afternoon to get there. We had to abandon Lenny, and walk 15km into the village. The roads are wiggly. We just learnt yesterday that we are ON the old donkey path to Albania. One guy used to shepherd on that path, so he will show us when the temperature drops. Apparently it is still walkable. There is so much for us to explore, that we simply cannot do it all ourselves before we open. So you guys will be joining us on our journey of discovery. Any hiker that enjoys marking walks/creating hiking maps, will be welcome as our guests for as long as they wish.

        This month flying by. We are itching to get stuck in, and can only properly do that when the structural works have been completed. We have a lot of braun/brain joining us this month, which we are very thankful about. 

             This building is massive. Every thing that needs doing, needs doing on such a grand scale. Cumbersome stones that require a digger to manoeuvre. Big chunks of metal that have to be craned anywhere. If we want to concrete floors, it takes trucks and trucks of the stuff.
  
     The septic tank has been built mostly. Meaning we can put a toilet in soon. Which basically means we can move in in about a week. We will keep you posted about that. 

   Thank you for your continued support. As ever, Instagram is the best place to go to stay in the loop.

             We are going to enjoy our last few sunny days - swimming and frisbeeing. Then comes WINTER. When it rains a lot, but is rarely cold. Let's hope the roof goes on in time.....

                        Big love from Stari Bar.

The Grovers.



        




                  

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Feelin' hot, hot, hot.

It's dead hot here in Montenegro, but the show must go on! Currently we have concrete being poured, reinforcement steel being laid, stone being cleaned, and flesh being ravaged by mosquitos during late-evening attempts to keep our veggie garden going. September will see the roof go on, and windows in, whereupon we'll start work on the interior. Here are some images of recent progress to keep you entertained:

Stone being cleaned in preparation for new pointing

Skirting around the significant fig

Supports underneath the 1st floor slab

View of the opening in first floor slab, which will be our common room.

Roadside stone exposure


Looking through over the gap in first slab

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. 


    THE GROVE TEAM






       

        

          
           
      

         

Thursday, 16 June 2016

IT IS SUMMER 2016

Today, here in Stari Bar was the First 30+ Degrees Celsius Day. Not a very catchy title, but a title nonetheless.

     A pivotal day it is, too, for today was the first official day of construction. Everything we had done up until this point either took something from the building or weakened the building in some way. From the roof, all internal walls and floors, stonework, window frames, doors, down to the very foundation, it was all removed. But today we poured concrete. Strengthening the worryingly inexistent foundations.

     There are yellows and purples amongst the green. Grass hoppers and crickets scatter as you walk down the path to the grove from our current accommodations. Snakes slither out of your way, tortoises somehow clumsily navigate and eat our fucking cabbages, frogs and toads are audibly spawny. The river flows strong, and the grass is not yet scorched, midday swims, and evening drinks on the terrace are part of our routine. It is a beautiful time to be here.

             It has been an incredible few months. We are ahead of schedule. We are tired. We are having a break. After the concrete works have finished.

   Over the upcoming weeks, you will be fully briefed. Through the medium of WIDEO we will be releasing waves of VISUAL stimulations, fact giving speeches, panoramic vistas and the like, so you too can feel as if you have ridden the Grove Train.

            We thank you all so much for your support. We can’t wait to host you all, we really can’t.


First up :

The First Visit (25 mins)
By Ryan Gray