Dušan talks to various potentially influential people about the house. One is the local head of the Historic Preservation Institute, to check if there might be any features of our design which might cause problems. A meeting is set up for 14th Sep, but Dušan is phoned the day before to be told that as there is nothing in our design which will cause problems, there is no point in a meeting. Much relief all round and a significant piece of progress. Dušan also establishes that we cannot apply for ‘Reconstruction and Enlargement’ as ‘Le Beton’ is illegal; but that the DUP is in its final stages of approval, and could be with the Municipality by the end of the month. We are sceptical!
James decides on a two-prong approach. One is to see Mayor Catović again to see when she thinks the DUP will be approved by the Municipality. The second is, no matter what she says, to write direct to Pedrag Sekulić, the Minister for Sustainable Development and Tourism, to ask him to make the house a special case, due to its importance as a demonstration house nationally. We also discuss with Dušan the possibility of getting the house approved by the Ministry for Economy, which is responsible for Energy Efficiency.
The major event of the month – or at least the one which takes up most of our time – is the GBC seminar on Friday 23rd. As we suspected, we have to do most of the work – Anke tackling the marketing and James the overall organisation. Dušan comes up trumps with a great venue, the lecture hall in the splendid Rektorat building on the campus of the University of Montenegro in Podgorica. We had thought about having the event in Budva as one of the events of the annual Construction Fair there, but were (fortunately as it turned out) double-booked by the organisers. Ivana Vojinović, Deputy Minister in the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Tourism, opens the morning, and we then have Dr Consuelo Russelli of the German Sustainable Building Society (DGNB) followed by Daniel Fügenschuh the Austrian architect of the environmentally friendly building for the United Nations in Podgorica. Finally we have our own Branko Lukovac and Dušan Vuksanović together with Jelena Knezević, Adviser to the Minister for Sustainable Development and Tourism, and herself a former Deputy Minister for the Environment, all on the topic of the ‘Green Economy’. See www.gbc.me for more. About 70 people attend, including 3 ambassadors. All seem to think it went well, which is a great relief.
Among other events, on 13th Sep James finds a baby tortoise in the courtyard, far away from any source of food. He is clearly barely a week old, and so small that the cats would certainly ‘play’ with him (10gram, 3.5cm long, 3cm wide). We decide to take him into care, and find a suitable box, equip it with earth, some water and fresh greens. Karl settles in happily (our tortoises have names in more or less alphabetical order, and the two adults we have around the place are Henry and Jeremy). The next day there is another baby tortoise on the path, but sadly beyond resuscitation, so we bury it safely away from possible cat digging. Clearly there was a recent hatching, possibly from the female (Shelley – wouldn’t have been our name!) our neighbour found earlier in the summer. We give Karl daily, sometimes twice daily, walks. Walking a baby tortoise consists of one of us sitting watching him eat his way around the garden. Requires constant vigil as he can disappear from view very fast in the foliage and leaves – very good camouflage.
In between all of this, James’ renewed residence permit comes through. We had decided to temporarily import the car, giving it Montenegrin plates, and now that the new permit is through, we can start the process. Not unduly complicated, but we have to apply to the UK authorities for an export certificate, as the Montenegrin authorities won’t accept the UK registration document – insufficient proof that the vehicle has actually left UK control. This could take a month to arrive. We calculate that importation will be considerably cheaper than renewing the registration in UK, including the time and cost of driving back. It also will allow us to get a green card for an additional €20 which covers Bosnia, Albania, and Macedonia (as well as places such as Belarus which we are very unlikely to drive to, if even visit at all). This compares with the €75 we had to pay in temporary insurance at the borders to go to Skopje in March!