Following last week’s perfect sunshine, we were now in the midst of some rather unsettled weather. All of the forecasts we checked offered a different take on the next few days. The best way seemed to be just wait and see. Thursday dawned looking very pretty in Vrboska – excellent, so we’d have a good outing this morning as planned, up to Velo Grablje for some views, then a nice hike down the path to paint in Malo Grablje for the rest of the day.
The drive up to Velo Grablje takes you up the old road from Stari Grad to Hvar, over the top of the island. The views on a clear day are magnificent, to both north and south. But this was not a clear day. Standing at the viewpoint at the top of the road, we risked using our umbrellas as the storm approached. The walled fields looked somewhat moody, and the islands floating off the coast were hidden in the mist. We moved on to Velo Grablje for a quick look as the rain got harder. Maybe not such a good day for a hike?
Down in Malo Grablje, Berti Tudor welcomed us to the Stori Komin and set about making us coffee. He’d set up a table inside by the window specially for us, though the outside sitting area was also covered. Stori Komin probably translates best as “The Old Hearth”, and it was a lovely place to be on a rainy day, full of interesting bits and pieces, drying hams and figs, old drawings and photos, cooking pots and tools. One artist set up by the window, one in the doorway. As the rain took a break, we started to wander outside. The multi-hued umbrellas parked outside the door would make a great picture, I thought!
Malo Grablje is a fascinating place to explore. It’s now completely empty of villagers, except for Berti at the Stori Komin. All else is peaceful and gradually returning to nature. Windows are empty, wooden floors fallen in, roofs are in various states of collapse and trees grow inside houses. And it’s eerily quiet.
The old olive press is an interesting subject, from some angles it also appears to be a smiling face!
A house with blue doors has a concrete floor and we wander into what was probably the kitchen. The walls still show signs of decoration in a lovely terracotta shade. I wonder if owners chose to do something similar in their new house?
It’s not a sad place, as the residents simply moved down to the seaside in the 1950s and 60s. They did so because they had land there, and I think they are now fishing and farming tourists. But there is a sense of life interrupted here. Some houses are pretty big, must have been beautiful when they were looked after.
The clouds start to roll over again, and we explorers return to base where Berti is now cooking our lunch on the outdoor grill.
A challenge goes up for us to draw the lamb chops and fish as they cook. It’s not easy as our models keep getting turned over at regular intervals, but we have fun with it! Lunch is set for us inside, as the rain starts up once more.
Sitting around the table in front of the hearth, we enjoy a typical Dalmatian feast that includes, as well as the meat and fish, potatoes and grilled vegetables – and, of course, wine!
Towards the end of lunch, Berti announces that the sun is out – and flings open the door! Wonderful, what timing! The afternoon is spent in wandering around, finding places to paint. I like the inside of the blue door, while another artist works away at the outside view of it! We now have blue skies and shadows, and lots of colours in our paintings.
Later in the afternoon we assemble on the (outdoor!) terrace at the Stori Komin and review our art over coffees. Despite the unpromising start to the day, it’s now a glorious warm, sunny afternoon.
To round off the day, we call in at Milna, the coastal village where the owners of Malo Grablje now live. The location is lovely, and the beach is very pretty. I hear there are a couple of good restaurants in Milna, but we’re not ready for that right now!
Taking the main road home, we stop off for a glorious view of the last rays of sunlight over Hvar and the Pakleni islands.
Back in Vrboska, there is a surprise waiting for one of our artists. Dragana, who is the owner of the apartments in which most of the artists are staying, has noticed the date of birth in one of the passports as she completed formalities. So she’s made a beautiful birthday cake! We all assemble at Škojić in the evening to share a pizza or two and have a slice of birthday cake and prošek. What a great way to round off the day!
And now for a couple of paintings – we were actually quite productive on a day that seemed for a while that we’d be painting interiors only!