If not one thing, another…

When I posted about power cuts yesterday, I feared that I was tempting fate. However, we survived that part of Storm Dennis, and didn’t have a loss of power.

But when I got up this morning, I soon discovered that we had no hot water, or central heating. I tried to reset the boiler, to no avail. We had power, but no heating.

I had to smile, I really did.

Luckily, we have an immersion heater in the water tank, so I was able to switch that on to get hot water. And once the sun dipped behind the house, I got the wood-burning stove going, for the first time in over a year. It is now 4 pm, and so hot in the living room, we could happily dress in swimwear.

And someone is on the way to try to fix the boiler.

The next two storms are on their way.

Storm Ellen, and Storm Frank. We wait to see what they will hit us with.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


What with both Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, we have had some small power cuts recently. Watching TV last night, there were occasional ‘flickers’ of the sort that usually herald a disruption in electrical power, but they came to nothing. I woke up today wondering if we would still have power, after a night of high winds that kept me awake for most of it. Luckily, we did.

I have written before about experiencing power cuts since living in Norfolk. They have ranged from twenty minutes to as long as seven hours, and definitely make you think about what life might have been like before the dependence on electricity for so much of our existence in this modern world.

In London, power cuts were rare. But here in Norfolk, most electricity is still carried on overhead cables into small local sub-stations. Those wires and cables can be badly affected by high winds, tree branches, and many other factors, even local subsidence of masts and support poles. Even after eight years here, little has changed in that respect, and as soon as severe weather hits, we are always aware of the chance of losing power.

Provisions have been made, to some degree. We have a wood-burning stove to provide heat, and candles and wind-up torches to give us some light. In the shed there is a small camping stove, powered by gas bottles, so we could make a hot drink, or warm up some food. But there would be nothing by way of entertainment as we have come to expect it now. No TV, computers, tablets or e-books, once the batteries had run out. Even the mobile phones are boosted by a signal generator that requires electricity, so there would likely be no signal for those to work either.

Never mind, we could read real books by candlelight, and perhaps even have a conversation, before retiring to bed early once boredom had well and truly set in.

But there is the freezer and fridge to consider. How long before the fresh stuff starts to go off, and the freezer starts to thaw? Washing clothes isn’t going to happen, and as soon as all the hot water has been used from the tank, there is no power to heat any more.

Walking with Ollie today in driving cold rain and strong winds, I met up with a couple who I know well from dog-walking. They live across the main road, in the very desirable address called Mill Lane. They told me that they had not had power since Thursday night, and that they regularly lose power for up to two weeks at a time. It seems that the few very nice houses in that road are powered by a tiny sub-station that supplies only them, and when the line is broken the sub-station shorts out, and has to be repaired by the power company.

They are used to it, and quite resilient. They have camping stoves and lamps, wood burners for heating, and they use the time to bond with their two small children. But when it really drags on, they have to move out and live with their parents, so as to be able to use a washing machine, and take regular baths and showers. They have lived in their house for more than twenty years since being married, and assured me that back then, they had bad weather power cuts all the time in the winter, up to twice a week.

That made me think more about the difference between people from cities and rural districts. For us, twenty minutes with no power is an irritation and great inconvenience. For them, it is a relief that it is so short a time, and almost goes unnoticed.

I wonder if I will live here long enough to develop that attitude?

Birthday Boy! Eight Years Old!

On the 12th of February, 2012, Ollie was born late at night, in the house next door.

Three months later, he came to live with us, and has been my constant companion ever since. Hardly a moment of any day goes by when he is not close enough to me to touch, and the only time he is ever on his own is when he settles down on his bed at night.

He has mellowed my moods, given me reason to exercise and explore, and through him, I have met most of the people I know in Beetley.

Despite all his numerous surgical procedures and other medical problems, he has stuck with me loyally, and remained my best friend for those eight years.

Happy Birthday for yesterday, to the best dog anyone could ever hope to own.

Winston: Jennie’s Idea

Many of you kindly left very nice comments on the recent blog post, Winston’s Last Walk. His owner Michele contacted me by email to let me know how much she liked the post, and how she was touched by the comments from bloggers all over the world who never even knew Winston.

American blogger Jennie Fitzkee had an idea, and suggested it to me in a comment on the post.

‘You know what might be a wonderful thing? A card shower for Michele. I am already excited! Just tell us bloggers who remembered Winston to send Michele a card, via you. Can you imagine her joy when you deliver a handful of cards? I will send one this weekend, if that is okay.’

If anyone would like to do the same thing as Jennie, and send a card of some kind to Michele care of my address, please feel free to do so.
I have no doubt that she will be incredibly moved by that.

Michele Smith
C/O Pete Johnson
29, Beech Road
Norfolk NR20 4EZ

My thanks again to everyone for their kindness.
Here is a reminder of that post.

Winston’s Last Walk

Last April, I posted about a birthday party for one of the most-loved local dogs. Winston was 15 years old, and doing well, despite having a few medical problems.

I recently visited the house of his owner, Michele. She told me that he was having trouble walking, and was close to his time. I went in to see him, and he was bright-eyed and delighted to see me. But it was obvious that he was struggling to stand and walk properly, so we all knew it wouldn’t be long for the grand old dog. Recent medical tests also confirmed kidney failure, so a hard decision was made.

Today, I received a lovely card from Michele, hand-delivered. She told me the sad news that Winston was put to sleep by the Vet yesterday. He was at home, surrounded by the other family pets, and those who loved him the most.

Earlier this week, he had been well enough for his final walk on Beetley Meadows. He got to see many of his canine friends, and no doubt they also said farewell to him, in their own way.

Losing a pet like Winston is no different to the loss of a family member, or loved one. Despite all our sadness, it is nice to imagine him chasing a ball somewhere, full of the vigour of youth once again. He will be remembering what a wonderful life he had lived here in Beetley, and how much he was loved not just by Michlele and her family, but by everyone who ever encountered him.

Rest in peace, Winston old friend.

The Buzz Around Beetley

This blog is named after where I live, Beetley Village, in Norfolk.

The name of the village has absolutely nothing to do with Bees, Beetles, or Volkswagen cars. However, that does not stop the local Parish Council associating the place with Bees. Our amateur football team is called The Beetley Bees, and they play in yellow and black striped shirts. And the Parish Council newsletter is called The Beetley Buzz.

(Both photos can be enlarged for detail)

We don’t have a local newspaper here. With a population numbering less than 1500, it would not be financially viable. The closest alternative is The Dereham Times, a weekly newspaper published in our nearest town. If something of note happens in the surrounding villages, including Beetley, it might get a mention. Or it might not.

If you enlarge the photo to read the text above, you will see that not much happens here. No crime reports of any kind feature, which of course is a good thing. The big news and first feature is the problem of dog-fouling, and owners not picking up their dog’s poo. That is about how angry it gets around here.
Then there is a notification of a keep fit class for ladies, a forthcoming Quiz Night at the junior school, and a note about fundraising for the volunteer lifeboats.

No stabbings or murders. No house burglaries, street robberies, or even a car theft.

To save paper, and money, Page 2 is printed on the back.

This concerns planning applications, local meetings, and the news that the small amount we pay to the Parish Council each year has been increased.
By the princely sum of £1 per year. Then there is a report of the Patient Group at out local Doctor’s Surgery, and a dog-biting incident where I walk Ollie, on Beetley Meadows.

This is local news, for local people, and it makes us feel glad that we chose to live here.

That’s ‘The Buzz’ around Beetley, at the start of 2020.

In a better light

Another reblog, this time from 2015. Hard to believe it was almost five years ago…If you were not following my blog back then, it should be new to you.


We are finally seeing the arrival of ‘good light’, here in Norfolk. The low winter sun has departed, and with it, the harsh blinding light we have endured since December. Today, I went out with Ollie, and basked in that proper early summer light. Everything looked fresh and clean. Colours are finally rendered correctly. The various shrubs, trees, and grasses have finally managed to display their true greens. The battleship greys of winter are behind us, and the hundreds of different greens, from blue-black, to a yellow hue, are once again visible.

Shadows are evident once more, and my own walked ahead of me , distorted by light into an elongated version of my original. The local river took on a different aspect too. The winter light, harsh and reflective, was replaced by polarising light, enabling me to see the bottom of the shallow water; sometimes sharp clear gravel, other…

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