Planned Power Cut

We have an all day power cut on Wednesday the 11th. No electricity for eight hours, which means we lose the line-booster signal for wi-fi too.
So no Internet access, whether by PC, Tablet, or phone.

I won’t be online at all in the daytime, and may not get the serial episode published.

I also won’t be able to view your posts and any emails or comments on mine.

If I can get back online in the evening, I will try to catch up.

Sheringham: Escaping the power cut

(All photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them, so please do.)

The proposed power cut went ahead yesterday, as arranged. Despite a good weather forecast, the day started drizzly and damp. So as soon as we lost the electricity, we drove down to Yaxham Waters Holiday Park, to get a great breakfast in their attractive cafe. Full to the brim, we drove back to collect Ollie, who was excited to be going out in the car.

We decided on Sheringham, some 23 miles north, and just over thirty minutes by car. This is a popular old-fashioned holiday town, with a selection of shops and cafes, as well as a good-sized car park. As we made our way there on near-deserted roads, the sun was trying to break through. By the time we arrived and parked the car, it was warm enough to leave behind my light jacket, and proceed into town wearing a top and shorts!

Ollie was excited by all the new smells, unfamiliar dogs, and small crowds. Despite a stony beach, unlike those further west in Norfolk, the town was still busy with day trippers making the most of unusual October weather. By the lifeboat station, there is a mural of its history.

Ollie was getting puffed out with all that smelling, so we stopped to give him some water from his bowl that we had taken with us.

Because of coastal erosion, the town has installed some significant sea defences. (Sorry about the flare in the top left)

The tide was still high, but you can clearly see the pebble beach. The man in the orange outfit was collecting any rubbish left behind, and he was very thorough.

After the beach walk, we stopped for a cup of tea at a cafe on top of the small cliffs, and by the time we got home, just after 3 pm, the power was back on. All in all, a great excuse for a day out. 🙂

A Beetley Power Cut

On Tuesday the 16th, we have been informed of a ‘Planned Power Cut’ that will affect Beetley. If it goes ahead, we will have no electricity from 9 am, for the rest of the day. (Duration unknown) With this in mind, I am planning on getting out for the day, and eating out too, somewhere that still has electricity. We will have no heating or cooking facilities, no landline phone or Internet of course, and if it is as dark as it is today, the only option would be to read by torchlight, huddled under a blanket. I could take the rare opportunity to spend the entire day in bed, but I have a feeling that Ollie will not be happy if he doesn’t go out.

Now I know this is of little consequence in the grand scheme of things, but I thought I would let you know. If the power cut doesn’t happen, then it will be ‘normal trading’ on my blog. But in the event that they go ahead with it, then I will not be able to comment on any of your posts, reply to those on mine, or check emails. I could use the Internet on my mobile of course, but give the size of the screen, that’s not going to happen.

So if I disappear tomorrow, just be aware that I am not dead. (Well I hope not)

Power Hungry

Just before 5:30 yesterday evening, the power went off here. We are lucky not to get that many power cuts, but that also means that when we do, they are all the more unexpected, and irritating. I usually expect the electricity to come back on within half an hour or so, but after about twenty minutes, I received a text message from the power company. It was an ‘unplanned outage’, and I could find out more by following a website link attached to the message.

I was unable to do that using my ‘smart’ phone, as the phone signal wasn’t strong enough to download the information. We have a signal booster to cure this localised issue, but of course that requires power to work. Back to the old Catch 22 of an online life. No electricity equals no Internet. Although it wasn’t unduly cold, it was a dull and dank evening, so the room soon became dark. Candles were an option, but we thought we might save them for later, just in case. Besides, we were planning to go out yesterday, to social function; musical entertainment and a barbecue, organised by the local British Legion. We had bought the tickets earlier this week, and thought it might make a change.

Trouble was, Julie could not have a shower, then dry her hair. The shower is powered by electricity, to make sure it works with good pressure. She could have had a bath, using a jug to wash her hair, but it would then take ages to dry, and would be harder to style. Nothing to do but wait for the power to return. At 7:20, a neighbour called round. She told us that she had been able to contact the power company using an old style phone, and they told her the line was down to this area, and would not be back on until 9:30 at the earliest. So, the idea of going to the barbecue was scrapped, as for all we knew they had no power there, and Julie wasn’t happy to go with ‘mad hair’ anyway.

What to do for dinner then? The cooker is all-electric, so that was out of the question. The toaster is electric, so we couldn’t even have toast. I keep microwave meals for a speedy dinner solution, but the microwave is also electric, so no joy there. We have a portable camping gas stove for emergencies, but best to keep that in reserve for a harsh winter. I decided to drive out in the car, and see what was open to provide a take-away meal from a restaurant. A mile up the road, the local Thai was ablaze with light, so I went in. They were surprised to hear about the power cut, which must have been extremely local to just one side of one road. Our side of our road, unfortunately. I bought a meal, and took it home. We were very happy to demolish the food, as it was well over an hour past our usual dinner time.

As it was now almost dark, a few candles were alight, and we wondered what to do with the rest of the evening. Reading by using a torch or candle is not an option with my eyesight, and with no TV or computer, it was actually quite pleasant to just sit quietly for a while. I had the brainwave of using one of Julie’s tablets to read a Kindle book. None of them had enough power left to operate, but even if they had, I would have needed the wi-fi to be working, to be able to log on. Then I remembered the laptop, tucked away for computing emergencies. We could watch a DVD film on that, to while away the last couple of hours of power cut time. No chance though, as it hadn’t been fully charged, so wouldn’t stay on.

As promised, the power returned at 9:30. Lights came on, the TV restarted, and Julie began to plug all her devices into the assorted chargers around the room.

Life had returned to the 21st century, once again reminding us that without electricity, we are as good as helpless.

27 Minutes in the 18th Century

Tonight in Beetley, even without the need for a time machine, we were cast back into another age. To a time when electricity and gas power were both unknown, when candles were the only illumination, and night meant dark.

I had just finished preparing our evening meal. It was a traditional Sunday repast, of roasted meat and vegetables, in this case, a plump chicken, with all the trimmings. As we prefer to eat in the evenings, it was around 7.25pm when I called Julie to the dining table. We seasoned our meal, and both pronounced how appetising it looked. Ollie was lying quietly in the living room, as he is not allowed around us, when we are eating. No sooner had I plunged fork into potato, and our time travel began. The lights went out.

A quick check outside confirmed that it was not just us. The whole of the street was in darkness. As there are no street lights anyway, that means proper darkness. Luckily, it wasn’t too long past sunset, so not inky dark, but it was certainly night-time, and too dark to see our meal, which was fast growing cold. Julie quickly found some large scented candles, bought for completely different occasions, and not intended for power cuts. They did the job though, and illuminated our table, just enough for us to be able to tell parsnip from carrot. It struck me then, that all meals were once taken in this half-light, which when you are trying to eat a long-awaited feast, is far from romantic in feel.

As we struggled with our dinner, we wondered how long it might continue. No TV later, no hard drive recorder, and no Internet. Even the walk-about phones will not work, as they are dependent on power. With appalling signal and service on our mobiles, chatting on the phone was ruled out also. With no gas, a hot drink was not possible, and it was lucky that we had both had baths, as hot water would not be available, with no electric pump in operation. The washing up would have to be left until Monday, and any clothes we wanted to wear, would have to be put on without the benefit of ironing. We would have to retire to the sofa, and read a book. It would have to be a real one, as the electronic ones would soon lose charge, though it could be a magazine, or sales catalogue perhaps. I doubted that there would be enough light to write letters by, and wondered how the great writers of the 1700’s managed, with flickering candles of spitting tallow. I also realised that my failing eyesight, requiring spectacles for reading, was undoubtedly unable to cope with candle illumination. Perhaps I would just spend the rest of the evening thinking. Even the tradition of a family singing around the piano was not possible, as we have no piano, and neither of us can play one if we did. OK, we had the advantages of running water, and a flush toilet, but it still felt very primitive in the gloom.

I speculated further about life in the evenings of darkness. They must have used an enormous amount of candles, in order to live even a half-decent existence. But they probably went to bed a lot earlier as well, to cut down on boredom, or sleep off the tiredness of a day labouring in factory or field. Unlike us, they could not have decided to drive somewhere away from this localised power cut, in order to avail ourselves of light, and entertainment, should the need arise. Their life was always like this, ruled by the elements that we have since conquered. At least until tonight.

Twenty-seven minutes later, as I had almost finished eating, the lights came back on. Timers were flashing, electric clocks showing the wrong time, and Ollie walked into the dining room, confused at the comings and goings of darkness and light. We snuffed out the candles, seamlessly returning to the 21st century, without another thought. Moving through to the living room, we sat in front of the TV that had just come back on, and decided what to watch. I said that I would put the kettle on, during the adverts.

How lucky we are, and how seldom we realise it.