Saturday 5 February 2011

The horror of it....... and power cuts too!

Mother nature has been up to her antics this past week. Tarset has found itself under attack by the vengeance of the weather. Fortunately nothing like the weather in Australia or even America but still wild, unkempt, untamed and ferocious.

Wet and windy would be a slight under statement, wet and wild even sounds slightly tame. Gales and pissistently horizontal rain kinda sums it up. Now I don't know how the wind strength is recorded, we have been told we've had gusts ranging from 60 - 80mph, I'll take the met offices word for that.

My own personal observations were that the gusts of wind easily knocked you off balance, opening and shutting gates were mammoth tasks requiring a great deal of strength and the rain which was powering down from the skies managed to do so horizontally, often appearing to be pouring from the ground as much as it was from the sky.

Thursday night was a corker.

It's quite interesting as Wednesday was a foul sort of a day, Shep ended up doing the dreaded book work, the year end has arrived and they have to be done, can't upset the tax office by not getting my yearly returns in (I would sooner pay my taxes than face the fines). There is never a good day for the job but a squally, wet,windy miserable day is about the best you can get I guess and so that is what I did.

Now Thursday saw Shep assisting at a scanning. It was a mild day and very windy which saw the ground drying up after the conditions of the previous day, the weather forecasters had warned of severe weather conditions coming in later in the day and we weren't to be disappointed.

I said it was quite interesting......... well it is, the way the weather turns. Wet and windy on Wednesday followed by drying winds on Thursday.... then followed by an onslaught........ Interesting!!

The weather started before darkening and it was wild, truly wild. Tucked up in the house we sat wondering what would be the first to succumb. Would it be the roof, the chimney, maybe the tree outside? Oh! we were going to go to the village hall weren't we?

Once a month during the winter nights we have a film screening at our village hall and this was the night, oh! Did we really want to drag ourselves away from the warmth and safety of the house to trot along to the village hall? The truthful answer was no, most definitely no. However, Shep has a penchant for scary films and the viewing that night was to be 'The Birds' a film I'd never seen,a film made before my time, a film which I had heard was really scary, so scary in fact that the other half thought he'd better accompany me to hold my hand. Good grief - MUST be scary!

So off we went to our local village hall to be scared, on what was already a naturally scary night.......

There was a great deal of surface water on the roads, gusts of wind buffeted the car and even once inside the wooden village hall I was envisaging the tin roof lifting off whilst we sat there.

The atmosphere was set. Wind howling and whistling outside, rain lashing at the windows and a horror film to watch............ The heart was pounding!!

The film was in colour. Colour! I thought it was a black and white world in the early sixties, I was obviously mistaken.

What a hilarious night, I am so pleased we dragged ourselves out.

The film was not proving to be terribly scary but was truly amusing. The highlight of the evening had to be that every time we reached what might have been classed as a nail biting scene - wait for it - the power failed. The electric went off and we found ourselves sitting in the dark with the wind and rain howling and lashing down against the walls of the village hall along with something mysteriously clattering in the kitchen.

The power would resume, the dvd would be fast forwarded, we'd all sit transfixed, waiting expectantly for that next terrifying moment and just as it was about to spring onto the screen............. the power would go off and once again we were all plummeted into darkness - hilarious!! What with the power cuts (of which there were many) and the imitation clock work birds which were to be seen in the background of the scenes, oh! and the teetering around on high heels in the sand, the indestructible suit which never creased, wrinkled or appeared to pick up any dirt for all it was worn for days (unfortunately it got ruined by the birds in the final scene!) the whole evening turned into one of those that "could only happen in Tarset". A night I will remember for a long time to come!!

We got home safe and sound, the power flicked on and off most of the night as I lay in bed wondering if this WAS the night, would our ancient little wooden cottage finally succumb? Would I awaken in the morning to find the premises had collapsed around me and I would be lying there in full view of the outside world? I wrapped the quilt tighter around my body in the hope that should the worst case scenario happen I could save some dignity during the proceedings!

Friday dawned and the cottage was still standing, somehow Kale's kennel door had managed to come open during the night and the foolish little soul was to be found sitting outside in the weather. The electric was still on and breakfast was made before heading off to gather.

The weather worsened, on arriving to gather it was wet and windy, half way through the proceedings the weather picked up strength and conditions became very poor. All credit to the dogs for hearing their commands against gale force winds. Sheep were eventually dropped into ground nearer at hand and Shep returned home, the weather was foul and there was no point in pushing the sheep into the pens and dosing them, it wasn't fit for man nor beast.

On returning home I found the power was off. The better half was grumbling that he couldn't get a cup of coffee. Are we really that dependant on electric power?

In this household the answer is no. But for many life grinds to a halt without electricity. We are getting far too dependant on a commodity which we take for granted. An issue which never fails to amaze me, especially with living out in the sticks - in a rural area.

We are prepared for power cuts, not by having camping stoves on hand to cook with, not because we have a generator for back up. No, this house was built many years ago when electricity most probably wasn't taken for granted, when people appreciated the wonderment of electricity and could recall the days without. Our house is fitted with what I believe is known as a "Triplex"

An open fire with back boiler for heating the water, a grate which has two trivets which can be rotated to be positioned over the burning fire where pots and pans can be placed for heating and cooking, an oven at the side of the fire which is very simply operated by pulling a handle which opens a flue at the bottom of the fire and draws the heat through into the oven. Very simple and a god send on the rare occasions we have power failures.

The other half mebbes couldn't manage a cup of coffee but within twenty minutes I managed a cup of tea.
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The oven cooked the casserole that night, which is pretty much the norm as the electric oven is just a back up, the majority of our cooking throughout the winter months is done in the oven next to the fire, the fire is on anyhow so why burn electric? The electric rings are usually used for the pans however as the fire has to be low to use the trivets.

Living in a rural area I honestly think we ought to accept that the power may well fail and there ought to be back up plans in place for such happenings. Many farmhouses have rayburn or aga cookers but many of those are now dependant on oil for running them, there are fewer and fewer which can be fed with coal or logs. A cottage in the area was 'done up' a few years back and the self same fire as our own was ripped out in favour of a log burning stove, this is a rural cottage, a distance from a tarmac road and one which you would imagine would be more prone to weather induced power disruptions than those nearer to civilisation.

We were fortunate and the electricity resumed on darkening. I had the candles lit, the flashlights out, batteries in the radio, dinner prepared during daylight and hey presto! power returned! Some weren't so lucky and had to wait until the next day to get their power back on. The electricity board did well under poor working conditions to sort the problem for some of us so quickly.

Why do we presume we'll always have electricity at the flick of a switch? Why are rural properties not better prepared for a power cut? Why are some rural householders not prepared for lengthy spells of snow bound weather? Why are old horror films funny?

I guess we ought to be prepared to expect the unexpected. After all, the unexpected can often be more than you expected!


Unknown said...

Funny.....the weather is weird all over the world. Here in Alberta Canada we just had about twenty inches of snow last night and it is still snowing. Of course this was in the mountain area and the skiers are all too happy. One hour from the mountains, we only had six inches last night. Last Friday it was 11C and we had little rivers running down the streets. Oh well, spring is just around the corner.

Catherine and Ed

Tarset Shepherd said...

Well I didn't expect that! Happy new year cus.

So Canada is funny too........ are you not meant to have 10 foot of snow and minus 30 degree temperatures? it is Canada after all.

Spring is definitely getting close, the snowdrops are out and the days are lengthening, wont be long now....

Take care, will catch up some time x

Ash Green said...

Insanely comprehensive :)

Thank you so much,
Now I have something to read during the holidays. This will take a while but well worth it like always
You can read another one here Besttoolsbrand