Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Storm


It was a cold and windy night and the power went off.  Plunged into darkness (well, we were asleep so it was dark anyway, but I’m trying to create a mood here).

Power cuts are pretty common in Portugal, the electricity wires run along the forests strung from poles so every so often a tree hits a power line and out goes the supply for a short time.   However last Friday we had a storm, a big storm and our power supply was off for four days and it’s only just stopped raining.

 
It is only when your electric supply is out when you realise that almost your whole life depends on having this supply.   No internet means no work, no phone or mobile reception means no phoning to check the situation, no TV means a disaster!

On Saturday we plugged in our gas cooking rings, got the candles ready and went off to a lunch given in a local social club.  How they catered for 60 people with no electricity is beyond me (even if it was cold and you had a choice of apple or orange for pudding).  
 
 

Our normal heating is a fire in the front room so no change there, we were not cold.  Our hot water is not dependent on the electric supply, so no change there, we didn’t smell and could wash up.   But how did they manage before the electric light bulb.  Candles are romantic because you can see diddly-squat.  But what I missed was the TV, I mean seriously, there is only so much you can read before your brain starts to crave a bit of The Great British Bake Off (or is that just sad little me?).

So early to bed on Saturday and a hope for the power supply to be back on Sunday. 

It wasn’t!

Saturday night saw more heavy rain and strong winds.  Walls came down and more trees decided to abandon their roots.   Driving into the largest town about 20 mins away I realised that this problem must be across the whole of the county – trees had taken down wires the whole length of the journey, the cashpoints were closed and the local supermarket running off generators.  The queue for petrol was 20 cars deep (I do love a panic buy).

 
At home I started a Russian short novel, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (cheery) and hunkered down for another evening.  Having polished off the book Kane and Abel (yep, it would seem that there is only so much literature I can take too), off I went to bed at 8pm in the hope that the power supply would be back on Monday.

It wasn’t!

OK it’s beyond a joke now, I need internet access, I need TV, I need distraction, I need to do some work!

I had hoped that Peter and I would be inspired by the lack of TV and start talking, playing cards or backgammon in a ‘blitz spirit’ way of making do.   Alas he wasn’t interested, ‘I like the quiet’ was his comment on the situation.  But then he is the man that can go on holiday and decide to read in our room as opposed to going out an exploring! 

So, to bed with the hope that the electrics would be back on Tuesday.

It wasn’t!

Well it was for a time, but then it went again, then it came back, then it went again.

Wednesday came, it started with a dog walk in the pouring rain (it’s like groundhog day isn’t it, but don’t worry it’ll be over soon).  
 
 
After Peter had cooked our dinner on the top of the fire place (very ingenious I know) we went over to our neighbours for a drink and a moan about living in the dark ages.   Suddenly and as if by magic the power returned….celebrate good times come on!  

Home, TV, Internet, Lights.  Suddenly we don’t have to feel guilty about not talking to each other, the TV’s there to distract us (just a shame there was nothing on).  So, thanks to the miracle of electricity I bring you this blog, boring as it may be it at least gives you some hint to the life that we’ve lived in the dark the last few days.

Thousands of people were affected by the storms, many without light and water for days.  11,000 kms of cable had to be replaced by the electricity company EDP, who have done their best to re-connect us (despite no one working on a Sunday!) in appalling ongoing weather conditions.  We've also lost some lovely old oak trees, some hundreds of years old which is a real shame.

By the way I’ve finished A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (actually quite cheery in a way).