Sunday, 8 January 2012

Blackout! & Project 365+1 Days 3 - 7

I've been unable to update my blog for pretty much all of this week due to a lack of power. It all started on the morning of the third, at about 7:15am when, whilst lying snuggled in bed enjoying the last fifteen minutes of reading time, the lights unexpectedly went off.

We'd been listening to the wind blowing outside for the hour before that and had been expecting a power cut. We weren't particularly alarmed, just slightly annoyed that neither of us had thought to charge our phones while we had a chance. There was a bit of debate about who would get to use the big torch and who would make do with the blinky light on our phones to get up/get dressed/go to the bathroom but we got on with our morning routine as normal.
Day 3: Power Cut
Outside the wind was wild so we left for work early expecting trouble on the roads. It didn't take us long to find it; a massive tree down across one of the roads on the Estate where we live. Through the woods we could see blue flashing lights and assumed that firefighters were trying to get through to clear that road out. We carried on and almost made it onto the main road when we found the top of a tree covering the road.

After doing a many-point-turn, we headed out the other end of the Estate, onto the main road and turned in the direction of town. We'd gone just a few dozen metres when we came to a halt: another tree blocking the way. Lather, rinse and repeat in the other direction. So we headed home, resigned to the fact that we would be stuck at home for the rest of the day.

We played a board game and I worked on my OU course work for a while before we decided to make another go of it. Several trees were still down but they'd cleared the way through the one blocking the road, quite literally 'through', by just the chopping out and hauling off the road of the bit in the way.

Luckily my work is powered by a generator, so I had heating, lighting and internet access for the day, but back home we were in darkness. And it hadn't returned by the following morning.

Wednesday was basically a repeat of Tuesday. We stopped with my in-laws who have a gas heater in their living room and a gas hob for warming water. Except that we had to make a dash home to collect clothes and our rats. When we'd left the day before we had been expecting the power to be back by that evening, so we'd packed them up snuggly with plenty of food and bedding, just in case we didn't make it back. By Wednesday it was clear that we needed to go and collect them.

We made it back onto the Estate without any problems and then found another tree across the road. The wind had started to get up again and we were worried about the road being blocked in the other direction too so we decided to park up and walk back to the house, retrieve the girls and other necessities and then walk back to the car. Easily the least sensible thing we could have done considering the fact that it involved walking along a half-mile tree-lined avenue in high winds that were bringing trees down left, right and centre!

It was scary as hell, but within half and hour we were back in the car with rats, clean clothes, phone chargers (ever hopeful the power would return), OU books and notes and my laptop (which had no charge left on the battery).

Of course, by the second night of the power cut the batteries in the torches were starting to run low and we were beginning to get low on candles:
Day 4: Candle Light
Thursday brought a new development; no power or phone lines! Apparently the back up generator had failed there and left us even more cut off. By this point the BBC had got wind of the story as well and made a nice little report about how we were still totally cut off without power and the council arranged for catering vans to come over and supply free food to anyone without power.

Ironically, it was just at this point that the power did come back on, for at least some of the island. Of course our house wasn't one of the ones lucky enough to get electricity, so it was another night away from home for us. I did manage to get my laptop plugged in and charged and word sent to my tutor explaining the problems we were having. I even managed to get my assignment printed off and it was a relief not to have to try working by candle light.
Day 5: Catching Up
By Friday, as far as I'm aware, we were still on generator power, but only a few houses we still without. Ours being one of them. It did come and go, Mr. Click went home during the day to take down the Christmas tree and do some housework and there was power, but by the time we'd got home that evening, it was off again. We didn't even unpack the car, just got back in and headed straight out again.
Day 6: Roots
At least I was able to sit and read without straining my eyes - I'm seriously in need of another eye test and I don't think the candlelight reading has particularly helped matters. Roots has been my first book of the year and I'm still ploughing through it, I read it many years ago but it's taking me much longer this time. I think partly because I've read The Book of Negroes since then as well and I'm comparing it that as I go along, but also because I've learnt more about the time period since then as well. That and it's quite heavy going in places so I'm finding it harder to devour it the way I might do with a fluffy or lighter novel.

This copy actually belonged to my Grampy and it's been very well read over the years. I remember seeing it on his bookshelves and it's nice to see it on mine now. The pages still smell like him as well.

For a portion of Saturday our house was still without power and there was some debate about whether or not we would make it home that day. Luckily it came back and we were able to spend our first night in our own bed since the power cut began.

Mr. Click had already been home and taken the decorations down, which I was a little disappointed about because I'd hoped to take photos of them going down (just as we'd taken photos of putting them up). But he left them all out for me so I could arrange them into a nice Project 365+1 photo before they went back into the cupboard for the year.

This was my favourite photo of the lot:
Day 7: Father Christmas
This was the first Christmas ornament we bought together. He's ceramic and wooden, dressed in fancy furs, a proper traditional Father Christmas with a staff. Before we lived together he visited our homes on alternate Christmases. He's standing next to the Christmas tree box which is overflowing with ornaments (which fitted in there fine when we took them out but just don't seem to fit back in there now). I decided to fiddle around with this one and although I took it in colour, I think it looks quite nice in black and white. Christmas is all about the colours so it seems fitting to have a monochrome picture of the aftermath.

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