The Sunday before Christmas we had been visiting my Aunt and arrived home at about 3pm. It was completely eerie entering the house because the hall light (which despite my eco claims is left on 24/7 – my defence is that it is always dark…) was OFF! We went round the house checking light switches – nothing. It could be a short circuit so Bebo went out to see if she could see light in any of the neighbour’s houses. A couple were outside with inquisitive looks so we guessed it was a power cut. From how cold the house was I assumed it had happened a while ago but as I keep the heat as low as possible (carbon and cost wise) the house can rapidly seem cold. Anyway, I thought, we are experienced campers – we can cope. The kids decided to play something on the laptop using its remaining charge and I went down to the kitchen desperate for a cup of tea (my drug of choice). Oops, I couldn’t boil the kettle so checked the cooker and the hob gases were working (I had to light them with a match – shock horror) but got a small pan of water on to boil. The oven which could have provided some heat wasn’t working – a failsafe device, grrr. I felt a bit peckish so thought about making toast – no toaster! I wanted to relax so thought about the television – X, the cd player – X, make a phone call – X. Ok, I went and got the wind up radio (which I think won’t work when they do the digital switchover in April).
At least that was something. As it was just before the winter equinox it was already getting dark so I had to start searching the house for candles. Why am I so disorganised? It took me half an hour to find some but I have now put them somewhere logical. I had to light about 8 candles to get enough light and put 2 on the basement stairs as they are really dark.
I decided that we would need at least one room that had warmth and which we could sleep in with our camping mats if the power cut continued. I filled up our largest saucepans with water, put the lids on and put them on the hob to heat. I reasoned that they would be like radiators and actually the room was a reasonable temperature. I had just made myself a second cup of tea, contemplating what we could do to see out the evening (play cards with candle light, use the heated water for a strip wash) when the power came back on. I actually felt quite disappointed but quickly got over it. Electricity is absolutely at the heart of our lives and we routinely take it for granted and over use it. I have been a lot more conscious since this event – even though I am always aware how lucky we are to have this constant, plentiful supply. Due to the strong winds and storms recently a lot of homes across the UK and in Scotland in particular were without power for days. When we are so reliant on these national supplies we find our lives very difficult without them. And yet much of the world doesn’t have running water or a stable supply of electricity. What is our fair share in this? I know how I could make our home less reliant on national supply, I just haven’t been able to afford to do it as yet.