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Powerless in Parwich

Two weeks ago we were watching our guests slowly attain a deep tan while we all sat in the sunshine, barbecued outside and strolled about in light summer clothing. The flowers bloomed, the grass grew, the birds sang fit to burst. Unfortunately it was all too good to last.

We heard unimpressive rumours about snow but didn’t believe them for a minute until on Wednesday morning we woke to see the world had gone white overnight and snow continued to fall most of the day. Heavy winds blew, trees fell, power lines went down and we experienced a series of temporary power cuts followed by a very permanent one which eventually lasted from about 9.30am until half past midnight.

It was all strangely liberating. You realise how much of our day to day activity depends on electricity, from turning on a light, making a cup of tea to sending an email. Apart from the Aga and our log burner we had no light, heat or telephone and no communication with the outside world apart from, as we did discover eventually, a very old non-digital telephone which meant we were able to phone out for updates about the situation which changed alarmingly each time we rang.

One becomes strangely resourceful. It was fun to see how we could, as it were, beat the system. We could have cheated too, with the shop and pub being open but in the circumstances it felt better keeping warm indoors. I tidied my desk; our guests read, played scrabble, did the crossword and one happily managed a lot of knitting without the sense of guilt she would normally have experienced knitting during the day.

Of course, we felt responsible. We worried most about our guests in Douglas’s Barn, which is all-electric. Fortunately it is very well-insulated and kept warm all day; however, a warm bath or even a cup of coffee became an unattainable luxury. John and I kept them supplied with hot water in a thermos and mugs of soup at lunch time. Our Tom’s Barn guests were much more fortunate: they were able to keep themselves as snug as the proverbial bug with the log burner and could boil up pans of water to make hot drinks. They could have baked potatoes had they wanted to or in fact fried themselves eggs and bacon.

The only trouble was, no one knew how long it was going to last. Come the evening, as darkness began to fall, suddenly it threatened to become less than funny. We checked torch batteries, gathered up dozen of candles and tea light, stoked the log burner and invited our guests in for a candle-lit supper. I meanwhile scuttled about, making a casserole with some lamb steaks we most fortunately had in the fridge and all the lovely Riverford organic vegetables which we most fortunately also had. Some generous measures of red wine to help it along its way and into the by now worryingly cooling Aga the whole thing went!

And what a fun evening we had! The six of us talked and laughed our way through the evening and it was well past midnight before any of us thought of moving. As they said their goodbyes and stepped outside, suddenly the world came alive – all the light came on, fridge and freezer buzzed and whirred and life suddenly and rather disappointingly returned to normal. It hadn’t actually, as it turned out. My computer had been badly affected so i spent the whole of the next day still without access to the internet and with the digital phones still not working. It was 6pm last night before, thanks to Dove Computers in Ashbourne, life truly returned to normal.

For once, I had a very genuine reason for not having written a blog post.

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