Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blow the wind....

So far, it has been a windy winter here in Scotland by any standards, which may go some way towards explaining why we have had more power cuts than I can remember for a very long time.
The latest was last thursday night, when everything suddenly went off at about two o'clock in the afternoon. I had been planning a whole lot of work on my PC, so was fairly frustrated. We got out the candles and the gas ring again, lit the fire, and waited. The wind howled and wailed dementedly around the house. At times like this, it does more than just howl. It rattles at the sash windows, creeps inside and raps smartly on the doors, like somebody demanding immediate admittance. Doors swing open unexpectedly. Bits of the roof creak and groan. Sometimes you would swear that you can hear footsteps rushing up and down the stairs. Which is all decidedly spooky.
I wrote by hand, but sitting upstairs in my study was like being on the bridge of a ship, in a storm. I went downstairs, read, listened to the radio. We took a couple of flasks through to the elderly lady next door. She has a gas fire and plenty of candles, so was very cosy, but there is something about a power cut which instantly makes tea a necessity.
It grew dark. And cold. Had to don cardigans and blankets for sorties out of the living room, into the rest of the house. This old house had no central heating when first we lived in it. Had forgotten just how cold these old stones grow, and how quickly, particularly when there's a wind chill factor involved.
At about 6 o'clock the lights suddenly came on. Not fully though. All the bulbs were dim, slightly better than candlepower but not much. Enough to watch TV but not enough to boil a kettle. At the other end of the village my sister in law could use her PC, but down our end, a couple of hundred yards away, there wasn't enough power. The phone in the kitchen, which has a base unit, went haywire and had to be switched off completely.
We went out to visit some friends. No streetlights. What with the wind and the dark the village had assumed a strange unfamiliarity. We passed a gate behind which a dog was lurking, but he too seemed thrown by the darkness and only wagged his tail, tentatively.
Half way though the evening, everything went off again. And just before midnight, quite suddenly, it all came on. Another friend got home to his farmhouse a little while later, to find that everything had just gone off and stayed off for some twenty hours. They have horses, and he said mucking out in the early morning, with lanterns in the stables, gave him a good idea of what it must have been like years ago. We have, of course, got soft and spoiled, but at least as rural dwellers we know that we can cope if we have to!
So far, we have had few explanations from Scottish Power. The winds were, of course, a factor, but Christmas Day was calm and we were still without power for half the day. A few years ago, there were loud protests about rural powercuts in our neck of the woods. Scottish Power vowed to improve matters and for a few years, everything went smoothly. Now we are back to the bad old days. Right through the autumn, there have been series of mini powercuts, in the middle of the night. Now, a completely disrupted holiday period. Even making allowances for the high winds, somebody somewhere must be cutting corners with manpower and maintenance.

No comments: