Sunday, November 12, 2006 At Home

Power Trip

Since leaving work and moving out we've been staying with Glenn's parents in Scotland while we do the final planning for our trip.

Thanks to a power supply fault we haven't been able to get as much done as we wanted. The power was out most of the day last Wednesday for planned maintenance. Fair enough, it happens. But then on Friday at around lunchtime it went off again, this time without notice. We called the automated faults reporting line ("Your call is important to us") and began the long wait in the cold. The house is entirely dependent on electricity for its heat, and thanks to the super efficient modern combi boiler, it doesn't have any hot water storage tank. So when the power fails on a typical Scottish November day, it gets cold and stays cold.

Power cuts always remind us of just how reliant we are on electricity, but the timing was particularly annoying since we are spending most of the time on the web at the moment, researching, planning and shopping for the last few bits and pieces. When the power went off we were just about to order the shoulder bags we will be taking with us, aware of the fact that they have quite a long delivery lead time. We managed to piece together the order codes we needed from the browser history and phone the order through. The power came on again around 5 o'clock. OK, it's a remote-ish area, it's a bit windy, the power went off, it's fixed now, get over it.

Yesterday we woke up, had breakfast and hit the web again. And then the power went. More waiting and staring at the comatose router. We considered trying to hook it up to the car's power supply via an inverter, and got as far as wondering whether we had a telephone cable long enough to reach back into the house, before realising that such an action would be an admission of the seriousness of our addiction to our always-on connection. So, as it was quite stormy outside and the waves were crashing over the rocks we decided to go to the beach, find a rock to sit on, face into the wind, and get soaked. (This is a pleasure that Glenn has occasionally enjoyed at this same spot since childhood.) We came back around lunch time and shortly afterwards, the power came back on. Excellent. We had something to eat and resumed the planning—this time we were trying to book our first night's accommodation. And then the power failed again. Time to put the phone on redial to the hotline.

Two engineers fix the fault which has been the cause of three days of power supply woes. [IMG_0197]
Please make our power work [Enlarge]

This time was quite annoying, especially as the day turned to night and the candles came out. And then around 8 o'clock, the house sprang into life again. We discovered that coffee machines and laser printers get very excited when they have power restored suddenly. Never noticed that before.

This morning we woke up, had breakfa… no; no time to have breakfast before the power went off. And on. And off. And on. And off. Lost count, but we reckon this happened about half a dozen times before it finally settled in the "off" state.

The problem—a major short up a telegraph pole quite near us—was eventually found and fixed a couple of hours later and so far since then we've remained firmly in the 21st Century. We knew that this trip was going to give us some lessons in just how lucky we are and how much we take for granted, but the first one came considerably earlier than we thought.