dear diary :: a bit of a drama

The weather has changed.  It is much cooler now with rain and wind passing over and thereby limiting what we will be able to do in the garden.  There is a glimmer of sunshine on the horizon as I write this.

My next few posts might be picture less as I find that my data allowance on my phone is now at zero and won’t renew until 10th October. DH’s allowance is also low so uploading photos onto the internet to prepare a post will not be possible.   I can possibly add a few pictures I have used before on my blog as above.

We have spent the last day or two in a mini drama or was it a crisis?

I am not sure but it all began on Wednesday.

Wednesday is our wheelie bin day and after it was emptied I mentioned to DH that it needed a good clean inside and out.  Whilst our bin was waiting to be emptied (we have to take it up the lane and place it in the car park next to the pub / caravan site business bins, which incidentally are always overflowing) someone from the site (possibly a workman) had dumped some kind of glue in ours and it was all over the lid.  In fact some of the rubbish had stuck to the lid as the bin men emptied it.

Luckily DH managed to clean it off and gave the inside a ‘good do’.

But then our problems began – not with the bin but with the shredder.  We have a pile of woody prunings, some of it will have to be burnt but some will shred.  In fact I used to shred most of it up to the flood.  Since then for many reasons we have not done any.  We didn’t even remember if the shredder still worked from being caught in the flood.

So DH got it out of the garage and plugged it in to try it.  He used a socket in the boiler house attached to the cottage but when he switched it on nothing happened.   He wondered if the socket was working so decided to get out the extension cable and plug the shredder in to a more reliable socket in the caravan just to double check.

When he switched it on this time it started up but then died away again.  At this point I noticed my lap top screen had dimmed then realised it had switched over to the battery because there was no longer any power in the caravan.  DH checked the little consumer unit in the caravan but nothing had tripped, he then checked the mini consumer unit in the garage that feeds the caravan and the main fuse board in the cottage that feeds the garage but again nothing had tripped.

Very puzzling.  DH reset all the breakers anyway but still no power.  We checked with local villagers and the pub that it wasn’t coincidentally a local power cut but no it was just us.  By this time it was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and soon it would be dark, so we made an urgent call to Scottish Power.

Although, as we found, it is not possible these days to make an urgent call anywhere.  We went through a series of press one for this and two for that until seven sets of options down the line we finally spoke to a real person and explained the problem.  The lovely lady with a Scottish lilt on the other end told us a team would be alerted but it would be 3 hours before they might get to us.

We prepared for the long wait – put on extra woollies and socks and luckily found a couple of emergency candles in the cupboard.  We worked out that even though the gas boiler wouldn’t run the gas cooker would still work as you can light it with a match.  Somehow in semi darkness we managed to make a simple pasta meal using a carton of cheese sauce in the fridge and peas from the freezer.

The men arrived at about 8 o’clock.  They tested the incoming line to our main consumer unit in the cottage which is actually an old type of fuse board with old fashioned fuses.  At first they thought their incoming power cable was all fine and the problem was somewhere further in our system between the cottage and caravan which meant they could not deal with it and we would need to get an electrician.  But they too were puzzled as to why nothing had tripped.  They scratched their heads and had another look at things and went up the pole outside the cottage to check the connecters.   Electricity in rural places here in UK comes down on wires suspended on wooden telegraph poles rather than running underground.  We have three poles one at the top of the wood by the main road, one at the bottom of the carpark and a final one near to the cottage as you can see in the photo above.

Eventually they thought there was something not quite right with the meter and also noticed they kept getting a high neutral reading from their main fuse box (yes that means nothing to me either).  They obtained permission from Scottish Power to bypass the meter thinking this might sort it. 

It didn’t – still no power in either the cottage or caravan.  By eleven o’clock they were still checking and rechecking but no nearer to solving the mystery and had convinced themselves it could only be a faulty meter and told us to ring SP in the morning for a new one and at the same time find an electrician to check the consumer units in the cottage / garage and caravan.

Easier said than done when our phones were down now to 10% battery and my laptop had subsequently died too.  It was too late in the evening now to ask friends in the village to charge up our phones and Eric at the nearest caravan to us had gone home so when the men had gone we jumped in the car in order to have a run around as the only way we could think of (and by this time our thinking capability was diminishing) to recharge DH’s phone enough to be able to make calls the next day.

It was well after 1 o’clock when we hit the pillows (the very chilly pillows I might add as the temperature was way down by now).  We fell asleep exhausted with the faint chunterings being heard in the dark from DH cursing the fact he had ever got the shredder out!

Morning came and we began the search for an electrician.  A choice of about 2 in this area both had answer phones on and incidentally have never got back to us.   We tried wider afield to people in Newton Stewart over 30 miles away but all said it was too far to come out to us.

Pondering our next move as the food in the fridge was starting to ‘warm’ up a bit (by now it had been off for 18 hours), and we couldn’t shower or use the electric toothbrush or charge our phones.  There was a long queue to speak to anyone at Scottish Power about the meter and we had to abandon that to save charge.

Just at the point when we had no idea how we were going to resolve our predicament the two men from the night before appeared on the doorstep.  Still flummoxed by our problem their manager had suggested testing even further back along the incoming power lines that come down from the main road.  Thankfully they did and up and down the other poles later located the problem – corroded and weak contacts and connectors on the pole at the top of the wood by the main road.  They were old and had a mix of copper and aluminium which apparently corrode easily together and these days only one metal, usually aluminium, would be used.  It appears that for some reason they had never been replaced when the others had been on the other poles a few years before.

It was an ‘accident always about to happen’ the shredder was just the catalyst that put an extra load onto the power cable and disrupted the power at the weakest link but it does confirm that all our breakers in the consumer units and the old fuse board are working well.

The men repaired the connectors and reconnected the bypassed meter (a replacement no longer required) and I almost wept with relief when a few minutes later everything swung into life again at the caravan and the fridge and boiler settled once again into a welcome hum.

After the men had gone and we had showered and generally ‘bathed’ ourselves in a much warmer environment and thanked God for the diligence of these two workmen, who I could have hugged if Covid hadn’t prevented, we headed into Stranraer to stock up on candles, matches and torch batteries. DH this time muttering how fortunate it was he got the shredder out!

14 thoughts on “dear diary :: a bit of a drama

  1. A drama is right! Thank goodness for those workmen who wouldn’t give up until they found a solution. Glad you made it through the (uncomfortable) night and that you didn’t have to depend on local electricians for service…who are perhaps not so dependable or available. Does make you realize how fragile some of our systems are these days.

    One suggestion for future: keep a portable battery power bank on hand for things like charging your phone/laptop (cost under £20 for a 10,000mah size–you can buy larger ones, but this size will do the trick) . they are about the size of a deck of cards–though a bit heavier. I always travel with at least one and have depended on them at home during power outages. A good one will charge a mobile multiple times before needing to be recharged itself.

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  2. What a diligent pair of workmen. Thank goodness for you that they persevered. It restores ones faith in humanity and workmanship. Happy that you eventually got it sorted.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. well thank you for this lively read first thing this morning with my coffee. i am sorry that you had all this trouble but so pleased for your happy ending. (-: keep smiling.

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  4. Your story is full of lessons. Persistence pays. Responding is better than reacting. Logic is better than panic. And there are still people who work to solve problems instead of abandoning them when things are difficult. Those workmen are true professionals. I’d thank them if I could, and I don’t even live in Scotland. 🙂

    Be well.

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  5. What a drama, indeed!!! How lucky the workers came back. I’m sure you’ve imagined what would happen if they didn’t – long wait to find an electrician, with many cold dark nights until he came and who would then say nothing wrong in your house, it must be the power supply.

    We all depend on electricity so much! It’s such a chore when it goes out.

    BTW, most of our power comes via lines on poles. Only in new estates is it underground. It’s why we have so many blackouts in storms. Trees come down and take the lines out too.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head – we could have been passed backwards and forwards between the SP and the electrician – doesn’t bear thinking about. SP do not charge for checking their power cables but an electrician would have cost us dear.
      Our cables at home are all underground too – I suppose they don’t corrode in the same way as here at the cottage but then when there is a fault they have to dig the road up.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry for the unfinished comment … I will try again. Oh my days … that is definitely more than a bit of a drama. As others have said thank goodness for diligent workmen … I bet they were actually quite pleased with themselves for finding and sorting out the problem … and rightly so. 🤞🤞🤞 you are fully sorted now 😃

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