Anyone that knows me would have to agree that I detest and refuse to go camping. This might be due to an earlier experience as a teen having been sent off to a Christian camp. I won’t go into detail, however I do remember crying my eyes out when I got there upon seeing the state of the place. My sister (3 yrs younger) came along too and it was her that told me to perk up and make the most of it. It was however the worst camp the parish had ever organised (and it’s still spoken of today) with torrential rains, hail and waterlogged tents, bull ants, dead snakes and spiders; smelly old toilets, gritty showers and not enough food!
Perhaps some of you may have read a previous post I’ve sent them ‘packing; if not go ahead as then you will get more of an insight as to why I don’t enjoy the ordeal.
Only recently, Melbourne has been experiencing some horrific weather including a week of high winds upto and above 100kms, including rain and even hail in places. Driving is these conditions is bad enough in a van, and you can read about that experience here!
Living on 2.5 acres and in a bush area, falling trees are a worry and especially while driving. Many trees around our area had fallen including one tree on our property.
However, when the electricity is affected by these storms, it can put a whole household into disarray especially if this occurs over 24 hours.
This is exactly what happened to No Excuses over the past weekend!
Fortunately dinner had already been organised, cooked and the children had already eaten. Just after 6.30pm, Friday 16th August 2013 ; while hubby and I were still eating, off went the power.
The children during the first night found it all very exciting. They paraded about with candles at one stage dressed in capes as either elves or dwarfs and sung the Dwarfs Song from the Hobbit ~ “Misty Mountains”.
Meanwhile, no power also meant NO WATER (including flushed toilets) as our house is connected tank (rain) water which requires the electric pump for supply to the home! Hubby and myself had to bucket water from our tanks to the house which included boiling pots on the 6 burner gas stove (thankfully this worked)! Baths had to wait until the water was boiled; the children were very excited by it all.
Of course a phone call was made to the electrical company with a recorded message telling us that our area and others had been effected by an unknown power outage. The power was meant to return that evening around 11.00pm, so we all had an early night and went to bed in darkness.
The following morning we woke to no power (and surprisingly waking on time for the Saturday morning sports, without the aid of alarm clocks – even mobile phones as they could not be charged). Before leaving, the milk, cheese and everything that would spoil went into the outside chest freezer in the hopes that after returning the power would be back on.
Unfortunately, this was not the case and another phone call to the power company indicated that our power would return again at 11.00pm that evening. By this stage things started to become extreme and my main concern (apart from the much needed shower) was the fear of all the frozen foods and fridge full of food going to spoil.
There was also loads of dishes piling up, as well as a dishwasher full of half washed dishes, two loads of half cycle laundry in the two machines with unwashed school uniforms for Monday. Another major problem was the toilets; 9 people in the house and not being able to flush, IT WAS just disgusting.
Hubby went off to buy a generator to at least get the pump started, however the one purchased was not powerful enough and he had to exchange and buy another. $600 later we had a generator that could run 2 appliances. Either the water pump and one washing machine or the internal fridge and freezer.
Meters of power cords were strung across the lawn from the generator to the tank pump and through windows inside the house. Of course if we over loaded the power, it cut off the generator. You can imagine the cost if one was to purchase a generator that would power an entire house; THOUSANDS of dollars!
Candles and torches were used during the evening, including sitting down to a lovely family candlelight supper. Our BBQ was put to use with the remaining sausages and steak I had in the freezer, along with foiled garlic bread rolls, a potato and green salad.
After another night of boiled water baths (and trying to wash ones hair), the kids again had an early night. As for myself the scene from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice came to mind of Jane drying her hair by the fire, as it took me over an hour to do so.
Of course the power was not on yet AGAIN and the message received this time “power failure due to fallen power lines and expected time UNKNOWN”.
Oh how we take the pleasures of life for granted ~ however I longed for my hair dryer and woke the next morning with frazzled and messed up hair and no way of using the hair straightener.
Thankfully I love my hats and wore my black one to mass Sunday morning to cover it up!
We connected one of our washing machines along with the water supply as this had the uniforms inside. Then changed over the cords and left for morning mass with the fridge and freezer connected to the only power source we had.
Pulling into the driveway afterwards around 1.00pm, there was a cheer from the back of the van “YAY THE LIGHTS ARE ON IN THE HOUSE”, and once the children were through the door, they began dancing and jumping for joy “THE POWER IS ON, THE POWER IS ON…YAY”. I was cheering too (but not openly).
After we all changed out of our mass clothes, it was time to CLEAN UP! Wax drops were all over the floor, tables and bench-tops, dishes still piled high, clothes to wash (and mobile phones to charge ) as we needed to get everything back to some sort of order!
Dinner was the last thing on my mind and the children were happy with some meat pies and veggies. As for hubby and I, we needed some time out and went out for Thai, however the restaurant was busy and fully booked (which was strange for a Sunday night). However, this was a bonus as we decided to try our favourite restaurant (which requires a booking) and got seated straight away. It was nice to enjoy a lovely cooked meal and leave the ‘mess’ until the following day.
As you can imagine, Monday was spent getting through 3 days worth of washing; at least 6+ full loads in my top loader (Speed Queen) and 1 load in the front loader ~ which indeed took this long to wash (large families should not own a front loader for this reason)!
So what did we all learn from the above? That no matter what obstacles get thrown in front of us; as a family we all learnt to work together and make the most of the situation.
And as for camping indoors……………….if this is a taste of what ‘real’ camping is like, then it has opened my eyes and I am not afraid to say it ~ I REFUSE TO GO CAMPING……….. NO THANK YOU………. NEVER……… NOT ON YOUR LIFE……….as I need my hair-dryer!