This is a story of survival. Of pushing the human mind and body to its limits. It’s a story of triumph. And Scrabble.
This is a story I like to call ‘Epic Snow and a Really, Really Big Power Cut’.
To be fair, the forecast did say ‘Heavy snow’. So it’s not like it caught us totally by surprise. By bedtime there was five or six inches on the ground. ‘Gosh’, we thought, ‘that is a lot of snow for one afternoon’. What fools we were! When we woke up the next morning we understood what they really meant by heavy snow. Almost three feet had fallen overnight. I don’t know if you can picture that much snow but it’s thigh-high.
And there was no power in the whole village and surrounding areas.
We (okay, Rob) dug our way out of the house. Our fence had completely collapsed under the weight of all that snow. So too, had some of our trees. So that’s what happened to all the power lines in the village – scuppered by falling trees! Even by Bulgarian standards, this was a catastrophic amount of snow. One of the neighbouring barns collapsed under the weight of it all. The road didn’t get cleared for four days… which meant the power wasn’t fixed for four days.
Here’s a typical day without electricity:
Get up. Immediately switch a light on and off, just to check.
Sigh. Put on several layers of clothes.
Make a fire in the spare old woodburner in the kitchen (our normal woodburner has an electric pump to heat the whole house, so using that was out of the question).
Boil a big pan of water to wash and make tea.
Play a game of Scrabble huddled by the fire.
Debate what time it’s acceptable to start drinking. Decide midday.
Play another game of Scrabble while drinking beer.
Cook up rapidly defrosting contents of freezer into a series of imaginative one-pot wonders.
Attempt to play cards by candlelight. Eye strain.
8pm. Give up and go to bed under two duvets.
After four days this routine was wearing a little thin. You can imagine our relief when the power came back on – and just in time to freeze our one-pot wonders. Unfortunately though, the internet was still not working, and was going to take a long time to fix. I work from home, and without the internet I’m entirely useless. So, I did what any hardy, problem-solving, ex-Girl Guide would do … I deserted Rob and flew back to England for a few weeks of central heating, hot baths and endless, endless internet!
I’m now back in Bulgaria and, as demonstrated by this post, we have internet access again. We’ve also had another foot of snow and it’s still snowing, albeit pretty lightly. The worst thing right now is the cold. It got down to -23°C this week. The UK press seem obsessed with the crazy cold temperatures in Eastern Europe, so you’ve probably read about it already. Obviously it’s not -23 inside our house, but I’m still feeling the drop (especially after three weeks of being in England and basking in central heating). Our bath taps and toilet have frozen! Worse, my hair straighteners have stopped working (they don’t work below 5 degrees apparently). So, if you’re going on holiday to the Arctic, don’t pack your GHDs. Not that you would, you’re probably not as relentlessly vain as I am. I haven’t washed properly for three days, but I do like a neat fringe…