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Friday, 23 July 2010


We have one of these thingys in the kitchen which is supposed to tell us how much electricity we are consuming at any time. Glancing at it earlier I realised how grateful I am for electricity.

Back when I was a child of 8 or 9 my mother and I lived for a few years with my grandfather (you may remember a post in which I spoke of the time we lived in the Forest of Dean) My grandfather had lived in his rented cottage ever since his marriage back in the mists of time and had never seen fit to update his house and so there was no electricity, no running water in the house (there was a cold tap shared between the two cottages in the wash house next door) no gas, no nothing really! If you have never lived like that you cannot begin to imagine how difficult it is to do the simplest things which we all take for granted these days. Unless of course you can remember back to the 70s when we had the 3 day week.when power was rationed.

Imagine even a simple task like making a cup of tea with no electricity - at my grandfather's we had to boil the kettle on the coal fired range not only for making tea but also for any hot water for washing of selves, clothes, floors, dishes and so on.

This lamp is an electric version of the old fashioned sort and requires no parafin!

Imagine no radio or television! Imagine no lights - reading by lamplight was not easy and the lamps smelled of parafin and seemed to require much attention if they were not to make black sooty marks on the ceilings!
I was a child and accepted, as children do, these privations but I cannot begin to imagine how difficult washing must have been with no washing machine nor even any water except what was fetched in a bucket and heated in the kettle on the fire. Getting the washing dry too must have been a nightmare although I don't recall the festoons of sheets and so on that must have been hung around unless perhaps my mother just didn't attempt to wash things unless it was a good drying day!

Even when it did dry there was always the ironing - no electric iron just one of these heated on the fire!

Checking my facts just now I came across this article "A vision of Britain in 2020 - power cuts and the 3-day week" which suggests that we may see a return to rationed power by 2020 which is a scary thought!

Which electrical item would you find it hardest to do without I wonder?

I have my sister-in-law coming for the weekend and dinner is cooking itself in here - how easy is that? No coal to be humped, no fire to be lit, just switch on!!

Have a good weekend.

Oh and by the way for those who enjoyed the news items I see today that there is a headline saying "France WC squad suspended" - sadly it meant World Cup squad!!


  1. My grandparent's cottage did have electricity - downstairs - one socket and two light bulbs, but my Auntie Daisy didn't so sitting in her house in the evening was a novelty. My grandma's kettle was boiled on a parafin stove - no quick cuppa there. Having read a similar headline to you I am glad we still have our chimneys intact, although presently closed off. I have thought should I buy a camping stove, because a cuppa would be the thing I missed the most.

  2. I hadn't heard of the 3 day week before, even that would be quite difficult nowadays!
    I don't kno how I'd cope without the internet. I've lived by candlelight before and cooking on stoves and without tv, but definitely wouldn't like to go without the computer!
    However, it would be good to make people more resourceful and hopefully people wouldn't take things for granted as much if we rationed electricity again.

  3. Oh gosh, I remember the three day week as I was working in a residential childrens' home at the time - chaos! We had a house in the early 80's that was a bit off the beaten track and forever losing its electrical supply to broken cables and heavy storms - no gas either, so we were always stocked with camping gas and gas cylinders for a portable fire. It did have a generator but it was too difficult to rely on and had to be started with a starting handle - then it would power about three light bulbs very weakly and make a terrific noise like a small steam engine. Husband would be bereft without a computer, but I think lack of light is the worst thing.

  4. Oh how right you are. Living without electricity doesn't bear thinking of. Don't know how your mother coped but obviously times were hard. My mother tells of a time during the depression when her family lived in a "house" with a dirt floor !!Hard to imagine in these affluent times.
    I think I couldn't live without my refrigerator - had to really think hard then - or maybe my washing machine. Life would be really hard without either of those.
    Helen from Helsie's Happenings

  5. Jane,
    I remember the three day week. The tv companies had to do alternate nights and then they went off air really early. Street lights disappeared and electrical things were used sparingly - but at least we still had them to use. I wonder how I would have liked the scenario you described? I think my kettle would be the thing I'd miss the most. Everything always seems better when you can get a cup of tea! Lesley x

  6. My grandmother used to live in Scotland in a forest near where the Osprey birds were nesting. Every summer her letters to us were punctuated with "the bird watchers have arrived/left/have been over". They camped near the birds to protect them. They used to bring their blankets to her to wash, which was no mean feat because she had not electricity or running water. A fire was lit under a huge copper on a lawn and somehow she washed, mangled (and heaven only knows how, DRIED) them. I recently found a small piece on the internet describing my granny and how she had done this.

    This sounds shallow, but I would miss my curling tongs!!!!

  7. We do take so much for granted today! I give thanks every day for the wonderful shower I can have- even if the pressure is low, & the wretched 'watersaver' head seems to be piddling along on low!
    I remember my grandparent's outside loo.. very scary, even in daylight.
    I could live without electricity perhaps, but modern plumbing.. not so much!

  8. And it wasn't really that long ago at all.

    I remember the storm of '87 when we had no power or water for 10 days - living out in the sticks of a village - it was amazing how practical we became. So much so I have carried those values on in my adult life and hopefully my children will learn's amazing what you can live without if you have to.

    Though I always insist on a gas cooker - we were cooking for the whole street who had modern electricity cookers - not so modern when you have no power!!

    Have a fabulous weekend,

    Nina xx

  9. Hello! I think that I would miss the computer and lights at night the most! I hope we don't have any rationing in the future!! My mum used to live in a game reserve that only had two hours of electricity at night from a generator and I am glad that I live here where there is electricity all the time!
    Lucy xxxxx

  10. Hi paternal grand-parents lived in the country. There home was very similar to the one you mention. I remember those days so well but must confess to thinking nothing of it at the time. When we stayed for a couple of weeks in the summer holiday, it just seemed 'normal'

    Now would be a different matter. We are all used to our creature comforts........

  11. I loved your post about your childhood when you lived in the Forest of the Dean, I have gone back and read it several times as you write so well. We are very lucky to live in this day and age, live has been made quite easy for us.

  12. I remember the powercuts of the mid 70's.

    Candles were used lots and I remember my parents buying a little camping stove so they could heat food/water if needed.

    Having just had a electricity free camping weekend - I guess the convenience is what I miss most. For my boys it would be the lack of gadget charging facilities ;)

  13. My Mum and Dads house in Yeovil has a coal fired aga and I knew nothing different ... in fact when I left home to go to stockport to college I always forgot to pre-heat the oven.. lol
    I remember as a child during a snowy power cut ferrying casseroles from peoples houses to be returned a couple hours later wrapped in towels to keep them warm.. steadily walking through the snow to warm the folks tummy's with hot stew... praying I would not slip and end up wearing the stew! ;D

    we had a power cut recently and I loved it... it was quiet, the children had to stop and think about finding something to do that was not computer or gamestation related... we talked... and as long as I had lamps and candles to see by I would happily sit a while and crochet something warm by firelight... up with the lark.. off to bed when its dark.. sounds much healthier to me! lol

    I would have an aga at the drop of a hat... I miss the warmth and the comfort it gives.. warming the heart of the home!

    x Alex


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