Just a quick hello from me today to thank you for all of your messages of concern over the weekend, it’s certainly a been dramatic time. As I finished my last blog post on Saturday, I was telling you that all of the shops were closing in the village and the power was failing. We’re based in a coastal village between Kendal and Lancaster, our house is sea facing with the canal at the bottom of the garden but luckily our garden slopes down to it so we knew we were protected from flooding from direct water courses.
However we have two wells under the house, one was completely overflowing and the second, where I take my shoe photos, was also filling up. The water table rises through the floor of our cellar and the pump was working continuously to keep the water out. As I’ve said lots of times, our house celebrated its 300th birthday this year and it has withstood many storms. The walls are made of local stone, some of it is limestone and sandstone so it is relatively porous; they are 3 feet thick but by the end of the day it had rained so heavily that the water was coming through the stone and running down the internal walls.
Shortly before we went to bed, everything went dark. We went to sleep thoroughly expecting to be woken in the middle of the night by the alarm going off as the power came back on, but on Sunday we awoke to an eerily silent world. The roads were empty and there was no-one around. Gradually we realised the full impact of having no power. We had no heat, no light, couldn’t boil the kettle or make a phone call. Not only was the broadband down but there was no 3G signal so we just couldn’t access any news from the outside world. This is the reaction of the middle son when he worked out what a day without technology looked like!
Luckily we have a Roberts radio in the kitchen and the battery box was full so we were able to tune into the local radio station to find out what was going on. We realised that our village had been really lucky and that all around us there was devastation to the extent that we were getting messages of support from David Cameron because a national emergency had been declared.
As you know, we were due to collect the eldest and his friends for a special Sunday lunch. There was no way of contacting him and of course as soon as I started hearing about the river surge in Lancaster the night before, I started to worry. So we set off in the car for a long journey, navigating the roads that were open. Thankfully we found him happily on campus where all the students were wandering around not knowing what to do. They were in the same situation as us with no power but also the drop in boiler pressure meant that the toilets weren’t flushing and things were becoming pretty unpleasant. Nevertheless, they were thriving on the drama and so they decided not to come home with us…
So, we got home and unearthed the Calor Gas and the camping stove from a very wet cellar – we hadn’t considered that the pump would stop working without power so Mr MC spent a frantic hour bailing it out with a bucket and I set about cutting up the spectacular joint of beef we’d bought for lunch so that I could cook it in beer on the camping stove whilst we still had light. We realised we’re actually quite well equipped for an event like this – the rooms in the old part of the house have open fires and we have a large log store in the garden. There is also a huge advantage to working in a candle company – Mr MC has been grumbling about the ever growing collection of candles that I bring home to test – not any more.
We’d hunkered down with some board games when the middle son, in his desperation for social contact, somehow managed to find a bar of signal and received a text from the eldest saying that the university had been closed for the rest of term so he needed to come home! Fortunately he found a lift and so we waited, listening to the poor DJs at the radio station who had been broadcasting from an emergency bunker all day. They are based by the river in Lancaster and their offices were knee deep in water and sewage. The city was completely closed off as a container had blown off a lorry into the river and it had been carried along by the surge which meant that there was a high risk of damage to all of the old stone bridges. There were stories coming in about a Rolls Royce floating through the city and endless heroic rescue events by local farmers with their tractors. The boys were on high alert every time the list of school closures was announced. The middle one’s came quite early but the youngest’s was one of the last, much to his anguish.
So, the eldest had a very picturesque homecoming to a house lit by fire and candlelight. We were able to feed him a hearty meal and then show him all the work that we’ve been doing to his bedroom to turn it into a sanctuary for his homecoming. He lay straight down on his bed and slept from 8pm until 11am this morning – I think he’s been enjoying a few early Christmas parties…
With a blitz spirit we stayed downstairs with the younger two playing card games by candlelight until it was time for bed. It was great to hear on the radio that 500 generators had been dispatched from all over the country and that they were on their way. At 6am we were woken by the alarm as the power came back on. So great was his relief that the middle one even managed a loud cheer from his bedroom before going back to sleep until lunchtime. So normal service is somewhat resumed today although we’re still pretty much stranded in the village because so many roads and bridges are still closed.
It has stopped raining and for the first time in a month the sun is shining so I’ve been decorating the outside of the house. I’ve been very grateful for this faux fur gilet that Great Plains sent me this weekend. It arrived before the storm and I wore it all day yesterday – it meant that I could stay warm and chic against the odds and penetrate the colder parts of the house when I needed to. Great Plains is a brand that I have only just rediscovered, it’s part of the French Connection group and so has the same pared down approach to styling which I like.
(Worn with Boden Off Duty Jumper which I love now that I have it in a size small, the medium just felt too baggy; Boden suede knee high boots; Next relaxed skinny jeans).
Great Plains are offering free delivery to readers of Midlifechic and they have their seasonal separates collection and also some lovely party clothes if you’re still looking. I have this sequin top which I’ll be wearing on Thursday when I’m going out with some friends for a bite to eat. I love the different shades of blue which are more flattering than black.
Last pictures before I finish – it was our office Christmas party on Friday night. If you remember I was resisting wearing a dress and had planned to wear the Great Plains sequinned top but in the end it seemed the right thing to make the same amount of effort in as my colleagues. We were sharing the venue with the medics from the local hospital and there were some very chic women there so I was glad I wore what I did. I think the reason I had resisted is because lots of the women I work with are much younger than me and I was worried about the line between mutton and lamb. I then remembered a fabulous dress that I bought during my days at Selfridges. I’ve always felt comfortable in it, it is very well cut, simple but fitted. The cloth is navy lace with a silver metallic thread through it which catches the light. I’ve tried hard to show you but it looks quite ordinary in these photos because I just couldn’t find a well lit spot (and I was running out of time).
I wore it with the Marisota faux fur trimmed cape.
Fur trimmed cape; Whistles clutch, Boden shoes
I know my hair looks a bit bouffant but I’d had to spray it into a helmet because the storm was starting and I was travelling there by train. Thankfully the gallant Mr MC drove all the way up there to come and rescue me at the end of the evening because the weather was starting to look bad.
So, here I am on a Monday with my entire brood around me because the schools and university are closed until further notice. I’m racing to get this posted because we’ve been warned that the power is likely to go off again at 4pm. It’s been interesting to read your comments about the Marisota shoot – Mr MC had a similar reaction to the photos when I showed him, he kept saying ‘it doesn’t look anything like you.’ It was good to try out a different look, even if it was just to confirm that I do now have a look of my own, which is pleasing.
And thanks again for all of your messages yesterday, it was lovely to read through them when the power came back on, it’s so good to know you’re all out there. Hopefully the rain won’t return this week, our water levels are so high that it will only mean trouble if it does. In the meantime my heart goes out to all of the people in neighbouring villages who have lost cars, homes and livestock, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it later in the week when they are reconnected to the outer world. Take care everyone.
update: since I posted this the power has gone off and the rain has started again. I have a tiny patch of reception if I hang out of the window on the top floor so will keep posting to Instagram. The boys however are delighted that schools are all closed again!
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