This time last year it was unusually warm and sunny, every one was talking about the lack of rain, and about the rivers being low on water.
This year the conversation is a little different . Every one is talking about how much rain we are having, and of the damage the wind and rain has caused. For the last week or more, it has rained every day. The rivers are in full flow, and it is a very different picture to last January .
On the news last night there were pictures of other areas, where rivers had burst their banks and water was more than a metre up people’s houses. It also showed roads with big holes in them, and others where parts had broken off and fallen down the hillside, due to the amount of rain that had fallen.
The 130 kilometre high winds also caused a lot of damage across the country. In comparison to some areas we seem to have gotten off pretty lightly ( fingers crossed). In my village we were without electricity for 24 hours, and due to a number of trees blocking the only road out of the village we were unable to go anywhere until the owner of the trees came to cut them up and remove them. However, no one was injured and no buildings were damaged.
I went for a walk the day after the storm, and it looked like the mimosa and eucalyptus trees took the brunt of it . Many were broken in half or completely ripped out. That could have been the reason for the power cut also. It is quite likely that a tree fell and damaged one of the lines running through the woods, between villages.
It is amazing the knock on effect 24 hours without electricity has. I went into Gois the day after the storm ,and headed for a coffee and cake in my favourite bakery . Although it was open, the shelves were pretty much empty, and only four lonely little cakes were left . People kept popping in asking if they had bread yet. All the ovens were electric, and had gone off in the middle of the baking the previous day, causing a shortage of fresh bread.
Bars which make a living from people popping in for a morning coffee, were almost empty as the coffee machines were out of action .
Yesterday, a friend went to give advice on how to install a wood burner as quickly as possible. The house only had electrical wall heaters, and the people had been without power for 4 days! Last night the outside temperature was just above freezing, and so the wood burner was crucial.
When I bought this house , I did not think about surviving a Winter, or about power cuts. It was originally only going to be a Summer holiday home. However as I prefer cooking with gas, I bought a gas cooker. I also had a chimney sticking out of wall in the living room, and so I bought a wood burner. I thought it might be handy if it was ever a bit nippy. It was also a bit of a novelty, as I had never had one before !
Now that I am living here allyear round I am so pleased that I made the choices I did, what ever the reasons.
Although it was a bit of an inconvenience being without electricity, my wood burner kept me nice and cozy, and I was able to make a yummy stir fry on my gas cooker. In fact, maybe I am a bit odd saying this, but I had a lovely evening the night the power was off. I drank wine, played my guitar, and read my kindle by candle light.
If you are coming to live in Portugal or thinking of renting a place in the Winter months, then do consider what type of heating and cooker you have in the house. In the event of a power cut , it makes a BIG difference.