Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nearly a No-Snow Show - from a Waterless West Waterford

Woke up yesterday morning to find we had no water! This is a first in this euphemistically-titled "cold snap" which has now transmogrified into the "Big Freeze" after three unrelenting weeks of sub-zero temperatures. (That's Centigrade, not Fahrenheit for anyone reading this from the USA where I believe Fahrenheit is the norm). I can't get my head around it where the weather is concerned; I believe 0C is 32F, which doesn't seem to make any sense. I learned my body temperatures in Fahrenheit as a young student nurse, and it was much later that the old 98.4F became 37C as the normal human body temperature.

In any case, the cold spell (sounds better!) will be with us for another week or 10 days according to the weather gurus (a.k.a. Evelyn Cusack or Gerry Fleming the winking weatherman) on RTÉ (the national broadcaster).These are real Met Office pros, not what's disparagingly referred to as the weather totties on other channels. That's real RTÉ snobbery, as rocket science isn't needed to read the weather, only to hold a discourse on it. Then you call in the Met Office experts, who can rabbit on for hours about high and low pressure and cold fronts from Siberia and other incomprehensible stuff. I know it's all highly meaningful to some, especially farmers, sailors and fishermen.

The latter probably rely on the Shipping Forecast - which always brings to mind BBC Radio 4 after midnight when the Litany of the Shipping Forecast is broadcast after the strains of "Sailing By " fade away. I love hearing the mysterious terminology and names which are a roll call of the coastal regions of the North Sea and the North Atlantic - from North Utsire to Rockall and all places in between - as I drift off to sleep. I can see why Annie Proulx called her wonderful Newfoundland-set book The Shipping News - it has a romantic mystique, probably because it is so removed from most people's ordinary lives.

Here are some photos of the countryside over the Christmas period right up to today. We are in the grip of winter, the harshest since 1963, and here in Lismore we felt a tad cheated as we had all the cold but none of the fun - in other words, no snow - up to today when Lismore turned white! We had flurries, but nothing that stuck. My son in Dublin was stomping around like Tom Crean of the Antarctic, taking wonderful night photos of the frozen streets landscapes, while we watch the nightly news with shots of the country under a blanket of white. All we could muster here were some tasteful shots of the frozen floodplains I videotaped last month in the wake of the November rains. These never drained away so the water froze in recent weeks, and are now thick enough for skating, which the Irish have adopted with aplomb. We are still a long way from our Dutch speed-skating extended family, but we can dream of an Elfstedentocht on the banks of the Blackwater.

Meanwhile, we suffer on, waterless for the foreseeable future, until the thaw sets in. Then we will know what damage has been done. It is the pipe that carries the water from the mains that has frozen, we presume, as the neighbour has water. They are very good, giving us gallons of their H2O for the loo and the dishes, and people-washing, while other friends are offering us showers and laundry.

It's great to see the community spirit this harsh weather generates. It is like a throwback to the old days when a sense of community pervaded society at all levels and has been lost in the boom Celtic Tiger days. Now people are looking out for older neighbours, and vice versa. Let's hope this "social capital", the term coined by Robert Putnam, persists long after the water has started flowing again.

The photos show Lismore today, yesterday and last week - sunrise over Knockmealdown mountain, the frozen river floodplain in the sun, our house and back garden, Lismore name stone, our "cool dude"snowman, Lismore Castle avenue, castle from the Inches, Dungarvan Community Hospital in early morning frost, and the top pic of my blog header view taken today of the Courthouse and Monument in Lismore.
The YouTube videoclips were taken on 10th Jan 2010 in Lismore - in our garden with Ben the dog, and down at the Castle.


talesfromagarden said...

Hi Catherine,
firstly thanks for leaving a comment on my blog recently!
I am in the same predicament here with no water, but thanks to kind neighbours we are being kept in supplies!At least today there seems to be a thaw of sorts much to the dismay of the children and young at heart!
By now i just want clear weather to get OUT and start some serious walking to shed the tonnage gained during and after Christmas!
I looked at your slideshow for christmas and your new years party looked great! Everyone looked like they were having fun and fabulous food!Stay warm and hydrated!

Stephanie V said...

What a worry...having no water. Nice that neighbors are stepping in and helping out. I hope that it can be mended without too much trauma - eventually.
Yes, 0 to 32 is an easy conversion. I was trying to convert 9C the other day and had to go a chart! Amazing how well I've forgotten the 'old' system. So well that I can't even relate to the numbers anymore.
Skating in Ireland?!

Ann said...

Handsome looking snowman! Love the sunglasses!
Glad you finally got your powdering of snow and are no longer feeling deprived. Advice on Drivetime at the moment about dealing with frozen pipes.

Catherine said...

Thanks for visiting, we are still waterless!

Stephanie V - we have nice neighbours and the Council workers looked into it (literally!) this morning and said it was frozen under the footpath (pavement) but that our pathway pipe was frozen too. So we wait - when the great thaw comes we will see if we have leaks everywhere. At least I don't think we'll get a flood in the house then as the heating's been on practically non-stop. Skating in Ireland is a short lived passion - mostly perpetrated by students and kids who venture out on the frozen fields and lakes, without skates of course,just shoes!

Ann - snowman is no more, sadly he met his waterloo overnight and this morning was a slush puppy! Looking at your post about the expedition to work I feel humbled - what are we moaning about? Are you listening to Drivetime online? How cool is that - I would have loved it when we lived in the bush - BBC World Service was our tenuous link with the West - and we wondered in delight at the advent of email in 1996! Still remember reading about Lowry and Ben Dunne on the Irish Times online - which was only emailed as we had no proper internet. But it was a huge step from 3 week old Saturday editions and the Guardian Weekly airmail flimsy edition (which our intrepid volunteers swore by as an acceptable alternative to Rizla roll-up paper!)
Heard the Drivetime advice but tis too late alas - until we know our fate when the thaw sets in - watch this space!

Catherine said...

Kathleen - Thanks for dropping by - glad you liked the post! Gosh you are in the same boat as us with no water, it is a real pain and won't go away till the thaw - the council were here today but they said it's frozen pipes on the street as well as from the street to our house. Yes people are very kind, we are also learning to ration water and conserve it - something you don't think about as we have too much of it in Ireland - I see now that Cork is thinking of cutting off or restricting the supply to householders - laughable really!
We all need to get out to walk - the video above is the most walking I did in recent days - down by the castle with the dog.
Glad you liked the Christmas slideshow and photos. We had a nice time and it's always nice to have friends around at a time like New Year.
All the best, Catherine.

Niamh Griffin said...

Hi Catherine! Hope the water is back on - it's still out in parts of Dublin too. Apparently Bachelors Beans are running out; seriously! It all looks so beautiful in the picures but its differnet when we just don't have the systems to cope with it.