Luz – an early Christmas?

We have reached the time of year when the weather does not do rain. It does thunder and lightning and deluge. For some reason that I have not worked out, these storms are typically after dark. It is pleasantly sunny during the day. Indeed, it is like a fine Spring day in the UK as I type this. But after dark we get a downpour, accompanied by vast flashes of lightning and deep rumbles of thunder. It is a pattern that is mainly convenient. We get our water during the night and in the morning we wake up to more vitamin D.

Sometimes it is less convenient. On Saturday night we had a mega storm. It was nothing to worry about in the sense that I could tell from a couple of indicators that the storm was several miles off.

Check #1. Light travels so fast it is effectively instantaneous. Start counting seconds after the lightning flash. Sound travels much more slowly. Crudely speaking, it covers a mile in just under 5 seconds. The gap on Saturday was long enough that I could tell the storm centre was never closer than 5 miles.

Check #2. Listen to the thunder. If the storm is close, you hear a crisp, precise thunderclap. If the storm is miles off you get reverberation and the thunder sounds mushy.

Hence, despite it being a mega storm on Saturday night, I knew the centre was miles away and that I was quite safe. The impact was altogether different. The electricity cut out. In fact, it cut out 5 times over the space of maybe an hour, close to midnight.

In each instance, the electricity was restored within a couple of minutes, so the total outage was perhaps 10 minutes, but things are not quite that simple in Portugal. The lights came back on. The oven, microwave and kettle would work again. The TV, technically, would re-boot. But the issue was the router. Our TV has worked through a phone line ever since Sky pulled the plug on satellite services in Portugal. And the router, from MEO, takes 4 or 5 minutes to reboot. During that time, there is no land line, no active TV and no wi-fi.

I can’t remember what I was trying to watch on the box on Saturday night. All I know is that with five power cuts each requiring around 5 minutes to get the TV connected to a signal, I saw very little of the programme.

We had another storm yesterday evening, this time earlier on, well before bedtime. I specifically wanted to watch the last episode of “The Missing”. The BBC charges us for a TV licence in the UK but prevents us from using iPlayer in Portugal, so I have to watch the BBC live. I cannot watch any sort of ‘later’ service other than YouTube.

And of course the storm kicked off around 8pm, and the power cuts lasted until 9.40pm, by which time there was no point in trying to watch the final 20 minutes of “The Missing”.

If this sounds like a bit of a disaster, I suppose in one sense it was. But thinking positively it had its upside. I have a cheap and cheerful torch, bought from the Lagos Chinese bazaar, that in a power cut makes me look like I have a part in CSI Luz.

And we also bought some self-charging glow lights. These give off very little illumination, just enough to walk around in without banging into the walls or furniture. Roughly speaking, they are like fairy lights, just not on a Xmas tree.

And so, due to the storms, I have had an early Christmas.


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