Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Ah Easter!

 Living on the edge of the Victorian Alps as we do, Easter is is either a balmy continuation of Autumn, or the first blast of winter.

This year, it was most definitely the latter.

On the day before Easter, the Thursday, we went on a simple bushwalk doing the circuit of Lake Catani on Mount Buffalo, starting from the Chalet car park. (The Chalet is now moribund, with plans to reopen part of it as a cafe falling foul of the pandemic.)

It had been about 17 or 18C when we left home but it was more like 12C when we parked the car. The car park was overrun with mini buses full of school groups on their last pre-Easter activity day, but we found a space - the advantages of a relatively small car - and set off on the walk.

Whatever the school groups were doing it wasn't hiking, we more or less had the lake to ourselves giving us an enjoyable two and bit hours wander around the lake, just taking in the quietness and beauty of it

Even on the way back down the mountain the road was quiet, but once we turned on to the Great Alpine Road at Porpunkah there was a continual oncoming line of caravans, four wheel drives and utes, all intent on camping somewhere in the Ovens valley.

We took advantage of the roundabout in Myrtleford to make a right across this oncoming horde and looped back over the hill to Stanley and home avoiding most of the traffic.

Friday it rained. Seriously rained, a day to stay inside and read books and listen to the radio.

Saturday started out wet, which was a pity as it was the day of the Golden Horseshoes festival, but during the morning the rain cleared and the day picked up, even if it stayed cold.

We'd just got to the point of rugging up to go and watch the afternoon parade when the power went out.

After five minutes it hadn't come back, so I checked the trips and it was definitely the power company, not us. Normally I use our little travel modem to check the power company's status page, but it couldn't make a connection, I guess because some of the nbn infrastructure had been taken offline by the outage.

After half an hour or so I called the power company who told me that half of Beechworth was out as well as some of the surrounding villages and it could be some time before the power was back.

Time to swing into emergency mode, and get out the storm lanterns in case the power stayed off after dark (it did), get out our old gas camping stove, heat water to make tea and fill thermoses, find the head torches (all of which needed new batteries) and our emergency AM/FM radio (ditto).

Fortunately we had spare batteries for them and it served as a wake up call to get spare batteries for the storm lanterns for winter and generally check our preparedness for winter proper.

After that it was a case of puffer jackets and waiting for the power to come back.

We put the AM/FM radio on - something we don't normally do, as in this age of the internet we normally listen via either a smart speaker or our dedicated internet radio.

Consequently we had absolutely no idea what station was on what frequency.

We couldn't find anything on the AM band and FM seemed  limited to a couple of local music stations, a mad country and western Christian station, the local ABC station which, being Saturday, had wall to wall footy, and ABC Classic which was being its usual dreary self (I used to listen to Classic on the drive home, but latterly its programming seems to have got duller and duller).

We settled on Classic on the basis that it at least had a six o'clock news broadcast.

Dinner was crackers, cheese, and a tin of chicken soup that we had never ordered but had mysteriously arrived in an online grocery delivery - our guess is that it fell out of someone else's consignment in the van and the delivery driver had picked it up and put it in ours.

Still, however it got there it was welcome, and to wash it all down,  a glass or two of local red.

Without power and internet, none of our technology worked, except for our kindles, both of which have backlit screens meaning we could at least read without decent light.

And then, about 8.30pm, the power came back. We waited for five minutes to make sure it was really staying on, cleared up and put away everything and settled down for a hour's tv before bed.

The power did go off again in the wee small hours, but came back at about 3am when everything beeped and buzzed into life, waking the cats, who of course ran about and got in the way in the way that only cats can do.

Sunday and Monday were almost normal. Distinctly chilly, but normal, but on Monday night the overnight temperature dropped to around 3C, and wasn't much higher when I got up early for a day's volunteer documentation work at Chiltern.

So, into cold weather gear, thermal t-shirt, fleece jumper, old St Andrews University beanie, woolly socks and an old down gilet

a truly stunning ensemble, but enough to keep me warm in the old unheated pharmacy building. Normally I don't need to start seriously rugging up like this until mid-May, but winter seems to be coming early this year.

Still, as the project's almost done, there shouldn't be too much of this this year.

Today it was simply cold and wet. I had to go over to Myrtleford  this morning to pick up some things from Coles and met an oncoming stream of campervans and caravans coming back down the valley from the mountains.

I guess a lot of people had simply had enough and decided to go home early ...

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