Tag Archives: electricity

Power Off weekend, March 20-21st / Spring Equinox

Turn the power off for 48 hours and enjoy a mini holiday at home with friends, games and traditional entertainment, cooking over a fire maybe.

sausages cooking on the open fire

Prepare yourself for a sudden ‘crisis’ by enjoying one of these Power Off Weekends, be prepared, save money and reduce your carbon footprint, whilst having fun again.

You will love being free of the internet, electric gadgets, work, noise and chores and instead breath a sigh of relief. Some of it may be challenging but we love challenges, right? Especially when only for a weekend. Give it a go, this March 20-21st, which coincides with the Equinox, start of Spring.

Playing games by candle light - like being children again

See all the posts on our Touchwood Project blog about the Power Off weekends – the radio interview clips, photos, 101 things to do without electricity and some feedback from people who tried it. Click on the yellow Power Off logo:

48 hours without electricity - adventure in your own home!

To sign up for the event, see more pictures or just support us, even if you cannot do it this time around, it is best to go to the Facebook Events, Group and Page. Three separate places on Facebook, which confuses me but if you go to the Events page and RSPV to attend, your name will be counted and we will be able to include you in pre-weekend information, questionnaires and tips.

Power Off Event – Facebook

If you join the group on Facebook we will know you support the idea – as too if you become a ‘fan’ on the Power Off Weekends Page. Please do all three – and let us know you care.

Power Off Weekend Group – Facebook

Power Off Weekends Page – Facebook

One more picture, from the mid-winter Power Off weekend:

Reading by natural daylight, keeping warm, enjoying life - flow


101 Things to do without electricity / Malcolm’s Childhood :)

When I was a kid I was amazed how many people assumed you needed to buy the game to play it, not realising that often you just need pencil and paper. They’d rather buy some tacky plastic game or watch TV than make their own fun! I’m of the play-it-on-paper or build-your-own-game tribe.

Since the Power Off Weekend is just around the corner, 12-13 December, 2009, here are 101 things to do with your friends and loved ones — all without electricity:

http://www.touchwoodproject.com/101-things-to-do-without-electricity/ (This link takes you to my other blog and the full text).

Oh, and for me talking on BBC Radio Orkney about the Power Off Weekend, click here:


Give me pencil, paper, a ball and some friends, and I will be late for supper, no matter how old I am!

Either dehydrated or it’s the fish :-(

Sunday morning … groggy

Been dozing for hours, awoken finally by the church bells, played pretty poorly, which amuses me. The sun is shining, the town still. Just an occassional voice of a child or a cat’s meow. Through the night there was a procession of boisterous drunks but now the churches open their doors and the children play. Like night and day.

As for the lack of power, sunlight returns to centre stage. We, like our ancestors are thankful of this and determine to use it.

Again I am shocked by how much water we flush away. And there is an art to pouring a bucket down the toilet. If this situation were to be continuing another day I would be changing to the garden disposal (see yesterday).

I am also very aware of the wonderful washing machine. It is idle whilst we have no electricity but it will surely be one of the first things to use again. I am familiar with washing clothes by hand – from childhood – and do not relish it one bit. We’d certainly wear less clothes if hand washing returned! Fashion would be forgotten.

You realise how lazy one becomes with instant power and water. How indifferent you become to the amount used. No wonder the planet’s ecosystems are struggling under our exploitation, no wonder the planet is heating up.

My motto is “leave it a little better than you find it” but I see our actions, the planet over, is “LIAL worse TYFI”. Lots of little actions wasting away our world.

6 billion people potentially doing that and we have a big problem. Don’t we?

I think we have to regain the common sense frugality that has been part of human life – up until recent times. I’d guess up until about 100 years ago, in Europe. Cheap electricity and petrol comes at a cost. But who cares when it pours out of every tap, is there at the flick of a switch?

We who live on these islands already feel the pinch more than most, with high fuel costs, transport and hence the cost of produce. Not to mention storms and rising sea levels, or the loss of the North Atlantic drift. So, if anyone is to change, who better? It is in our own best interest to be more efficient, frugal, independent. In essence, better housekeepers. I’m sure a lot of you already are but I write of my own experience and for the majority. One home. One planet.

This weekend has been invaluable, in raising my awareness. I hope the lessons learnt will not be forgotten so easily. I hope others will try this too.
You have to experience it to really feel it and become aware.

2 days without a few things – no real hardship at all – still so much better off than many on the planet – so no complaints! But a real eye opener.

Power Off

This will be the last post for a while.

The power is about to be turned off – so all diary notes will be written in long hand and typed up after the weekend experiment.

The time is 6.30pm on Firday. We are heading off out for the evening, so I will switch all off before we go.

1) Turning off electricity, water mains, mobile and phone

2) No use of credit / debit cards and no withdrawing money

Just got to make do with whatever we got.

(Power will be back on Monday morning, when we awake).


In our world everything is “instant”

Friday, 15th September, 16.00

Stop for a moment and think! Don’t we have everything at our fingertips? Running, fresh water at every tap; bright electric lights everywhere at the flick of a switch; flame at the mere strike of a match or cigarette lighter. And what about the car ignition, the 24 hour supermarket with foods from across the globe, at the click of your fingers?

I sit here at a computer and type a letter which I can send by email across the internet world, I can see the faces of friends in other countries as we chat on the phone. Any time we want. All in an instant.

Why then are we so rushed, so pressed for time, so busy? We have ripped out fire places and inserted hideous gas fires (with imitation glow), we have consumed vast, sloppy mounds of ready made meals and guzzled gallons of instant coffee, teabags shaped for mugs (no time to brew here, no ritual). And most of all, we have jumped into oil fuelled cars and dashed everywhere, like busy bees. Off to the school, then work, then a meeting, lunch, the shops, back home, via school, and off in the evening to some quick entertainment. Such busy lives. No time to do things, no time at all.

Now, think of the pleasures of a candle lit dinner, a stroll in the countryside or park, the delight in watching children or pets play, the excitement of fireworks and the glow of the bonfire. (Think too of washing clothes by hand, digging vegetables from your garden and carrying water in from the well. Imagine travelling into town by bicycle or even with a horse and cart). Remember when grocers had vegetables in season? How we long for hand written letters and messages from distant lands, the exotic postage stamps, brown paper parcels and unusual smells.

So, when next you grab your mobile phone or sprawl in front of the television, ask yourself, where does all the time go? And why? Think of your ideal holiday. What are you doing? Maybe lounging on a beach, cool drink in hand, or exploring mysterious market streets. Maybe you are striding out along a broad footpath high upon a hillside, the wind in your hair, or maybe it is Christmas day morning and you are snug at home, surrounded by family, laughter and a roaring log fire. The smell of turkey roasting in the oven as the snow softly settles outside. All is still. It seems timeless.

Most likely your Christmas has become hectic too with phone calls and television programmes, noise and confusion, too much food and a hangover. Plus worries about how much you have spent and the work that is not being done … emails piling up in your inbox. It never stops. Where are the weekends and the holidays? What of the seasons, of night and day? Do you feel rushed? Do you feel in control? Where is all the laughter, pleasure and satisfaction? What of spontaneity and play? When are you next going to see the stars at night? When will we stop feeling tired?

What happens as the oil runs out and the planet heats up? How much longer can you work to keep your income, to pay for all that stuff? What, oh what will you do if the lights go out, if the food is not in the supermarket, if the nappies are not on the shelf? Will the lingering threat of another terrorist attack ever fade, or is it going to get worse? How much will you work to pay for the fuel in your car? When will you say, we cannot afford the new computer / television/ car /clothes / holiday / washing machine / mobile phone? What are you going to do if the supply of gas or oil is cut off? If suddenly, things are no longer instantly available, no longer at your finger tips? What if you heating system or plumbing breaks and no one comes to repair it (too busy) or your car’s computer fails and no one comes to pick you up (no spare parts guv)? What will you do if the water in your taps tastes like pond water and is alive with bacteria, but the supermarket shelves are empty of bottled water? No drinkable water! What will you do?

It could happen next week, tomorrow, in an instant. The power goes out, so no news, no one telling you to stay calm and what to do. No one organising your life and ensuring a smooth return to normality. No one to complain to. Just a lot of other people, all in the same boat, all panicking. What will you do then? Will you panic? Are you addicted to instants, or can you live without them? Worth thinking about. Worth doing something about – before it is too late.

This weekend, we are exploring this by turning off the power, the phones, the taps – and ignoring the bank and credit cards. We are partially cutting ourselves off our addiction, just for two days, to contemplate just where we are at.

“this is not a good time”

“this is not a good time” but it will never be convenient! Living without the essentials for a weekend.

The freezer may start to defreeze, the house may get cold and we may miss important phone calls. We may crave caffeine and notice how many times we want to boil the kettle. We may feel hungry and bored, who knows? Better this than ever increasing dependency and panic, if denied normality. What is our drug? – Energy. What do we fear?

To explore the reality of your life, try this experiment:

Weekend Exercise: Turn off the water (mains stop tap) into your house, turn off the power (electricity) and put no more petrol in your car. Put away all credit and debit cards and do not withdraw any money from the bank or ATM. Turn off all mobile phones (the network is down) and unplug the phone. Try this for a weekend. (To make this realistic, do not warn your family. Do not stock pile or prepare – just do it and stick to it!) Then, when the weekend is over, make a plan. Be more in control. Expect some minor discomfort – and some surprises!

Friday 15th September 12.46
Just told R of my great idea and suggested we do this exercise ourselves, sort of test it out. To my surprise her reaction was far more like that of my hypothetical audience, the general public, than I expected. We agree to do this, this weekend. We also agree it is like an addiction – like an addict being told they are to do without, even if only for a weekend. The severity of the addiction, to electricity and the computer, is alarming. R is in the second week of her own project, learning Colour Design by remote learning via the internet, and my business, Five Senses, has email correspondence coming in too. We have also noted there is a huge haddock in the fridge, complete with head and eyes, which R does not want to touch (or see) so I am the cook. I now know tomorrow, when I plan to cook it, there will be no electricity so no cooker. R is also slightly irritated and we agree that if I had sprung this upon her without warning I would now be in big trouble! My mood, on the other hand, is one of excitement, almost liberation. What fun! Though I confess, I may be over optimistic and have overlooked some basics.

We will continue our plans and go to the library and shopping (the cats will be glad, though they may want the fish!) and drive into Kirkwall for the evening talk and this may involve putting diesel in the car. But nothing extra, no cheating. But then again, it is only for 2 days and I know we have a house packed full of food. There are lots of matches, some coal, cats and games for entertainment (and we have each other). Maybe the weekend is too short?

But the point of this is not to make people suffer or be miserable – quite the opposite in fact – this is meant to be a great awakening, a realisation of reality and a fun experiment that brings family together and identifies some priorities – what we need most, what we are addicted to or dependent upon, what we can do without and what we can perhaps do, easily, to be prepared and therefore in control of our own lives. So, maybe a little survival kit will be the outcome. Maybe it will include a £50 note and a good book, and a bottle of water. Perhaps we will leave the car in the garage and save the last precious tank of diesel. Maybe we will look more earnestly into getting of the grid and generating our own electricity, to keep the computer alive. Maybe we will realise our dependency upon an internet provider and telephone network? Who knows?

We will both be keeping a diary over the weekend and post up the results – so, lets see what happens!

The plan is for people to become aware of their situation, realise their dependency upon certain things and realise how they can improve their own lives, easily, and regain more control. They are not to give up anything, except for one weekend – so maybe things will be noticed, maybe not. That depends. There may be tensions (certainly expect this from those who did not choose to do this silly experiment) and a sense of “this is not a good time”. And that is exactly the point. By doing this we will gain a sense of what most matters in life – who and why! And we will be made aware of what we can do, ourselves, to take control of our daily lives. And, we will be better prepared for the future, whatever it holds.

When we go out on the mountains, we pack our rucksacks, leave route cards, we carry maps, first aid kit, and we plan. For our convenience, safety and enjoyment we do this. Then, why not look at our everyday lives and do similar? Do this simple exercise – everyone!