On Monday, I woke up to a text message from my girl’s school. It said, “The school currently has no water” and went on to explain that the school might not be open. We were updated a few minutes later with a text confirming that school was indeed closed for the day. A lay-in for us all, I thought. Then I heard some grumping coming from the bathroom. Mike was getting ready for work and it hadn’t dawned on me that we may also have the same problem as the school. Sure enough… we had no running water either. Mike is probably the cleanest, most hygienic man I have ever met, so my suggestion of “dry shampoo and Febreeze” did not go down too well.
It turned out that Severn Trent had a main water pipe, measuring 24 inches wide, which had burst, in the middle of a field. They had to dig up the field and fix it, before the water supply would return. A huge chunk of Cheltenham and some of Gloucester were left without water.
Back in the July 2007 floods, I had no running water and no electricity. The police knocked on my door and told us we had to evacuate our home and not to return for at least a week. So one day without water this time, really wasn’t the end of the world. I’d done it before, I could do it again. But it’s not until the water is off, that you realise just how much water you use.
We couldn’t flush the toilets. So naturally, my children managed to shit in every toilet, first thing in the morning.
They had to babywipe and hand-sanitise afterwards because… there’s no running water.
We had no heating, because apparently, (I didn’t know this) the radiators need running water to heat up. Well… they say you learn something new every day!
We couldn’t make drinks or wash up after breakfast.
I couldn’t wash and sterilise and make up baby bottles.
We had to think more carefully about what we cooked – nothing that needed water.
My work had running water, so at least I had the option of going there to do Bear’s bottles, but it was the other side of town and it was the coldest day yet, this autumn.
So instead I baby-wipe-washed the children and we set of for the supermarket, to buy bottled water. Silly, silly me…
As ever, I was late to the party. Every supermarket in the area had sold out of bottled water. Thankfully, the guys at my local corner shop, showed up with a van full of water, just as we got home. We were saved. I managed to do all the bottles, wash up, make everybody drinks and flush one of the toilets with the washing up water. Just an hour later, Severn Trent set up a water station at a local supermarket, giving out free water to all local residents (you had to provide ID to show you lived in an affected postcode).
By the afternoon, the house was getting very cold. We had British Gas out trying to fit Smart Meters for our utilities, so that we could be more energy-conscious. This meant that they also had to switch off the electricity for a little while. By this point, it was getting dark outside, it was almost evening and we had lit candles in the lounge to provide us with both heat and light. As we sat there in the dark, showing the children videos on our phones for entertainment, Mike commented, “It’s like the olden days, during the war”. I joked, “yes I’m sure they all sat around watching YouTube on their smartphones during the war!”. The children now think that Mike and I were alive during the war. And that they had smartphones and 4G back then. I don’t think they are going to do well at GCSE history.
At around 5pm, we had heat, light and water back. The water is low-pressure, murky, cloudy, discoloured and has little bits floating in it, but it’s still running water. According to Severn Trent it is still safe to drink.
We were back in 2017 in our lovely home with the radiators heating up, Paw Patrol on TV and multi-coloured Hue lighting. The Wifi was back on for Bunny to continue competing against her friends at Times Table Rock Stars and the children were back to taking for granted all the things we have in modern day Britain.