|180 degree view from the front door (straight ahead are the Pyrenees)|
There was a thunderstorm that afternoon. Not such a big one by Gold Coast standards. Just to take a moment out to boast, if you want to see a lightning show, it doesn’t get much better than we have in Coolangatta looking out over the ocean from our balcony. We can watch lightning flashing about for hours. And if that is not sufficiently entertaining, you can spend some time trying to console Zoey the dog, her shivering and shaking and tremors continue as aftershocks for some time after the storm has passed!
However, what France gave us was an up-close and personal experience.
A loud sizzling sound sounded while we were in the kitchen preparing dinner along with a simultaneous flash of light outside was accompanied by an electricity outage. We mussed around, found the switchboard and turned the electricity back on. In the kitchen, someone commented on the smell of the cooking and closed one of the connecting doors to elsewhere.
One of the other people in the house, upstairs, came down complaining of the smell of smoke – we told her we had closed the kitchen doors. She returned upstairs and then we heard her say, no there was really smoke. We all raced upstairs and could see through the skylight, smoke rising from the roof.
We went outside to see that the roof was on fire (see Zach’s photo – the only one of the roof on fire!). A cast of us went running around looking for ladders, fire-extinguishers, hoses, etc. and proceeded to try and extinguish the fire while we waited for the fire-engines (pompiers). The house is some 10 kms from the nearest town, so it was going to take some time. Meanwhile the hose that Papa was using to put out the fire was leaking almost much as it was spraying so his clothes and he himself became soaked through as he did his bit to use water to douse the flames.
Fire engines arrived – four in total eventually – and took over. The roof over one of the bathrooms was completely destroyed and was removed, and two bedrooms on each side of the bathroom were rendered unusuable due to smoke, water-damage, etc.
Dinner that night was by candlelight. Our guests were four firemen who had stayed on after the initial fire was put out, removed hot tiles from the roof and generally making sure the fire was really really out. They also came back at 5am the next morning to check again.
Since then, we have had intermittent electricity which cuts out from time to time – e.g., when someone plugs a mobile phone into a plug to recharge and many of the appliances like the dishwasher are no longer working properly!And above all, no internet! This has been a bit of an eye-opener. I have realised that the apocalypse in modern times will not heralded by four horseman, not even by the arrival of a tsunami wave, an earthquake, a volcano or even a fire. Rather it will be heralded by the eerie silence that comes by cutting the umbilical that we call the internet!