We have arrived fairly windblown to the ninth day of the first month of 2014. During Christmas and New Year, Irish coastlines have been battered by gales, driving rain and huge hailstones. Bolts of lightening and terrifying thunder claps woke us all in the early hours. Dramatic photography in recent days has shown the weather at it’s wildest, with crashing waves hitting the islands of West Cork and shorelines of the west coast of Ireland, roads swept away and the debris of stone ditches, fallen tree branches and potholes to be attended to. Many have been without power, phonelines and, God forbid, the internet. We extend our thoughts to those who have had homes and businesses damaged in the recent stormy weather. Aside from this sort of devastation, the extreme conditions of this past festive season prompts us to ask if the absence of modern convenience from time to time is really a terribly bad thing? As long as your home is secure and your family is safe, living even for the briefest of periods without all the necessities we take for granted gives a life lesson in survival and takes us back to a time gone by. On Christmas Eve, a surprise power cut during the storm for this cook forced a change of plan in the dinner department. What was supposed to be an impressive meal of whole roast duck with the trimmings, ended up as duck portions baked in foil in the embers of the open fire – probably not a method of cooking many of us resort to except on a camping trip. You’d wonder how microwave meals and conveninece foods would stand up in these circumstances! The simple meal of meltingly tender duck with extra crispy skin, served with fire baked jacket potatoes and butter, was one of the most delicious home cooked meals of 2013! Served in candlelight and followed by stories of childhood holidays in Irish island cottages with no running water, no electricity and no loo. Memories flowed of cooking on the fire at home as an everyday thing and talking and story telling in the evenings to while away the dark hours. Many thoughts about how people managed when modern day amenities just did not exist. Skills we have all but lost in the changing times can prove to be essential tactics for survival when needs be in our modern age. Our country dwelling grandparents and great grandparents knew nothing other than practicing the art of living this way. Did they have a better quality of life, despite the undoubted hardship and extra workload they had to bear? Some would say it was an easier life, lived without complication and free from the bombardment of tv, social media and mobile phones that often stop us appreciating the simple things. Perhaps the recent storms have given the nation a taste for turning off the technology and the lights now and again (it’s easy to forget the majority of Ireland has only had public electricity for less than a hundred years), for lighting a few candles and gathering to enjoy a winter evening in the spirit of how it used to be done. With good company, simply cooked food and good conversation to pass the night away. What do you think?