Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Christmas Tree Wall Hanging



The main picture is of a little wall hanging I have, made for me by a lady in her 80s. Its intricate and beautifully detailed, and a lovely thing to have, but its also a useful reminder about prepping in terms of the community at large.

The second picture is a detail of the reverse, to show how she engineered a really simple way of making a little “rail” to support the picture as a whole, and to provide a lengthy attachment that could be used with a hook. I love this: she used two thin knitting needles, and sewed them into the fabric of the hanging, you can just see the painstaking hand-stitching.  This is what any good prepper does: minimal work to adapt the resources at hand, so the job gets done with a minimum of fuss.

Most elderly people are women, but some are men, of course they are, and the generation currently in their eighties were the last generation in the UK – currently, at least – to be conscripted. Those gents sunning themselves in the beer garden or taking a little walk in the park, they may well have skills that you really, really didn’t expect to find. Don’t underestimate them, any of them, male or female.

Because of our ageing population, older people make up an increasingly large part of our numbers. And quite a few of them are pretty healthy, even in their 80s. This wall hanging is a reminder that even though they don’t have the physical strength or stamina of younger people, many of them still have skills and knowledge and dexterity, and will be willing to help in all sorts of ways in emergencies.

Those emergencies might be ordinary, everyday emergencies today – passing on messages, feeding the dog, being in the house to take in a delivery, watering the plants, collecting the post, that sort of thing.

But if times got really hard, for instance if the economy collapsed and local communities had to become more self reliant or go under, they might be called upon to do all sorts of other things. Here are just a few:

– providing space – to store goods, to grow young plants of various sizes, or even to have people bunk with them for a while, if need be.

– babysitting/watching the children.

– teaching.

– monitoring radios.

– monitoring solar battery chargers.

– cooking.

– darning and mending.

– information on local people and resources.

There’s a bit of a philosophical point as well: what kind of society do you want your kids to grow up in?  How would you want to be treated if you or your kids are ill, or get an injury, or you manage to survive what life throws at you and you just get old?    We’re all looking after each other, in the long term.

Health, wealth and happiness to us all.

Phone Communications: Landlines

At one time or another, all of us have probably experienced difficulties with landlines or mobiles, whether signal strength, crackling on the line, a wrong connection, all sorts of things.

If an emergency is bad enough, the phone network – landline, mobile or both – might go down temporarily, probably locally, but maybe nationally.

So in this series of articles, here are as many as possible of the ways that I’ve found out about, to help us all keep the phone wires humming happily, for as long as possible. And hopefully forever.


Many people are on the point of getting rid of their landlines, if they don’t need it for their internet access. I recommend against getting rid of it, if possible. This is because of what happens in a power cut: the old fashioned, corded phones will still work, because they draw their power directly from the telephone line. A cordless phone won’t, because the base station needs to be powered up the whole time, but corded will.

It’s a good idea to keep the same sort of phone in your car (one that draws power from the telephone lines themselves); if communications were to go down for some unforeseen reason, you might be able to find a way to use it, via a jack point, for instance in a public building.

As things stand right now, you can check the status of phone line service nationally if you can get online, at this link:,353/session/L3RpbWUvMTM0ODQ3OTIyOC9zaWQvLU8xKkYxN2w%3D Though quite what you do if you find there is a fault in the area you want to call, well … at least you know not to keep phoning, I suppose, and find another way to contact them.

Public Phone Network

There’s a good chance that public phones would still work when mobile phone networks have been shut down, and even when home landlines have been interrupted. There’s some discussion about the level of priority they’d be given, and the answer varies from “low level” to “none at all”! But its a cheap form of safeguarding one potential method of communication, so why not use it?

To do so, of course, you’d need to know the numbers of public call boxes nearby to your family and friends, and have a schedule set up for contacting one another – relying on the kindness of strangers during the level of emergency that would see the need for this form of contact is uncertain, at best. You might be lucky, but if you set up this method of contact as an insurance, why leave that last step to luck?

So, my recommendation is that you discuss it amongst yourselves, and take a note of the numbers of at least two public call boxes near to you, and near to the person or people you want to contact. To connect with people this way will be time-consuming, there’s no doubt of it, so its best to limit the number you contact to two or three. Use a telephone tree system if there’s more of you.

In point form, this is as follows:

  • discuss this method of contact with the people you want to use it for.
  • all of you take note of the numbers of a couple of public call boxes near to you, and give that information to all the others in the group.
  • make sure you all write it down on pen and paper. Don’t rely on electronic storage, and make sure the rest of your group don’t – it might be an electronic malfunction that means you need to contact one another, and then the numbers won’t be available to you.
  • sort out days and times for each contact. For instance: ‘A’ will phone ‘B’ on Tuesday and Friday at 10am and 5pm; each should be at the phone for 5 minutes beforehand, and 10 minutes after. ‘B’ will phone ‘C’ Wednesday and Friday at 11am and 8pm; each should be at the phone for 5 minutes beforehand, and 10 minutes after. And so on …
  • after you’ve set the system up, keep an eye on your chosen phone boxes: are they still in working order? Vandalised or the phones themselves removed by the authorities? Have they become Card Only?
  • if one of your little group moves, make sure you all update the phone box numbers involved.
  • if you use a telephone tree, make sure you all know what to do if one of the members doesn’t respond for a certain number of calls.
  • and finally, make sure you have enough change, not just for one phone call, but a whole series, for your particular phones. Those advertised on the BT website are described using a 10p coin as an example, but the phones can be programmed for differing capabilities. Always check. Thats the final step, and maybe the easiest to overlook; to go through all the work of setting this up, and then not having enough change would be a real shame, and could have very serious consequences. Be sure to keep enough change by you at all times, in a tin at the back of the food cupboard if necessary.