I'm amazed how easy it is to depart from what you thought was an almost automatic routine, one that you've followed for years. I've done just that, and had to junk some food in consequence. Nothing that will break the bank, but about £25 worth of meat and fish, enough to be annoyed about. This is about my silly bit of forgetfulness.
Refridgerators in caravans work by making a refridgerant go round and round a closed system of pipes. It's silent, as it needs to be in the confined space of a caravan - you can't have a device that could keep you awake at night! The refridgerant is set in motion by a source of heat. It then circulates and sheds the acquired heat to the outside air, ending up a bit cooler than before. Further cycles gradually cool the refrigerant further, until it reaches whatever temperature has been set. If the temperature setting is low enough, not only the fridge will be cold, but the freezer also, so that frost will form. It's remarkably efficient, at least for a non-household cooling device.
The heat source is provided in three ways, all of them obtained by simply rotating the same switch. You can ignite a gas burner. You can use 12 volt power from the leisure battery with an electrically-heated element. Or, if hooked up to the mains, you can use full-on power from the National Grid. The last provides the most rapid circulation of refridgerant, and is the most effective where freezing is concerned.
While bowling along the Queen's Highway, you bring the 12 volt battery into play. It provides enough cooling to keep already-frozen items frosty for a few hours. After that, they will begin to defrost, even if the fridge as a whole stays acceptably cool. So a five or six-hour journey on battery cooling only is no problem. But on arrival at my destination, it's a priority to get hooked up, and switch the fridge/freezer to mains power. I've done that dozens of times in recent years.
But when I arrived at Newport, for once I forgot. So although I had mains power for lighting and interior heating, the fridge/freezer was still on battery power.
I arrived on Wednesday afternoon. By Friday midday I noticed that things in the fridge were not as cold as I'd expect. I turned the temperature control to apply more mains power. This actually had no effect - it doesn't when the fridge/freezer is running on battery power - but I hadn't yet become aware of my mistake and I thought I was likely to get a cooler appliance. I didn't though, and by the late evening I was starting to think that something was seriously wrong.
Opening the freezer door, I discovered mass defrosting going on. All I could do was to remove everything in the freezer, bag it up, and bin it. Then wipe out the freezer, and ponder what was amiss. At this stage I was glumly thinking of an expensive and inconvenient trip to the dealer, to get the mysterious trouble fixed. And if it couldn't be dealt with quickly, then possibly I was facing a difficult time on my Scottish Tour, only a month ahead. I decided to sleep on it.
Awaking during the night, I thought of checking the caravan's electrical circuit breakers, which I did by torchlight. I flicked the switch for the fridge off, then on again. Nothing seemed wrong. But with switches now in my mind, I at last looked at the power-source selector switch, and kicked myself when I saw that I'd let the fridge/freezer run on battery-only for nearly three days. A quick movement of that switch put matters right. By breakfast time, the bowl of water I'd placed in the freezer was now a bowl of ice. Phew. Quel relief! No big bill! No month in Scotland without a freezer! I slept the sleep of the carefree.
This morning's restock at Waitrose was about £25 more expensive than planned for, however. And I didn't even buy any fresh fish.
I've already devised a way of reminding myself that, on arrival anywhere, I must reset the power source for the fridge/freezer. But of course it's another step along the road of total reliance on paper or electronic reminders - and the growing idea that my propensity to forget things is getting worse. I don't really feel that vagueness is taking over, but you do wonder!