A Lockdown Saturday In Beetley

Next Monday, the lockdown restrictions in England will begin to be eased.

All school pupils will return, depite some opposition from the teaching unions. One relative will now be allowed to visit the elderly who live in Care Homes, though they must wear full PPE, and be the only ‘nominated’ visitor.

On the 29th, outdoor gathering will be allowed, with the previous limit on numbers (six) applying, and outdoor sports such as Golf and Tennis will once again be permitted.

In late April, hospitality venues such as pubs will be allowed limited opening, restricted to outside service only. Not good news for businesses that have no outside space of course.

A full return to ‘new normal’ is estimated to happen by midsummer, but that might change if infection rates go up again.

Here in Beetley, Julie had her second Pfizer vaccination last night, and my second dose of Astra-Zeneca is due in May. We will continue to wear masks where appropriate or complusory, and keep any social mixing to the minimum.

Some people are rushing to book foreign holidays, in the hope that full international travel will be allowed again. I still think this is very risky, but it is up to those people of course. Let’s just hope that they don’t bring back new strains of the virus, and start it all up again. Just for the sake of two weeks on a beach in Spain or Greece.

For us, including Ollie, it will be a week on the Lincolnshire coast, 90 miles north. It is not until September, by which time travel in England should be permitted.

If all goes to plan, this will hopefully be my last lockdown report from Beetley.

Fingers crossed.

Waking Up To Snow

Late last night, it was still feeling very cold despite leaving the heating on until almost bedtime. I thought about the old and rather silly saying popular in England. “Too cold for snow”.

Sure enough, I woke up to see around three inches of snow settled on the back lawn, and needed no further prompting to go straight back to bed until 9:30.

The falling flakes have now turned to hard sleet. Driven by gusty winds, it is cracking against the windows, and beginning to melt the snow.

Other than taking Ollie for a walk later, I won’t be going anywhere today.

It’s Official! I’m A Jinx!

Hands up, I write a lot about the weather. I’s probably the most regularly covered topic on this blog. One reason is that before I moved here, Norfolk had the proud boast of being ‘The Driest County in England’. In fact, that was the title of one of the earliest posts on my blog, reflecting the irony that it seemed to rain every day here.

I also wrote a post about the fact that it always rained at 2 pm, my usual dog-walking time.

Over the years, my obsession with weather has led some people to conclude that I am exaggerating. Others might think it shows signs of serious depression, or some other mental abberation. Moving to a place supposed to officially be the driest spot in the British Isles only to discover it is probably one of the wettest, is a cruel twist of fate indeed.

Then yesterday morning, I had an interesting conversation with a fellow dog-walker, as we both stood looking at the severe flooding that has affected Beetley Meadows. The man was younger than me, but had lived his whole life in this area. And he was a gardener by profession, so spends his life outside, every working day. Gazing at the rushing flood-waters, he told me this.

“This used to be the driest place, you know. Some summers, we had no rain for four or five months, and it never rained during the school holidays when I was young. We had hosepipe bans that started in April, and water was treated like something rare, because of the lack of rain. They even used to close the drive-through car washes because they used too much water. But I started to notice that changing a while back. As I am outside all day working, I get a feel for those things, you know? We began to get heavy rain in early October, and then almost no snow at all during winter, but many consecutive days of heavy rain instead. Washed out summers, ruined barbecues, and only a few reasonably hot days each year.

I remember going home and telling my wife that something bad was happening with the weather here. Even the direction of the arriving bad weather was changing. It was always from the west before, but then it started to come down from the north, and across from the east. Weather patterns and gulf stream directions were all different. I looked it up. Then there was a really big change. I remember it as if it was yesterday. It started with weeks of rain, then a crappy summer, followed by a late winter that left us with snow almost into April”.

I nodded in agreement, then asked. “What year was that then?” He turned to face me, his answer immediate and full of conviction.

“2012. It started at the end of March that year, and it has been getting worse every year since”.

I moved to Beetley on the 23rd of March, 2012. It’s all my fault.

A Foggy Day In Beetley Village

I woke up early this morning because rain was lashing against the windows in the bedroom. Not wanting to get out of bed just after six, I turned over and lay there listening to it until it stopped.

When I emerged, I was startled to see the garden shrouded in thick fog. It was like one of those ‘Victorian fogs’ popular with writers of mystery novels.

Ollie had to go out of course, but he didn’t like the look of the fog that made it hard to see the end of the garden. He slunk out reluctantly, creeping into the mist and disappearing behind the leylandii hedges, as is his habit.

By now, I can make out the house opposite, through the window of the office room. But I still can’t see much beyond that.

I have to say it all looks very ‘murky and lurky’, and I have little inclination to venture out.

The Shortest Day

December the 21st is the shortest day in Britain.

It will be dark by 3:30 in the afternoon, after it never really got that bright to start with. I have had the lights on in the house since I got up at 8 am, and the SAD lamp is cranked up to full power.

The Beetley weather is marking the occasion with torrential rain that started during the night, and is set to last all day.

Oh joy!

I wasn’t expecting that!

Thirty minutes ago, I went out into the kitchen to make a coffee, and was startled to discover that is is snowing heavily in Beetley.

Then Julie came back from a hospital appointment and told me that much of the neighbouring county of Suffolk has had heavy snowfalls, necessitating school closures in some areas.

Fortunately, the snow here is not settling on ground that is still too wet from yesterday’s rain. And that snow is set to depart the east of England by the time it is dark later.

But it gave me a shock. As most of you know, I don’t like snow!

Gloom Over Beetley

Over the last few days, December gloom has descended on Beetley. Gone are the mornings of ‘low winter sun’, accompanied by blue skies and surprisingly high temperatures. The SAD lamp is on by 10 am, rather than after 2 pm.

Instead, we have the feeling that it might still be night, with dark grey skies seemingly yearning for darkness to come. Mist and murk, water in the air even when it isn’t raining, and a damp chill that makes joints ache.

Then the rain appears. Driven by wind, soaking the fallen leaves into mush, and turning firm walking paths into slippery mud.

I can be in no doubt that winter is upon us.

Sleeping With Owls

I went to bed just before midnight last night. It was quiet in Beetley of course, it almost always is. Rare to hear a car pass by after ten, and save the occasional dog bark, you can usually be assured of a noise-free night.

But last night, there was something different, and it took me some time to realise what that was.

It wasn’t raining. There was no sound of relentless rain smacking against the windows like bow waves over a small ship at sea. No endless pattering of falling rain on the flat roof of the extension or the garden furniture, sounding as if five hundred typists were hammering at their machines right outside the bedroom window. After weeks of constant rain disturbing my sleep, the prospect of a rain-free night had me lying in bed smiling.

As I settled down in the dark, two owls began to call to each other. One was close, probably in the oak tree at the front. The second much more distant, perhaps over on Beetley Meadows. It was a pleasant sound, and became soothing after a while.

Given the choice, I would sleep with the owls, rather than the rain.

Tropical Blogging In Beetley

Well they finally got a weather forecast correct, and it is exceedingly hot today in Beetley. With no breeze, and fairly high humidity, it feels more like the tropics than eastern England. Despite sweltering in my office as I work on the blog posts, I am not complaining. Mainly because it isn’t raining. It is estimated to climb to a possible 36 C by 5 pm, which is over 96 F. It is hotter in Beetley today than in most foreign holiday destinations popular with British tourists.

I write a lot about the weather; mostly complaints, I know. Today, the media is joining me in my obsession, with regular TV news features about how hot it is, and likely to stay so for the coming weekend. The usual hordes of selfish inconsiderate idiots have hit the beaches all around the south coast of England, failing to bother with social distancing as they sunbathe and frolic in the sea. No doubt many will also suffer from sunstroke or serious sunburn, placing more strain on the overburdened health service.

I had to take Ollie out early today, but even at 9:30 it was already 26 C, and he spent most of his walk not walking at all, but standing up to his chin in the river.

Fjui X30 039

Since we got back he has been sleeping soundly, as any excessive movement makes him begin to pant with the heat. I hope he manages okay tonight, as it is not set to drop below 24 C. No doubt I will be sleeping on top of the bed, with no covers.

I know, not a pretty sight…

It made me think of the offer from Barbados, to waive work visas for anyone who wanted to live and work there for six months, to take advantage of the good weather during the time they were working from home.

Perhaps Beetley should be advertising in Barbados instead?