London In The 1930s: Heatwaves

1930 was one of the hottest summers on record, and 1932 was almost as hot. Londoners enjoyed the warm weather in a variety of ways.

These girls are at a main line station, going off on holiday.

Old Caledonian Market, King’s Cross. Some of the shoppers are still wearing far too much clothing for a heatwave.

The water company man has opened a street water main so the children can cool off.

Crowds gather by The Serpentine in Hyde Park. A cool spot in the heart of Central London.

A temporary swimming pool erected in Piccadilly.

These dressmakers are working on the roof of the workshop, wearing less clothing to keep cool.

The ice cream man by the River Thames was more popular than ever.

This little girl is taking her cat to The Cat Show at Olympia. She is still wearing an overcoat, despite the heat.

The little boy in his toy bus will not let the warm weather stop him wearing full uniform.

Female tennis players at Wimbledon cool off during the Junior Championships.

London, 1914: The Great War Is Looming

In the summer of 1914, life continued as normal in England, with few people aware that the world was about to be plunged into the carnage of WW1 on the 4th of August.

A policeman stands guard outside the National Gallery in London. It had been closed after a suffragette damaged a famous work of art, during the campaign for Votes For Women.

A modern operating theatre at King’s College Hospital, London.

Female Tennis fans at Wimbledon.

A parade by the Holborn Regiment in Red Lion Square, London.

Boys fishing in St James’s Park, Central London.

Men seeking a vantage point to watch the Football Association Cup Final at Crystal Palace.

The morning rush hour outside Liverpool Street Staion in London.

The arrest of a Suffragette who was protesting outside Buckingham Palace.

The opening of a branch of Marks and Spencer in Holloway, North London.

Crowds attend the Henley Regatta, held on the River Thames outside London in Oxfordshire.

A steam-powered wagon has crashed in Chelsea, London.

Not long after these photos were taken, many of the men pictured would die or be terribly injured on battlefields across Europe, and in Turkey.
For everyone in these photographs, life would never be the same again.

Another Heatwave, And Now A Drought

Yesterday, temperatures climbed back up to 36C (96F) in some parts of England. This heralded the start of another predicted heatwave, due to last for four days until it cools a little on Monday. By late Saturday, we may have seen hotspots of 38C in some areas. That is 100 degrees to those of us old enough to remember when we measured the old way.

Alongside the heatwave comes news of a drought. Some water companies have already introduced restrictions on water pressure, and banned the use of hosepipes and sprinklers. The rest will soon have no option but to follow suit. Reservoirs around England are at their lowest capacity since 1976, and the farmers are warning of crop failures this year, and of not being able to plant anything to harvest in 2023. This is forecast to mean higher prices for potatoes, bread, sugar, beer, pasta, breakfast cereals, and many other staples.

On top of the health issues caused by the heat, those price rises will hit people hard. The same people struggling to pay sky-high electricity and gas bills, and trying to afford to put enough petrol in their cars so they can get to work.

River water levels are very low too. So low that fish and other water-wildlife are suffering. The water quality is deteriorating as the river flow becomes sluggish, and all other wildlife dependent on rivers for drinking water is under threat.

Doom and gloom indeed!

And all I wanted was a nice summer for a change.

Be careful what you wish for.

Pre-Heatwave Sunday Musings

I wrote about the forthcoming short heatwave yesterday. It hasn’t officially started yet, though it is set to reach 32C here today nonetheless.


It is now a month since I passed the DVLA eye test, and still no driving licence has arrived. It will soon be six months since my initial aplication to renew it was submitted. No doubt the staff in Swansea will all be going on summer holiday soon, and there will be more delays.


Ollie’s fur has started to come out in patches again, set off by the unusually hot weather. His coat now looks like a ‘work in progress’.


The Conservative Party contenders for Prime Minister continue to stab each other in the back. Westminster is becoming more like the Roman Forum every day, as sneaky leaks abound, and character assassination is the order of the day. Whichever one of them wins, it will be of little consequence to me.
All rats look the same, and do the same things.


One less pleasant aspect of good weather and open windows is increased noise. Petrol mowers, hedge-trimmers, pressure washers, DIY projects, and yapping dogs left in gardens. All congregate together to provide us with a ‘Symphony of Summer’ in Beetley.


I hope the weather is not too hot where you live, and that you all have a peaceful Sunday.


Summer Solstice

(This post is another moan about the weather. If you are bored with those, please skip it.)

Today is the Longest Day. The Summer Solstice, Midsummer’s Day. Whatever anyone calls it, it is the 21st of June, and definitely ‘summer’ in most countries north of the Equator.

Julie is sitting on the sofa wrapped in a blanket, and I am seriously considering putting the central heating on. Last night, I had trouble sleeping, because my feet were cold in bed. And that was under a fleecy duvet, full tog.

Not that long ago, we had temperatures of 28C (82F), bright sunshine, and humid nights. That felt like summer. This feels more like February, and today was the only day it didn’t rain at all in nearly a week. For the last four days, the best temperature we have reached in Beetley is 13C. (55F)

It seems Global Warming and Climate Change have definitely arrived uninvited in England, if not the whole of Britain.

Coping with an extension of the Covid-19 rules is bad enough, after all this time. And now it is cold and miserable into the bargain.

A Very Short Summer

Only a few days ago, I was posting about walking in the warm sunshine, and Ollie having to have three dips in the river to cool down.

Okay, I appreciate that 26C was an unusual temperature this early, but it was only last night that I had to sleep on top of the bedcovers with a fan blowing on me from the end of the bed.

But this is England.

Today started out cloudy and overcast, and didn’t feel too warm.

On Ollie’s walk, he only went into the river once, to have a drink. The sun didn’t appear, and I was walking briskly once again, untroubled by any heat. Although some young girls were swimming in the river, I was reminded that it was only two days ago that I saw almost fifty women and children in the same spot, using tents and towels to shade the youngsters from the hot sun.

The best we could manage here on the 4th of June was 15C. And by 3pm it was raining.

Now it is 6:30 pm, in summer. Still raining, windows closed, gloomy outside, and lights on.

The 21st of June is the longest day. Midsummer, in England.

It was good while it lasted…

Walking Away From The Weather

I left in bright sunshine with Ollie for our walk earlier. It had been grey and dismal when I got up this morning, so I thought to take an umbrella, just in case.

Sure enough, I hadn’t got 500 yards before the heavens opened in a torrential downpour. In the distance, I could see blue skies and no clouds at all, so I headed in search of that spot, which I guessed was around two miles south of Beetley. I had some idea I could walk away from the weather here. But like the proverbial distant mountain, it was a lot further away than it looked, and after an hour of walking, the rain had worn us down.

Even with an umbrella up, my clothes were soaked through, and the water was running off my saturated shorts down into the tops of the wellington boots I was wearing because of the mud. Ollie’s brown fur was so wet, it looked black, and he didn’t seem very excited about being out at all. I turned back in the direction of Beetley Meadows as the rain started to get even heavier, and I didn’t look over my shoulder at that blue cloudless sky that was mocking me.

By the time we got close to home, Ollie was already heading for the exit to the Meadows, head down, and not interested in walking in the rain any longer. Even using all three of his dog towels, I couldn’t get him completely dry, and my shorts are in the airing cupbard, drying slowly with the heat from the hot water tank. I came into the office to check the date on my calendar.
Yes, it is the 10th of July.

England, in the height of summer.

A Change In The Weather

Can it be only last week that I was writing about hot summer days and uncomfortable sultry nights, sleeping with a fan whirring in the room?

The wind changed on Saturday, and the weather with it. In the course of one day, it went from 32 C to 18 C in Beetley, and the sunshine was replaced by looming clouds and blustery winds. By two in the afternoon, it was dark enough in the house to have to use lights in some rooms, and by eight at night cold enough to require wearing something warm on top.

That has continued since, with rare breaks in the clouds giving some idea of the summer they are concealing from us. Of course, June temperatures of 18-20 C are normal here. It’s just that after the three-day heatwave, they seem rather cold now, and the skies are looking bleak.

It taught me once again just how soon we can become used to something, and just as rapidly miss it when it has gone.

The Beetley Heatwave

Six years ago this week, we were in the middle of an unusual spell of very hot weather, much like we have seen over the last few days. I wrote this about it at the time, and it is remarkable how nothing has changed since.


As Irving Berlin once wrote, “We’re having a heat wave, Tropical heat wave”. The last couple of weeks have seen temperatures rising in Beetley, and every day has been sunny and hot. Even though it makes it hard to sleep at night, I’m not complaining. For too long, we have had damp and cold, followed by rain and damp. This sight of summer is long overdue, and most welcome. Ollie has been feeling the heat though. His coat may be short, but it is thick, and he is listless and uncomfortable. His only relief is to get into the river, something he does frequently on his walks.

I have had to limit the scope of our usual dog walks for now. The other places we go do not have access to any water, and Ollie would get far too hot. I probably would too. There is shade and breeze available…

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Summer is here!

Today marks the first day of official British Summer Time. (BST) The clocks have gone forward one hour, so I woke up thinking it was an hour earlier than it actually was.

This welcome event was accompanied by northerly winds of high strength, and a hailstorm that lasted from 1 am, until a few moments ago. The temperature dropped almost 10 C on what we had two days ago, and the gloomy skies appear to be heralding a return to Winter, rather than the coming Summer.

An old saying here is that “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb”.

Seems like March has had enough of that reputation, and is changing its mind.