A Sunny Autumn Afternoon

Today’s dog walk was cold (7C) but beautifully sunny.

I took the camera out with me, hoping to capture Beetley Meadows in low winter light.
(The photos are on Flickr, and if you click on them you can enlarge them there)

Ollie sniffing around under a tree. Its leaves have finally changed.

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Most of the berries on the Holly have been eaten by birds already, but these ones by the gate to the woods are on the lowest branches.

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The river was hardly flowing today, making the surface very still. I was able to get some reflections of the trees as a result.

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If this good weather continues, I may well take the camera out again soon.

My S.A.D. Lamp, and Brighter Days

It has been nice and sunny in Beetley for over a week now, and staying light until past 8 pm. I will be retiring my SAD lamp now until November, hopefully.

I used it every day until the end of March, mostly in the afternoons. Plugged into my PC tower, and angled away from my direct vision, it gave a comforting glow on the ‘Daylight’ setting. It is around the size of an I-Pad, or an Android Tablet

As I have been writing a lot of posts, sleeping quite well, and not been unduly fed up about anything, I have to presume that the SAD lamp did work, by improving my sense of wellbeing in the same way that the the recent bright days have done. And even if it wasn’t solely responsible, I think it certainly contributed.

It only cost £20, and should last for a good few years. So if you suffer from S.A.D. on gloomy days, I suggest you think about buying one. Rather than just recommend the one I have, here is a selection for you to see in the link. I would add that you need spend no more than the cheapest option available. They all seem to be made in the same place, with different trade names, and do the same thing with the same options. 🙂

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=SAD+lamps&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

The Last Gasp Of Summer

On my short holiday, it didn’t rain at all. And there was only one dull and chilly day. I came home last weekend to an Indian Summer of high temperatures and blue skies. I haven’t seen any rain now since the night of the 6th, and that makes me very happy.

Today it is also bright and sunny, with some heat in the sunshine. Ollie is sleeping in a shaft of sunlight next to my desk, and I can hear soft music coming from a garden across the road. Nobody is cutting grass, drilling, or hammering. Traffic is light on the road outside, and peace dwells in Beetley so far this morning.

The weather people on TV tell us that this is all soon to change by Wednesday. Rain will arrive from the north-west, and the 24 C we are enjoying today will be down to a more seasonal 15 C.

Unusually, I am not complaining about that. We had a summer, and it was suitably hot. Then I had a holiday, with no rain. Then I came home to great weather as a bonus.

With all that has gone wrong in 2020, at least the weather finally worked.

Surviving The One-Day Heatwave

The temperature has hit 32C here in Beetley today. I’m not complaining of course!

I took Ollie out very early, though it was still 26 C then. He had a shorter walk, mostly in the shade, and that included some dips in the river. At least there is a breeze, if you are in the right place.

He has been asleep since we got back, and I had to abandon cutting the smaller hedge, as it is just too hot out the front today. I managed to get today’s blog posts posted earlier, as the window in my office room does let in a nice flow of air. I was going to relax and watch a film this afternoon, but the living room is still too warm to sit comfortably, and using a fan is annoying when watching TV.

So I will stay in the small office for now, enjoy the breeze, and listen to Ollie snoring.

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.

Climate Change Is Now Official!

I have just been watching a weather feature on the BBC News channel.

Not since records began in the 1820s has Britain had so many hours of sunshine by the end of May, in any year. It has also been the driest May on record, with unprecedented low levels of rainfall. The south-eastern part of Britain has had less than 4mm ( 0.16 inches) of rain in one month.

Music to my ears.

Of course, the prophets of doom have started already. Not enough water in the rivers and reservoirs. Farmers worrying about crops wilting on the ground. (Farmers also complain when it is too wet to harvest of course.) There is a real possibility of hosepipe bans and water rationing in some areas.
Oh woe is us, living in this desert!

We live in one of the wettest countries in the world, yet seem to be incapable of working out how to store the countless milions of gallons of water that fall out of the skies annually. It wasn’t that long ago (February, to be precise) that those same experts were worried about too much rain, and huge areas of the country were devastated by flooding.

So where did all that water go? Why didn’t they save it somewhere, ready for a time such as this?

The report concluded by suggesting that Britain might soon have a ‘Mediterranean climate’. The words of the expert sounded like a warning.

From this chair, I say ‘Bring it on!’

The Longest Day

Today is midsummer’s day, in this part of the world. The sun will not set until 9:30 this evening, giving today its title of the longest day.

From tomorrow, the sun will begin to set earlier, as the countdown to autumn begins.

But it has stopped raining, finally. Even a supposedly dry day yesterday saw some light showers here, and that made it a full three weeks with rain every day. However, the sun is shining this morning, and the forecast is good.
At least for a few days.

Ollie will enjoy a much longer walk, and I will cherish a dry day to walk him in. If they got the forecast right, I might even be able to tackle some jobs in the neglected garden tomorrow, and will be hoping that the last remaining water from the small flood in the shed dries out.

Weather can affect our mood, so they say. I know it certainly affects mine.

Happy midsummer’s day, everyone! 🙂

Low, Low Sun

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will tell you that I am hard to please, and perhaps best described as ‘never happy’. Alright, I confess that when it comes to the weather, that is true.

We have enjoyed an unusually bright October so far. And we have been blessed with very warm days too. Yesterday’s 23 C was a record locally, for a day in October. From sunrise to sunset, we have brilliant sunshine, followed by clear nights with a feast of visible starts.

But it comes with a catch of course.That brilliant sun is very low in the sky. It’s impossible to drive into it, even with sunglasses on and the visor down in the car. It streams through the windows of the house, making it increasingly difficult to see anything on this computer monitor, and to have no chance of watching anything on a flat-screen TV. The irony is that we wait for such sunny days, then have to close the curtains to be able to do anything in ‘normal’ light.

When I am out walking with Ollie, the low sun is like a searchlight in your face, and can very quickly generate a headache. But at least it is warm enough that I can still wear my shorts, eleven days after they are normally put away for the season. I know, I shouldn’t be complaining. Parts of the UK have high winds and heavy rain, so I should be grateful. But I would still like it to be higher in the sky, and not searing my eyeballs at every turn.

We have rain forecast for the weekend.

Stay tuned for me complaining about that. 🙂

Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

Sunshine

Yesterday afternoon, the weather finally turned warmer. I was caught out on my walk with Ollie, and came home hot and bothered in my heavy coat. I changed into shorts later, and enjoyed watching the sun setting over the back garden. This morning, I woke up thinking about sunshine, with the weather forecasters predicting a steep rise in temperatures next week.

Most of my youthful memories are of being out in the sun. Summer holidays that always seemed to be warm and dry, blue skies, and trips to the beach. School holidays in July and August, always playing in the sunny streets of London, always hot and thirsty. Nobody ever talked about sunscreen, skin cancer, premature ageing, or cataracts in those days. They just got out in the fresh air, and enjoyed the end of winter.

By the time I was in my teens, I had been to the South of France, and experienced some really hot weather. Beaches too hot to walk on the sand, and humid nights that I wasn’t used to. Some people were beginning to move to countries like Australia, in search of better weather, more sun, and longer summers. One of my relatives had discovered Spain, and she was travelling to the sun on cheap holidays where the weather was more or less guaranteed to always be hot and sunny. By the time I had turned 21, I was keen to discover more such places, and a few years later, I went to Greece, with my first wife.

It was there that I first discovered that I could have too much of a good thing. Daytime temperatures in excess of 100 degrees F, and little relief from the heat at night. Sightseeing became a trial, and even resting on a beach soon became uncomfortable. I found myself retreating inside, sitting in the shade, or driving into the mountains to escape the extreme heat. I thought of those people who had flocked to Australia, experiencing their upside-down summers in six months of similar conditions, and wondered how they managed to go about their everyday lives in heat like that.

At least I was lucky in one respect. I had the sort of skin that tanned very well, and quickly too. Little or no sunburn, just a golden glow turning into a mahogany hue very rapidly. People took me for a local, and on returning to England, I was complimented on a suntan that lasted for months afterwards. So I carried on seeking sunshine abroad. Northern Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, Crete, Egypt, and Greece again. My main summer holiday each year supplied me with enough sunshine and heat to last the winter that followed.

Then everything changed. Sunshine was no longer our friend, we were told. Especially in hot countries like those mentioned, we should cover up, wear hats, use oily sunscreen, and avoid the strong sun at midday. Skin cancer was on the increase, and for many people, being out in the sun was actually very dangerous. So I started to visit cities instead of beaches. Amsterdam, with a similar climate to the East of England. Berlin, humid in the summer heat, and Barcelona, with lots of shade available. Bruges and Ghent, with worse weather than England, and Paris of course, with a climate almost identical to the one we left behind in London. Moscow and Leningrad, still snowbound and cold in late spring, and Beijing, with stifling heat, but little direct sunshine.

Over the last few years, we have settled for staying in England. No good weather guaranteed of course, but less danger from the ultraviolet radiation. Despite having that ‘good tanning’ skin, I am also someone who has quite a few moles on my face and body. Fear of them becoming affected by sunshine had me covering up, avoiding strong sun, and the countries where it is found.

So when I woke up to a sunny morning today, I was left thinking about how my perception of that much-desired sunshine has changed in sixty-odd years. I might have been happier never knowing.

Sun out, shorts back on

Consumed by my film challenge, I have neglected to bring you anything about the Beetley weather of late. After my last weather report about a return to Winter, I am pleased to be able to tell you that Wednesday signalled a pleasant change, however brief it might turn out to be.

After many days of unpleasantly cold weather, I woke up yesterday to bright sunshine. For once, that sunshine had some heat in it too. So, by the time it came to Ollie’s afternoon walk, I was able to leave the boots in the shed, and my heavy coat remained in the wardrobe. The shorts were shaken out, and donned with a smile. Light shoes were sufficient, and no coat was required.

It was a very pleasant 17 C, with no wind to speak of. The ground was dry and hard beneath my feet, and the vegetation had sprung up overnight. Clouds of insects circled just above the surface of the river, and birds were singing loudly. Ollie was running around happily sniffing, and he was soon sufficiently hot to require a long dip in the water. Walking across on to Hoe Rough, I could feel the warm sun on my neck, as I watched the swans and ducks making their way along with the current.
It felt good to be alive.

This is what May should be like.