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.

Skorchio

The BBC comedy sketch series ‘The Fast Show’ ran from 1994 to 1997. It made big stars of some members of the cast, and some went on to become household names in Britain. These include Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, and the sadly departed Caroline Aherne, who died in July this year. She used to play the character of the weather-girl on the news channel of a fictional country. Whenever they turned to her for a forecast, she would stick 45-degree stickers on a map, and say ‘Skorchio’ for every town.

Just lately, this could well apply to Beetley. After spending many hours on this blog lamenting our lack of sunshine and heat, I have had little to complain about, since the first week in August. We may have had a long wait for a late summer, but it arrived with a vengeance. Temperatures have remained consistently high for weeks now, with only two days of rain, and warm nights into the bargain. It has not been unusual to have runs of daytime figures well into the high 20s, and even the low 30s. Today it has reached 31 degrees (C) here, unheard of for September. Records have been broken all around the UK, with some places basking in a heat not seen since 1949. (Which is even before I can remember)**Updated** The news now tells me that we have exceeded 1949 temperatures, and now have to go back as far as 1911. So I definitely do not remember it…

So, just for a change, I am not complaining about the weather. Even though it is hard to sleep when it is still 21 degrees at night, I will tolerate that, as anything is better than the rain that preceded this unexpected hot spell. And it is set to continue, at least until the weekend.

Not complaining

As an aside, and nothing to do with this post at all. This is the 1000th post on my blog. Something of a milestone, I think you will agree.

It has been slowly warming up all week. By last night it felt uncomfortably warm in the evening, and sleep was hard to come by with no breeze through the wide open window. Undaunted, I switched on the large fan in the bedroom and managed a good eight hours.

It was warm this morning, and felt humid too, despite the sunshine. By eleven, it was clear that it was gong to be a hot day. The TV weatherman confirmed this, advising us of temperatures in this area set to touch 30 degrees. It is also going to get hotter, with a possibility of 33 degrees by Tuesday. Out with Ollie, you could really feel the heat, and the sun beat down on my back. Unusually for me, I even resorted to sunglasses as I wandered around with my dog. For Ollie in his fur coat, it wasn’t so much fun. He had to frequently go and stand in the river, trying hard to keep cool. In fact, I think it got to him a bit, and he is off his food tonight, sluggish and sleepy.

It was nice to walk around free of rain and mud, after enduring both for most of this year so far. Only in the darkest wooded areas is there still evidence of the thick black mud, but it is now easily avoided. Sitting on ‘my’ tree branch for a rest, I could even feel a pleasant warm breeze on my face and legs. I was enthused to carry on, and once Ollie had been for another dip in the river, I stayed out for almost three hours.

This is just another beetleypete weather post, I know. But there’s a big difference.

I’m not complaining

Boots off, shorts on

In the space of less than a week, we have gone from 9 degrees C, to 21. The cold evenings and rainy days just disappeared without trace, and we got a true taste of summer, here in Beetley. Blue skies greeted us when we woke up, and light evenings, still warm until 9 pm, made the days seem long and pleasant. I have no idea how long it will last, but I am nonetheless grateful for the break it provided.

As a result, I have enjoyed much longer walks with Ollie. The mud has started to dry and crack, and with the exception of a few stubborn shaded areas, our trudging is no more. Three days ago, I was able to lose the heavy rubber boots, that I felt I had been wearing forever. On went the shorts, two months late, and the comfortable loafers, that don’t leave me feeling like I have spent all day working on a farm. No need for a heavy coat, or worries about whether or not to take an umbrella.

The news media is little short of ecstatic. Temperatures in the south and east of the UK have exceeded those in Barcelona, parts of Italy, and many other traditional holiday resort areas too. Weather reporters are smiling for a change. They are still careful of course, warning that higher temperatures tomorrow may set off thunderstorms, or bring heavy rain. I don’t care though. My face and head is already showing signs of a good tan, and the lift in my mood is most welcome too. Slipping into bed at night without feeling chilly, is the icing on the cake.

Of course, with the improved weather have come the flies, and the biting insects too. Caught out, I forgot to spray my repellent earlier this week, and returned with three large mosquito bites on my head as a reminder. But these minor niggles cannot overcome the good feeling of walking with Ollie in the warm and dry, and seeing him plunging into the river or duck pond, to cool off. Children on inflatables squeal in the Whitewater, families picnic over on Beetley Meadows, and the aroma of barbecues fills the air. This is just how it should be.

So, I am back, and with a weather blog. No surprise there, but it’s a happy one. For a change.

A perfect day?

I have just returned from a long walk with Ollie. We trudged for over two and a half hours, but it was not a chore. That was because we enjoyed the most perfect weather, more like a summer afternoon than early spring. It was easily warmer than 60F, and the breeze that was just enough to blow the smallest branches felt refreshing and welcome. Enlivened by these unexpected conditions, we ventured across the Holt Road, far behind Gingerbread Corner.

Near the derelict farm, Ollie spotted two young Muntjac deer and took off after them, in playful pursuit. I wandered off in the general direction, but became concerned when I couldn’t see him anywhere. The track took me along behind some new houses, and I finally found him. He was standing by a small gate. It was too tight for him to squeeze through, and a little too high for him to jump, but no doubt the deer had cleared it with ease. He looked at me expectantly, hoping that they would soon return, and he would be able to chase them again.

I continued alongside a ploughed field, heavy going in the ruts left by tractor tyres. The sun was on my back, and I felt hot in my lightest coat. This was probably due to wearing heavy boots and thick socks. If it hadn’t been for the lingering mud, I could easily have got away with wearing shorts and summer shoes. We crossed back to the track behind the huge pig farm. Some of the sows had tiny piglets running around their legs, and they were irresistibly cute. I tried not to think about the bacon sandwich that I had earlier cooked for breakfast. Ollie scanned the verges for rabbits, occasionally fooled by a startled crow, or pigeon.

Once back on familiar ground at Beetley Meadows, I had to keep him on the lead. He had a shampoo and nail trim yesterday, and his coat is looking great. He smells good too, though that won’t last. I didn’t want him to do his usual plunge into the river, and get all muddy and wet.
At least not for a couple of days yet.

Sometimes, you happen upon the perfect weather combination. Hot enough for shorts, but not too hot. A gentle breeze, not a cold wind. A blue sky that isn’t too bright, and a fresh feel to the air that makes you feel good to be alive. I would like to be able to choose that kind of day at will, and say, ‘another day like that please’. Today was such a day. Quite perfect.