When striking up conversation with a stranger or chatting with friends, there’s always one subject which comes up – the weather. I concede that of late it is just as likely that the Brexit topic will arise, but in general the weather is what we talk about in Britain – we are known for it! Perhaps this is because it’s so varied and unpredictable.
If you are one of my readers who lives south of Britain, and according to the WordPress stats, there are tens (and sometimes hundreds) of you in Europe and beyond, you might think that we are always moaning about our weather and you’d have a point. We find hot days too hot, cold days too cold. We complain when it rains for days on end and bemoan it’s lack when the gardens dry out and our crops wither. It’s rare that our temperatures reach those experienced in some of your countries, though we’ve actually been giving some of you a run for your money this summer. Just a couple of weeks ago it was hot, hot, hot and even the breeze, which usually cools things down a bit, was uncomfortably warm. July 25th was the hottest day on record EVER, or so we were told. Just a couple of evenings previous to that we’d experienced the longest sustained period of lightening I’ve ever known. It went on…and on…and on. In between, the thunder crashed loudly and then even louder. After fading into the distance, it returned with a vengeance. It took a while to start but the rain hammered down. Despite understanding what it’s all about, I still feel a tremor of fear during a storm but it can be a sight to behold and being able to observe the magnificent power of nature at her best outweighs that fear tenfold.
Last week the weather changed suddenly. It became windy, wet and, whilst not cold, certainly much cooler but then by the end of the week the sun was shining and we were wiping our brows and saying to each other, “Isn’t it close/muggy/humid” – regional variations of the same adjective. Yesterday morning I braved a day windier and wetter than we’ve had for months. It was even quite chilly, relatively speaking. Even when the rain ceased the wind continued to blow a gale reminiscent of what we might expect in mid March! This is a British summer.
One of my constant gripes is that our weather forecasts are so often badly adrift from what actually happens. But, to be fair, there is a reason for this: the location of the British Isles means our weather is affected by a number of different air masses which give us the variation. Winds from the South West bring warm, tropical air from the Atlantic, whilst the Arctic air masses coming from the north and northwest leave us with cold, wet conditions. The air mass from the North Atlantic give us milder but cloudy conditions, but give it twenty four hours and the ‘polar continental’ from the east will cause temperatures to drop rapidly.
Wonder no longer at our national obsession with the weather!