Weather eh? We are good at weather here in Britain. It is our favourite subject at bus stops, cafes, in shops and around the family Sunday roast. We glory in it. Or, maybe not this year.
Everyone knows it rains a lot over here. That is why we are so green looking, why we don’t have deserts, sandstorms and much in the way of forest fires. Because it rains. We know that. It’s okay, we are proud of our weather. Or, maybe not this year.
Some years we have long hot spells of glorious weather. When lawns grow brown and we smile inanely at each other in the streets. Not daring to complain yet finding it all a bit much after a while! If there is declared drought, a hosepipe ban, well we understand, after all the sun shone and it was hot.
Sometimes we have cold dry winters that nip and gnaw at unprepared skin, and always happen just as the central heating vanishes in puffs of smoke. That’s okay we understand, because we have seasons here in Britain. Winter is supposed to be cold. But sometimes we have three of these cold dry winters in a row, which steal a month or two from autumn and spring.
Last winter was the third long, dry and cold (oh so very cold) one. Now we understand, belatedly, that our rivers and reservoirs have always relied on the rain and snow melts of our winters, to replenish what we have stolen from them in the warm summers, to keep our lawns green and our cars clean.
We entered our miserable spring this year to be told we were running on dry. That, if no rain occurred during the spring, we would be declared a drought zone (the whole country?) well of course, with our seasons playing a merry game of you can’t catch me, there was an immediate hot dry spell. No rain.
Knowing that water was a diminishing resource, even in this green land, I had, when building my abode, installed an underground rainwater collector to run my hosepipe from. Over the next decade I have also collected 13 rain butts to scatter at the bottom of every drainpipe. So the day before the national hosepipe ban was inflicted, I phoned my local water board and asked if I was allowed to run my hosepipe from my tank? As I spoke to the lady at the water board I was watching the rain dribble down the window pane. Of course I could she said, there is only a thousand pound fine it caught using tap water in the hosepipe. Thank you, I said.
It continued raining that week and the next and the next and the. . . well you get the picture. The hosepipe hasn’t even been unrolled yet this year and it is July for goodness sake. We have passed the longest day, we have started the downhill slope to autumn and winter, we missed the spring and haven’t had a summer.
However, the gardens have loved it. The trees and shrubs that survived the killing cold snaps of the past three years and the increasing dryness, have leapt back in to full vigour. They have grown taller (overnight it seemed) and bulked out and have been producing flower and fruit with abandon in celebration of the weather. The wild flowers (weeds some call them) have multiplied throughout the borders and paving cracks, spreading their seed like there is no tomorrow. The slugs and snails are promenading every day, growing fat and sleek as are the birds and frogs feeding upon them. Mosquitoes breeding fast and furiously abound in the permanently damp humid foliage and feast daily on all who pass. Oh yes, the gardens have loved this summer.
There is no hosepipe ban any more. It lasted through three months of rain, through our cynical merriment. Didn’t the stand up comics love it, didn’t we indulge in our caustic comments at shop tills and bus stops, wasn’t it all the fault of the governments and bankers! Well possibly not them but I don’t know. . . No hosepipe ban any more – our reserves are full to overflowing, rivers flowing again. If we want, we can water our gardens! There are floods running through dozens of valleys, waterlogged crops and weary water sodden sheep. We are still a green land; it still rains in Britain.
Weather? We are good with weather in Britian, our favourite subject. Well maybe not this year, eh?