April 27, 2016

We woke this morning to clear skies and glorious sunshine – and no frost on the grass, for once, which was an improvement on the last couple of weeks. What better day, I thought, to take the peas and beans out of the greenhouse where I started them in a panic at the end of March and try and harden them off to plant them out before it’s actually May? And maybe get some washing out to boot?

hailstorm on laundry

And yes, I did stop to take a photo for the blog before rescuing the washing …

In retrospect, a day when it didn’t keep suddenly hailing, alternating with snowing, might have been better.

The weird thing was, in between hail/snow showers it was rather nice and even warm. In fact, I was sitting on the bench with my lunch when the first lot fell and it confused me because there I was enjoying the warmth of the sun, and here was this white stuff falling out of the sky – I confess, I looked up to see if there was a jackdaw or something dropping things because that made more sense than snow.

Anyway, according to all the gardening columns, hardening off your glasshouse-grown plants is a gradual process of putting them out on sunny days and progressively getting them used to the great outdoors with longer spells in the cold and eventually keeping them out overnight – not subjecting them to a day of violent freak weather conditions and hoping for the best.

broadbean seedlings

Fortunately, my peas and broad beans seem a pretty hardy bunch. With any luck they’ll survive tomorrows plague of frogs, or whatever it is the Weather Gods have in store, and I can plant them out at the weekend, ready for it to hail taxis.

Pea seedlings

101 Uses for a Brompton: Wimping Out

December 7, 2014

The only thing worse than a weather warning when you’re suppose to be holding a fun Christmas bike ride and outdoor crafting event aimed at children, is three weather warnings. Over the past three days the Met Office has excelled itself: the forecast for today gradually deteriorating from overcast to light rain to heavy rain, to this morning’s three horsemen of the apocalypse: yellow warnings for ice, snow and gales. It might have been bright sunshine at 10 o’clock when I was busy packing the Brompton basket with all the things we needed for the event, but by 10:30 as I was getting ready to set off, the skies had darkened and it was already raining hard. ‘Are you sure you don’t want a lift in?’ the other half asked as I dug out my rain skirt and packed a spare pair of gloves so I wouldn’t have to cycle back home in the sleet in wet ones. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure. At least I could arrive dry, if nothing else.

With a little bit of time to spare due to not having to cycle eight miles into town through the rain, I finished my coffee and watch the weather change from miserable to comically grim. First the hills disappeared behind a veil of rain, then it started hailing, then snowing. Then the phone rang – common sense had prevailed, and Christmas fun in the park had been cancelled.

I can’t say I was disappointed, although we are now stuck with rather a lot of home baking.*

Oh, and no sooner had the decision been taken and communicated to all concerned? The sun came out. It’s the first time I’ve ever spent an afternoon looking out of the window, willing it to start sleeting again…

cows in sunshine

* This was intended to be a fund raiser, although having examined the economics of it, next year I will spend the minimum three hours involved working and donate my professional fee instead…

Gardening Weather. No, Really

February 27, 2014

A strange thing happened this afternoon – I looked out of the window just before 5pm and realised that not only was it not dark, but that it was actually nice weather. And I was getting tired and cranky from looking at my computer all day and needed a bit of a break. And I hadn’t been out in my garden for weeks other than to empty the compost bucket and raid the kale patch.* So I siezed the day and dashed outside to get something done and had, ooh, a whole half an hour before the skies darkened and it started hailing. It was nice while it lasted though.

hail storm

What’s worse than raining cats and dogs? Hailing taxis…

Worryingly, I noticed that the weedlings have already started sprouting underneath all the vegetation. It’s too much to hope that they’ve just been battered to death by the hail, I suppose?

* And seriously, when did kale suddenly become a thing? We only grow it because it’s one of the three things that reliably grow in the Scottish climate, along with onions and tatties…

Winds Light to Variable

February 26, 2014

I have a slight bone to pick with the Met Office. Oh, all right, several bones, but my current beef is the way their weather app will take a day with heavy rain forecast for half of the day and no rain forecast for the other half of the day and describe that as ‘light rain’. You can’t average out rain. It’s like saying a day with a northerly gale in the morning and a southerly gale in the afternoon has no wind at all.

Not that it actually matters. We had light rain this morning and I looked at it and thought ‘oh well it’s only raining a little bit, no point putting the full rain gear on.’ WRONG. It is an indisputable fact of cycling life that light rain gets you just as wet – indeed sometimes wetter – than heavy rain. Be it a downpour, cats and dogs, steady drizzle, fine sifting rain, or that rain that isn’t really inging so much as just there, in the air, waiting for you to cycle through it – after an hour you will be equally wet and equally annoyed about it…

That said, rain is better than hail. Coming back from yoga yesterday I got caught in a hailstorm that was going sideways and I can tell you that having little tiny stinging particles of hail sandblasting the side of your face is extremely painful, albeit quite invigorating. If there’s anything in this microdermabrasion nonsense, then by rights I ought to be looking like one of those before and after photos with the left hand side of my face blasted clean.

This post reminds me that there’s a very nice Spanish woman working in Bigtown at the moment – she’s been here about a year now. I asked her the other day how she was liking Scotland and particularly the weather. She replied ‘I wouldn’t mind it so much except that everyone I speak to keeps mentioning it. It makes it hard to forget about it.’ The thing is, we keep feeling the need to apologise for it, especially to someone who is in a sense a guest – as if we kept bringing up how untidy our house is or apologising for the food (although there’s that too) and making the whole thing even more awkward.

Perhaps we should just ignore it and it will go away. But then what would we talk about?

Hailing Taxis

May 15, 2012

In retrospect, this afternoon probably wasn’t the best time to pick to put my bean seedlings out to get some fresh air and sunshine:

Hailstones among the seedlings

After I’d sprinted out to rescue them (a little battered but fundamentally unbowed) from the first hail shower it started to really hammer down:

Hailing taxis

Can I just remind the weather gods that it is May, and it is spring? They do seem rather to have forgotten…

Suited and Booted

April 16, 2012

Cycling down for the paper this morning on a day the Met office had cheerfully described as offering the ‘best weather for the week’, so only hailing a little bit, I couldn’t help but notice some of the lambs in one field were wearing what I can only describe as a tiny see-through lamb pac-a-mac.

I am certain that those of you out there who know about such things will be quick to tell me that it’s no such thing and that there are sound animal husbandry reasons why a lamb would have a clear plastic raincover on, but until that time I shall rejoice in the fact that there’s a farmer out there who’s even more soft hearted than I am.

Although, frankly, if it’s going to keep hailing, they’ll need something a little more robust. Maybe a fleece?

Spring Unsprung

March 4, 2009

That’s funny, I thought to myself as I cycled back from my latest excursion with the BNCC. The road ahead looks as though it’s going straight into a wall.

That’s even funnier, I thought, because that car up there is now driving straight into and up the side of that wall. And then I realised: it wasn’t particularly funny, and it wasn’t a wall, either. It was the side of a hill and that was the road was going straight up it. I had thought I would be okay because I’d chosen a route home that I’d been on before and I didn’t remember it having any really serious hills on it, which just goes to show that the passenger seat of a car is no place to choose a cycle route from.

But there was nothing for it, so I gritted my teeth and plugged forward until I hit the wall, and promptly ran out of gears. It was at that point, when I was going at a brisk 3mph, that it started to sleet. And then it thought about it for a while, and switched to hail.

Apart from the jolly tinkling noise it makes against your bell, there is no upside to hail when you’re on a bike. It stings, it’s cold, and it fills the road with tiny icy ball-bearings. I was ten miles from home.

Clearly, for the weather gods, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Very, very cold.

To the Weather Gods…

January 7, 2009

… an apology. A recent posting of mine may have given the impression that I was expecting them to inflict a mix of sleet and freezing fog on us. Whereas, of course, what they have provided for us was freezing fog, sleet, hail and a light dusting of snow. Never let it be said that the Weather Gods are not thorough when punishing those who take their name in vain

Meanwhile, and perhaps in retrospect it was inevitable, I appear to have got addicted to this:

Kids! Just say no!

Kids! Just say no!

Knitting – surely the crack cocaine of the craft world.

Hailing Taxis

October 31, 2008

OK, this is officially the wierdest weather I have seen in this country to date. Anyone else getting hail mixed with snow, rain, thunder, lightning and the occasional startled frog*? We’re in Duns, and contemplating an interesting drive home…

… more when we get home including the status of the ford, if, as Huttonian would say, we are spared.

*I may have made the last one up