Under the Weather

February 11, 2020

So far – and I know I’ll regret saying this – despite more or less hourly Met Office weather warnings for wind, rain, snow, ice, plagues of frogs and other hazards, the sole casualty of Storm Ciara round here has been our inherited garden statue Mostly, who has toppled from her plinth again (I should probably just lay her flat on the ground at the first weather warning of the autumn as I’ve grown rather fond of her).

toppled statue

Mostly, looking the way I feel

Mostly’s not the only one feeling a bit under the weather. I’ve been coming down with a cold of some sort which is either taking its time fully establishing itself or just extremely mild. I had two things I was supposed to be doing in Bigtown today but I was rather assuming that they’d be snowed off, given the forecast, but despite a weather warning cocktail of snow, ice and wind, when we woke up this morning the promised apocalypse was more of a dusting. This left me with a dilemma: neither sick enough to cancel due to ill health, nor snowed-in-enough to cancel due to the weather, but with no desire to actually get on the bike (or even into the car, frankly) and battle into town. Had I felt well, I might actually have relished it – and had the weather been a bit nicer, I would have welcomed the chance to drive out the lurgy through cycling but in the end I wimped out, made alternative plans, and spent the day watching the snow showers drift past my window without ever settling, and almost willing them to turn into blizzard conditions just so I’d feel a bit less of a wuss.

Not exactly the snowpocalypse

Of course, this may end up being a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ – even as I write, the snow has begun settling and the forecast tomorrow is for the same mixed bag of wintry weather and biblical weather warnings as today. But we’ve stocked up on enough food to last until the yellow warning of snow gives way to a yellow warning of rain on Friday and we’ll just sit it out if we need to …

Meanwhile at the Met Office …

June 2, 2016

blue skies

‘There seems to be something wrong with our new supercomputer

‘How so?’

‘Well, I’ve checked the data twice, calibrated all the calculations, re-run the forecasts again and again and it’s still showing South West Scotland basking in sunshine.’

‘What’s the rest of the UK doing?’

‘Rainy. Cold. There’s flooding in France. But it also keeps coming up as taps aff in Glasgow and they’ve had their week of summer already.’

‘Ah well, that can’t be right then. I told you not to allow it to upgrade to Windows 10’

‘So what should I do? I’ve already tried switching it off and switching it on again.’

‘Oh just do a manual override and go back to the default setting. Overcast should do it.’

‘But I’ve just checked the satellite images and it’s showing actual sunshine this morning.’

‘Well, sunny intervals then. But don’t whatever you do forecast a week of glorious sunshine for that corner of the world or we’ll be a laughing stock.’

‘But …’

‘Remember the “barbecue summer”?’

‘You’re right. Cloudy it is.’

Hopefully, the Weather Gods have been equally bamboozled by the forecasts and won’t notice what’s actually going on for a while longer. Not quite ready to give this up…

I Don’t Care What the Weather App Says…

January 14, 2015

… because seriously, what’s the point? I know the Met Office haven’t taken delivery of their shiny new supercomputer yet (or if they have, they should try switching it off and switching it on again because it’s not working), but they could at least invest in a new piece of seaweed because their forecasts have reached the point when they’re not even right for the next hour, let alone for the next few days. This morning my Met Office app was still confidently predicting a mostly cloudy day for our postcode while the weather outside changed from a hard frost, to light snow, to heavy snow, to glorious sunshine, to hail (always nice to have a spot of free ice dermabrasion when you’re cycling back from town), to rain. I think there might have been an hour or two when merely ‘cloudy’ would have covered it – although obviously heavy snow does come out of clouds, so technically that might count as cloudy, in which case the Met office could safe itself a lot of time and effort and just predict ‘cloudy’ from here on in, and be right about 70% of the time.

Fortunately the yellow/amber weather warnings are more accurate – as you would hope – and such has been the winter so far, we’ve barely gone a day in 2015 without at least one weather warning so I’ve managed to get a much more comprehensive weather forecast by just scanning through them instead (as silver linings go, that’s possibly quite a stretch…)

It wouldn’t matter that much except that I have two weather-related priorities that would benefit from having a bit of advance warning: one, getting the ice tyres on or off my bike (a task made the more painful now that it means waving a temporary farewell to my shiny new SON dynamo hub), and two, planning the laundry schedule so that I never have to use the dryer, which I consider to be a personal defeat. There’s not much I can do about the former, except perhaps getting a third bike and fitting it out as a winter bike (get thee behind me), but I’ve worked out the trick for the latter, which is to put the washing on just as the weather is looking most apocalyptic because it will likely have turned to sunshine by the time our eco-friendly washing machine has finished gently mumbling its way through its cycle – at least, that seems to be what worked today – and then, when the rain marches in again, it all ends up being ‘ironed’ on the Rayburn anyway.

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?

The Wheels on my Bike Go On and Off

February 5, 2013

The Met Office, and its propaganda arm the BBC Terror Centre, bless them, do love a good weather warning, and the direr the better – whether it’s for heavy rain (perhaps they should stick to warning us when it might stop), yellow snow, or the all purpose ‘put a jumper on or you’ll catch your death of cold young lady’. So in the absence of any such warning last night beyond some vague handwaving on the radio about ‘wintry showers’ for ‘and finally, Scotland’, I wasn’t too worried about the forthcoming cold snap – I mean, it is still February after all, and they’d have warned us if anything serious was coming. Even when I came out of last night’s community council meeting and found that there was a bit of slushy snow about, and then a bit more sleet on the ride home, I assumed it was just a passing phase. I did let the cat in – well, I say ‘let’, she has a way of bolting for the door and flattening herself against it when she wants in that makes it impossible not to – because it was a bit nippy out and the sleet was getting thicker. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get up in the morning and be greeted by this


(really must prune that rose bush)

In a fit of optimism last week I swapped out the ice tyres on my bike for my normal ones and I’ve been humming and hawing about how cold it would have to be forecast and for how long before I swapped them back in again…


I think that’s that decision made, anyway…

There’s an App for that…

June 6, 2012

So, much rejoicing in the Townmouse household as I had the brilliant idea of downloading the Met Office App for my shiny new phone and, after only a little swearing,  even managed to work out how to get the five day at-a-glance forecast functionality that their latest upgrade had removed from the website version. This was handy because it looks like the weather gods have a backlog of rain they need to get rid of after their unusually generous week and a half of summer at the end of May. As I had to be in town sometime this week, I was keen to arrange for it to be during dry weather as I was coming by bike and the drowned rat look is really so last season. Checking last night using my new toy I noticed a sudden window in the weather this afternoon and fired off some emails making arrangements. This morning I was able to check again and confirm that the rain was still due to clear and make my final plans before I’d even switched my wifi connection on (I don’t connect to the vast time sink that is the internet until I’ve done an hour’s productive work) so I was feeling pretty pleased with it all. So many possibilities! I would never get caught in the rain again!

There was only one catch – and I expect you’re ahead of me here, but it only really occured to me as I rounded the first corner and into the suddenly torrential rain. The Met Office weather forecast app might have a nice interface and lots of handy features, even knowing automatically where I was and giving me the appropriate forecast accordingly. But it’s still using Met Office Data and hence Met Office forecasts and is therefore apparently incapable of actually forecasting the weather even ten minutes in advance, which, when you think about it, is a bit of a fatal flaw.

Do you think if we all clubbed together we might be able to get them some new seaweed? Or maybe I could fix some onto my phone somehow and use that. It can’t be any worse …

Fetch me my Apocalypse-Proof Jacket…

April 21, 2012

It’s not exactly encouraging – when you’ve got a number of politicians of various stripes lined up for a cycle tour of Bigtown on Friday – to be driving down the M74 motorway the day before and see the dot matrix signs all warning of ‘heavy rain’ on Friday. Given that this was in the west of Scotland, where heavy rain is more or less the default setting, the sort of rain that they felt was worth warning people about was likely to be very heavy indeed. As in send gopherwood heavy.

Anyway, yesterday morning, going to check the Met Office forecast I remembered that they’d managed to bollocks up their previously perfectly functional* website and replace the simple five day forcast table with some sort of flash-based, doesn’t-work-on-rural-broadband, great-if-you-like-clicking-a-million-times abomination (It’s slightly by the by, but setting aside the fact that sometimes it doesn’t work at all, I can’t be the only one who goes to the Met Office site to answer questions like ‘what day next week won’t be raining so I can arrange to meet someone in town on my bike?’ or ‘is it likely to be frosty in the next few days or should I plant out those potatoes’? So having a ‘five day’ forecast which only shows you one day at a time is not just a misnomer but verging on the bloody useless, is it not? Or is that just me?). So I decided instead to go and have a look at MetCheck instead, only to be confronted with this:

Looks like it’s a good thing I got that jacket after all.

As it happened – and despite there being snow between us and Notso Bigtown – the weather for the event itself was extremely pleasant, culminating in a perfect spring evening and a glorious sunset for my ride home. This may just be the calm before the storm, though, especially given how many people told me hell would freeze over before I got a Bigtown Councillor on a bike. As it was, we got eight of them … that’s got to cause a disturbance in the fabric of the universe.

*I mean, apart from the forecasts themselves, of course