Bethlem Royal Hospital Walk

By Vanessa Dixon

On August 15th a group of us took the opportunity to explore new territory. We went for a walk in the grounds of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham.  The weather didn’t look too promising at first, but we were fortunate and the threatened rain never arrived. Once Alan Filby had given a brief introduction to the history of the hospital and security had been made aware of our presence we set off on nature trail number 1. Continue reading

Spring 2013

by Pat Collison

So far 2013 has been high on the list of my unfavourite years.  Reason?  The weather . . . I cannot remember such a prolonged spell of chilly days and nights.  It was reassuring when the Met Office announced – at the end of May – that 2013 had been the coldest spring for 50 years.  I had not started making weather notes back in 1963, so I take their word for it.  Not only was it cold, it was gloomy – as though the layer of cloud was fixed overhead for days at a time.  The woods and fields were cold and wet – the mud often with a layer of ice, as though winter refused to loosen its grip.   But at last the anemones and bluebells made an appearance in the wood – the anemones first, about two or three weeks later than usual – then the bluebells, also late, more numerous and widespread than ever before – while at the woods’ edge the buds of hawthorn and sloe began to open along their black twigs – and, slowly, Spring began to catch up and the blossom seemed more generous than usual – in gardens as well as hedgerows and wood edges – cherries and especially wisterias, were positively laden with flowers.  Foliage, too, seemed more dense – the woodland canopy heavier and more shady – dramatically beautiful on the (rare) sunny days, creating deep, dark shade, broken by dazzling patches of sunlight – especially where shining through the young leaves. Continue reading

Winter 2012

by Pat Collison

As a nation we British tend to be rather weather obsessed (the first question asked of returning holiday makers – “what was the weather like?”).  Well, 2013 has already been a hot topic – or a cold and wet one – on TV, radio news and weather forecasts, with stories of floods, blizzards, landslides – all weather-related, of course, and in various parts of the British Isles – though not (so far!) in Darrick Wood or the surrounding areas.  Here we suffered mainly from grey gloomy skies, plus quite a heavy snowfall on January 18th, which covered the ground – and everything else – for 8 days before rain on 25th washed most of it away.  Altogether January rain (and snow melt) totalled only 55mm (just over 2 inches).  But coming on top of the 317mm of the previous three months it left marsh-like conditions in most of the wood and meadows – and many regular dog-walkers transferred to High Elms which benefitted from stonier, higher and drier paths. . . Continue reading

Autumn 2012

by Pat Collison

Those of us still waiting for summer to begin can now officially give up – September 22 was the first day of Autumn, and this is driven home firmly with the statement that on Sunday 28th October British Summertime ends, – which means, of course, that we put the clocks back an hour, evenings are dark earlier and we must look forward to (hopefully) a colourful autumn and a not-too-chilly winter, – and forget about the summer that never quite got settled in. There were plenty of sunny days but few “spells of sunny weather”, the sunshine constantly interrupted by grey days, with or without drizzle, – and of course the torrential downpour of 77mm (just over 3 inches) of rain on June 10th and 11th. Continue reading

Summer 2012

by Pat Collison

The first part of 2012 has been a busy time for obsessive weather watchers – blue skies and sunshine one day, then grey gloom for the next three – but the sunny days were not always warm and the grey clouds produced little of the much needed rain –until April, when the Met Office told us we had had “the wettest April on record”. Presumably their statistics are averaged out countrywide. Our (very) “local” statistics tell a different story – rainfall April 2012, 114mm. April 2000, 142.5mm. Compare with April 2011 with only 7mm for the whole month, all of which fell on the 23rd. May 2012 might set a rainfall record too. At the time of writing (28th) with three days still to come we have had 50mm of rain, compared with 16.5mm (2011), 36mm (2001) and 32mm (1991) and each of these, chosen at random, was the total for the whole month.

 

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Spring 2012

By Pat Collison

Spring 2012 seemed eager to start – perhaps to erase the memory of the snowy shock of December 16th and the five freezing days that followed before the temperature rose again to an unseasonable 9°C on December 21st. 2012 started on 10°C (where 2011 had ended), and the “Met” office announced that 2011 had been the second warmest year on record. . . Continue reading

Summer 2011

By Pat Collison

It is often said that in England we do not have a climate, only weather (about which we constantly grumble!) 2011 seems set to prove this. January was exceptionally gloomy. By 28th it was reported that we had only had 41% of the normal January sunshine. February was equally dull, but March took pity on us – the sun came out – and by April (officially the warmest April since 1600) we felt summer had arrived early with several days above 70°f (21°C). Of course this came at a price, the total rainfall for the month was just 7mm (compare 93mm in 2001, and 83mm in 1991) and May was well below average with only 16.5mm. June tried to redress the balance with a deluge of 59mm on the 5th, mainly overnight, but by then the soil was so dry it had little effect.

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