Last year my wife and I took up running to keep fit. We reckoned that the school playing field near the tennis courts and bounded by Darrick Wood would be a good place to train. We found it to be perfect. We were a little hesitant to run far at first and planned four laps of the track, just over 1600 metres, but we were pleasantly surprised that we achieved over 3,000 metres on our first run.
We have always been avid walkers and we often walk through Darrick Wood to get to Downe village via Farnborough. The walking had stood us in good stead to achieve a medium distance on our first run.
The track and the paths through the woods and Tubbenden meadow are ideal for running. The ground has plenty of give in it and it is much easier on the knee joints than running on the streets. Continue reading
By Pat Collinson
It is hard to believe, as I write this, that there are only seven weeks to go before we welcome the new year. Will 2014 give us better weather than 2013? I do hope so!
At the end of May the Met Office announced that it had been the coldest Spring for 50 years, and temperatures continued unseasonably mixed — June 30th max 78°f (approx. 26°C) but July 2nd chilled out at a max of 58°f (14°C), a shivering drop of 20°f!! July 6th gave us a max of 78°f — then down to 70°f by July 11th — but on 13th we hit 82°f, and the mini heat wave continued (too hot for some—myself included!) for two weeks reaching a sizzling 88°f (31°C) on 22nd July. August stayed mostly in the 70—72°f range — comfortable but seeming rather cool for the (usually) hottest month of Summer — and the 24th and 25th were two of the wettest days of the year, with a combined total of 49mm — just missing 2 inches (50mm) of rain. I have been asked several times what the rainfall totals were for September and October, so here they are — September 96mm, October 110mm — compared to 2012, 61mm, 137mm and 2011, 29mm, 27mm. 2012 was one of our wettest years, with a total of 943mm, and 2011 was one of our driest years with a total of 605mm. And I apologise to all readers who are falling asleep form boredom — no more weather — except to say thank goodness the October 2013 storm was not as fierce and destructive as the infamous 16th October 1987. Earlier in the summer we were told we might expect a particularly spectacular show of Autumn colour — but the foliage of trees and bushes remained stubbornly green as September and October passed! The Field Maples took on their lovely yellow hue and Oaks mingled ochre and rusty tones with their green — but the winds of October have brought down a lot of leaves and the dominant hue is still green! Continue reading
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.