Much Wenlock’s Changing Seasons ~ Flaming June 2018

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Who’d have thought it? Here in the UK we’ve been having summer and all before it was officially summer; week after week of sunshine, and hardly a drop of rain. May was the warmest May in over a hundred years, and June has continued in like vein. The roses have been flowering their socks off and, along with the pinks and honeysuckle, filling the garden with delicious scents. In fact everything is blooming at high speed, intent on pollinating and seed-setting before being fried. This evening I saw fully formed, if not yet ripe hazel nuts at the allotment. The biological imperative in action then. Already the countryside has the dry and dusty look of late August.

Of course all this sunshine means there’s lots of watering to be done at the allotment, though I’m very conscious that water is precious and I should not waste it.  I’ve been trying to mulch things where I can, and otherwise shelter crops with netting, mesh or fleece. I have not managed to get to grips with the strawberry bed though. Did not put straw down when I should have done, and although the plants have been producing lots of fruit, they looked flat out and flabbergasted yesterday evening  – beyond being watered now.  On the plus side – more heat = fewer molluscs.

All around the town the hay fields have been cut and cleared. And when we drove over Wenlock Edge to Church Stretton this morning all of Shropshire lay sweltering under the sun, and set to bake for another fortnight too.

This raises serious issues – the water supply in particular, and climate change in general. We need to start taking both seriously, and we especially need the water supply and its management back under public control. And if we’re now going to have largely rainless springs and summers, followed by very wet winters with the increased likelihood of serious floods too, then we need more water storage facilities. Many conurbations are still relying on reservoirs built by the Victorians. Birmingham water comes from Elan Valley reservoirs in Wales, built in 1893.

This week in our part of the West Midlands we’ve been having very strange goings on with the taps courtesy of Severn Trent Water whose CEO earns £2.45 million a year.  (She is one of the 9 water company executives who between them have received £58 million pounds in pay and benefits over the last 5 years.) In the evening the pressure drops until water is either absent or only a dribble. Severn Trent say this is happening because increased usage due to the hot weather is causing air pockets in the pipes, and they’re having to pump the air out.

This is an entirely new phenomenon to us, although having lived in Africa we are well used to the absence of water and the notion that we should not take its provision for granted. Anyway the STW explanation rather reminds me of old British Rail’s excuse of ‘leaves on the line’ whenever services went awry. In early March there were similar happenings in the pipes due, Severn Trent said, to an unprecedented number of leaks because of the cold weather.

However you look at it, a delinquent water supply that is so susceptible to changes in the weather, and for which most households pay £400 a year, is not fit for purpose. ‘Take back the taps’ say the GMB Trades Union.

Changes in rainfall patterns, and failure to properly manage rain-fed water supplies is going to seriously affect the nation’s food production. We’ll need to eat different things, learn to grow them in new ways, opt for drought-resistant plants. When we leave Europe, we will have to grow our own vegetables, since most of them seem to come from there. Is anyone taking some action on this, I wonder.

But for now we can go on enjoying the unprecedented warmth, making hay etc. It has many very good points. Earlier this month the town held its two-week arts festival without a drop of rain on its outdoor performances, and on Sunday we had the town picnic on the Church Green, and the whole afternoon was blissful – at least it was if you had a good tree to sit under. Here are some views around Wenlock during flaming June:

And last Sunday’s town picnic:

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Changing Seasons June 2018

54 thoughts on “Much Wenlock’s Changing Seasons ~ Flaming June 2018

  1. That was very interesting. You raise some very pertinent issues that will probably become global concerns in the future. Meanwhile we are all relishing the sun during the summer months and the bounty of our gardens

  2. Such beautiful rural views of an English summer. Have you ever had any water restrictions in your part of the world Tish? Or is this water shortage a new phenomenon?

    1. We often have summer hose pipe and car washing restrictions in various parts of the country, and we may be in for one again now. There have been very bad drought years in the ’60s and ’70s (Save water, bath with a friend era). There seems to be little attempt to harness run-off during the winter months, and we had colossal amounts of wetness this last winter, to say nothing of the life-shattering flooding many parts of Britain have been suffering. It seems bonkers when the weather people have been telling us for some years that the UK will now suffer increasing bouts of extreme weather – as in flood and drought. But of course Thatcher sold off our national water supply, and the various regional companies have no competition, and are thus rather resistant to implementing the kind of mega-overhaul that has long been required since the Victorian corporations did their stuff.

      1. 2000 to 2010 we had on going drought and had very harsh water usage restrictions. I think it made people more aware. But the ironic part was lower water usage meant less money in the council coffers so when the drought was over they hit us with higher rates and encouraging more water usage…. 🙄

    1. Well the trees and deeply rooted plants had a very, very good watering up till March. We’re also on clay which helps, but I can see that some things are beginning to struggle, and even few hints of ‘autumn’ leaves. The hot looks like it’s lasting another month so we’ll soon see which are the most resilient species. That may include some of us humans. This simply doesn’t happen in the UK – not without a thunderstorm or two. How are things your side of the globe?

  3. From the wet winter everything seem to be still green. Of course it will change soon if no rain. We had a storm come through last evening…sort of….made a lot of noise but very little rain.We too need more.

      1. I saw on the local weather news the other night that reservoirs are 85% full and fuller than they were last year at this time. In a drought year they can be 50%. So it seems we should be OK for water at the moment. But yes, crop wise it has been a weird year – too cold and wet to plant in spring and now the crops will have shallow roots and be suffering. Even here where it is noticeably greener than most regions, it is starting to look ‘dusty’. On a positive note – no mud!!

  4. A town picnic! What a lovely idea, Tish 🙂 🙂 Our heatwave fizzled out about dinner time. I blame Andrew Petcher, who popped into our marina on his way up to Whitley Bay. 🙂

  5. Beautiful photos Tish, and woven through with your always thoughtful commentary.

    I share your concerns about water supply. NZ seems intent to give away (for — literally a peppercorn rental of the land) rights to pump millions of gallons of water from our aquifers to be bottled and exported to China. And what we’re not giving to exporters or dairy farmers, we’re polluting with nitrogen run-off and silts from urbanization. Madness!!

  6. Whether there’ll be weather,
    Be it mine or thine,
    They’ll always be some weather
    Come rain or shine,
    They’ll be weather on the heather,
    And weather on the vine,
    And you can guarantee that some weather
    Will always be on time,
    So whether the weather is cloudy or fine,
    You’re bound to have weather on beech and pine,
    So don’t worry about the weather,
    Oh, dear friend of mine,
    As weather will be weather,
    And it will probably be …. cloudy, sunny , rainy, thundery , snowing, boiling hot, freezing cold, drizzling, flooding, windy, warm, chilly, overcast,grey, blues skies, lightening, muggy, humid, dry ,…. in fact …

    Weather!

  7. I’m just grateful that climate change is a Chinese-Liberal fake news myth because otherwise, we might think something bad was going on with our climate!

    I love your line “the roses are blooming their socks off.” First of all, it was my first laugh of the day as I was imagining my roses with their socks pulled up all neat and tidy. My roses too are blooming their socks off. And it’s SO hard getting the socks ON when you have so many thorns in your ankles!

  8. Our ‘five days of summer’ are but a distant dream now. It’s the end of June and Mrs Widds and I are tucked up inside with hot drinks and fat books to read and the fire on. Outside it’s raining and not likely to dry up or warm up for at least another week. There is no ‘normal’ anymore, and anyone who still thinks so is an idiot.
    That being said, your photos are gorgeous and I enjoyed them immensely. 😀

  9. Those trunks and all that green. But oh, the sad and sorry water story. I’m hoping that finally the Europeans will invest in sink plugs at least.

    Our council is planning a rezoning that offers no protection to waterways and wetlands, and has produced bullying nastiness directed against objectors. No sense at all of preserving what we might one day need.

    Thank goodness for communities and beauty.

    1. Ha! Sink plugs – well that would be a big start, wouldn’t it. Here in Wenlock we know we have a lot of water, because it’s all in the abandoned quarry, and it’s a big quarry. It used have only 70 feet of water, but apparently it’s risen alarmingly over the last year, covering previously exposed terraces. This is directly behind the windmill, and presumably the lowest point in the area. Local kids go there for clandestine bathing and leaping off cliffs!

  10. Your photography is wonderful. What a pleasure. Yes, it is time to start working again to preserve our water. We have much better means than we did a hundred years ago. And there are also some fine methods to desalinate water. Here in Israel we have a number of water factories that are doing quite well.

    1. Your nation has taken this resource seriously. In the UK we are very laissez faire – but that probably goes for most things here. We expect services to happen without fail. Thank you for those kind compliments.

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