Glory Be!


Thank goodness. Our second day of COOL, with a good 10 degrees C completely vanished in thin air. It’s back to grey skies too. They often feature in British summers, and for once we’re thankful. The Morning Glories seem to feel the same way. There were eight blooms out this morning: four Flying Saucers with the sweet peas on the downstairs terrace, and some white ones with purple flashes among the Sun Gold tomatoes in the upstairs garden. They don’t last long though, even without the blazing sun curling their petals.


We even had some gentle showers yesterday, this after weeks of drought. Hopefully there will be more purposeful rain tomorrow so I can sow spinach and carrot seeds, and plant out the lettuce that survived the baking.

I’m anyway feeling seasonally confused after the heat wave. Everywhere around the town, the trees and fields have a parched, end-of-season look that has me thinking already of autumn, and of the things I might sow in the polytunnel for winter salads. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re only just half way through August, and there’s still the tomato and cucumber crop to nurture. And in the home garden, even as today’s blooms fade and crumple,  there are plenty more glories to come.


Regaining Our Cool


Well, it was pretty hot in Wenlock on Tuesday – 33-34C (bottom 90sF), this being the temperature given for Telford, our nearest big town. But then on Wednesday we were dropped back to 22C (72F) max and deeply gloomy skies. The breeze was back too. In fact yesterday afternoon when I took this photo, it was positively draughty walking along the Linden Walk; also very dry. You can see the wind blowing up a dust storm from the grass mower on the left.

At midday, as I write, my PC says it’s 14C (57F), and the forecast from our local weather station at RAF Shawbury indicates top temperatures of 17-24C (62-75F) for next nine days:  The main thing though, we should have some rain tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

But, one asks, where did all that 2-day heat wave go? And how did it come in the first place? The explanations I’ve read state it was a burst of hot air out of North Africa pushed across Europe by a high pressure zone, a congruence of  events caused by a change in the jet stream, that mysterious air current whose meanderings appear to be responsible for all sorts of weather anomalies.

Of course in the Northern Hemisphere, this kind of heat wave has happened quite a few times over the past century. Such weather events not only came with extreme temperatures, but were often brutally long. The 1930s were particularly bad for overheated summers. This was the Dust Bowl era on the North American Great Plains, a time when (according to this Nature paper) there were 22 heat wave days per summer in Central US, and the maximum record temperatures reached then still stood at the time of 2019 US heat wave.

In Britain in August 1930 temperatures reached 34C, building over four days but, as seems to have happened this year, the high suddenly retreated allowing cool weather to move in.

Earlier, in 1911, people in Europe and America were not let off so lightly. The New England Historical Society HERE documents graphic accounts and photographs of the 11 days of sweltering heat that hit 44C/112F in the shade, said to have driven some people mad. Meanwhile in Britain the Wikipedia entry says the heat wave built from July through to September with a top temperature of 36.7C/98F. And in France, the 70-day broiling resulted in a horrendous death toll (scroll down for the English text.)

So all in all, uncomfortable as it was for many, it seems we got off lightly with a two-day baking. But many thanks to all fellow bloggers who expressed good wishes and concern. Much appreciated.