Tag Archives: weather

Fleeting glimpses, lasting impressions

20 Apr

I used to think that my journeys to and from work were pretty dull and to be frank a bit of a waste of my time, but over the last few weeks my perception has changed, as I start to notice more and more interesting things going on in the world around me.

I should clarify that they are interesting to me, the rest of you reading this may not find them particularly interesting, but to me they are helping make my journeys more bearable.

I probably all started when the clocks went forward with the start of British Summer Time last month, and it became light enough in the mornings to see beyond the windows of the bus.

This morning the “interesting thing” happened before I even got to the bus stop. Walking up the High Street I spotted a heron landing on the ridge of the old Post Office roof, this in itself was quite unusual as although the bird is not particularly rare I have seldom seen it anywhere other than the side of a pond or stream.

What was really incredible was the group of seagulls that began to mob the heron as it perched on the roof top. There was one particularly aggressive one that kept diving in close, accompanied by a screeching cry. It didn’t take many “attacks” for the heron to decide it had had enough and to take to the air and head off to the south-east out of sight, but still being pursued by the seagulls.

All this at just after six o’clock in the morning, the whole thing probably lasted less than a minute, but I felt incredibly privileged to have been witness to this spectacle.

Sometimes it is something on a much bigger scale, like the sun rising through the mists, an experience which lasts for most of the bus journey on a good day. With glimpses of the sun visible in the mist at various intervals as we race through the Sussex countryside.

Last night as I made my way home on the train one half of the sky was full of very dark grey (almost black) cloud stretching down to the trees on the horizon. Meanwhile the sun was still shining over the other side of the train, this caused me to notice  a satellite dish slowly rotating on the horizon, the sun’s rays picking it out against the dark cloud.

A few seconds later I noticed what appeared to be the burst of a firework, specks of silver glittering against the dark cloud. Unlike a firework it just hung in the air not moving, when I had time to process the image I realised it was a radio/mobile phone mast, something else I had failed to notice despite making the same journey five days a week for the past couple of years. A truly unique combination of weather conditions had made them visible to me for the first time.

Sometimes it is something natural, like the buzzard I saw last week (at least I think it was a buzzard), standing on the ground pulling at something it had probably just killed. Two rooks looked on from a few feet away, presumably hoping that it would leave something behind for them to nibble on.

Sometimes it is something unexpected, like a couple of days ago when I stepped out the office door and into the street to witness two Apache helicopters passing overhead. I have long admired these machines and the men who fly them, but had never seen one for real.

I couldn’t believe my luck, a minute earlier or later and I would have missed them completely. Like the heron this morning, this flight only lasted a minute or so before they were out of sight, but it was still incredibly satisfying to have been there to witness them in that instant.

They nearly all have one thing in common, they are usually just brief encounters. Usually from a bus or train window, blink and you miss it, look the other way and you miss it. Too fleeting to consider taking a photo, but just long enough to leave a lasting impression.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Frozen Friday

3 Dec

I think this picture pretty much sums up our weather these past few days. Like most of the UK we have experience a pretty sharp cold spell. This photo was taken around lunchtime today when the temperature almost (but not quite) made it above freezing.

I wrote on Tuesday that we had seen our first dusting of snow this winter, well the following morning there was more than a dusting, about an inch and a half. Much to my surprise the local bus service was still running and I made it to the local railway station, only to find there were no trains going my way. After two and a half hours I made my way back home defeated.

Thursday morning I woke up to about a foot of snow and I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere. There was supposed to be a bus service running but no trains, so no work for me again. Today was much the same, most of the snow was still with us but the temperature had taken it upon itself to drop to -6°c. Although there buses and trains were starting to get back to normal, still no work for me.

Every year this happens, we get a cold spell and some snow and everything stops working for a few days. Some people point to other countries who live with snow all year and complain that we can’t cope with a few days of snow, but I think it happens so infrequently that we should just accept the fact that we are going to get caught out every so often.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but I record the weather (temperature and rainfall) and have done for the past twenty or so years, on a very amateur basis, so looking at my records I can see that although we don’t usually have snow this early into the winter, it is not unusally for the temperature to drop to -6°c.

The weekend is set to warm up and we are forecast to have rain and not snow, so after a brief hiccup our weather will be getting back to normal.

Braving the weather at Shoreham Airshow

21 Aug

Yesterday saw the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famous "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" speech. There was an event commemorating the anniversary in London yesterday, and a whole range of events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain this year.

In theory then this weekend was the perfect weekend for the Battle of Britain Airshow at Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex. If today’s experience was anything to go by, the weather has proved less than perfect. The day began with misty rain and low cloud, and although the rain did stop and the cloud lift, it had a significant impact on the day’s flying display.

The English Summer

The photo above shows the situation at about 10:45am, just a quarter of an hour before the flying display was due to start. It is a miracle that any flying did take place, and it was about around midday that a rather reduced display began. Despite the low cloud and much of the country suffering similarly poor conditions the organisers did manage to put together a pretty good show, mostly based on aircraft already onsite.

Fortunately there was a lot to see on the ground, several aircraft on static display, various tents and displays by various businesses and charities, the historic airport terminal and even a postcard dealer in the craft tent.

Shoreham Airport Terminal from a chinook

One of the now regular features of the airshow is a recreation of a Battle of Britain scramble, with Hurricanes and Spitfires taking to the air to fight off a lone Messerschmitt attacker. Fortunately this was able to go ahead and with the help of the Home Guard the attacker was repelled.


Unfortunately a lot of the big attractions like the Vulcan, Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and The Blades were unable to make it. Hopefully they will have a better day tomorrow, but unfortunately I won’t be there.

All wandering and no genealogy

24 Apr

Today my friend Chris and I continued our walk along the North Downs Way. It was our first proper walk of the year, but hopefully the first of many. We picked up more or less where we left of last year.

We are slowly working eastwards along the North Downs between Farnham in Surrey and Dover in Kent, although we are generally heading eastwards, each section seems to have been walked from east to west for some unknown reason.

Today was no exception, we started from Otford, Kent and made our way westwards to Oxted, Surrey. The total distance was about 14 miles including the final stretch from the hills to the centre of Oxted and the railway station. Despite being on hills, most of the route was pretty level with only one steep climb at the start.

I quite liked Otford. It was the first time I have been there and it is quite a charming place. We counted four pubs within the first mile of our walk, three or four antique shops and a small pond in the centre of the town/village. There is even a heritage centre, which wasn’t open when we went past. I wish I had an excuse to go back again, perhaps one day I will.

The weather was absolutely fantastic, the sun shone and remarkably I was in a short sleeve shirt and shorts. I can’t believe it is only April and I am already wearing shorts. The ground is incredibly dry, we haven’t had any proper rain for three weeks now. This fills me with optimism about the summer weather, but I am trying not to get my hopes up, rather I am making the most of the good weather whilst it lasts.

There were only two negative points from today’s walk, the presence of the M25 motorway, the noise of which was a constant companion throughout the day. The other drawback was that there was still a slight haze, so the views were not as spectacular as they should have been.

View from the Surrey hills

The most interesting feature of day were a couple of groups of young women (probably students), armed with maps and wearing large backpacks. They appeared to be on some sort of orienteering challenge, but were seemingly hopelessly lost. Hopefully I was able to put one group back on the right track, but as I write this I wonder if they are still wandering across the hills?

So genealogy took a back seat today. Although we were walking in an area where my GASSON ancestors probably came from, I can’t really claim any genealogical connection. Weather and aching muscles permitting we will be back in Kent next Saturday to complete the next section, that will be two Saturdays in a row without genealogy, so I will probably start suffering withdrawal symptoms and have to get back into an archive the following weekend.

Time to put my walking boots on

10 Feb

It seems a long time since I went out for a decent walk, and if I want to live up to the wandering part of my blog title it is about time I put my walking boots on and started some serious walking again.

If it wasn’t for the forecast of cold weather and sleet this weekend I might have made a start this Saturday. In fact it is the weather that is the main reason I haven’t done much walking for the past few months.

Last November was one of the wettest for years, just over nine inches of rain (over twice the normal amount). I walk because I enjoy it, and don’t get much pleasure squelching through mud.

I can’t really blame my lack of walking in December on the weather. I put that down to a lack of time, brought about by Christmas, my final weeks at work, and trying to complete my Christmas Tree Project.

January was a disaster. Not only was there more snow than we have seen for decades, but also freezing temperatures (one of the coldest I can remember). Then when it did warm up a bit and all the snow melted it became so wet again.

I think it is time I stopped making excuses and put my walking boots on and get outside, the days are getting longer, and slowly warming up, so now is the time to get out and start stretching my muscles a bit.

Time to put my feet up and enjoy the sunshine

29 May

Another working week draws to a close, and what a beautiful day it has been, bright and sunny most of the day, the weather forecast for the weekend is much the same.

I have already done my fair share of walking this week (over 40 miles) so I shall probably take it easy this weekend and I have no research trips planned either, so definitely a weekend for staying at home and enjoying the sun in the garden.

I have a pile of books (in fact several piles, much to my wife’s annoyance) that are waiting to be read. I have just returned two books to the library, one I have finished (and need to try and get my own copy) and the other I barely started, but rather that keep renewing it, I have admitted defeat and returned it. I really want to read it, but I have so many others waiting as well that I will come back to it at a later date.

Then there are all the ebooks and pdfs on my PC that I need to read, they will have to wait (until it rains) because I can’t sit out in the garden with a cold drink and enjoy the sunshine with them quite so easy.

All that being said I’m sure something will get in the way of my plans, I will probably get distracted by something else, but it is nice to pretend that I have my weekend planned out!

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