Sunday, 30 November 2014

Temperature Flatlines

The dull miserable weather continued on Saturday as yet another day passed without any glimmer of brightness let alone sunshine. It was a remarkable day as the temperature remained constant over the whole day varying by less than 1°C.
The highest temperature was 9.9°C at 13:25 and the lowest 9.3°C at 16:25 giving an average for the day of 9.6°C a little bit on the mild side for the end of November.

On Sunday morning something strange had happened to the sky. It had somehow changed colour and became blue rather than a drab grey colour.
After days of dull, dreary and damp weather the sun has made an extremely welcome reappearance on Sunday morning and all seems much better with the world.
We've now finished sorting out our photos from our visit to RSPB Old Moor last week and the best can be viewed in our Zenfolio album here.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

And Duller Still!

Wednesday’s record dull day for this November was beaten by Thursday which in turn was beaten by Friday.

For comparison purposes I've plotted out three good days in July with their temperature and sunshine records.
Temperature and sunshine records 09 July 2014 to 11 July 2014
With the scales for outside temperature and solar radiation kept the same this is the chart for the last three days.
Temperature and sunshine records 26 November 2014 to 28 November 2014
It’s a bit of a stark comparison three good days in July against three dull days in November but it does show why we struggle to grow plants through the dark days of winter.

If you’d like to see some numbers for this comparison I've added a table of values output by my weather station below.
To finish off I had a look to find the lowest value output over the last four year’s and that turns out to be 14 December 2012 with a value of 0.1 MJ/sqm. Whilst I was checking back through the records I noticed that on 28 November 2010 the temperature fell to -7.6°C so perhaps I shouldn't complain too much about our current dull and damp but reasonably mild conditions.

From the forecast its looks like we might have to wait a few more days for a bit of brighter weather though.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Duller and Duller

I might have mentioned in yesterday’s blog for Wednesday that Wednesday was our dullest day of the month. Well it didn't hold the record for long as a drab, dreary and damp Thursday took over the record. Not much rain fell but it came more in drizzle than proper rain.

Sue ordered three new rose bushes last week, which I'm sure Sue will writing a blog post about soon. This time of year roses come bare rooted and so can’t just be left until conditions improve. On a wet Thursday I didn't fancy trampling all over wet soggy soil to plant them in their final locations so they've been heeled in until conditions improve.
I could reach this little bit of ground without having to walk on the soil or grass so our new rose bushes have this spot as their temporary home.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Brightness Didn't Last

It was expecting too much for the brighter weather to last anymore than a couple of days and so Wednesday returned to dull and damp remaining on the cool side as the temperature only managed to reach a high of 8.2°C. The cloud cover meant that overnight temperatures held up reasonably well falling to 5.8°C.

After the brighter weather of Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday became our dullest day of the month. 
This chart compares the last four years and the 2014 purple line made an excellent start to the month but since the 12th of the month it’s gradually fallen back until now when it’s become the dullest November of the last four years.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Paired Up

Tuesday was a rather crisp November day, dry and a bit sunnier than Monday. The better weather brought along a drop in temperatures too and Tuesday finished with the coldest average daily temperature this month of 4.2°C.

Sorting out our photographs from Monday’s visit to Old Moor it was noticeably how many of the ducks were paired up. It wasn't until we were tagging our ducks that we realised we’d spotted a couple of gadwalls which was a first for us.
In keeping with most of the other ducks Mr & Mrs gadwall were already paired up.

I've finished editing my video of a cormorant fishing. I had a full five minutes of video before editing of the cormorant swimming around trying to catch a fish. I didn't see it emerge from the water with a fish much to my and I'm sure the cormorants disappointment.

Is it just me or are there times when the cormorant looks like the Loch Ness monster?

If you’d like to see the full video of our visit to RSPB Old Moor I've added it below.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Lots to See At Old Moor

After the drab weather over the weekend Monday was forecast to be bright and sunny but chilly. We decided on a visit to RSPB Old Moor to make the most of the brighter weather. To be honest the day wasn't as bright as forecast with the sun remaining behind light cloud for most of the day but it was much better than the weekend had been. 
Our last visit to Old Moor had been a little bit disappointing as far as photographic opportunities were concerned with most of the birds staying well out of range of our camera lenses. Our luck seemed to be in on Monday though.  
Our first stop was at the Bird Garden hide and it was a difficult choice to decide who to photograph first. As we arrived so did a great spotted woodpecker, a couple of reed buntings were busy feeding along with a male bullfinch. There were lots of chaffinches and greenfinches happily feeding from the plentiful supplies of seed.
It becomes a challenge to try to capture the birds more in their natural surrounding than sitting on a feeder. This upright log with holes filled with food seemed a great idea for attracting the woodpecker.
I couldn't help but try this shot as the woodpecker got a little bit closer but I might have extended my zoom lens range a little bit too far loosing a bit of detail.
After the Bird Garden hide we had a wander around the rest of the reserve and found plenty of ducks to photograph. There were lots of cormorants around the lakes too but well out of photographic range apart from one who decided to give us a display of his fishing expertise or lack of it. It will be coming as a short video clip once I've had time to edit the movie clip. 

By mid afternoon the cloud seemed to melt away and the sun came through giving a lovely if somewhat chilly end to the day.
A few more days like this would be most welcome.

Monday, 24 November 2014


Not a great deal to say about the weekend’s weather as the dull, damp miserable spell of weather continued through the weekend.

With a week or so left to go November has been mildish for the time if year but unless we have a few very warm days in the remainder of the month I don’t think it will beat November 2011.
As you can see the average temperatures for November 2011 (9.3°C) and 2014 (8.7°C) are fairly close to the 23rd of the month. The forecast for the week ahead is for much cooler weather with daytime highs less than that average of 8.7°C so the purple line might be heading in a downwards direction this week.

If it means we get some brighter colder weather it will be preferred to the miserable conditions of the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Squashed Out

Friday didn't continue the theme of slightly brighter days and the really dull dismal November weather returned. It started to rain in the middle of the afternoon and continued into the night.
Any lingering doubts I had at the back of my mind about doing a little bit more autumn digging on the plot can now be discarded as Friday’s rainfall of 13.0mm will certainly mean the soil is too wet to dig.

I did manage to use up the first of our stored Crown Prince squashes. 
 It was certainly a bit of a beast to get into. I think a good clean saw would be the easiest way to cut one of these in half but whilst I have a saw I wouldn't want to use it on something I was going to eat. After lots of effort with a large knife I managed to cut the squash into two so that the seeds could be removed before cooking the squash.
I decided to cook the squash first and see just how much weight of prepared squash flesh I would get out of my Crown Prince. Once cooked I measured out the 450gms required for my pumpkin pie and that left me with another 800gms of squash to use. I decided to freeze 450gms, enough to use in another pumpkin pie, and the remaining amount was added to a stew as a thickener.
The pumpkin pie turned out looking well as shown above but before we gave it the taste test I realised that I hadn't added any sugar to the pie. Fortunately it wasn't the disaster I thought it would be and despite its lack of sugar the pie tasted  pretty good. The squash is on the sweet side to start with and there’s the addition of a few spices so the sugar wasn't missed too much. Making the pie again I might not add the full 75gms of sugar recommended in the recipe in any case.

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Friday, 21 November 2014

Not a Westerly and Is Spring Here Already?

Wednesday and Thursday both had spells during the day that weren't too bad but in generally they followed the now well established weather pattern of dull and mild weather.

I bet the Met Office don’t have this problem. One of our regular wood pigeons has taken up a vantage position on the top of my weather vane. Not for the first time I might add. I think he or she prefers it if the wind vane indicates a westerly wind direction and “Woody” arranges the vane accordingly even if the wind is from the east.
Whilst I was having a quick mooch around the garden as I filled up the bird seed feeders for the likes of Woody I couldn't help but notice the first few spring bulbs are breaking through the soil surface.
I’d image they’re usually covered in fallen magnolia leaves for most of the time but the blackbirds are constantly rummaging through the leaves for any insect life and have left these shoots uncovered. I wonder if these bulbs are normally pushing their shoots up by the end of November?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Bit On the Messy Side

Tuesday was forecast to be a bit brighter. To be honest it wasn't going to have to be all that much of an improvement to be better than the last few days. It didn't get off to a very good start.
It seemed like we got the only shower that was about in Northern England. Once that passed it was a little bit brighter and after lunch we decided that the trip to the plot to harvest some vegetables couldn't be put off any longer. 

First job was to dig some carrots, parsnips and leeks. It was sort of sunny when we arrived at the plot but the sky didn't give me much confidence that it was going to stay that way. I wasn't too sure which direction the weather was coming from. This was looking east.
And looking west wasn't too promising either.
We were under a patch of blue so I got on harvesting some vegetables. It’s so much easier to buy your veggies at the greengrocers at this time of year. The tops of the vegetables are wet, soil is wet and doesn't want to part company with carrots parsnips or leeks. Everything comes up covered in soil.
I’d hate to start trying to clean these vegetables at home so there was nothing to it other than get a bucket of cold water and give them a wash on the plot. Normally I try to avoid washing freshly harvested vegetables as I think it reduces their keeping qualities but in these cases I was prepared to make an exception.
As it happens they scrubbed up rather well. I did have to consign a few carrots straight to the compost heap as some had split and others had some slug damage. The couple of parsnips are only for a tester to see if the roots are sweet enough to harvest. They’re supposed to need a frost to sweeten them but I’m hoping these two will be good to eat without a “frosting”

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Little Bit Brighter?

Monday was a little bit brighter than the weekend. The overnight rain cleared away and although we had a few showers through the day these didn't amount to an awful lot of rain. The sun almost managed to break through in the afternoon.
Temperature, Rainfall and Sunshine Records from Saturday 15 to Monday 17 November 2014
I did have a quick check on our plants over wintering in the greenhouse. Protected from the miserable damp conditions they’re doing fine in the greenhouse so far.
I checked to see if any of our collection needed a drop of water. They were a little bit on the dry side but I think that they’ll have a better chance of surviving a cold frosty snap if they’re kept on the dry side rather than a little too wet. Even in the greenhouse at this time of year plants don’t dry out very quickly so over watering is to be avoided if at all possible. I've fleece at the ready should any frost be forecast.
It might be my imagination but I don’t think it is but Sue’s had cyclamen in constant flower in the greenhouse since early spring. They’re still putting on an excellent display. Like the rest of the greenhouse plants these get watered with extreme care at this time of year.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Oregon Scientific

Projection Clock with Indoor / Outdoor Temperature.
A few weeks ago I was asked by Oregon Scientific if I would like to review one of their projection clocks. I thought it would be good to give one a trial and so a few days later my clock arrived.

So as you do I had a look on Oregon Scientific’s web site to see their description of this particular clock. Their description is posted below:

PRYSMA Projection Clock
Add touch of style to your home with new PRYSMA Series of multifunctional and innovative projection clocks!
Combining contrasting textures in a sleek slim-line modern design, with a unique red projection you will never have to fumble in the dark or switch the light on again. The clock projects the time and alarm directly onto the wall or ceiling. The time is radio controlled which is precise to the second and adjusts automatically to and from British Summertime, meaning you will never have to set the time again. 
Warm or cold, inside and out? The PRYSMA Projection Clock also measures both indoor and outdoor temperature and includes a remote sensor to place outdoors, so you know how cold or warm it is without even leaving your bed! 
A dual alarm function allows you to set two alarms time on a single clock, one for you and one for your partner, and with a crescendo alarm with 8-minute snooze function and snooze touch technology you decide whether it’s time to get up or perhaps have a little snooze especially on those cold and wet winter mornings!

Delivery & Packaging
The despatch and delivery of the clock was very efficient. Like most things these days it came well packaged for its journey in the postal system and arrived in good condition and undamaged. 

In the package are the clock, power adaptor, an outdoor temperature sensor, instructions and a couple of batteries for the sensor. The system operates wirelessly so there aren't any wires to connect up for the outdoor sensor.

Setting Up
I only had a quick look through the instructions and there didn't seem to be anything very complicated to setting up the equipment. It’s suggested that for optimum results the clock should be placed away from any computers and microwaves to avoid signal interference.

The mains adaptor was plugged into a spare socket in the bedroom and once connected the clock burst into life with a time showing 00:00. The two batteries were fitted into the sensor and the tiny reset button on the sensor was pressed. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for the wireless connection to be made and the temperature appeared on the clock screen. At this stage the clock was showing a few minutes had elapsed as the time showed 00:04. Another quick scan of the instructions confirmed that the clock time should set itself to the correct time from a radio signal but that this would normally take between 2 and 10 minutes. The instructions suggest that if this signal is weak this process might take up to 24 hours.

I decided that a watched clock was never going to set the time quickly and left it to do its own thing for a little while. It was about half an hour later when I checked the clock and the time indeed had updated and was now showing the correct time and date.
The above photos shows the clock set up displaying the time and the temperature registered by the remote sensor and the indoor temperature. I've chosen °C but the option is available to show the temperatures in °F if you prefer.

Positioning the Outdoor Sensor
After getting the clock up and running the next decision to be made was where to put the outdoor sensor. The recommendation is that it should be placed outside not more than 1.5m high shielded from direct sunlight and wet conditions. This was a bit of a dilemma for me as I already have a fully functioning weather station measuring and recording outdoor temperatures and rainfall. My weather station also has an extra remote sensor measuring the temperature in my greenhouse.

After a bit of thought I decided it would be useful to monitor the temperature inside our summerhouse too. We store a few vegetables and frost tender plants in there through winter. There’s no heating in the summer house so in the winter I suspect it gets pretty cold. It would also keep the sensor dry. It’s been positioned just inside the doorway on the floor so it will be measuring the temperature at winter squash level.
I should note here that this equipment is primarily a clock with a remote temperature sensor and doesn't substitute for a weather station. It displays the outdoor temperature but doesn't store that information or download it to a computer. However if you’re looking for something that gives an indication of the temperature in a garage, greenhouse or other outdoor building this might be just what you are looking for. The remote sensor is supposed to work up to a range of 50m depending very much on the obstacles in between the sensor and the clock. The clock can work with up to 5 remote sensors although only one sensor is supplied with the clock.

Projecting Time & Temperature
It you’re still wondering why this is called a projection clock, as I have to admit I hadn't come across this term before, it’s because it will project the time and outdoor temperature onto a ceiling or wall.
So in a darkened room this is what you will see on the ceiling with the projection function working. It’s possible to adjust the direction of the projection and flip it through 180° so you should be able to find a suitable area of ceiling or wall for the projected image. I have to admit it isn't as bright as the picture I took suggests and if left projected onto the ceiling it won’t light up the room or keep you awake at night if it’s located in a bedroom.

The clock comes with a couple of alarms which have an 8 minute snooze button which can be repeated three times. I haven’t tested the alarm. 

The Verdict
This clock might be just the thing for you if you’re in the market for a new alarm clock or fancy a change to something a little bit different to wake you up in the morning. The clock picks up the time from a radio frequency and so should always be accurate and is able to monitor a temperature in a remote location. I notice that this clock is also available with a few extra bells and whistles too if you fancy a few extras like adding a weather forecast or even incorporating a radio.

Would I buy one is a bit of a tricky questions as being retired I'm not really in need of the alarm function but I have to admit that after a week of waking up in the morning to a quick glance at the ceiling to find out the time and outdoor temperature I’d miss it if it had to be returned.

From an aesthetic point of view I would have preferred a more neutral colour or the black option as the orange surround doesn't fit in with our décor. Others colours are available but unfortunately we were sent the orange version.

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Relieving the Drabness

Sunday continued the now settled pattern of dull and dreary weather. It didn't start raining until into the evening but it continued steadily into the early hours of Monday morning adding another 6.0mm to monthly total which has now reached 37.0mm. That’s about what we might expect this far into November. It’s obviously seemed much wetter to me than it’s actually been.
Our geraniums in the summerhouse are still looking very healthy and flowering well surrounded by our winter squash Crown Prince. I might try to fit in making a pumpkin pie this week using one of our squashes.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Waste Not - Want Not

Saturday turned out to be the sort of November day I hate. It was dull, damp and misty for most of the day. It wasn't the wettest, coldest or dullest day of the month but perhaps it’s just that it continued a succession of dull and dreary days.

We still haven’t made that trip to the plot for any fresh vegetables. The weather’s put us off but our fresh vegetables are almost used up.
These few carrots left as the “odds and sods” from our last harvesting trip are all we have unless we dip into our freezer supplies. Surprisingly we do have a few “fresh” tomatoes to use up along with a red pepper and some very small green ones.
This is all that remains of the left over tomatoes and peppers that I took off our plants when the home greenhouse was cleared back on 15 October. They've been left outside on the patio table to ripen under some shelter so at least they’re kept in the dry. The tomatoes are a yellow variety so I'm not expecting them to turn red. I might get a bit of decent red pepper to use too.
For comparison this is how the collection looked back in October when the greenhouse was cleared. So far nothing that was in the tray has been consigned to the compost heap but it does now look like a few wrinkly tomatoes and peppers might find their way there soon. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Day of Two Halves You Might Say

Friday morning was wet with heavy rain on and off throughout the morning. To make matters worse it didn't seem to want to be bothered to get light either. By lunchtime we’d had 7.0mm of rain and it was still dark.
Lunchtime arrived and suddenly everything changed. It stopped raining and the sun came out and everywhere looked much brighter.
We could do with a trip to the plot to harvest a few vegetables but after all the morning rain we decided to leave our trip until Saturday hoping that everywhere might just be a little bit drier. After several days of near constant temperature of around 10°C all that changed as we moved into Friday night as the temperature headed downwards rather quickly.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Rubbish Forecast Turns Out Right!

That forecast from the Met Office that I posted on Tuesday’s blog has turned out to be accurate. The weather for the last few days has been pretty poor as the forecast suggested.
Temperature and Rainfall from Tuesday 11 Nov to Thursday 13 Nov 2014
I haven’t posted the daily sunshine record as there hasn't really been any amount of note with only 30 minutes of sunshine hours recorded over the three days. That was in a little bit of a brighter spell on Wednesday afternoon. The temperature has remained remarkably consistent over the three days with only a little bit of a dip late on Wednesday otherwise it’s been around 10°C, mildish for the middle of November.

The rainfall has  amounted to 4.2mm over the three days and it’s probably brought tidying up on the plot to an end for this year. I don’t like treading on saturated soil so trips to the plot will more than likely be for harvesting our remaining winter vegetables.
In that brighter spell on Wednesday afternoon I managed a little bit of tidying up at home and sorted out the rubbish that had accumulated by the garage. I hope it’s obvious which is the before and after shot. It also involved cutting back a climbing rose and a honeysuckle which were supposed to be climbing along the trellis but had escaped and were doing their own thing. I did manage to find one rose in flower which I couldn't consign to the Council recycling bin.  
Thursday’s damp and dull weather did give us chance to sort out our weekend photographs from Clumber Park and get them uploaded to our Zenfolio web site which can be found by clicking here or on the image below.