Thursday, 31 December 2015

Very Different Days

Tuesday was a lovely December day with sunshine more or less from dawn to dusk. Again it was very mild for late December and in the sunshine it felt almost spring like as there was only the gentlest of breezes. Wednesday on the other hand was wet and windy. It wasn’t cold but with rain on and off for most of the day it was very different from Tuesday.

I noticed that last year on 30 December 2014 we went for a winter walk around the RSPB reserve at Fairburn Ings. It must have been a cold sunny day as some of our photos show bits of snow and frost on the paths as we walked around the reserve. In part the duck were able to walk on the ice on the lake.

RSPB Fairburn Ings 30 December 2014
RSPB Fairburn Ings 30 December 2014

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

I Don’t Believe It!

Monday wasn't such a bad day. It was a cloudy day but thankfully the rain held off and it wasn't too cold considering it’s almost the end of December.

It’s only just over a week ago that I posted about the warmest December day I've recorded. I made the point that we hadn't any spring flowers anywhere near out as other bloggers, facebookers and twitterers were posting. Well now that’s not the case.
This little gem is on flower in the front garden. What’s even stranger is that Katherine Hodgkin should be the first iris out on flower in this bed. But after looking carefully I couldn't see any signs of her.
It does look like the flowers have been nibbled by slugs which I don’t expect to happen in December. It’s just a sign of how mild this winter has been so far.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Flooding Update - Difficult to Believe

Up to lunchtime on Sunday it’s been sunny but much cooler than yesterday. Thankfully so far we've had no more rain. With serious flooding in towns and villages along the rivers Wharfe, Aire, Calder, and Ouse its hard to believe that I recorded only 9.0mm (0.35”) of rainfall on Saturday. To put that into perspective the record daily amount I've recorded was 39.2mm (1.54”) on 06 July 2012 so for us the amount of rainfall on Boxing Day was nothing out of the ordinary. It takes a while for all the rainfall that fell in the Pennines to arrive in the lower reaches of the rivers but it’s now doing that in record volumes.

We’re 3 miles from Wakefield, 12 miles from Leeds and 30 miles away from York and very glad we don’t live by a river.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Record River Levels

Boxing Day has been another wet day but although we haven’t had any great amount, higher up in the Pennines there’s been a lot more rain, a lot more! The two main rivers near to us are the River Aire which passes through Leeds and the Calder passing through Wakefield. Both rivers are at highest recorded levels. These two river drain water from the Pennines through these two cities out into the Humber Estuary and finally out into the North Sea.
The link to this Environment Agency site is

This shows the flood warnings on the river Aire at the top and Calder lower down the map.
From the link to Visit Gaugemap, in the top right hand corner of the flood alerts map, the water levels at individual gauges can be viewed in almost real time. 
4.03m represents the previous highest level recorded.
2.45m represents the previous highest level recorded.
3.87m represents the previous highest level recorded.
At least we live on higher ground an aren't likely to be affected by rivers flooding.

White Christmas

As forecast it rained for most of the day on Christmas Day. We didn’t have anything exceptional just steady rainfall for most of the day amounting to 5.8mm or 0.23”. Late into the evening despite the rain it turned ridiculously mild again for late December reaching 13.6°C or 56.5°F. 
The forecast for next week (surprise, surprise) is once again wet and windy with severe gales forecast for the middle of the week.

Despite the Christmas Day gloom, our rose White Cloud managed to brighten up the fence with a Christmas Day flower.
Now that’s a true Christmas rose.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Alone this Christmas

Wednesday finished up rather a nice sunny day although we had some rain early in the morning before it got light and it got windy after dark.

I noticed that we still have a lone apple remaining high up in one of our trees in the garden. 
It's one I missed or more likely couldn't quite reach at harvesting time. Well this apple has survived storms Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, and Desmond and now waits to see what Eva has to throw at it. The trees have lost all their leaves and there's no more apples left either so it's going to be a lonely Christmas for this solitary apple. 
Hope you are having, or had a wonderful Christmas Day.
Wentworth Castle Deer Park - 28 December 2014

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Winter Solstice

Tuesday was the winter solstice. It’s the day proper winter starts not meteorological winter which started at the beginning of December. So today we had the shortest length of daylight hours of the year. The sunrise and sunset times as shown below. Just for interest I've added some sunrise and sunset times for Wednesday too so you can see how much the times change each day.  

Sunrise and Sunset times for Ossett, West Yorkshire.
I've seen posts regarding how little difference there is in temperatures between summer and winter solstice this year. It got me thinking so I've produced a little table showing the figures for the last six years. It’s definitely true as there was only 1°C difference in the high temperature for the June solstice compared with this December’s. But looking at the tables it’s a combination of a cold June and very mild December. Thinking back to June nothing would grow properly would it? Young plants were struggling to grow on the plot and we were in need of some warmer weather to get them growing.
Certainly December has been very mild but I'm not sure how much of advantage that is to gardeners. I'm sure we’ll have a cold snap before we get through to spring. That’s when any tender plants will be damaged by frost but of course the good news is any pesky bugs still living on our plants over winter might well be killed off.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A Visit to the Plot at Last

We had our first visit to the plot in about six weeks on Sunday. The weather was pretty good, very mild for December and sunny too at times. We managed to harvest a few vegetables which Sue covered in her blog post here. I'll just add my harvesting table below with a few additional comments.
Although the birds don't seem to have returned in anything like their usual numbers so far this winter I've now got a regular female blackbird who magically knows when I open the door to go out and replenish the food on the bird table. She keeps her distance but as soon as I move away from the bird table she hops on whilst all the other birds think I'm too close and stay away. It means she gets some time to herself and a chance to pick the best bits before any body else dares to land. Perhaps she'll get tamer as winter progresses.
These are my best pictures so far. Even though I've had my camera over 12 months I'm still learning about new settings. I've always struggled to get my camera to focus on the centre of the screen. It focuses on something off centre and not at all where I want. It can be very frustrating when it won’t focus on the subject in the centre of the viewfinder. I've now found out how to correct this but I still need to make adjustments to get a greater depth of field especially in dull weather. You will have to watch this space to see if I manage to solve this problem.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Warmest December Day

Saturday produced the highest December temperature I've recorded over the last six years. The thermometer reached 15.8°C (60.4°F) at 09.00 and I expected it might get even higher through the day but although it remained mild it didn't get any higher. 
I've noticed that the TV news and social media are posting photos of daffodils and tulips. So not to be outdone I thought I’d post some too.
The top photos is daffodils and the bottom one’s snowdrops. They've still a way to go before they’re in flower. 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Fantastic Sunrise

Friday was a brighter day than we've experienced recently. As the sun rose this morning, yes it did actually rise Friday morning, we had a lovely red sky. I decided to try a few photographs. The first was from an upstairs window. It gave the impression that we might be in for a lovely sunny day.
Once down stairs I decided to try a few shots from outside. It was surprisingly mild outside. There’s not much difference between daytime and night time temperatures at the moment. Even our night time temperatures are milder than we might expect through the daytime in December.
It was just a question of finding the best spot for a photograph. I tried one or two positions but think that one through the trees was the best I managed. Just in case you didn't see it on my face book page I have included it below.
After a few minutes the sky returned to its more normal dull grey colour. Unfortunately, the rest of the day didn't live up to expectation of such a beautiful sunrise. We certainly had a brighter day although not a great deal of actual sunshine.

Friday, 18 December 2015

A Short Lived Record

As I thought that high temperature record set in the early hours of Thursday morning didn't last long and was broken at 13:35 with a new December high of 15.1°C or 59.2°F. 
It was a pity we didn't have a bit of brightness to make it feel even better but it was another cloudy day with rain threatening but staying away. We ventured out for a bit of steam train photography in the afternoon.
This was The Christmas White Rose to York. It was running about two hours late so there wasn’t going to be too much chance of doing much Christmas shopping once it arrived in York. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

December Record

Wednesday was another dull and miserable day although at one point the sun did try to break through the clouds. In the last week my weather station recorded just 6 minutes of sunshine. 

The early hours of Thursday morning set a new high temperature record for December with my weather station recording 14.3°C (57.7°F) at 00:20 in the morning. Not exactly the time you expect to be breaking a high temperature record!
The chances are that this will be broken over the next couple of days. Pity we can’t swap a few degrees for a little bit of sunshine. Can it be true that the weather’s going to remain very much the same up until Christmas?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Return of an Old Friend

Tuesday was gloomy with mist and drizzle all day. It’s now 6 days since my weather station recorded even a hint of any sunshine. After a brief colder snap the mild weather, in December terms, has returned with the forecast for it to be even milder towards the end of the week.

Producing today’s blog was like having an old friend back. I normally like to write my blog in Google Chrome which seems to work quite well for me. Suddenly last week everything went wrong. Half way through writing my blog Chrome stopped working. I closed Chrome and re-opened it but still it didn't work. I decided the best thing to do was restart my computer. This had no effect in fact matters were even worse. Chrome opened up a tab and nothing happened the little blue circle went round and round and round. Chrome didn't want to work at all.

I decided to try Internet Explorer just to get my blog published. This seemed to go quite well until I previewed my blog and found all my text was a strange size. No amount of adjusting the size of the text had any effect on the published documents. I decided to try Microsoft Edge in Windows 10. I had a little more success. After a little bit of messing about I managed to publish my blog.

Not being able to use Chrome meant that all my favourite Internet sites suddenly took a lot more finding. All my favourites had suddenly disappeared. Importing them into Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer just wasn't the same. Every click seemed to demand a username and password.  
I've had a few issues with Google Chrome before. In the past uninstalling and reinstalling Google Chrome has solved my problems. So that was my next option but having done this Chrome still refused to work or even open a tab. A search on the Internet didn't seem to throw up any obvious solutions. So for the last week I've been using Microsoft Edge to produce my blogs.

I had almost given up on using Google Chrome but yesterday I decided to uninstall and then reinstall Google Chrome once again. This time like magic Google Chrome decided to work although I have no idea what I did differently this time. It did result in me losing all my favourite sites but it was like having an old friend return.

Aren't computers wonderful. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Hot and Cold Decembers

As I expected Sunday turned out to be the coldest day of the month. The highest temperature reached was 5.2°C (41.4°F) with a low of  -0.6°C (30.9°F) producing a daily average of 2.6°C (36.7°F).

It's certainly been a very mild start to December and I thought comparing the temperatures with December 2010 which was exceptionally cold might be interesting.
Blue Line Temperature for December 2010 and Red Line Temperature for December 2015
So each month began quite differently this year very mild compared to 2010 which was very cold. We seem to have arrived at a time towards the middle of the month where there isn't too much to choose between them. December 2010 had a real cold snap leading up to Christmas. The temperature plummeted down to around -10.5°C (13.1°F) and most things froze solid whether they were inside or out.
Bird Bath 13 December 2010
So far this month our bird bath has remained ice free apart from Sunday morning when it had a light covering. Back in 2010 the bird bath looked like it had been stored in the freezer for a few weeks.

Here's hoping that the mild weather continues as if nothing else it keeps the heating bills down.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


Saturday was wet. It rained for all the daylight hours and it’s now the wettest December day I’ve recorded with 20.0mm or 0.79".
It also moved into the top twenty wettest days I’ve recorded.
It was also the coldest December day this year but I’m not going to bother with the figures as Sunday looks like it will be even cooler as the temperature hovers around freezing point as lunchtime approaches.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Mild Start Ends - Perhaps December Begins

The exceptionally mild start to the month continued on Wednesday and Thursday but Friday was the first time this month that the temperature didn’t make it into double figures 10°C (50°F). Friday managed 7.6°C (45.7°F) which felt cold but it’s still fairly good for December.

We had a trip out around York on Thursday. The river Wharfe looked like it had been in flood although it was back within it’s banks as we crossed over it on the A64.
I don’t think they’re going to be playing football on these pitches at the weekend.
Saturday morning has started with more rain falling. The forecast is for rain, sleet or snow for most of the day.
This is where the rain, sleet and snow is falling at 10:30 on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Cutting Back

Monday and Tuesday have been very nice days for the beginning of December. The mild spell of weather is continuing and we've had little rain to speak of and touch wood no more gales.

I swapped some plants around from our plant hospital to go back on display in the front window. A while ago our Busy Lizzy was looking worse for wear. It had been in flower for a long time but it had succumbed to red spider mite and needed some attention. So it got my cutting back treatment and was moved to an upstairs window sill to recuperate.

The stems were cut back to virtually soil level and any remaining pests washed off the little bits of remaining stem. It was then given some fresh compost and put in the hospital. Even inside at this time of year it needed careful watering but eventually new tiny shoots began to appear and now it's back in flower and looking really healthy.
It replaced a little potted rose that had been in flower over a period of several months but it looked as though it had begun to suffer from mildew or something similar so it's had the cutting back treatment although I haven't yet repotted it. I’m not sure how it will regrow. I wondered if, like potmums, it might have been treated with something to make it grow in a dwarf fashion and it will now go on to grow into a much larger plant.
Watch this space to see what happens.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Gale Force Winds - Luckily Only a Few Showers

Saturday was very windy with gale force winds for most of the day.

We were lucky to miss the enormous amount of rain that was deposited further north and west in Cumbria that has resulted in devastating floods. Our early morning rainfall only amounted to 1.6mm which fell mostly in the early hours of the morning. The gale force winds eventually started to abate as midnight approached.

Sunday was much better with even a little hint of sunshine and the gale force winds finally abated.

I did see this article in the Yorkshire Post newspaper with a video showing Malham Cove converted to a waterfall - something that hasn’t happened for a few hundred years.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Was It Sunshine

For a few minutes on Wednesday morning the sun came out. It wasn't out for very long but I did just manage a photo as the low morning sunshine lit up our hedge. 
The very mild spell of weather is continuing and it’s much milder than we might expect for the beginning of December. The bad news though is that it’s accompanied by more gale force winds.

Thursday was dull and miserable with rain at times but first thing Friday morning was bright again. It was our first planned trip over to Manchester as part of Sue’s ongoing eye care. To be honest I was rather pleased it was mild for the trip over the Pennines which can be a difficult journey in bad weather conditions.
Well before we reached the tops the sun had disappeared but at least the rain held off.
Even the traffic wasn’t too bad and the 50 mile journey was accomplished in a little over an hour. In Manchester the Christmas Market was in full swing.
The return journey was a bit of a nightmare as it took well over two hours due to the volume of traffic.

The result of the consultation wasn’t what we’d been hoping for. Sue needs to see another specialist before any further progress is possible.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Meteorological Winter Begins

Tuesday saw the start of winter as far as keeping weather records goes. The seasons are split into 3 month spells making record keeping a little bit easier. So Meteorological winter consists of December, January and February. 

I spotted this rather nice little graphic from the Met Office which details our coldest, mildest, wettest and so on. 
Tuesday continued the spell of mild weather with the afternoon temperatures reaching 13.6°C or 56.5°F. The expected high temperature for the first few days of December is only around 6.0°C or 42.8°F. At least it wasn't windy for once although we did have more rain during the night which cleared away as it got light. Another 3.4mm (0.13") brought our total up to 40.8mm (1.61") without a 24 hour dry spell.
If I don't get out and take some photos soon I think I'll forget how to use my camera. Tomorrow looks like another mild and dry day although it looks as though it will be cloudy. A little bit of sunshine wouldn't come amiss.