Saturday, 31 December 2011

It’s the New Year Awards

Friday was wet and windy. The day’s maximum temperature was 10.7°C which is a bit misleading as it was a cold day with the temperature hovering around the 5°C mark for much of the day. The temperature rose quickly in the late evening to reach its maximum value for the day at midnight.

It’s the time of year when the New Year’s Awards are handed out to lots of surprised recipients who aren't expecting to receive one. Well not to be outdone I wasn't expecting an award either but to my surprise I was awarded a Bloghood. Now I’m told this award is to try to get more followers to my blog. I know 25 is pretty poor but my blog is only about the weather and a few gardening related bits and pieces so I don’t expect the world to be riveted.
However at the time this Bloghood was awarded I had a couple of fruit pies cooking in the oven and with the waft of cooking pastry around I suspect this might be something to do with why I was included in this New Year’s Awards list.

Friday, 30 December 2011

At long last

Thursday was wet and windy making for a thoroughly miserable day. It did bring to an end our long spell of months with below average rainfall with the 7.8mm of rain today taking us just above December’s long term average of 73.4mm. This ends a spell of below average rainfall going back to last February. 

Click here for full article

I know that the second half of December has been mild but our crops certainly aren't showing any of the effects listed in this online newspaper article.
Harvesting our Christmas vegetables on the plot last week I didn’t notice any of our crops in a state of early production. All our over-wintering vegetables looked to be doing just that. Spring cabbage and cauliflowers looked okay but there weren’t any signs that they were ready to be picked. 
Our leeks looked in good condition along with the sprouts we picked. Parsnips and carrots were in good condition although the slugs had nibbled some of our carrots but that’s to be expected when they’re left in the ground to over-winter.
We’ve had a few rose flowers lingering into December but I put that down to them hanging on in a late autumn rather than being early for next year. 
Lets not forget that officially we are only a few days into winter proper so I’m sure that there’s still plenty of time for some cold and frosty weather. Meanwhile it’s best to make the most of the mild weather whilst it’s here.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Windy again

The strong blustery wind was back today. It came back bringing some heavy squally showers with it. Although it’s not as mild as over Christmas the temperature continues to be above normal for December.
Both the above average temperature and windy weather have produced substantial blips on their respective charts for 2011. The mild temperatures show from the middle of the month whilst the high wind speed chart shows the windy weather has now been around since the last weeks of November.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Not so mild

Not quite so mild as the last few days but Tuesday still managed to reach a very respectable high of 11.4°C. It was the first time for more than a week that a high wind speed of less than 15mph was recorded. The strong winds have been the main feature of the month’s weather. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Heatwave continues

Boxing day continued the December heatwave with a high temperature of 14.2°C. There was no chance of a frost either with an overnight low of 9.8°C pretty remarkable for the end of December.

Along with feeding the birds we like to make sure that they have some water to drink and have a bath in. They are resourceful and will make use of any water they can find. Some sparrows are certainly enjoying the little water available in a plant pot saucer by the greenhouse whilst other sparrows make use of the official bird bath to take a lunchtime bath.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Mild and windy

Christmas Day turned out to be mild and windy. Even allowing for the recent mild days it turned out to be the mildest with the temperature reaching a maximum of 13.4°C in the early evening. I've got no idea where that stands in the league table of temperatures for Christmas Day other than it’s much warmer than last year.

Our starlings have found the fat balls and enjoyed tucking in to their Christmas dinner too. I saw on television last week that I’m supposed to arrange our bird feeders in such a way that the birds don’t squabble over food using up valuable energy reserves. Is that even possible with starlings? They seem to arrive in a flock and feed in a flock.

The squabble at the end of the video is slowed down by a factor of 10 and you can really appreciate the aerial antics of these starlings.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

What a difference a year makes!

Christmas Eve was another mild day with some decent sunny periods. Last year the run up to Christmas was bitterly cold with daily average temperatures below freezing. Our pond was well and truly iced over with only the filtered water keeping a small part of the surface ice free.
Ice covered pond 24th December 2010
No such problems this year with the mild spell of weather and daily average temperatures around 10°C higher than last year our pond is certainly ice free.
Ice free pond 24th December 2011
Last year’s picture looks much more Christmassy and this year’s picture isn’t helped with the building works going on to provide a base for our new summerhouse. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A wet day

At times we had some heavy rain today, enough to make it our wettest day for just about 10 months as 11.2mm of rain fell. It was most rain in a day since the 26th February 2011 when we had 11.4mm.

Last autumn with our freezers full we still had some apples to store. As a bit of an experiment we filled up the salad compartments of our old fridge freezer in the garage to see just how long we might be able to keep these apples. There were several varieties and all kept well stored in the fridge. We had enough apples to fill all the shelves with apples too. We’ve been using the apples to eat and make pies throughout autumn and into winter.
These Golden Delicious from the salad drawer have been made into apple tarts for a Christmas treat. A few sultanas and a hint of nutmeg was added to the fruit to give it that festive taste.

Friday, 23 December 2011

December heatwave

Thursday produced another very mild day for December with the temperature managing 12.9°C. Interspersed with some sunny spells it was a brilliant day for December.
West Yorkshire saw some unusual cloud formations yesterday. I grabbed the picture above from my web cam yesterday morning as I thought it was a bit unusual. However this wasn't very impressive compared with the cloud formations photographed around West Yorkshire.

Click here to view full article
Other local pictures of these cloud formation can be found at the BBC web site by clicking here

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Double figures - in December!

The forecast was right and as the shortest day arrived the temperature managed double figures. It was windy though and the wind took the edge of the temperature and it didn't feel that mild to me in the afternoon as I replenished and cleaned out our bird feeders.

It was a dull day with some light drizzle at times through the day. 

We’re now past winter’s first milestone, the hours of daylight will now start to lengthen, but with January and February to come I bet the worst of winter has still to arrive.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


The forecast for Tuesday was that it would be the best day of the week, milder with some good sunny periods. Well the milder part was correct but the sun didn't bother to make an appearance and it remained cloudy all day. Shouldn't complain too much though as the weather’s good for December and last year this week produced a run of night time temperatures well below freezing.

Along with the return of a small flock of starlings, our long tailed tits have made some fleeting appearances this week. Not that they stay in our garden long, behaving in their usual frantic manner flitting from peanuts to fat cake. It’s a tricky decision wether to watch them flit about for a few moments or make a dash for the camera and miss them altogether as they’ve disappeared by the time the camera’s retrieved. I made a dash for the camera today and got this snap seconds before they did their disappearing trick.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A little rain

Monday turned out to be dull with some light rain at times. It wasn't as cold as the last few days but miserable nevertheless. 
At one stage it looked like December was going to be our first month since February with above average rainfall but this is not looking so certain now.
November rainfall up to 19-12-2011
Earlier in the month we were well up on expected rainfall but we have now fallen back to almost exactly average rainfall for December. The forecast is for weather systems to come in from the Atlantic for the remainder of the month so there’s a chance yet that we’ll exceed the month’s average rainfall.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Mini cold spell continues

The rather cold spell of weather continued on Sunday producing a new coldest day of winter with an average daily temperature of 1.6°C. It was certainly cold enough for the frost to remain on the lawn all day.
Lawn still frosted in the middle of the afternoon
The colder weather is starting to bring birds back into the garden in search of food. A flock of starlings has discovered our supply of food and are making short work of fat balls and buggy nibbles. 
Whilst we used to get lots of starlings a few years ago they've been much rarer in recent years. This cheeky chappy is filling up on buggy nibbles.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunny spells, cold and dry

Saturday did at least have some sunny spells but it didn't stop it from been another bitterly cold day with the temperature barely rising above freezing.  

Last Saturday I posted some video of the Welsh Highland Railway taken when we visited Caernarfon. This runs between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. The Ffestiniog Railway another narrow gauge railway runs from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. This video, of one of their trains arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog, was taken back in September when we were on holiday in North Wales.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dull, cold and dry

Friday was cold, not that the temperature fell below freezing, rather it remained only just above freezing all day. This produced the coldest average daily temperature this winter of 2.1°C. The forecast is for a cold few days before becoming milder next week.

Yesterday we harvested one of the cabbages that had been planted out back in May as a “pigeon tester” to see if mixing up different varieties of brassicas would confuse the local wood pigeons.
Planted out 31st May 2011
They weren't to be outwitted so easily and by the beginning of July it looked like the plants would be completed devastated by the pigeons.
Pigeon damage - photo taken 3rd July 2011
It was a trial after all and we found that both green and red kale had been left untouched. Maybe they were full up on cabbage and cauliflowers. We decided to leave the plants and see what would happen.
Picture taken 3rd July 2011
By the end of July the pigeons seemed to be leaving our cabbages alone. Who knows perhaps they had found tastier peckings elsewhere but it looked as though our cabbages were on the road to recover.
Harvested 15th December 2011
This was one of those pigeon ravaged cabbages which survived and was harvested on our last visit to the plot. It produced a good sized head weighing in at 2.8kg so I don’t think that early pigeon damage reduced the size of the final head. It might be that late cabbage plants can survive the damage caused by pigeons and go on to produce a good crop. I must admit that the plants looked in a pathetic condition at one time and I could easily have been tempted to pull them up. I think I’ll carry on netting the vast majority of our brassicas. Even if netting looks a little untidy, brassica plants mostly devoured by pigeons look even worse. 

Friday, 16 December 2011

Our first dusting of snow

We had a dusting of snow in the early hours of Thursday morning. 
The sun came out in the morning and as we were short of fresh vegetables we decided an afternoon trip down to the plot was required. The plot although not far away seemed a little more snowy than the garden.
Looking in some directions it was difficult to even tell there was any snow and in the sunshine it looked a beautiful day. It was just a bit chilly on the fingers picking vegetables. 
On the shadier side of the plots the remnants of the snow still lingered on as the temperature hovered just above freezing. Not much else could be done on the plot in this state so after harvesting our vegetables we headed back home for a hot drink. Details of our December harvesting record can be found here.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A dry day

Wednesday produced the first dry day of the month. There was plenty of sunshine and although dark clouds threatened a few times throughout the day we missed the showers that were around. Once again it was windy at times which has so far been the main feature of the month’s weather. 

Our garden is fairly sheltered and I reckon if my anemometer measures wind speeds above 15mph then it’s windy. That covers most of December.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

What storm?

Fortunately we once again seemed to avoid the worst of the storm although at times it was fairly windy. Through the day there was a reasonable amount of sunshine. Just glancing at the maximum temperature of 9.8°C it might give the impression of a mild day for December but that temperature was very short lived and occurred just after midnight. Throughout daylight hours the temperature didn't get above 6.0°C and in the stiff breeze if felt pretty cold.

I just couldn’t resist these two collared doves perched on the remains of our old arbour. They look as though they have already paired up ready for spring as they sit out the remaining cold winter days.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Lull before the storm

Monday wasn't too bad a day. In the morning and afternoon we had some sunny spells and it wasn’t too breezy either. The forecaster’s are predicting more storms this week so we decided to take advantage of the decent weather and visit the RSPB reserve at Old Moor.
By mid afternoon the storm clouds were starting to gather but the wind and rain held off until evening time. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Computer glitch

Sunday was dull but mostly dry with just a few of our now customary showers around lunchtime. 

It’s been interesting this month to follow my weather station’s rainfall storm total for December. This totals the amount of rainfall until a dry spell of 24 hours occurs. Unfortunately like all PC’s do now and again mine crashed and the result was that the storm total reset itself to zero. We certainly haven’t had that 24 hour dry spell so I’m putting it down to a computer glitch rather than lack of showers. The little chart above shows the rainfall pattern for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A hint of frost

Saturday morning started off cold and just a little bit frosty. For the first time this winter there was ice on our bird bath. It was a flimsy coating and didn't need any warm water as it soon melted. 

Not that the temperature rose to anything special only managing 5.1°C, which along with our cold frosty start gave us a daily average of 2.8°C the coldest of this winter.
Our birds are now starting to return after disappearing over the last month or so. This goldfinch was an early morning visitor tucking into niger seed as I snapped a picture of the ice on the bird bath.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cold and cloudy

Friday saw the wind die down in the early hours of the morning. It was cold and cloudy with more showers following the theme of the month. There were times during the day when it looked like we might just get a real heavy downpour but we missed any really heavy rain.
The rainfall for this month is now starting to mount up. Even though we haven’t had any spells of ‘real’ rain only lots of showers we’re now up on the average amount of rainfall for December. My weather station records a “storm” total for rainfall which is simply the total amount of rainfall that has occurred until a 24 hour dry spell is recorded. This amount has now reached 33.0mm. We haven’t had a day in December without any showers.

At the moment as the weather is pretty awful for doing anything outside we are re-vamping our main web sites. As part of the re-vamp I was re organising some of our video and thought just for something a little different I’d add some of the video from our visit to North Wales back in September. First up is the Welsh Highland Railway filmed when we visited Caernarfon.

Friday, 9 December 2011

We missed the worst

Scotland and northern England were battered by hurricane force winds on Thursday but fortunately we were just south of the worst of the storm.

Click here to read full article

It was our second very windy day in a row but strangely enough our strongest gust (33 mph) was recorded on Wednesday and we could only manage a mere 30 mph for Thursday.  The forecasters to their credit seemed spot on with our forecast, even down to the blip in the temperature which shot up to 11°C for a few hours before falling again just as quickly.

Another 7.4mm of rain added to this months growing amount as the strong winds continued well into the night.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Gale force winds and showers

Wednesday was windy with gale force winds and showers. In our rather sheltered garden it’s only the second time I've recorded a wind gust speed in excess of 30 mph with a gust of 33mph at 11:00. The only other occasion was the 4th February this year when a gust reached 36mph at 20:00. 

Plenty of showers amounted to 8.0mm of rain in the day making it our wettest day since 26th August and keeping us on target for our average December rainfall. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cold, windy and more showers

Tuesday continued the windy spell of weather we are having. All the frequent showers are starting to build up our rainfall amount this month. Although it’s early days December’s rainfall is on target to be around average for the month. 

With heavy rainfall forecast for Thursday this week we might be beginning to see an end to our long spell of below average rainfall. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Just a tiny amount of sleet today

Blink and you would have missed it but today we did have just a little bit of sleet or hail before all the showers turned to rain. It was cold all day with the temperature reaching just 4.9°C our coldest daytime value since 21st February this year. Despite the low temperatures we still didn't have any frost. 

Sue asked me last week if I used sugar to make bread. I do as I thought sugar was needed to feed the yeast in order to make the bread rise. It seemed that this might be me believing in an old wives tale so as it was cold and miserable I thought it was a good day to test out a sugarless bread.
The result turned out fine. No problems with the dough rising at all. A bit like gardening this bread making  - never too old to learn something new.

Monday, 5 December 2011


Sunday was our coldest day since the 8th March with an average daily temperature of just 4.4°C. The temperature didn't fall below freezing with a minimum of 1.9°C. 

Once again it was a day with plenty of showers. Thankfully all these fell as rain rather than sleet or snow. I reckon that winter has arrived now taking over from our mild autumn.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Wet without rain

Saturday was dull and cloudy with plenty of showers spread throughout the day. It didn't dry up between showers giving the impression that it had rained for most of the day. In total the showers added up to 2.4mm of rain. As the day progressed the temperature got colder. 
On the allotment some parts of the plot seem reasonable wet now despite the fact we haven’t had any great amount of rain. Although, on our visit to the plot on Friday, I did dig up this sprout plant (Crispus) for some fresh vegetables for the weekend and it was easy enough to knock all the soil away from the root of the plant. 
Our rather clayey soil soon sticks to the roots of plants once it gets too wet but that’s not the case at the moment as the relatively dry soil fell away from the sprout roots.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A visit to the plot

There was a cold chill in the air on Friday morning with the temperature just managing around 6°C by mid afternoon. It became windier and milder in the evening and our top temperature of the day 9.3°C arrived at midnight.

It felt chilly on the plot in the afternoon. Perhaps the mild temperatures so far have made us a little soft. The plot certainly had a bleak winter look to it.
Amazingly amidst the gloom one of our roses (Elmshorn) still has some flowers and buds. A few flowers still out on the plot brightened up the dull day just a little.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Winter begins

In meteorological speak the 1st of December marks the start of winter. It’s started in much the same way as autumn went out, mild and pretty breezy at times.

There’s lots of comments in the press and on TV anticipating a drought in certain areas if the winter turns out to be dry following on from a dry spring, summer and autumn.
Whilst I'm not entirely sure that we fit in with the areas suggested in the Sky News article we do fit in with the low rainfall. At the end of November we have only had 58% of our expected rainfall over the last 12 months. I guess that unless we get some really wet months in a row to get back to 100% is going to take quite a while.
So far in 2011 February has been the only month to exceed the expected monthly rainfall. Mind you it was wet and we had double the expected rainfall. April was our driest month with just 2.4mm of rainfall.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Rhubarb’s up

Wednesday’s weather was typical of the month, some sunny spells, dry but mostly cloudy. It was another mild day but it felt chilly in the strong breeze.

My new rhubarb Stockbridge Arrow planted on the 4th November has already pushed a new shoot through the top of the compost. At least I know that one of the two pieces of root I received is growing. Once the cold weather arrives this shoot might wish it had stayed underground.
I've being tracking the mild November temperatures against the Central England Temperature Record. For us it’s finished in 4th place in this record stretching back 350 years.

I’ve now incorporated all the data for November so this is our final figure for the month. 

The month has continued our spell of dry weather with our total rainfall for the month just 25.8mm set against an average of 63.7mm.

I've updated our annual temperature and rainfall data here.
Our sowing and harvesting records for November have also been updated.