At the start of April, the MET Office announced that most of the south of England was officially in drought. Watering restrictions (hose pipe bans) were implemented in the south east counties.
It turns out that England has been in a drought since we arrived. Friends in the US ask me how can I stand the weather in England, picturing a constant downpour of rain. It does not rain as much here as it does in Vancouver, Canada where we use to live. The winters are milder than in Santa Fe. Here it snows once or twice and they think an inch of snow is a disaster, whereas in Santa Fe I remember Steve shoveling our roof because there was so much snow we thought it might collapse.
Overall, I like the weather here. We can hike year round. Some times of the year it is muddier than I would like, but walking through the fields after a heavy rainfall is delightful. The main problem with the weather is the inconsistency – you never know what it is going to be like. Last summer we had friends visit in June, which the year before had been sunny and hot, but last year was cold and wet. Another friend visited in July and, thank goodness, we had a few brilliant days, but the rest of the time was overcast and drizzly. No one visited when it was sunny and hot for all of April and September.
It is no wonder I think the weather is good – we have been in a drought the whole time we have been here!
Even in a drought, the ground is moist. In Santa Fe the ground is hard and dry, nearly impossible to dig and loose dirt blows around in the spring winds. In England the dirt is dark and damp and has a rich smell. I used to think I was smelling mold but then I realized it was the smell of the outdoors – earthy, moist. Maybe it is because we are on a small island, surrounded by water, criss-crossed by rivers – water everywhere – that the ground stays constantly moist.
No sooner was the drought announced than it started raining, and raining, and raining. We went back to the US at the end of March and missed the one week of hot, sunny weather here. We arrived back to a month of rain. Today it is pouring and the wind is howling and the MET has announced flood warnings. We live in a house beside a river that flooded in the July 2007 Cotswold flood. The upside is we have a new kitchen on the lower level because the old one was destroyed by the flood waters; the downside is obvious. (But rentals are scarce here and we figured what are the chances of a 100 year flood happening twice in a decade? Hmm … )
Every day I look at the weather forecast for the week. Seven days of rain, temperatures in the 50s. Occasionally a picture of sun with rain. Then I look at Santa Fe – sun and 70s. Paris – rain (that makes me feel better). And Northern Portugal because we are going there in July – rain. April was a rainy month for much of Europe.
We have friends from Canada arriving next weekend. The forecast is saying rain. May 1 is on Tuesday – please bring us May Flowers!!
MET Office – UK’s National Weather Service