« Archibald Hunnybun | Main | One Way Ticket »

About A Week: Rain, Rain Don't Stay Away

Peter Hinchliffe reflects upon England’s changing climate.

There was a spitter-spatter of rain here in Huddersfield last Sunday. And the sky was painted dark grey on Monday morning.

What else did you expect? This is England, and that was a Bank Holiday weekend.

Amazingly folk in some parts of this country are longing for rain. A good solid downpour that lasts for a day.

Gardens are parched. Farmers are sadly surveying bare patches in fields which have been hard-baked by unseasonable sunshine. And a mild orm of water rationing is is in force. No washing of cars using hosepipes. No sprinklers refreshing the domestic lawns…

“O, to be in England,’’ wrote the poet Robert Browning, long ago.

O, to be in England
Now that April’s there
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England -now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

The elms are indeed breaking into leaf. The chaffinches are singing. And I hear woodpeckers busily carving out new homes.

All is not well though. This year there were no mad March gales. No early-April showers. Unless the southern parts of England get a good heavy wetting in the near future those chaffinches won’t be singing quite so cheerfully.

The UK climate does seem to be changing. Blame it on global warming, if you will. I don’t know about that. I’m not a scientist.

But winters seem warmer than they used to be. When I was a boy sledging days could be guaranteed every year. I can’t remember the last time I had to get up early to shovel snow away from our garage door.

And we do seem to be getting less rain.

Almost every day I go walking across Whitley Beaumont estate. After spending long hours gazing at a computer screen, editing a Web magazine, I relish being outdoors.

Only rarely do I get rained on while out walking.

Time was when we used to carry a mack draped over an arm whenever we ventured out of the house.

“You’ve forgotten your mack,’’ my mother would shout as I set out to catch the train for a Bank Holiday train trip to Blackpool.

More often than not the mack would have to be worn before the day was out.

Nowadays an umbrella suffices, and that is rarely needed.

My theory is that the British Empire came about by chance, created by rain-soaked Englishmen who went out in search of the sun.

Sir Francis Drake, Captain James Cooke… They weren’t ploughing the world’s oceans in search of fame and fortune. All they hoped to find was a palm-fringed island where they could lie on a beach and sun bathe day upon day.

Spain’s Mediterranean coasts are now crowded with the new colonialist ex-pat Brits who have fled this island in search of King Sol.

In Cyprus, Malta and the Canary Islands Yorkshire folk raise their glasses on January days to toast the fact that they are able to sit out in the sun.

If the effects of global warming, assuming that is what is causing our climate changes, continue then ex-pats may one day be rushing home from the four corners of the world to sunbathe in Yorkshire’s Pennine hills.

Me, I like a drop of rain now and then.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.