Thursday, November 27, 2008

Talking about the weather

We Brits like talking about the weather.

"Nice day, isn't it", "bit chilly for the time of year", and "scorchio!" are the phrase that oil the conversations across our little land.

And even if it never gets that hot or that cold, there is a lot of weather to talk about, as fronts come off the Atlantic, from the North Pole, or from the European land mass.

I hear there are countries where talking about the weather is thought to be boring. I even heard that argument used as the poorest of poor excuses to not talk about Global Warming!

But the weather is a connection between us and the world around us, and the planet on which we live. And it can have dramatic effects on the life we live.

To take just one topical example: the St Helena high is in the wrong place, and that's about to stop the Vendee Globe fleet in its track.

The figure above shows the wind arrows and fleet just off the web site, and there is great uncertainty about where best to position to take account of the stronger pressure when it comes.

I'm sure there is lots of talk and thinking going on about the weather now amongst the captains down there.


O Docker said...

There's one phrase I remember from a month-long bike trip slogging through the soggy UK. It's a phrase reserved mainly for tourists.

"Very unusual for this time of year."

Anonymous said...

To my mind England has perfect weather! When I lived there for a number of years, all those sailing courses and books (such as Alan Watts) on maritime weather made sense. Lows marched in from the west with just the right cloud formation.
Growing up in the middle of a great continental high, our North American weather never seemed to match up.

Mark Twain was famously occupied by the weather. He remarked "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it."

JP said...

If you've spent a month biking round soggy old UK I think the only phrase you want to hear is "fancy a pint?"

We are pretty lucky living in England to get proper weather with a bit of everything thrown in - fronts, lows, highs, rain, hail, sleet, snow, and even (it is rumoured) sun!

And sometimes all of the above on the same day.

Where abouts did both of you go when you were here?

O Docker said...

Should have said the UK and Ireland, I guess, but for me, the weather was the same.

The quest was to see Ireland, but, for some reason, I started in London. So, west through Winchester, Salisbury, Bath, across Wales to Fishguard, ferry to the moss-covered isle. Around southwest - Waterford, Cork, Killarney, ring-a-ding Dingle, Limerick. By Galway, the rain had nearly drowned me and I said, "No more." Crossed from there to Dublin in one marathon day and caught the first dry boat/train back to London.

Once off the bike in London, things improved, if the weather didn't, as pubs seem to be all-weather affairs.

July, twenty-eight days, three without rain.

Anonymous said...

Joined the Little Ship Club for RYA courses. Sailed a lot out of Titmarsh marina at Walton. From where covered the east coast down to Thames estuary. Also managed other coastal areas out of Dartmouth. When not on water walked London a lot, trying to focus on former naval/historic sites, wapping, woolich, greenwich all churches by hawksmore, graves of Benedict Arnold, Wolfe etc.
I saw little else except when visitors came which meant obligatory trips to bath , Cambridge, Oxford, etc. and a visit to Dartmoor to see where American's were interned during war revolutionary war.

JP said...

O Docker: had to laugh about that 3 days without rain comment. Sad but too often true. Often September is a better month strangely. But seems like you had an excellent tour: did you get to see Stonehenge on your west country tour?

Anon: I know the little ships club as its near one of my main clients in the city but not a member. Aren't those RYA courses good fun? I've done more than a few. But haven't done either Thames estuary sailing or Dartmouth though would like to try both.

There's a lot of good maritime history locations in London and still finding new ones - and didn't even know that we locked up Americans during the war of independence!

Of course the best way to see them is from the water ;)

O Docker said...

On balance, a great trip despite the weather. I was younger and more waterproof then.

Yes, routed through Salisbury to see Stonehenge, though still can't understand why you accent the wrong syllable.

That was many years ago. I've since learned about shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of bicycles, and things.

There are far-off lands with peculiar names like Switzeralp, Italiamangia, and Francovin, where the sun is known to shine for whole days at a time.

Of course, in those places they pronounce things even funnier than in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Errata - slight brain cramp - it was the war of 1812.
a reference article is at:

photos of the American cemetary are at:

Other than the Chesepeake and Shannon, the RN did not come off that well in single ship actions - if one were to see them on the water .

JP said...

Anon: I remember one other engagement the RN carried off satisfactorily and alas that's another outrage one of ancestors is to blame for.

Apparently one was in charge of the party that burnt the White House back in 1812! Aha!

O Docker: how else does one pronounce Stonehenge? Next you'll be sailing it was the wrong colour?

O Docker said...

Yes, another thing I can't fathom is why you folks refuse to use spell-checkers.

I see the rain hasn't gotten your mind off sailing, though. That's surely a good thing.

JP said...

Alas with age the mind begins to wander a bit, remembering sunny days on the water.

Pat said...

Aren't spell-checkers for witches and warlocks?

Another weather term:
"Bright Interval"