Last times…

Last time we were on the Isle of Man, it rained. It rained a lot.
It very rarely stopped raining. And then we went to Sheffield in it rained some more.

Now I know that the UK (of which the Isle of Man isn’t part), has a bit of a reputation for this kind of thing, but the summer of 2012 was unprecedented in its raininess. There were literally a couple of nice days during our entire three week stay. The Flickr collection I made is testament to this.

We deserve better this time.

Of course, I not forgetting that we did get better back in 2009. The holiday where I regularly ended up taking our toddler son out (not in an assassination kind of way) at 6am before he woke up the whole household because he’d forgotten how to sleep:

This one was taken at the Calf Sound, where there was only us, some rabbits, some seals and a small yacht.

He’s twelve now, and does sleep occasionally. I’m hoping that this holiday is one of those times.

Tunnel

Browsing on Flickr and found this on my photostream, from 2012:

It’s the Headstone Tunnel in Derbyshire, 487m long and completed in the mid-1800s.
It’s now part of the Monsal Trail.

Looking back: The Daily Mail Weather Outlook for 2012

This goes out to @StephanieBe who is heading out to the UK shortly and read this morning that… er… the UK is about to face its coldest winter for 100 years. Stephanie is Saffa born and bred.
Her genes aren’t cut out to cope with cold Decembers.

Stephanie is afraid.

Fortunately for Stephanie, that “coldest winter in 100 years” thing comes from the Daily Mail.
Regular readers will know that 6000 miles… loves the Daily Mail.

Britain will shiver tonight as temperatures plummet in the first taste of what promises to be one of our coldest winters for a century.
The cold snap is expected to last until the end of the week, creating dangerous conditions on the roads and adding to the misery of those already battling floods.
Temperatures could fall to as low as minus 3C in some places, with snow already falling in the Pennines.

Cold temperatures? In the UK? At the end of November? Whatever next?
Let’s have a look at how November ended when I was over in the UK in 2010, shall we?

 Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 29th November 2010. Is that… snow?!?

But hey, maybe the Daily Mail has upped its weather prediction game since 2010. Let’s have a look at what they thought about 2012, shall we? This Daily Mail headline is from 15th April this year.

Britain faces worst drought since 1976 (and the Severn could dry up by summer)

Officials are concerned that a third dry winter this year could be a tipping point and trigger restrictions for businesses or even further restrictions in homes for the first time in 36 years.
The restrictions are embarrassing for the Government which is showcasing Britain during this year’s Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee. Parks are included in the hosepipe ban and London’s iconic fountains will be turned off.

Sounds bad. So what actually happened?

Well, here’s a photo I took at Howden Reservoir in Derbyshire in July, slap bang in the middle of the “worst drought since 1976”:

Yes yes, I know that the big wall is supposed to keep the water in, but the fact is that because the incessant rain throughout the summer, the dam was overflowing.

What happened? Let’s turn to… er… the Daily Mail for the answer. Here’s a story from August 29th:

After weeks of wet weather and seemingly never-ending cloud, many have dismissed the last few months as a miserable summer they would rather forget.
Today was no exception as heavy rains fell across many parts of the country as weather forecasters predict that September will bring some sun and reprieve from the wet weather but only for those in the south.
The north of Britain however should brace for more grim weather which is predicted to last until mid-September.

But… but you said that… Oh never mind. At least it wasn’t the wettest summ… oh wait. Yes, it was. Well, that is according to the Daily Mail (31st August) anyway:

The temperatures, which reflect the country’s cold and soggy weather over recent months, have proved this summer has been a complete write-off.
It came as it was revealed yesterday the summer has also been the wettest in England and Wales for a century.

The thing is, I know that forecasting the weather is not an exact science. And long range forecasting is even less exact. So yes, you’re going to get it wrong from time to time. But there’s no disclaimer in Stephanie’s “coldest winter for 100 years” Daily Mail story. There’s no:

However, while we’re telling you about how cold it’s going to be this winter, you might want to remember that we also said that this was going to be the driest summer in almost 40 years and we couldn’t actually have been more wrong about that.

So people like Stephanie who have previously lived a Daily Mail free life (lucky fish) thus far, read it – and believe it. Oops.

Stephanie, I’m no meteorological expert. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be the coldest winter foreverever when you visit the Republic of South Yorkshire this December. I feel that I’m standing on fairly solid ground when I suggest that you probably won’t need to pack your bikini for a day out on the beachfront at Filey, but that aside, it’s winter and I would expect it to be decidedly chilly. Especially when compared with your usual South African December day.

What I can tell you is that you really shouldn’t believe everything anything you read in the Daily Mail.

Happy Holidays!

I needed that…

Back to Cape Town and back home after a couple of days at the cottage and I have realised that I needed a break there to remind me that this is a good country to live in.

Don’t get me wrong. SA is my home. My house is here, my wife and kids were born here and I have settled in like a duck settling into water (big splash, few ruffled feathers, some soggy bread). And I love it here. But coming back from our recent visit to the UK, I was again reminded about the thing I don’t enjoy in SA: the lack of personal freedom. (and the fast internet – Ed.)

Even living (as we do) in a leafy, decent suburb, people are uneasy about going out at night. While we were in the UK, wandering up the road to the pub each evening was great. Here, the roads are poorly lit, the standard of driving is poor, especially in the evenings and the chances of being mugged are unnecessarily high. We all live and exist behind great big, high walls and I miss the freedom that living in the UK gives you.

But that’s in the city. Down in Agulhas, things are so much more open. No walls, no electric fences. (I hope I’m not giving the burglars helpful information here.) I needed to be reminded that this can happen here. And we made the most of it. Beach, braai, beer. Brilliant.

It reset my system and I am at peace again.

Douglas Head

Kristen’s birthday party today. We’re still recovering, so here’s a photo I took while we were away.

This was a sad moment – leaving the Isle of Man. Here’s the view from the ferry.
And now, having repaired most of the damage to the house, I’m off to bed.