About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Seasonal weather forecasting

I love the old sayings and legends that tell us how the weather's going to be for the next few months based on recent weather or other natural signs. I learnt a new one last autumn from a bloke in the pub: If we get three nights of hard frost before the fair comes to Aberystwyth, then it'll be a mild winter. I love the local nature of this one, and the fact that the fair is sufficiently fixed in the calendar (late November) to have been incorporated into a weather prediction. We did have three nights of hard frost last November and sure enough, the winter was mild.

At the opposite extreme, being about as non-local as you can get, is the old Imbolc legend that the hag gathers firewood for the rest of the winter on this day (1st or 2nd Feb) so if she's planning a long winter she'll make the day bright and clear - good weather for collecting wood. This is pretty much the same prediction as groundhog day, 2nd Feb: If the cute furry animal can see his shadow, he'll retreat into his burrow, expecting another six weeks of winter. The first three days of February were bright and clear this year, but I can't say the following six weeks were particularly harsh. We did have a cold snap in the middle of that period, but it was generally fairly mild.

There's a little rhyme I've known since I was a child, about when different trees come into leaf:

If oak be out before the ash, then the earth will get a splash;
If ash be out before the oak, then you may expect a soak.

I confess I didn't notice when these trees came into leaf this year until they were both out, so I can definitively say which came first but I think it was roughly the same time. The ash certainly didn't lead by enough to hint at the deluge we've had this summer.

Yesterday was St Swithin's day, which traditionally predicts the rain for the next forty days: If it rains on St Swithin's it will keep raining, but if it's dry it will stay dry. In spite of all the rain we've had recently, yesterday was dry... but today isn't.

So much for St Swithin.


  1. I always check the ash and oak too, and the oak was out first this year in Oxfordshire. So much for that rhyme too.

    The only one that seems to work is
    'Mackerel sky, mackerel sky,
    Not long wet, not long dry.'
    Pretty accurate this year!

    1. Thanks, I didn't know that one. I'm not sure I've seen any mackerel skies here this year (though maybe I'd have noticed if I'd known the rhyme).

    2. I've just read a blog from Staffordshire, and she says how glad she is to finally see a mackerel sky. I think up until now the sky has been too full of rain cloud, so even changeable is an improvement!

  2. In my part of the world the ash was first and in fact the oaks were notably late. Interesting how much it varies over a relatively short distance.

    1. That's interesting. So the trees were right for your area...


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