Wednesday, 29 July 2009

BBQ Summer

I’ve been a gas BBQer over recent years and I have been thinking of late that I need to return to more traditional methods – to be honest it’s probably because I have always wanted one of those oil-drum BBQs. Well I am kind of glad that I didn’t in the end do something about it this year as the cover has stayed on the BBQ so far this summer.

The seasonal forecast was half right (if a probability forecast can ever be deemed right or wrong) in that it has been a warm summer, but it’s also been a wet summer so far and by all accounts it doesn’t look a great deal different for August (you can see the Met Office’s seasonal forecast at So what did this year’s summer forecast not pick up on? It would seem that we have the Polar Jet Stream to blame yet again.

The Jet has once again been further south than we would expect for this time of year. This has helped to transport the weather systems across the Atlantic to the UK and stopped the development of one of those welcome ‘blocking high pressure systems’ from the south that brought our few weeks of warm sunny weather at the end of May.

So what’s caused this you could rightly ask? And the truth is that we don’t really know. We do know that there is a link with the ocean temperature patterns, and the natural cycles in El Nino and the North Atlantic Oscillation, but I don’t believe as yet that we have a good enough understanding of how these systems effect the wider global circulation. That being said it is remarkable what information the seasonal predications can provide and what an advance in our capabilities it has been to be able to produce this type of information which, despite the wet weather so far this summer, I would argue strongly holds real value.

I might not have had occasion to BBQ this summer but recently I did have the chance to visit my great Aunt who is a very remarkable 101 years old. We were talking about the vagaries of another wet summer and she recited a poem to me that I had long since forgotten. It’s a poem called ‘Rain in Summer’ by Henry Longfellow. It’s too long to reproduce here, but to give you a taster here is the first couple of verses:

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Odd that it takes an American to so eloquently describe to us the British obsession. It’s a beautiful poem that I would definitely recommend having a look at in a quiet moment, perhaps best left until it’s too wet to go outside and you can read it whilst staring out of your window at the wet and rusting BBQ sitting in the corner of the patio.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Paul H said...

Thanks for the note and very pleased you have enjoyed reading the blog. I don't get as much time as I would like to write entries but I try to capture some thoughts every couple of weeks or so.