Traveller's tales

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The eternal topic of conversation

Whoever said
'Wherever you go, the weather is, without exception, exceptional', was probably not talking of the weather in the British Isles, for that is rarely exceptional, if consistently so. Someone, an American, I think, said that if you don't like the weather in England, wait a minute. Others, including myself, have said you can get all four seasons in one day in Britain - that is not exceptional.

The reason for our weather is our geography - our nearness to the Atlantic Ocean and its prevailing winds - south westerlies. Winds are named after their point of origin, not their destination or direction - south westerlies hit Britain, arriving from south west of the region.

They bring warm, and generally wet weather. They are what makes us say that we have the best climate in the world, but the worst weather - they are why the land is so green and luxuriant.

We do not have jungles, the cold winters and the strong winds prevent them, and nor are we plagued by insects - the frost in winter puts paid to that particular nuisance.

Instead, we have rheumatism, rust and overcast weather - we have fog, drizzle, snow, sleet and hail, we have torrential rain and mist - all of which the meteorologist labels precipitation.

Dickens wrote a whole beginning to his novel, 'Bleak House', devoting it to fog, what people of the day referred to as a 'London particular' and what Cockneys used to call 'pea-soupers'.

In my opinion, the climate - weather - conditions overhead and underfoot, are what has made the British what they are - inveterate travellers, innovators and makers of good footwear, hats and raincoats, gloves and umbrellas.
Robert Leslie Fielding

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