Monday continued the spell of mild December weather although once again it was a
cloudy dull day.
On the plot this year we seem to have grown some rather large winter vegetables.
Our carrots and cabbages have produced some giant sizes this year and the latest
to add to this list is our parsnips - Gladiator.
I’m not going to claim that the whole row of parsnips are this large but I’m amazed
that firstly the parsnip root actually managed to go so deep into the soil and secondly
I managed to dig it up without breaking the root. So far our giant sized vegetables
haven’t lost any of their flavour due to their size.
A bit of a wash and these two look good enough for the supermarket shelf except that
they probably break the supermarket code of practice on size. Being this big they
wouldn’t fit on the shelves nicely. The smaller looking parsnip is more like the
size I expect to be harvesting. The three parsnips weighed in at 3.5kg.
Tuesday & Wednesday 17/18 December 2013
December Record Breaker?
On Tuesday we swapped a little mildness for some sunshine and had what turned out
to be a very nice day. Wednesday was back to normal for this December with much milder
windier conditions making it not such a nice day at all.
As forecast the rain and worst of the wind arrived mid evening but didn’t hang around
for long. Although it was windy it wasn’t anything like the ferocity of a couple
of weeks ago and the rain amounted to 6.4mm which is nothing out of the ordinary.
Av Temp °C
After 18 days the average temperature based on my weather station is 7.23°C so it’s
just creeping into the top ten mildest Decembers since 1772. Isn’t it odd that we
discuss mild winters as though they were a new phenomenon but 6 years in the current
top ten occurred in the 1800’s.
If the trend continues to the end of the year we could well see this December taking
over one of the slots in the bottom half of the top ten. It’s going to be a real
blow when some cold wintry weather eventually sets in.
So far just past the middle of the month it’s been a mild month - but just how mild
has it been? I normally use the Central England Temperature data set which goes back
to 1772 and is maintained by the Met Office. If you fancy doing a quick check on
my graphs all the figures can be found here.
Now I’m not guaranteeing that I’ve done all the figures correctly but I would hazard
a guess that these are the mildest 10 Decembers based on daily average temperatures
based on this data set.
Thursday 19 December 2013
1461 And All That
Thursday started off on a lovely sunny note if a little on the cool side. By lunchtime
however it had clouded over and it remained distinctly chilly.
Thursday was another opportunity to photograph some steam locomotive action reasonably
locally on the East Coast Main Line. Another train was heading to York for some Yuletide
festivities this time it was the Cathedral Express once again from London Kings Cross.
As it was such a nice sunny morning we set off looking for a different location for
our photography expedition. Our journey took us close by the village of Towton where
in 1461 records suggest one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on English soil
took place. I’m guessing it was before the game of cricket had been invented as back
then the rivalry between the Yorkists and Lancastrians was about who should be king
of England rather than who had the best cricket team. Whenever we pass this little
church all by itself in a field close to the village I think of the battle.
In 1461 England strangely had not one but two kings. One Henry VI had the support
of the Lancastrians whilst the other Edward IV had the support of the Yorkists. It
wasn’t a satisfactory situation and couldn’t last. There were several battles around
the country between the warring factions which eventually ended at the Battle of
Towton on Palm Sunday 29 March 1461. The Yorkists routed the Lancastrians and folk
law has it that Cock Beck ran red with blood.
This cross was erected to commemorate the battle that took place. Historical records
of the numbers of casualties vary from around 9,000 to as many as 30,000. There’s
now a little trail to walk along from which some of the sites where the battle took
place can be viewed. As for the little church I’m not sure what, if any, are its
connections to this battle it’s just that every time I drive past it, it reminds
me of the famous Battle of Towton.
We did manage to find somewhere to take some photographs of 4464 Bittern steaming
towards York with The Cathedrals Express.
This locomotive is a sister to Union of South Africa which we saw on Saturday. Both
locomotives are on their historical stomping ground where they hauled the London
and North Eastern Railway’s companies high speed express trains, such as “The Flying
Scotsman”, from London to Scotland. This was in competition with their arch rivals
London Midland and Scottish Railways who operated on the West Coast Main line from
London to Scotland. As far as I know the rivalry didn’t lead to any battles such
as the one at Towton.
Friday 20 December 2013
A Cold Anniversary
Friday wasn’t too bad a day. It was cold and sunny in the morning with clouds gradually
thickening up and the wind increasing in strength as we moved form afternoon into
The 20 December marks the fourth anniversary of the coldest day recorded by my weather
station. At 08:00 on the 20 December 2010 the temperature had fallen to -10.3°C.
It did warm up a little bit through the day making it to a rather chilly -2.5°C at
best. Thankfully that remains the coldest temperature I’ve recorded. For comparison
purposes here’s the same weather chart for that day in 2010.
It’s difficult to believe it could have been that cold in December especially as
this year the temperature has hardly dropped below 0°C let alone stayed below freezing
Our herbs came ready frozen that year. This year our rosemary is in flower in December
in marked contrast to four years ago.
Saturday marked the shortest day as the winter solstice occurred at 17:11. In Leeds
it meant just 7hr 24m 39s of daylight but it will now gradually increase each day
until 21 June 2014 when we’ll have 17hr 06m 06s of daylight. Officially, on day one,
for 22 December 2013 it means an increase in daylight of only 3 seconds so I’m not
expecting to notice the difference. By the end of the month it will be up to 1m 07s
In the garden the last of the roses is still attempting to flower.
I don’t suppose the lengthening daylight is going to do much for this particular
specimen that hasn’t received its winter prune just yet. On the other hand…
In our spring garden the bulbs are heading up looking for the light. It will be a
while before they are flowering and I suspect there’s every chance of them finishing
up under a covering of snow or ice before then. It’s good to know that they are on
their way and daylight hours are increasing. It’s a pity that the worst of the winter
weather hasn’t arrived just yet.