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Monday 16 December 2013

Giant Veg

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 early evening.  

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 all day.

Our herbs came ready frozen that year. This year our rosemary is in flower in December in marked contrast to four years ago.

This is my blog post for that coldest day

Saturday 21 December 2013

Old Going Out - New Coming Up

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 longer.

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.