Appreciating Autumn: why the Christmas countdown needs to wait its turn ….

Read my columns each month in Cardiff Life Magazine

Autumn is my favourite season.  It is the beautiful season.  It is the season blessed with the most indulgent of colour schemes.  However, it is also fated as the season before the ‘jolly’ one and our anticipation for snow, sleighs and snuggling by the fire in motif Christmas jumpers and big woolly socks more often than not succeeds in upstaging the months that precede it. 

The writer George Eliot had the right idea when she declared autumn ‘delicious’ and said ‘my very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.’  Boy, they knew how to express themselves in the nineteenth century, didn’t they?

What has brought on this sudden seasonal sales pitch, I hear you ask?  No, I have not been visited by Vertumnus (he’s the Roman God of seasons in case you hadn’t googled mythology recently).  Rather, I’ve been plagued by many a social media comment ushering in Santa long before – in my opinion – his scripted entry.  One of my friends thought it necessary to mark the 100-day countdown and another to post their first purchase of mince pies (you know exactly who you are!).  The latter not a difficult feat of course, when there are already several festive aisles creeping into most of our supermarkets/garden centres/department stores…

Continue reading

Spring Awakening! After the longest winter, it’s going to be the hardest haul from hibernation.

 Yes, it may be May.  But the weather has taken a while to get the message.

The start of last month was the coldest on record since the 60s; it’s only been a matter of weeks since I last reported severe snow in Wales; and it’s fair to say most of us are hardly out of overcoats and thick tights.  Winter has so hogged the limelight this year, that Spring has barely yet sneaked a turn on the seasonal stage and Summer is still somewhere in the wings, learning its lines.

It hasn’t always been so shy of attention.  Unless my memories are belied by nostalgia, I’m sure I remember long, hot adolescent summer times played out to the soundtrack of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.  So why has balmy Britain retreated to the shadows?  Well, science is working on that.  Recently, a hardy ITV news crew visited a small research station in the Arctic.  There they spoke to experts who believe that rapid melting of the ice may be responsible.  A smaller temperature difference between the Arctic and us, means a slower jet stream and longer spells of colder temperatures here.

The result: weirder winters and a nation deficient in Vitamin D.  With reserves in short supply, we’ve all been in extended hibernation until things warm up a degree or two.

Tortoises, perhaps, can teach us a thing or two about this.   Continue reading