Friday, July 13, 2012

OHC - The Great British Weather

Joining in with the OHC
Clear skies, balmy {if not down right hot} days, hot humid evenings, salads, ice-cream, long days, short nights
rain, mild temperatures, rain, allot of cloud cover, rain, ice-cream, rain, long days, rain, short nights

Both of these are a good description of summer! Depending on where in the world you live, one of these descriptive blurbs will mean 'summer' to you. Here in the beautiful British Isles - the description scattered with  lots of 'rain' means summer for us :o)

There is a reason why England is the land of green rolling hills and farmland. Summer or winter - we have a very green land, and it is due to the amount of rainfall we have. Of course we do have lovely sunny weather too and when the sun is shining and the skies are clear - there is no fairer land than England! We have lived in South Africa, Canada, Barbados and England - and nothing compares to an English summers day when the sun is shining down on us. It is beautiful and well worth putting up with a bit of rain :o)

The great British weather is always first and foremost on the minds of most people living here and not a day goes by when it does not make an appearance in conversation. The news has been full of 'weather' of late as we have been having a particularly wet summer - apparently we have had the wettest June 'since records began', with a months worth of rain falling over a 24 hour period frequently over the last two months. 

For our OHC 'Summer Weather' challenge, I thought that we could look at exactly why England's summers are so wet and HOW wet at that. We started off our lesson by watching this great little BBC video on 'The Truth About British Rain.'

It was fascinating to find out that on average, Britain has about 199 days of rain a year. Cumbria, the next county up from us - aka The Lake District {Think Charlotte Mason Ambleside and Beatrix Potter of Hilltop Farm here} is the wettest place in Britain and has an average of 211 days of rain a year! After watching the above video we learnt that if we lived further south in London, that we would see more blue skies than we do up here in Lancashire. The reason being is that we are at the foot of the Pennine Mountain range and catch all that lovely rain as the warm air is pushed up over the mountains - this is more so for the people who live in the Lake District. After hearing these facts, Miss V-L wondered how Beatrix Potter managed to get so many beautiful paintings of the local flora etc. done outdoors with all that rain about :o)
After watching our video we took a walk to admire the suitable grey day outside and to pay special attention to the little stream which is a product of our abundant rain. As we walked by the way, I mentioned how important the rain was to our endless network of canals and waterways. These were a vital part of our industry in Victorian and Edwardian times. Without our waterways and plenty of water to fill them, industry would have been stunted to a large degree. The girls remembered from our reading of 'Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates,' that Holland is a country deeply affected by water and is actually below sea level. Some interesting conversation was had about the waterways and systems of keeping the water in check in Holland amongst the children.
After wading in the stream near an old lock gate, we headed back home for some crafty fun. Instead of completing a notebooking page, I decided to get the children to make their own barometer so that they could get an idea of when to expect rain. My copy of 'Nature Smart' had a great little excerpt on how a barometer works as well as easy to follow directions. Immediately my girls remembered from a lesson we did a few years ago,  that before barometers were invented, housewives would use gingerbread as a sort of barometer. When the air is saturated with water vapour then the gingerbread is moist and soft to the touch. When the air is drier, the gingerbread is hard.
This was a really fun activity - and useful too! We now have a lovely barometer for our nature table. Over the next few days we need to keep an eye on it and mark the various different positions on our poster board, noting the weather outside. As you can see, we have already noted the position of the rain!
I have set a summer break challenge for our family - inspired by this great pin on Barbs Pinterest board.

I thought it would be a neat idea to make a daily note over the next few weeks of the daily weather. This would give us an accurate reading as to what our daily summer weather was really like. I find that with long stretches of rainy weather it is easy to assume that the 'whole' of summer was a washout. This might bring our opinions back into perspective :o)


  1. Oh, Shirley Ann, how I wish we had some of your wet weather in our area! We have had 100+ temps for weeks and very little rain. Our veggie garden is producing very little - even with frequent watering from our well.
    We have made a barometer, too and my children always enjoy weather-watching. :)
    Love the photos of your daughters in the stream.
    Hope you have a lovely week-end!

  2. lovely Shirley, we have had lots of rain too over the last week and expect some snow on the mountains this weekend...very cold down here in CT!

  3. I really enjoyed the video on British rain and very interesting.

    Our summers are dry and we rarely see rain in July and August except for the stray thunderstorm. Our rains come in Jan and Feb.

    Thanks so much for sharing your entry with the OHC.

  4. Very interesting post! I'm loving your hands-on activitiers. I would love to visit England and check out the rain and green hills for myself someday.


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