Thursday, 12 July 2012

There is no hosepipe ban anymore!

A quick aside from my historical food security patterns.  Many of you have lived through worse weather oddities this year than I am reporting on.  But any change to normal weather affects many aspects of normality.  Britain is a great place to live.  we have a moderate climate, we are on the whole moderate people! are the strange weather advents of this past year one offs or part of a longer term change.  it is too soon maybe to know, however they do serve to remind us how powerless we are in the face of weather. 

 There is no hosepipe ban anymore!

Weather eh?  We are good at weather here in Britain.  It is our favourite subject at bus stops, cafes, in shops and around the family Sunday roast.  We glory in it.  Or, maybe not this year.
Everyone knows it rains a lot over here. That is why we are so green looking, why we don’t have deserts, sandstorms and much in the way of forest fires.  Because it rains. We know that. It’s okay, we are proud of our weather. Or, maybe not this year.

Some years we have long hot spells of glorious weather. When lawns grow brown and we smile inanely at each other in the streets.  Not daring to complain yet finding it all a bit much after a while! If there is declared drought, a hosepipe ban, well we understand, after all the sun shone and it was hot.

Sometimes we have cold dry winters that nip and gnaw at unprepared skin, and always happen just as the central heating vanishes in puffs of smoke. That’s okay we understand, because we have seasons here in Britain. Winter is supposed to be cold.  But sometimes we have three of these cold dry winters in a row, which steal a month or two from autumn and spring. 

Last winter was the third long, dry and cold (oh so very cold) one.  Now we understand, belatedly, that our rivers and reservoirs have always relied on the rain and snow melts of our winters, to replenish what we have stolen from them in the warm summers, to keep our lawns green and our cars clean.

We entered our miserable spring this year to be told we were running on dry. That, if no rain occurred during the spring, we would be declared a drought zone (the whole country?) well of course, with our seasons playing a merry game of you can’t catch me, there was an immediate hot dry spell. No rain.

Knowing that water was a diminishing resource, even in this green land, I had, when building my abode, installed an underground rainwater collector to run my hosepipe from.   Over the next decade I have also collected 13 rain butts to scatter at the bottom of every drainpipe.  So the day before the national hosepipe ban was inflicted, I phoned my local water board and asked if I was allowed to run my hosepipe from my tank?  As I spoke to the lady at the water board I was watching the rain dribble down the window pane.  Of course I could she said, there is only a thousand pound fine it caught using tap water in the hosepipe.  Thank you, I said.

It continued raining that week and the next and the next and the. . . well you get the picture.  The hosepipe hasn’t even been unrolled yet this year and it is July for goodness sake. We have passed the longest day, we have started the downhill slope to autumn and winter, we missed the spring and haven’t had a summer. 

However, the gardens have loved it.  The trees and shrubs that survived the killing cold snaps of the past three years and the increasing dryness, have leapt back in to full vigour. They have grown taller (overnight it seemed) and bulked out and have been producing flower and fruit with abandon in celebration of the weather.  The wild flowers (weeds some call them) have multiplied throughout the borders and paving cracks, spreading their seed like there is no tomorrow. The slugs and snails are promenading every day, growing fat and sleek as are the birds and frogs feeding upon them.  Mosquitoes breeding fast and furiously abound in the permanently damp humid foliage and feast daily on all who pass.  Oh yes, the gardens have loved this summer.

There is no hosepipe ban any more.  It lasted through three months of rain, through our cynical merriment. Didn’t the stand up comics love it, didn’t we indulge in our caustic comments at shop tills and bus stops, wasn’t it all the fault of the governments and bankers!

Well possibly not them but I don’t know. . .  No hosepipe ban any more – our reserves are full to overflowing, rivers flowing again. If we want, we can water our gardens!  There are floods running through dozens of valleys, waterlogged crops and weary water sodden sheep. We are still a green land; it still rains in Britain.

Weather? We are good with weather in Britian, our favourite subject. Well maybe not this year, eh?


  1. We've been in a severe drought for 2 years here in Texas, US Alberta. Although, we have been getting some much needed rain the last few days. Hoping it continues for the rest of the summer. Unlike you, we could use less summer. :) Would love to see all of the green gardens in England, by the way.

    1. That's a long time - how are your farmers, rivers,underground supplies holding up or do you have some system of water movement from state to state? Maybe one day you'll get to see the green - I found the colour a little overwhelming when I returned home from 5 year stay in Australia! soon settled back into it:)

  2. After a long drought in Texas, it's been thunderstorming all week long. I'm looking at again at stormy skies outside my window and expecting the creeks to rise and the mosquitos to breed. Then again, our lawn's looking really green. Glad you passed your dry spell.

  3. I had to read this just because the title caught me and I had to find out a hosepipe is. LOL In the US, we just call it an outdoor watering ban.

  4. I'm with Amanda. I HAD to know what a hosepipe was! :-)

  5. LOL +1 on wondering what a hosepipe is! I figured it was just a garden hose, but fun to read about anyway. Alberta, if you can send some of that rain to the Midwest U.S. we'd happily take it! We've had a few days of lawn watering bans.

  6. I never thought hosepipe would be different - don't know so many other words are:) yup just a hose - we do call it hose often but it is a hosepipe if you go and buy one or are banned from useing it. Not just gardens but banned from cleaning cars or paths with it. I don't actually clean my car very often:( so wouldn't have worried me. The ban is of course on useing the 'mains' water - that is why if it hadn't rained I would have been allowed to use mine, the outside taps are only connected to my underground tank therefore would only use rainwater - had to be sure tho' £1,000 fine not to be sneezed at! You can have our rain - it's been going since March now:(

    as to the dry spell, Julie, the rain and chill has lasted so long now that the bird, butterfly, bee and beleive it or not the amphibian populations have plumated - there is a real concern now as this years generation has largley failed. We have villages on their 2nd and 3rd floods. The odd days of sunshine we get don't really give much warmth - the farmers have lost over half their crops and the long term forcast is still dismal- some summer would be nice now to dry everything.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  7. Every time someone asks about my vacation, I make sure to tell them we visited during the wettest April in 100 years!
    It's sad about the flooding on the farms, though. Hope you get some gorgeous summer weather for the Olympics!

  8. I'm glad your drought broke. Lots of parts in South Africa has been under a hosepipe ban for two or three years now. At least now things seem to be getting back to normal.

  9. poor thing Deniz - and april can be so nice:( they are saying maybe the jet stream which apparently has caused this last lot of rain is moving next week so maybe the Games won't be a complete wash out.

    I know compared to some countries our weather doesn't sound so bad - but plants flora and fauna are adapted to it behaving in a proper manner - which it hasn't and so they have really suffered - but maybe next year all will be glorious again:)