16 July 2009

Swithin: Long may he rain

It was St Swithin's Day yesterday, whose weather by tradition will be repeated over the following 40. Which means we're all in trouble. There was torrential rain on and off through the day.

It didn't stop us visiting a parade of old commercial vehicles along London Wall though. Some people must have thought Boris's promised old-style replacements for the bendy buses had arrived already (right). Then it bucketed down. We pitched up at the British Library cafe for breakfast looking like a round-the-world yacht crew in the Roaring Forties. But we were very impressed by how friendly and helpful people there were: we'd only been standing in the queue five seconds before staff put out a plastic yellow DANGER WET FLOOR signboard in our wake.

We were put in mind of the old adage: 'There's no such thing as bad weather, only irritating people saying you should have brought your waterproofs'.

What does the forecast say about the next 40 days though? Weather forecasting is notoriously difficult given the rival airflows swirling around Britain. Websites rarely get it right, and often disagree with each other, making it difficult to plan bike trips. The BBC weather site might say that the coming weekend will be mainly dry and bright, while weather.co.uk might say it'll be heavy showers.

So what's needed is a weather-comparison site, like the ones that find the cheapest flights to a particular destination for you. You'd enter your date and the weather you require, and the site would find the weather-forecasting site with the prediction closest to your requirements.

Well, it'd be no more useless than St Swithin's Day. According to the BBC, a 40-day pattern of weather following that of 15 July has never happened in any of the 55 years they've analysed. So there's hope yet. It's not the getting wet I dislike. It's those tedious people saying I should have brought my waterproofs.


  1. ... and here's another irritating person, commenting on your (highly enjoyable) blog. Why do people place this huge faith in the BBC's weather forecast? They get their information from the Met Office - so go there instead. (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/se/london_forecast_weather.html)

    The met office site full of wonderful geeky stuff like the rainfall radar (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/radar/index.html) which enables you to see the rain that's heading for you ...

    Martin Parkinson

  2. Hi, first-time visitor, but I'll be back, drawn by the wit--and truth--of the phrase "alone except for the film crew."


  3. @Anonymous (Martin P): thanks for the rainfall radar tip! I'll check it regularly from my internet-enabled mobile phone. Unfortunately it's not waterproof though...

    @Bob Patterson: And cheers to you sir! Hope your cycling is as enjoyable as ours was today round London - no taxi-driver near-misses to blog about, no bus-driver cut-ups to rant against, no frightful weather to diarise wittily... just lots of easily accessible local events, stall food, friendly encounters, unexpected views from first-time back-street dawdles... that simple, human-speed, person-scale, being-alive and being-connected stuff that makes bikes just the best, best way to explore a city and its culture.