coverack in the snow


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WEATHER IN CORNWALL...predictably unpredictable!

It's been the hottest, driest summer since 1976, the wettest, coldest winter since the Ice Age, and the flood of last summer can't be compared to anything I've ever experienced. Apocryphal or fact; what is certain, is that glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising, while forests are burning and wildlife is in turmoil.

Scientific research indicates that we are all responsible for the 'greenhouse effect', which is attributed to increased use of levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs and pollutants; the effect is to raise the earth's overall temperature. These are the facts; however, we don't need a degree in environmental science to be aware that in our everyday lives something is happening which is causing extreme weather. There's no doubt about it, the past year of living in Cornwall has been tough one because of the unusual intensity of rain, cold and heat.

The devastating flood of last July in Coverack, kick-started twelve months of unnatural weather events, with longer periods of the same kind of weather. Once the rain started it didn't stop for months. That's not just me exaggerating because I'd forgotten what blue sky looked like and once I'd put my wellies on for dog walks in October, I didn't stop wearing them until May. The Met Office super computer predicted 30% increase in winter rainfall - the computer wasn't wrong if the amount of unprecedented rain bucketed down on me and my dog was a gauge.

And then it snowed! The 1st March brought the first proper snow in a decade. The kind of snow that settles and grinds Cornwall to a slippery stop. To be honest, I never thought I would even remotely think, let alone saying it out loud, that maybe, Devon, Dorset and Somerset might be more 'civilised' - less wet, less muddy, less foggy, less dreary, than dear old Cornwall.

A year on from 'the flood', we have been revelling in an amazing heat wave without a drop of rain in weeks. Believe me, I'm not complaining - I'm a sun junkie. It's real summer. The sun is so hot, roads are melting. Waking every day, pulling back the curtains to a cloudless sky and the morning sun scattering a diamond- brilliance on an azure sea and eating outside from the bbq without needing long sleeves as the evening dew falls, is paradise. One of those endless summers of our childhood that probably never really happened other than a sweet memory mingled with nostalgia.

The downside of this extraordinary weather is that we will have to pay for it. More expensive food in the coming seasons as the price of animal feed will soar and crops meagre as farmers planted late in fields too wet and cold until late spring to plough. The earth that was thick in mud has become hard and dusty, with wheat not germinating properly, grass too burnt for cattle feed and potaoes, not fit for harvesting. Hedgerow fruit, sloes and blackberries, have shrivelled on the bushes and while some wild flowers, loosestrife and montbretia, are thriving, ferns and grasses have withered and crinkled to autumn shades of cinnamon and ginger.

It's the abnormal unpredictability of the weather that is responsible for us to make these comparisons. Using my garden as a template for these extremes; what plants were not covered in rocks and silt or drowned in the flood, frozen to slime in the snow, burnt to a crisp in the heatwave, are just about managing to survive.... but for how long?

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