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    Berkhamsted, Herts
  1. That little green blob on the radar is sticking to Coalville in Leics. Dad always used to say that 'the top of Ashby road is the coldest, snowiest place in the county' - and he lived there in 1947!
  2. A very cold spell is recorded by Gilbert White in his nature journal covering late February into March 1786. February that year started pretty average with some gales mid-month and it was not until the 21st that an East wind is mentioned. After 4 days of bitter conditions he notes that "ploughs are stopped by the frost" and "men cannot dig in the hop-gardens". A heavy snowfall arrives on the 27th and is described as about 7 inches deep - falling without drifting and lodged on the trees so it appears "very grotesque and picturesque". What happened next is the real surprise for our 'modern expectations'. The east wind gets up again and it becomes even colder so that the lying snow is now drifted "over hedges and gates". The first signs of any thawing are not seen until 10th March and even by 22nd March the lanes have "much snow still lying". Given this is Hampshire and not very far from the South coast it just goes to show how potent a late Winter spell could be back then.
  3. I was trying to come up with a (polite) word to sum up these last several 'winters'... I settled on 'Arnia' - the land of perpetual Autumn. In Arnia the evil Queen ensures that any snow is limited to the highest hills or at best a few flakes that are never allowed to settle. Also in Arnia, as I noticed today, the leaves are still fluttering around in February as if were still November. Will Aslan ever come to rescue us?
  4. Two memorable events on this day- I was visiting a factory in west London when a very large glass roof panel came crashing down in front of us, really frightening. When I arrived back home in Herts our boundary wall had been toppled with bricks fanned out across the garden. Curious that the same wall survived the 'great storm' less than 3 years earlier when I thought the wind was stronger still.

    I was just turning 7. My unheated bedroom faced East in a rural Leics village. The ice gradually built up on the window from my frozen breath - I remember thawing a little patch with my hand so that I could gauge if any more snow had fallen overnight. Getting dressed was a real ordeal and done at breakneck speed. Walking to school I was unable to resist jumping into the powdery drifts - not so good when it later thawed in the class room! We made huge slides in the playground that remained frozen and were gradually extended each day. Also vividly remember my grandfather using an iron bar to prise some turnips from his rock-hard garden. Oh yes and as mentioned before, the frozen cream poking out of milk bottles with the little silver cap still sitting on top. Final memory is of a temporary thaw and a big pond forming from several burst pipes in a row of houses opposite. Soon the cold returned and this became our 'skating' rink. Local school never closed as far as I remember and even then parents and grandparents were telling me how this was "nothing compared to '47 - your grandad and the other coal miners had to dig a way through to next village". Now that is a picture to imagine!
  6. Reading the diary of Gilbert White, he describes January 14th as "Rugged, Siberian Weather. The narrow lanes are full of snow ... I was obliged to be much abroad this day and scarce ever saw its fellow". For a man who lived thought the winter of 1739-40 that sounds like an an intense easterly spell. He lived in Hampshire about 20 miles from the coast in the village of Selborne and kept one of the best weather diaries of the 18th century. I'm sure the experts on here will be familiar with his work. So my question is what would be the equivalent of Jan 14th 1776 in your life-time? P.S. I haven't looked up the CET for that day or the month of Jan 1776 but I'm sure it was pretty chilly.