When I was a kid, there used to be rhymes we’d chant on different occasions. One was Windy weather, frosty weather, when the wind blows, we’ll all blow together. I used to sing it with my boys when they were small, making a game of the walk to school or the shops. We’d hold hands and run and then on the all blow we’d swing together and collide into each other. There was also When the North Wind doeth blow, and we shall have snow and what will the robin do then, poor thing? He’ll sit in a barn to keep himself warm and hide his head under his wing, poor thing. I was curious enough about the latter to google it and discovered that it is British and believed to date from the 16th century, which means that probably my ancestors recited it when they were children.
Growing up in Liverpool I don’t remember ever seeing a barn and the only robins would be on Christmas cards. Sparrows, pigeons and gulls were the only birds with which I was familiar. It’s different today because we have a garden and at this time of year all kinds of birds are regular visits to the seeds, nuts, bread and other scraps John puts out for them. We also do the same on our early morning walk across the Leeds-Liverpool canal and the field that leads to Waterloo.
I’m reminded of these rhymes due to the atrocious weather that has been hitting Britain and is still giving so many people a miserable time. Fortunately Merseyside hasn’t come off too badly. A week or so ago on Windy Wednesday the worst damage our property suffered was a buckled fence panel and a toppled plant pot. We’ve had scarcely any frost and some of last year’s geraniums are still flowering in a pot just outside the back of the house.
Whenever my son, Iain, does research for me, I always ask him to check the weather at times, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter and various bank holidays as I consider it plays very much a part in our lives. There are certain years that stand out in my memory. Early 1947 was when the snow seemed to last forever and snowman lingered for ages as did the icy slides in the street and on the bombed holla where there had once been a church. The summer that year was a hot one when the tar between the cobbles in Whitefield Road melted and we’d poke at it with lolly ice sticks. 1976 was the long hot dry summer during which I sat the exam for Geography O level whilst pregnant with my youngest son, we also bought our first car for which we paid a £100. We motored down to Dawlish in Devon, which has been so much in the news lately because the storms put the railway out of action. The car broke down on the way home and we had to wait from 10am until midnight before the AA Relay came to our rescue and took us home. Daniel was born in the autumn of that year after the rains finally came.
Daniel was to accompany me to Ireland during the school summer holidays in the late 1980s. We took our bikes on the ferry and cycled from Dublin into the Wicklow Hills, having never been there before to stay with the relatives of a friend of church. I wanted to research an historical romance set in Ireland in the reign of Richard II. It was unusually hot and the tarmac stuck to our bike tyres and the tips of Daniel’s ears got sunburnt and peeled. The house had no running water and an outside loo with no main drains. Some water was collected from a tank on the roof but I remember carrying a bucket to the river for water, too. Within two days the rains came and we managed to get a lift in a van to Dublin where we stayed in a youth hostel there. Unfortunately Dublin Castle was closed to the public as it was being renovated. Today, I would have discovered that online before we left home but at least I got the feel of the city and the experience came in useful when I wrote not only FATEFUL ENCOUNTER but also my second saga FLOWERS ON THE MERSEY set in Liverpool, Ireland and on a ship going to America during the Irish Civil War.
The weather this morning was bright and sunny and temperatures did reach 10 degrees C, and lifted the spirits but by 2pm it has clouded over and after visiting Caradoc Mission in Seaforth for a Ladies Brunch, sitting at my desk finishing the blog I started a week ago isn’t a bad place to be. Any minute now I expect it will rain.