Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Seasonal Reflections: May (3)

A. Weather

The frosts of April continued for a short while into May – 1st, 2nd & 5th but thereafter gardeners breathed a sigh of relief. Main day temperatures were mostly in the upper teens but with a brief warmer period where it was 23 degrees on the 9th, 11th & 12th but then dropping back to the low teens for the next two weeks apart from a 22 degrees on the 19th and then low 20’s for the final week. In general terms the word ‘sunny’ appears in my records 18 times but mostly linked to ‘intervals’!  In the first week light showers occurred very occasionally, some overnight rain on the 9th, on and off drizzle all day on the 13th followed by two days of solid cloud and some solid rain on the 16th and some short heavy rain on the 17th, some showers on the 18th, very high winds on the 20th, some rain on the 21st & 22nd which was the last rain until after the end of the second week of June. We have included as much detail as we have to show how varied the month was. In comparison to 2020, this was a poor May.

B. Nature

The popular assessment was that because of the relatively poor temperatures for the time of year, most gardens were anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks late in growth. This, I suspect, shows itself mainly to those of us who are vegetable growers. Onions in the ground almost went into stasis, broad beans refused to flower and of the beetroot sown, over half refused to germinate and the rest sulked and hardly showed any life until the end of the month. Purple-sprouting broccoli was the exception, even though running a few weeks late, and produced big leaves and adequate amounts of broccoli.   Various runner beans and dwarf beans being grown in pots struggled to germinate and grow until near the end of the month.

The Spring flowers – though possibly running late – nevertheless produced much colour with blues and purples abounding with the irises and aquilegias. Strangely, despite all we’ve said, the Spring flowers have been more abundant and luxurious than ever before, it feels.

For the bird life, the nesting season has continued although the occasional appearance of a sparrow hawk, a jay and the magpies, has left one wondering about the absence of the numbers of baby birds we might have expected to have seen. Nature ‘red in tooth and claw’ is often unkind,

This month the biggest change of all has been in foliage so that by the end of the month, virtually all the trees have lost their blossom and are fully leafed; similarly with bushes.

C. General News

Although the Pandemic has continued to hold pride of place in news broadcasting, the month saw a number of other items distracting us from the virus, either tending to be of political origins or sporting. Until a little over half way through the month, the bulk of virus-reporting continued to focus on those receiving vaccinations but as the month wore on, attention was more and more being drawn to the effects of the ‘Indian variant’ and concerns expressed about the likelihood of the next stage or lifting restrictions being delayed, despite the fact that on the 17th Stage 3 of easing went ahead.


The Pandemic

6th – The BBC reports that almost all 50 of the UK's biggest employers do not plan to return staff to the office full-time, but will instead favour a new "hybrid" of in-person and remote work

14th – Boris Johnson and Chris Whitty provide an update on the Indian variant, warning that its spread in the UK could potentially delay the government's planned easing of lockdown restrictions on 21 June.

15th – The number of people having received their second dose of a vaccine exceeds 20 million.

17thStage three of the government's conditional lockdown easing goes ahead, enabling larger numbers of people to gather together, including at indoor venues.

20th – The vaccine rollout opens to those aged 34 and 35 in England.

22nd – The vaccine rollout opens to those aged 32 and 33 in England. The total number of vaccines administered in England exceeds 50 million.

26th – The vaccine rollout opens to those aged 30 and 31 in England.

26th – Dominic Cummings, former chief adviser to Johnson, provides evidence to a joint session of the Commons Heath, and Science and Technology committees, making a series of allegations regarding the Government's handling of the pandemic.

26th – The number of new daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK is reported as 3,180, the highest figure since 12 April.

28th – A fourth vaccine, and the first requiring only a single jab, is approved for use. Made by US pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson, it has an efficacy of 66% in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19, 85% efficacy in preventing severe disease, and 100% efficacy against hospitalization and death.

31st – In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Professor Ravi Gupta from the University of Cambridge warns that the UK is entering a third wave of coronavirus infections, fuelled by the Indian variant, and that the ending of lockdown restrictions on 21 June should be postponed. (In June this is confirmed)

General News

2nd – A football match between Manchester United & Liverpool is postponed, after hundreds of fans break into the Old Trafford to protest against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club following the possibly starting of a new super-league.

6th – A protest over post-Brexit rights by French fishermen at St. Hellier, Jersey, is brought to an end, following talks to resolve the dispute. Two Royal Navy patrol vessels remained in place around the island.

6th – A series of elections take place for local councils and directly elected mayors in England and police and crime commissioners in England and Wales.

6th – In the Welsh Parliament election, labour maintained control and matched the party's best ever result, with 30 out of 60 seats.

6th – In the Scottish Parliament election, the SNP won 64 seats out of 129.

6th – In the London mayoral election, Sadiq Khan won a second term, but with a reduced vote share.

6th – In the Hartlepool by-election, Jill Mortimer became the constituency's first Conservative MP since 1974, marking a significant defeat for Labour.

15th – The final Debenham’s store is closed, after more than 240 years in business. The company continued to trade online.

15th – Leicester City won the FA Cup for the first time, defeating Chelsea 1–0 in the final at Wembley with 21,000 supporters watching the game in the stadium, the most at any English professional match since March 2020.

20th – The BBC publishes Lord Dyson’s independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 1995 Panorama Interview by Martin Bashir with Diana, Princess of Wales, fining him guilty of deceit and breaching editorial conduct to obtain the interview.

22nd – The UK scores zero points in the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

27th – A self-driving bus begins trials in Cambridge, the first service of its kind, running autonomously for 24 hours a day.

28th – 2019 London Bridge stabbing – A  jury rules that failings by MI5 and the police contributed to the deaths of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, two young graduates who were unlawfully killed by a convicted terrorist.

31st – The UK experiences its hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures of almost 25°C

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