Make a point of visiting us weekly!        Tell a friend about us. Seasonal Reflections:  August (2)

August  2020

Being the traditional Summer Holidays month, August this year has had a strange feeling to it. The news has been coming and going about which countries are safe to travel to, and then on the comings and goings of isolation requirements on return from going abroad. On the weather front at home locally ( and we can only speak for this area because the country is so varied when it comes to weather) it has been good to start with, tapering off as the month has progressed. Here’s the detail:

Weather: August helped reinforce the reputation for the UK of having weather that is best described as ‘variable’ or ‘changeable’. The month opened with high temperatures continuing on from July with high 20’s bursting into increasing 30’s in the first week, hitting an all time recorded high here of 38.8 on the 7th which carried on in the low 30’s through the second week before dropping to low twenties for most of the third week (an exceptional 30 degrees on the 20th). To confuse the issue there was cloud on the 11th and early drizzle despite the later high temperature of 34 degrees, and on the 13th in the later evening there was heavy rain and lightning. The lower temperatures of the third week were accompanied by cloud and heavy rain on the 15th and some rain on the 16th with cloud and rain on the 17th and the 19th opened grey and drizzly. Week three was thus good for gardeners, but not for the rest of us!  Into week four, the 22nd saw rain showers and on the 23rd it became very windy (which continued for several days) Towards the end of week four, temperatures dropped away to upper teens where it remained to the end of the month. So to summarise: weeks 1 & 2 - high temperatures, lots of sunshine yet occasional spasmodic drizzle or even heavy rain. Week 3 characterized by lower temperatures, cloud and rain – and some sunshine! Week four - similar but with strong winds and dropping temperatures. Yes’ it’s the summer holiday month!!!

Nature: Looking at what wrote for July, August has been much the same. It’s been a brilliant year for growing many vegetables, and flowers have abounded. Because of the limitations on travel because of Covid, we have tended to be around far more this year than usual, have bought more plug plants through the post than usual and done more gardening and growing than ever before.  No wonder the garden has been more productive and colourful than ever before – and of course the weather has been excellent for growing, although in the first half of the month we needed to do far more watering because of the high temperatures which baked the ground, thus making us determined to create far more compost in the days to come to produce better soil growing conditions. (Incidentally, if it’s not too late, use BBC iPlayer to catch up the Gardeners World Programme of 11th September when Monty Don did the best talk on composting we’ve ever see).

Nationally: The news items in August seems to have had a greater variety than usual and so we’ll cover them in groups:

a) Misc.

1 Aug -   The BBC ends free television licensing for the over-75s

12 Aug -  Train Derailment: A train derailment kills three people near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, caused by heavy rain triggering a landslide

20 Aug – 22-year-old Hashem Abedi was jailed for a minimum of 55 years for his part in the Manchester Arena bombing

20 Aug - A report by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority advises that the Dounreay nuclear site will take until the year 2333 to be safe for reuse

b) Weather & Effects

7 Aug – The UK has its hottest August day in 17 years, with temperatures surpassing 36°C in south-east England (see above)

c) Pandemic - it just keeps on!

13 Aug - Prime Minister announces stronger enforcement measures as easements resume

21 Aug – WHO issue advice on when children in schools should wear masks

24 Aug – PM appeals to parents to send their children back to school when they reopen

25 Aug – COVID-19 in the UK: Scientists identify the earliest person known to have been infected by the coronavirus within the UK; a 75-year-old woman from Nottinghamshire, who tested positive on 21 Feb

27 Aug - Covid in the UK: After trending back upwards in recent weeks, the number of daily UK cases of coronavirus rises above 1,500 – the highest figure since mid-June.  

d) Economy - a month of not-so-good news

12 Aug - Office for National Statistics reports that Britain's GDP fell by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020, the biggest quarterly decline since records began in 1955, and the worst economic figure of any G7 nation

21 Aug – UK government debt is reported to be over £2 trillion for the first time. This also marks the first time the debt-to-GDP ratio has exceeded 100% since the 1960-61 financial year

26 August – A disastrous fall in wheat production is reported due to extreme weather, with yields expected to be 40% lower, the worst UK harvest in 40 years

e) Education - a tumultuous month, mainly to do with exams

13 Aug – A-level results are published in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

- Exams had been cancelled due to the Pandemic,

- Results were calculated using predictions submitted by teachers

- The predictions were then moderated by the regulator, Ofqual, using an algorithm designed to eliminate grade inflation.

- This gave an overall pass rate 0.7% higher than in 2019, with more students being accepted for their first choice university course than in that year.

- Following concerns that 39% of results predicted by teachers in England were downgraded by the moderation process, Ofqual suggested teachers’ predictions ad been "implausibly high".

17 Aug - Government reverses decision - A-levels and GCSE grades in England will be based on unmoderated teacher predictions. Similar reversals also take place in Wales and Northern Ireland.

20 Aug – Ofqual publish guide to the 2020 GCSE results in England

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