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Seasonal Reflections:  June

The Daily Mail joined in, “A spokesman said it looks likely rainfall will continue to be below average in the second half of June in the south, meaning those attending Glastonbury could be in for a sunny festival, much like last year's event. The spokesman said: 'Throughout the second half of June, rainfall amounts look likely to continue to be below average across many parts of the UK, especially in the south. 'However, the northwest may see closer to average rainfall. Sunshine amounts will be normal or slightly above, with temperatures for much of the country near normal, however possibly above average at times in southern and central parts of the UK.' The UK has enjoyed its warmest spring for 350 years, with June and July predicted to be scorchers. April was also being the sunniest since 1929.”

So whatever else June brings – longest Day, Glastonbury Festival, Wimbledon – weather speculation is high on the list. After a Spring of unusual amounts of sunshine, June blotted its copybook and rain arrived – much to the pleasure of gardeners and reservoir managers alike. No, they now all say, there is no likelihood of hosepipe bans.

I write the day before Wimbledon is due to start. The BBC web-site icons show light rain tomorrow, and light showers on Wednesday and Thursday. Not exactly flaming weather! However I’m not very confident about their accuracy because I looked at the icons yesterday morning and they showed sunny intervals for most of the day and in the event it showered quite heavily quite a bit of the day! Which only goes to confirm what we’ve already said  - this is a month of weather speculation (even by the professional forecasters) and the thing about speculation is that you often get it wrong. “But it’s showers!” they cry, “and by their very nature they are random and spasmodic.” Point made!


In the garden, June is a month of vibrant life. Everything has been ahead of itself this year but with the arrival of rain a new strength and vibrancy has come into plant life. Even the lawn looks like it might recover. The first of the Buddleias are flowering so butterflies shouldn’t be too far off. Likewise the first of the sunflowers is just opening out


Britain is also a land of markets and boot sales these days, and to these are now being added Summer Fayres which will trickle on through July and August, but travel around and you’ll see signs of some that are already here. June sees the coming of July which eventually heralds school holidays and then we known that ‘Summer’ is really here.




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THE SEASONS: June Reflections originally written in 2011
And into Summer!  Tantalisingly we are tottering on the brink of Spring about to tip into Summer any moment. At the moment we publish this page, we have two days of Spring left – and what a Spring it has been! So dry and so sunny that even the makers of gardens at Chelsea have been having nightmares as they have been swapping out one flower because it is too far advanced, for something completely different that came to its peak just a week ago.
And there we were with people muttering about ‘dust bowls’ and possible hosepipe bans when it rained. Yes, this wasn’t a teasing drizzle, this was downpour stuff that filled rain barrels. Isn’t it strange that you get a couple of grey windy and a bit damp days and you start wondering if this is what Summer is going to be like. Yesterday the sun restored hope that just possibly, summer might be good. Did I imagine it or were the weather people muttering about an impending heat wave?
The Summer solstice is June 21st at 5.16 pm to be precise when the sun reaches its northernmost position and that will be the longest day and shortest night. Oh no, in less than four weeks time the days will be getting shorter!!!!   But there is a thing called a ‘seasonal lag’ (worth looking up using Google) that means that highest temperatures won’t occur for some while after the peak of the sun. According to Wikipedia, July is the hottest month on average in the UK with August fractionally behind it. So every time your memory brings up thoughts of wet and cold Summers, just remember that on average, July and August ARE the two hottest months with the longest periods of sunshine.

One of the wonders of this time of year, which most of us miss, is the dawn which comes so quickly. A week or so back I found myself wide awake just before 4.00am and decided, as sleep was eluding me, a cup of tea and a turn on the computer was in order. I crept down stairs and peered out the back door to be rewarded by the sight of a beautifully clear but dark starry night. It seemed that every star possible was visible. It was beautiful!  I made a cup of tea, wandered into the office and half an hour later took my now empty cup back into the kitchen only to find, to my total surprise, that it was completely light. The sun was not yet up but it was clear and light and the birds had begun the dawn chorus. Outside, apart from the birds, everything was still and silent. Most sensible people were still in bed but for those of us who were up and around, it was a gloriously clean, clear and crisp morning. To witness this transition you need to be up just that much earlier now and it will continue like that, getting earlier, for the next few weeks until we arrive at the solstice when it will start to slide gently back the other way again. If you’re awake in the early hours, it’s actually worth getting up and catching the wonder of those early hours – and a cuppa is good then as well!
Different seasons mean different things for different people. For a whole bunch of young people May and June are the dreaded months for exams.
Talking to a couple of young people yesterday I was entertained by their conversation:
Him (doing ‘A’ levels): “I’ve found it so much easier this year having revised for them.”  
Her: (doing GCSE’s) “Yes, I’ve started revising and it does seem to make exams easier.”  
I was just about to splutter over this dialogue when I thought, “Hold on, I’m not sure when it clicked with you that revising was a good idea!” I said nothing.
For those at school who are fortunate enough not to be taking exams at this point of their lives, May through to July seems to be the time for visits out. It’s a good time of the year!
For those of us in older generations, we fall into four groups. Group 1 is those who have already been on holiday and strut around with a deeper bronze than anything the rest of us can conjure up from a few days in the garden. Group 2 are those who have booked a holiday and so this time of the year is the waiting time but they still say with confidence, “Oh yes, we’re taking two weeks in....”  Group 3 (of which I confess to be a member) is that group that is going to take a holiday... sometime.... someplace.... and we’ll probably boast of getting a last minute deal with mega discounts. We each have our little things to boast about when it comes to holidays and this time of the year creates the greatest variety of boasts: “we’ve been and it was wonderful and so quiet outside the holiday season..... yes, we’re looking forward to it, and it should be the best holiday we’ve ever had and you’ll never guess what the tour company threw in......  no, we never pay the full price; just be patient and you can get cruises and goodness knows what at half price if you hang on.” And then there is group 4: “Holidays?????”  
This group seems to be getting smaller each year, but they still have a boast: “Oh my goodness, no, we don’t take holidays. See all those people tottering back from the South of France or wherever, looking shattered. The poor dears need a holiday to get over their holiday. No, we much prefer to harvest the crops in the garden throughout Summer and just snatch individual days. Much more fun!” What a mixed bunch we are!

Anyway, enough chuntering on. Have a nice Spring-into-Summer.

I now write about half way through June. ‘Flaming June’ is what this month has often been called but in this year of 2011, ‘flaming doesn’t apply.  Wikipedia tells me that ‘Flaming June’  is a painting by Lord Frederic Leighton, produced in 1895, and is of a girl sleeping,

The Sun newspaper, at the beginning of the month declared, “HOPES of a 'Flaming June' evaporated today as the Met Office poured cold water on more optimistic forecasts. Weather experts had said the month would hit a sweltering 33C (91.4F) - the hottest temperature for five years - by the time Wimbledon and Glastonbury come around.”