We had almost given up hope of getting any rain. Since the end of May we have had very little in the way of precipitation and quite a lot in the way of drought. At first this was quite nice as temperatures regularly reached the mid twenties, the skies were blue and cloudless and I could shed the many layers of clothing that it had taken to keep me warm all winter. But the cold Spring - with a late frost in the second week of May - had meant we were already late getting started on the growing front. The clay soil of our allotment is wonderfully fertile but is apt to form an impenetrable crust when it dries out significantly, so we rushed around trying to get things sown and planted. This, in turn, meant that we had a lot of watering to do every evening just to keep it all alive. Even after the hot spell subsided part way through July, we still had no rain to speak of, just strong, dessicating breezes that dried everything further.
My in-laws in North Wales and my sister in South Wales were having a typical British summer mix of sunshine and showers the divide, it seemed, being an east-west rather than the usual north-south one. Latterly, weather forecasters have been predicting rain for us on an almost daily basis and we have watched aghast as dark,bulging rain-bearing clouds have sailed over our heads and subsequently dumped their cargo on the holidaymakers in Cleethorpes. Such are the anomalies of this country's weather.
So when it rained at four o'clock in the morning about ten days ago I almost jumped out of bed to go and dance in it! I was so thrilled by the novelty that when it stopped I rushed to the allotment with my camera and took this photo of our vine enjoying its first good drink in an age. Poor vine; as if the winter snow wasn't enough, the moment it began to yawn and stretch in the Spring sunshine the frost nipped off all of its emerging leaves. We really thought we'd lost it. But, like us, these well-established plants have become adept at adapting to the vagaries of our climate. Whilst I have become quite brown and lean from perpetual watering duties, the vine has flourished in the heat with a new crop of healthy leaves and bigger,if fewer,bunches of grapes. Having refilled the water butts, the benefits of that heavy shower were short-lived and we were back to watering again this week.
Tuesday was quite warm again so we decided to cash in on it and cut up the wood from the trees we decapitated last year in order to restore the orchard hedge. We worked well and stacked about half a ton ready for the colder days ahead so thought we would repeat the exercise on Thursday. I had some raspberries to pick first on an allotment we were minding for a holidaying friend so Si' began cutting up wood ready for me to barrow. I'd just come to help him when there was a loud rumble of thunder and the first telltale drops began. Luckily, Si' had spent Whit week putting up the shed we were given last Autumn and, though it sports a fetching silage-bag rain bonnet till we can afford the roofing felt, it is wonderfully water tight. It needed to be as we had to hide in it for a good twenty minutes while the heavens opened outside. Since then, we've had almost two days (and nights) of on-off showers and it would seem that the drought is over for now. Likewise I can break my own drought in the blog post department now my hands are not permanently welded to watering cans!