Saturday, 22 October 2011


This new obsession of mine, the one that has me checking out the sky as I do my Tweeting and my Facebook seems pretty  safe to me compared with some of my more toxic obsessions of the past and it is free. It takes a little time but I do get great pleasure from this new observatory role.

It began with my looking at the sky in the mornings but now has given me a whole new appreciation of the wonders of nature – I do hope it’s not too late what with the climate and change and all that. So far my main obsession is with the colours of the sky which are amazing. Nobody ever told me that the sky can be lemon and turquoise at the same time then produce exquisite cloud of sharp shape or billowy consistency all in the space of minutes.

A lot of my skywatching is from the 53 bus as I travel from Greenwich to Horse Guards Parade in the early evening. My bus pass saves me money not time but as the bus goes from outside the door it is not only convenient but a fascinating look   into other people’s lives. This is the only downside of my skywatching it collides with my ear wigging facility. I am inveterately nosy and I love the scraps of conversation that hit my ears as we trundle along. A lot of  them are in languages I don’t understand but enough are in English to make it worthwhile. I also like to look at the Old Kent road and imagine how it was a hundred years ago or fifty even. I am fascinated by the number of religious establishments with marvellous names that are in this one thoroughfare

But back to the sky that is now darkening quietly. And all I can see out of the window is lights – lights of houses lights of streets and dark grey trees, during the day that began with clouds and sun battling it out for supremacy, we have had grand mottled cloud formations followed by a kind of text book blue sky with flat bottomed clouds that looked like a sky in some old masters painting. Then dramatic dark grey banks of threatening clouds with silver linings (like what they are supposed to have!) Then back to blue skies and finally a less than sensational sunset. This show is all free and legal and lovely and as yet it is not taxed or co-opted into some vast advertising empire so I shall continue to skywatch to my hearts content  and to marvel.


Monday, 3 October 2011


At last we have weather worth talking about, we British love to talk about the weather and we have given ourselves full reign to witter and chatter on the radio in the street or the pub or anywhere we are we discuss our remarkable good fortune in a few days of glorious sunshine. The fact that we walk among cornflake leaves and kick aside chestnut sheaths makes it all the more delicious. We had stowed the sun cream and put the barbecues away and looked forward to months of rain and cold. And now! To stymie us all the weather has played a marvellous trick on us and we swelter happily under blue skies, we denude ourselves to varying degrees and lay back and enjoy it.

The fact of the surprise nature is the crucial element in all this, I have been in Italy or the south of France and got thoroughly jaded with the regular sunshine, it is unremarkable and tiresome unless you want to lie on a beach. Here I dash out into the sunshine with silent squeals of joy and arrange my body to catch as much of the magic beams as possible. And that’s the thing the surprise nature of it and the knowing than any day now the skies will assume their usual grey and the rain will teem or drizzle and it will be cold and drear and time for thermals and Long johns (not compulsory) to huddle indoors to rush from place to place carrying pounds more weight in clothes and to grump full throttle about the weather and the warming planet, the price of fuel and how horrible it all is – the weather but for now rejoice at our great good fortune to live in a place where nature still has the capacity to spring surprises  on us in Autumn.

And I like to talk about the weather!