It was while I was driving home from work that the idea came to me. The local news was full of weather-related stories and the presenter referred to the ‘beast from the east’, since this very cold spell and snowy weather is due to the winds from the continent. A climate expert was asked if our weather is changing and whether snow in March is unusual. Whilst the last few years have been warm, he said, broadly speaking, it is not unheard of to have snow in March in the south of England.
It was then that the idea occurred to me to spend the evening going through all of Granny’s 39 diaries to check the weather on the 1st March, since every diary entry without fail starts with a note of the weather.
So that’s what I have done, trying hard not to get too distracted by other entries en route. And the result of my analysis is that between 1937 and 1983 (with 3 missing years in the 40s and 4 in the 70s) there is only mention of snow on the 1st March in three years: 1954, 1962 and 1965. I do remember that it snowed the April that my brother and I had chicken pox – that might have been 1975 I think.
We are probably altogether less hardy these days. There was no central heating in the house where I grew up, just a coal fire in the dining room, a gas fire in the front room and electric heaters in the bedrooms and bathroom which were used sparingly. When my mum was a small child there was no electricity where she lived, so heat came purely from the coal fires. Now we expect to be able to set a timer and have a heated house when we get in, and don’t we notice it when the thermostat goes wrong, as happened to us a couple of weeks ago, leaving us without heat for a couple of days!
I was most amused by Granny’s entry for the 1st March 1982: “March came in like a lion with gale winds, frequent showers and thunder 11am”. The proverb “If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb” seems to stem from the idea that there should be a balance in the weather as in life. Well the last day of this month is Easter Saturday, and as lambs seem to fit pretty well for Easter, let’s hope the proverb is accurate for this year at least!