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Clouds

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

 

This is, of course, how I greet Mrs Last most mornings, along with a cup of tea and a rose held between my teeth…

Many of you will recognise this of course as the start of Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare. This week (at 11.07 on Thursday 21st June to be precise) the Summer Solstice came and went. The day with the longest period of daylight has come and gone. So that’s it then; the nights will now start to draw in and winter is on the way. Roll on Christmas…summer’s lease is nearing its end.

 

We have been enjoying some beautiful weather throughout May and whilst June has not quite managed to keep that trend going, at least it has been quite mild; a blessing for our exam pupils, some of whom have had enough to contend with coping with their hayfever, let alone blisteringly high temperatures. Mr Whaley and I have just been doing some work with our Year 9 Geographers on Russia (an obvious football link of course!) and the pupils have been astonished to learn that Russia is so vast that it covers 11 time zones from west to east and has a huge variety in terms of climates within the country. This led one year 9 pupil to ask me why we British spend so much time talking about the weather. I suggested that it was probably because we can quite easily experience all four seasons in one day in this country and because the weather is so variable, it gives us plenty to talk about!

 

Here is where I declare my “inner nerd” because I am a proud member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Yes, such a thing exists and the website can be found here if you would like to join as well: https://cloudappreciationsociety.org/. I have Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s excellent book on clouds (The Cloudspotter’s Guide), I have a Cloud Appreciation Society mug at home and I think I probably still have the badge somewhere as well. The Society is also organising a “Sky Gathering” on Lundy in May 2019 which is, sadly, in term time so I will not be able to attend. Mrs Last has had a lucky escape.

 

Clouds are fascinating, complex, beautiful and ephemeral objects and we have all, at some point in our lives, played the game of looking for shapes in clouds as they scud across the bright blue sky. Is that a rabbit? A dinosaur? A train? As a geographer I am also fascinated by how clouds form and I really enjoy teaching meteorology to older pupils who have to get their heads round dry and saturated adiabatic lapse rates, dew points, tephigrams, lenticular clouds and the like. Most days though, it is just lovely to be able to be outside and to have the pleasure of watching the clouds in the sky above my head. The beach is a brilliant place for this and we have taken some lovely photos down at Westward Ho! of stunning cloudscapes reflected in the wet sand as the tide recedes across the beach. We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world and I encourage you this weekend, as you are out and about with your families, take the time to look up every now and then. I would be delighted to include in next week’s newsletter some of your best cloud photographs as well, so get snapping!

Pete Last

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