Monday, May 11, 2015

What a Scorcher!

We’ve been told in California that there is a drought this year and we need to conserve water.    There will be fines, they say, if people are seen wasting water and apparently if their neighbours dob them into the authorities (lovely).  

The thing is, we’re told that every bloody year in California.  Ever since I’ve been here, going on 21 years now, there’s been a drought warning.  And every year, the state goes up in flames.  Just last week, there was a fire close to us and this is what we could see from the house:
A bit scary, no?
The next morning, everything was covered in ash, big huge chunks of the stuff.  This is what happened to our swimming pool.  I didn’t really fancy swimming that day.  
That's not fish
It’s one of the hazards of summer in California and you tend to get used to it.   100+ degree weather will do that.

Which reminded me of the famous (infamous) British Drought of 1976.  Anyone remember it??  Of course you do.  It was the most exciting time of my childhood, I think - water pipes and all.

Although we all remember it as the hottest year ever, in fact the 'heatwave' only lasted for three months, June, July and August.  Temperatures averaged 95 degrees to 96.1 degrees with the absolutely hottest day being July 3, 1976 when it reached a staggering 96.6 degrees.   It was deemed the hottest year in 350 years (although who was keeping those records, may I ask?)

Britain went without rain for 45 days in a row, which is a flippin’ miracle.  Forest and heath fires broke out and crops were destroyed.  I don’t actually remember the fires, but I vividly remember how new and exciting it was to queue up for water in buckets, bottles, cups or pretty much anything you could carry.  Water rationing was a big thing.  So were instructions to “Put a brick in your toilet tank” to save water and to “Share your bath.” (Eww)
Water standpipes were a thing
That summer was one of the best ever if you were a child.  I remember the adults were moaning and feeling hot and sticky, while we were pretty much left to our own devices, playing in the garden until all hours of the day.  The longer we were out of the house, the less water we used, I think.  There was no worry of skin cancer back then and we all ran around “as brown as berries.”   

Of course, it all came to a grinding halt and back to reality in the last week of August, ironically, just after a “Minister for Drought” had been appointed.  According to Wikipedia, thunderstorms continued throughout September and October, although, for the life of me, I don’t remember that.  

There have been heatwaves since, but I don’t think anyone remembers those as much as that glorious summer of 1976.  [And now I've made myself seem very, very old]

Back here in California I will continue to live through the yearly droughts, I will not water my grass and I will not wash my car.  I will watch the firestorms and hope they don’t get too close to my house, but in the back of my mind I will always be saying “This drought is not as bad as the one in 1976” 


  1. Ah yes... the little kids were allowed to strip off and play on the sports field in their knickers and nothing else (surely not?)

    People draped hosepipes out of their bathroom windows and used the bathwater to water the roses.

    The stuff of dreams...

    1. Ha ha... yes, navy blue school knickers which you could pull up to your armpits. :-)

    2. I was at a school that had a green uniform. Bottle green knickers known as "greeen bags". I've never really liked green since.