Category Archives: England


Picture from the Admiralty Blog


Here in Indiana, we’ve begun 2014 with a snow storm.  Listening to the weather forecasts on the radio takes me back to my childhood in England, listening to BBC Radio Four.   The broadcast day would always end with the news at midnight, followed by the Shipping Forecast – giving all the weather details necessary for the thirty-one shipping zones around the U.K.  Finally, the listener would be serenaded with the soothing strains of “Sailing By” as the radio drifted towards the silence of night.

There is such poetry in the Shipping Forecast, at least to me. The piece that follows really needs to be read aloud.  Preferably while wrapped up warm indoors.  Happy New Year to all!



And now the shipping forecast,
issued by the Met Office on behalf of
the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at 2300 UTC today.
There are warnings of gales in all areas except Trafalgar.

The General synopsis at 2300: Low Southeast Iceland 967
moving away northeastwards by midday tomorrow.
New deepening low expected 250 miles southwest of Iceland 959
by same time. New high expected Thames 1025 by that time.

The area forecasts for the next 24 hours
Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire…
Forties, Cromarty…
Forth, Tyne, Dogger,

Fisher, German Bight
Southwest 6 to gale 8, veering west or northwest 5,
then backing southwest 4 later. Moderate or rough,
becoming slight or moderate. Occasional rain. Moderate or good

Humber… Thames, Dover,
Southwest 6 to gale 8, veering north 5, then veering east 4 later.
Moderate or rough, becoming slight or moderate. Occasional rain.
Moderate or poor, occasionally good

Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar…
FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea…
Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides…
Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes…

Southeast Iceland
Easterly or northeasterly becoming cyclonic for a time,
7 to severe gale 9. Rough or very rough, occasionally high in northwest.
Rain or showers. Good, occasionally poor

Sailing By


July 29, 1981

wedding 1981Photo credit: 80s Actual

For whatever reason, I seem to be on a royal streak (flush?) right now. Here’s a brief memory of events from 32 years ago. Britain in the late 70s and early 80s was pretty conflicted (think strikes and riots and punk rock, not just tea and crumpets) – and what better to point this out than a massively expensive wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral?

July 29, 1981

The morning of the wedding, the TV
room was abuzz with royalists. Eileen
on the settee, a cockney queen. The rest

of us stayed in the kitchen drinking tea,
making snide comments about the Prince’s
large ears and the dangers of inbreeding.

Later, I listened from my bedroom as
the bride got the groom’s name wrong. It was an
omen, although we didn’t know it then,

her unending white dress flowing down and
out the door like a slick of North Sea oil,
just one more ’80s excess to regret.


England’s great tradition of painting

They were an hour late,
three likely lads in white shirts
with five cans of paint,
three drop cloths, brushes, rollers,
and, of course, a tea kettle.

Don’t mind us, Missus,
the blue-eyed leader declared,
patting my mum’s arm.
We’ll make ourselves right at home.
You won’t even know we’re here.

I watched from a chair
as they brewed a pot of tea
and surveyed their task.
“Looks a bit dodgy, dunnit?”
one said, and they all nodded.

That decided it.
“Back in the morning, sunshine!”
the oldest one winked,
and quietly handed me
the cards from the tea packet.

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