Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Weather Whingers

Anemones on the roadside near Lardos

I suppose it's a British thing. By and large us Brits are conditioned by our culture (what's left of it) and our climate, nay browbeaten by both to be condemned to perpetually whinge about the weather.

What does get me down though, and I'll probably make a few (more) enemies with this post, is how no small number of Brits who've moved out here seem to be perpetually whinging about the weather on Rhodes. I don't get it, I really don't. It's winter here from December through February. Fact. Thus, it's not going to be wall to wall sunshine and sweltering temperatures during those months. What little autumn we get here is usually confined to November and spring to March, well, February thru April now and then.

Having lived here now for well over eleven years I feel fairly qualified to talk about a Rhodean winter. I usually say it's like a British summer and most of the time I'm right. OK, so occasionally we get a cold spell, sometimes (as was the case this winter) it lasts for a week or two, but even then during the daytime when the sun's out you can sit in a sheltered spot in a t-shirt and eat your lunch al fresco. The norm though is for it to be from 8-11ºC overnight and the upper teens, even the lower twenties, during the middle of the day. Not wishing to pull rank, but I suppose it's what I'm about to do, but speaking Greek means you can watch the weather forecasts on Greek TV and understand what they're on about. Sakkis (may his name be blessed) on the government channels often shows us why we're getting a cold snap by showing the air masses all across Europe and Asia Minor. He'll also tell us when things are liable to change. These cold air masses account for the below average times when we get a blue splodge coming down from Russia, across Turkey and into the eastern Aegean. We've had one this past couple of days, but as from tomorrow it's a warm air mass coming over us again and the night time temperatures will be back to normal.

It seems to me too that a lot of people don't seem to understand what averages are. There is seldom a day when the temperature is exactly on the average. Averages are made up from regular maximums and regular minimums, that's how it works, right? Thus, when it's below average it's not because everything's gone AWOL and the weather's down the tubes. Yet sure as anything there'll be the soothsayers on Facebook going on about how bitter cold it is. Yet when the temperature is above average (which it is just as often) you don't hear anything like as much comment.

The facts are these: We get over 300 days of sunshine a year on Rhodes, and lots of these occur during the winter months. January and February often bring cloudless days for a week or two on end. Yesterday it was 18ºC and we ate a very nice lunch in our t-shirts out on our terrace. Accompanied by a medicinal drop of the old Retsina of course, chilled. OK, so overnight it dropped to somewhere near zero. That's unusually low, but this is winter. It still warms up as soon as the sun is up whereas from memory, in the UK it wouldn't warm up (if it was going to at all) before midday and it would be cooling down rapidly by about 2.30pm. Here, at 9.30am it's already 15 and climbing. It doesn't begin to cool until the sun's ready to set.

Yes, it rains now and again and by rights that ought to be a couple of times a week. Although, even though this winter it's rained more than the last one, it's still not raining as often as it ought to. We get the occasional cloudy day, plus the days when it's sunshine and cloud. Like I said, a British summer, with temperatures not a whole world away during the daylight hours either.

So, what is there to complain about? I don't get it. If someone wants the temperature to never drop below 25ºC at any time of the year then they should have moved to the Caribbean. That's if they don't mind experiencing a hurricane season once a year for a couple of months and they don't mind it getting dark around 6.00pm all year round.

Frankly, you have to take the rough with the smooth here on Rhodes, but the rough isn't anything to complain about.

This past week it's been almost wall to wall sunshine and the flowers in the garden are letting us know...

That's one magnificent Rosemary plant. We're just beginning to learn about all its amazing health benefits too. Rosemary tea soon...

Gazanias. These are so blousy. They also seed themselves everywhere so we just pull out the ones we don't want, and transplant some to areas where we'd like some more colour. They're very drought-resistant too.

Gazanias come in a bewildering variety of foliage and colours. They also know when to open and close with the sunlight.

More Gazanias beside one of our Lantana bushes. The Lantanas are just now starting to burst forth with flowers. Lantana is another plant that comes in a huge variety of colours.

I just fitted the new gate I made for the fence between the orchard and the house. The old one dry rotted after ten years in situ. So handy having so many available wooden pallets around the area! Look at that sky, awful isn't it.
So, it's a Rhodean winter and I for one love it. I can do the gardening usually in a t-shirt and we can go for long walks in the countryside. Can't do either once the full heat of the summer comes upon us. You won't catch me whinging. 

As my dear old Dad used to say with regularity, "count your blessings, son."


  1. John ,we have lived here since May 2009 & no 2 winters have been the same.In January it was cold & there was snow in Embona for a day or 2.Our previous house in Afandou was very cold due to being on the first floor level with no builings etc to protect it from wind/rain.Our new place is ground floor with buildings above & on 2 sides to give protection.The change is quite amazing.From running a gas heater & air con set to warm to just sometimes having the heater on one bar is a contrast.So location of where you live can make a marked difference.

    1. Fair comment Trevor. Of course, having lived in the same house for eleven and half years, I can make a very objective comparison. Plus in my conversations with Greek friends I hear what they say too. They tend to agree that the night time temperatures this winter are the lowest consistently for several decades, as indeed say the TV forecasters. rain-wise, it's been wetter than last winter so far, but still below average. Glad you new place is cosier for you though. By and large, as I said, give me a Rhodean winter over a UK one any day!