Archive for Rain

It’s raining…

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth, Poetry with tags , , , , , , on January 19, 2021 by telescoper

Taking a short break from examination marking I had a look outside. I’m not sorry to be cooped up indoors given that it’s pouring with rain. In fact it rained all night and morning and is set to continue in the same vein until tomorrow.

While I was waiting for my coffee to brew I was thinking about some idiomatic expressions for heavy rain. The most familiar one in English is Raining Cats and Dogs which, it appears, originated in a poem by Jonathan Swift that ends with the lines:

Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud,
Dead cats and turnip tops come tumbling down the flood.

My French teacher at school taught me the memorable if slightly indelicate Il pleut comme vache qui pisse, although there are other French expressions involving, among other things nails, frogs and halberds.

One of my favourites is the Welsh Mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn which means, bizarrely, “It’s raining old ladies and sticks”. There is also Mae hi’n bwrw cyllyll a ffyrc – “It’s raining knives and forks”.

Related idiomatic expressions in Irish are constructed differently. There isn’t a transitive verb meaning “to rain” so there is no grammatical way to say “it rains something”. The way around this is to use a different verb to represent, e.g., throwing. For example Tá sé ag caitheamh sceana gréasaí which means “It’s throwing cobblers’ knives”.

Talking (of) cobblers, I note that in Danish there is Det regner skomagerdrenge – “It’s raining shoemakers’ apprentices” and in Germany Es regnet Schusterjungs – “It’s raining cobblers’ boys”.

Among the other strange expressions in other languages are Está chovendo a barba de sapo (Portuguese for “It’s raining toads’ beards”), Пада киша уби миша (Serbian for “It’s raining and killing mice”),  Det regner trollkjerringer (Norwegian for “It’s raining female trolls”) and Estan lloviendo hasta maridos (Spanish for “It is even raining husbands”).

No sign of any husbands outside right now so I’ll get back to correcting exams.

Why was 2014 warm AND wet?

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on January 12, 2015 by telescoper

It’s certainly a wet start to 2014 here in Brighton, but did you know that 2014 was the warmest year in the UK since records began as well as one of the wettest?

Protons for Breakfast

Colour-coded Map of UK showing how each region of the UK exceeded the 1981-2010 average temperature. Crown Copyright Colour-coded Map of UK showing how each region of the UK exceeded the 1981-2010 average temperature. Crown Copyright

2014 was the warmest year in the UK ‘since records began’ – and most probably the warmest since at least 1659. You can read the Met Office Summary here

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also report that 2014 is likely to have been the warmest year in Europe and indeed over the entire Earth for at least 100 years.

This was briefly ‘news but somehow this astonishing statistic seems to have disappeared almost without trace.

In fact there are three astonishing things about the statistic

  • Firstly – we know it, and it is likely to be correct.
  • Secondly – the warmest year was ‘warmer all over’ but did not include the ‘hottest month’.
  • Thirdly- the warmest year was also overly wet – both in the UK and world wide.

This article is about why

View original post 519 more words

In Thunder, Lightning and in Rain..

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , , on July 28, 2014 by telescoper

A while before 6am this morning I was woken up by the sound of fairly distant thunder to the West of my flat. I left the windows open – they’ve been open all the time in this hot weather – and dozed while rumblings continued. Just after six there was a terrifically bright flash and an instantaneous bang that set car alarms off in my street; lightning must have struck a building very close. Then the rain arrived. I got up to close the windows against the torrential downpour, at which point I noticed that water was coming in through the ceiling. A further inspection revealed another leak in the cupboard where the boiler lives and another which had water dripping from a light fitting. A frantic half hour with buckets and mops followed, but I had to leave to get to work so I just left buckets under the drips and off I went into the deluge to get soaked.

Here is the map of UK rain at 07:45 am, with Brighton in the thick of it:


I made it up to campus (wet and late); it’s still raining but hopefully will settle down soon. This is certainly turning into a summer of extremes!

Flooding into London

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by telescoper

A brave bunch of hardy Cardiff  University astronomers are heading into London today for a meeting of the Royal Astronimical Society in London which celebrates the first year of science from the Herschel Space Observatory. This wouldn’t normally constitute too arduous a trip, but it turns out after the last couple of days torrential rain in Wales and the South-West of England, there is flooding on the line at Sodding Chipbury Chipping Sodbury which has sent the railway network into one of its regular episodes of chaos. Half the trains from Cardiff to London are cancelled, and the other half diverted all round the houses so they will take at least an extra half-hour to reach their destination at Paddington.

There isn’t any flooding actually in Cardiff, but the River Taff, which hibernated peacefully through the recent snowy period, has now sprung back into life and seems to be in an angry mood. I took these snaps yesterday as I walked into work, so you can see the water level is high enough to submerge some of the riverside shrubs and trees, but not high enough (yet) to threaten the embankments.

At times like this the Taff is more than a little scary, not so much because of the way it looks but because of the sound of it growling along down to Cardiff Bay, carrying the occasional car tyre and traffic cone with it.

I suppose this is small potatoes compared to the terrible floods in Australia, Brazil and elsewhere in the world, but it is quite exasperating, especially since it happens so regularly yet still catches the train companies completely unawares.

Anyway, I don’t know if the first wave of Cardiff folk managed to get to London in time for the start of the meeting. I had a couple of things to do this morning so decided to go later, even though that meant missing some of the talks that are closer to my own interests. I did think about cancelling my trip entirely, but decided in the end to give it a go. I hope I make it there at least in time for dinner at the RAS Club.

But then there’s the question of what time I’ll get  home tonight…



Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , on July 21, 2010 by telescoper

Now that the traditional rainy Cardiff summer has arrived,  and I’ve just watched an old black-and-white movie on DVD, I thought I’d share this, the title poem of a marvellous collection by Don Paterson.

I love all films that start with rain:
rain, braiding a windowpane
or darkening a hung-out dress
or streaming down her upturned face;

one long thundering downpour
right through the empty script and score
before the act, before the blame,
before the lens pulls through the frame

to where the woman sits alone
beside a silent telephone
or the dress lies ruined on the grass
or the girl walks off the overpass,

and all things flow out from that source
along their fatal watercourse.
However bad or overlong
such a film can do no wrong,

so when his native twang shows through
or when the boom dips into view
or when her speech starts to betray
its adaptation from the play,

I think to when we opened cold
on a rain-dark gutter, running gold
with the neon of a drugstore sign,
and I’d read into its blazing line:

forget the ink, the milk, the blood—
all was washed clean with the flood
we rose up from the falling waters
the fallen rain’s own sons and daughters

and none of this, none of this matters.

And, while I’m on the theme of rain, why not add this great song by Leonard Cohen?