Rupert Cox: Let’s chat about the weather

Rupert Cox (c) Jeremy Long / JCL PHOTOGRAPHY

Rupert Cox (c) Jeremy Long / JCL PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Is our columnist playing it safe by talking about this old favourite topic of conversation this month?

I do hope it has, at last, stopped raining by the time this article drops in your lap!

It is not surprising that we Brits talk incessantly about the weather as we get so much variety of it. I have learned however that when writing a regular article with a two-month lead in, that it is very dangerous to write about the weather, as demonstrated by my September 2017 ramblings!

Penned in early July, when the sun was shining, the lambs were gambling, the grain was ripening and sun tans were aplenty, I thought I had foreseen one of the hottest and driest summers on record. How wrong I was!

Meteorology is important to our farmers and our tourism industry, of which my wife and I are a small part of with our B&B business and the events on the Bath & West Showground. I tease my wife and my ex-farmer mother-in-law as during their daily telephone catch-up the weather is discussed without exception.

From an arable farmer’s perspective, the weather this past 10 months has been a pretty gruesome experience. A wet harvest in July and August meant lower yields of poor quality grain that had to be dried at huge expense. This then brought us to the autumn cropping cycle that started again, but the ground was so wet many fields were left fallow over the winter in the hope that a drier spring would give a second chance of cropping.

But no! The spring brought levels of snow that the South West had not seen for many years, not just one long weekend of it, but just when we thought spring was arriving, the snow came again – leaving the ground even more saturated and by mid-April, still uncropped.

Stepping across business sectors to leisure and tourism where one finds similar financial and operational conundrums. If the South West continues to experience inclement weather, then the mobile tourist will look elsewhere for their summer holiday or weekend get-away thereby missing out on the glorious countryside, scrumptious food and wonderful hospitality that Somerset offers.

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This then has a knock-on effect across an industry whose elongated season relies on good weather recognising that it is not always as dry and sunny as it was in our youth (which of course it wasn’t). While many of our attractions are undercover, they still rely on the carefree tourist whose first requirement is fine weather.

Spare a thought for event organisers across the county as they sit down in their favourite chair on a Sunday evening and wait for the effervescent Matt Baker to say ‘and now for this week’s weather forecast’ as he enthusiastically trots us through another edition of Countryfile.

Rupert Cox is the CEO of the Royal Bath and West Society. For more from Rupert, follow him on Twitter! @rupert_rbw