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NORTH DOWNS WAY DIARY - JULY
The country seems to experience extraordinary weather month after month. If it isn't record monthly temperatures, mildwinters warm springs, we have freak thunderstorms, whirlwinds and even earthquakes. Not to be put out, July followed these recent traditions but for all the wrong reasons - it was one of the wettest. Clouds dominated skylines.
Global warming, climate change, badly sited housing, concreted driveways or a sign from 'higher beings' were some of the many reasons given for the floods following monsoon like storms that drenched most of the country.
Wet July's must have been a relatively common occurrence in the past to have inspired the folklore saying that 'if it rained on St. Swithen's Day it would rain for another 40 days and 40 nights'.
Luckily the south east wasn't badly effected and there were a few rain free days but it was strangeto be wading through mud when the promise of a dry day tempted us out for a walk rather than on paths baked hard by the summer sun!
One advantage of the miserable weather though was that it obviously detered people from getting out, we rarely saw any other walkers and perhaps it was this peace and quite that highlighted the graet bio diversity of the region. We certainlynoticed a much wider range of wildlife than usual, surprising the odd buzzard to swoop away suddenly from perches overhead, snoozing grass and smooth snakes drying out in sunny patches quickly uncoiled and slithered away as we approached along the path and even the deer we noticed on nearly every walk seemed less concerned by our presence.. .
Charles Darwin, who lived close to the North Downs at Downe, would be smiling as his theory of evolution proved correct as a local breed of sheep appears to be developing a longer than normal neck- in order to keep their heads above the water.
Despite all the rain some crops appear to be ripening and an early harvest made us realize how quickly the year is passing by heading towards Autumn once again. Unfortunately floods in other parts of the country threaten crops and farmers livlihoods.
Despite the weather we enjoyed the wonderful sight of a valley full of poppies. Sadly this didn't last long as the following week the field was mown, just one brief glimpse of a summer that might have been.
All the swifts and swallows seem to have gone home, perhaps they were fed up of the rain as well!