Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Southwold and the weather

click photo to enlarge
"The English winter - ending in July, to recommence in August"
Lord Byron (1788-1824), English poet

Given that he devoted so much of his life to his poetry, his love affairs, travel in the Mediterranean region and revolutionary activities, it's a wonder that Byron noticed the English weather. Perhaps the poet in him drew his attention to it and his experience of hot, sunny climes caused him to lament its relative coolness. As a summary of England's weather, however, he was woefully inaccurate, though today's photograph might seem to suggest otherwise.

It shows the Suffolk coastal town of Southwold, renowned as a watering hole of the English middle classes. I took the shot on August 2nd on a day that was dull, cool, windy, showery, warm (in spells) and sunny. English days often involve multiple kinds of weather and this early August day was one such. What it wasn't was wintry. In fact, I don't imagine that Byron's words were meant to be taken literally. Rather, the intention would have been humorous, making a joke of England's weather as so many do. It reminds me of the remark by Michael Flanders, the late English actor and singer: "It's spring in England. I missed it last year. I was in the bathroom."Many have seen the weather as an influence on the character of the English. The Victorian writer, Charles Kingsley, said in his poem "Ode to the North-East Wind" (1858), " 'Tis the hard grey weather breeds hard English men." Whether that be true or not, shortly after I'd taken this photograph I noted several men and women swimming in the dark grey sea, to be joined by quite a few more as the clouds were whisked away on the wind to be be replaced by more prolonged sun.

I took my shot from Southwold's pier. This is one of the few around our coast that are not Victorian or Edwardian constructions. Consequently it has less of the ornate, decorative metal work characteristic of the older structures, little by way of brash colour, and is altogether a more tasteful, sedate sort of pier, eminently suitable for its location. Some of the town's beach huts can be seen lining the promenade. The uniformly white and blue row to the right are available for hire: The multicoloured collection nearer the centre are some of the many privately owned examples, each loudly (though sometimes subtly) asserting its individuality

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/1000 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On