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Posts tagged ‘rainfall’

How to distinguish sun from lightning

We woke to rain again this morning. When I say ‘rain’, it fails to convey the force of nature that it is here. It patters on the leaves, it dreeps from the gutters, the wind hurls it against the windows in pellet form, and the trees release water bombs that explode on the balcony.

It was around 11:30 when – “Hey!” I said. “Sun’s out!”

“That’s not sun, it’s lightning,” said Husband.

“Let’s do something. We’ve had no exercise for over a week.”

(Australian food still prowls my digestive tract on a round trip to my hips.)

“We could walk up to Scenic Drive,” suggested Husband.

“Ah now come on, that’s barely beyond the postbox. Wouldn’t raise a pant, never mind a sweat. Let’s go to the top of the hill.”


“For the view.”

“But it’s raining!”

“Be hardy.”

We set off fully equipped for the weather. In other words, I had a waterproof jacket and Husband an umbrella.

The creek by the drive is in full flow. A stream has taken out the corner of the road by the neighbour’s drive. About half a kilometre from the house, the rain picked up again.

We got wet.

Note the shrinking hips, cause: exercise or damp (undetermined)

Mr Poppins

Kauri leaves, illuminated by sunshine. Or it could be lightning

Atmospheric conditions

Auckland has a reputation for being soggier than the rest of the country (with the exception of the west coast of South Island, where the rain falls up as well as down).

One of the reasons Craig and Margaret moved from Te Anau to Oamaru was the brutal climate; yet whenever we visited, we were treated to balmy sunshine. It was quite embarrassing; Margaret would insist there was horizontal snow and cyclones until the day before we arrived, and we’d be all: “Oh, SURE,” and wishing we’d packed more shorts.

In fact, on every occasion Husband and I visited New Zealand – including the hoary depths of winter 2006 – we experienced phenomenal weather . . . everywhere except Auckland.

At the end of December, we arrived in the middle of what many agreed was the warmest summer ever (although I am reminded of Dubai, where each summer everyone swears it is the hottest on record).

“I can’t believe how warm it is!” people would exclaim, and then: “not for you, I suppose, coming from the Middle East,” not noticing my face stuck to a glass as I vainly attempted to deflame my facial capillaries. Auckland City was indeed clement.

Then we moved to Waitakere. It is at least 2˚ cooler than the city and everyone warned us of the savage climate up on the range. Yet within a month our water tank dried up and we had to order a delivery of 10,000 litres from the Council.

Inevitably, the day after the water truck came, it started pelting down and didn’t stop for nearly a week.

This morning, we woke to driving rain churning up thick fog. Three hours later, the sun is gently steaming the ground.

There are no half measures here.

Dead tree 30/4 10:02 . . . . and seventeen minutes later 10:19


We spent the last few months getting the house in order. However, before applying too much time/effort/money/chintz on the decor, we decided to get the housewarming out of the way (our reasoning being that it’s easier to paint over graffiti than wash it off beige flocked walls).

Right before the party, Dubai threw its annual rain shower – which lasted two days plus assorted encores. That Thursday, I got up at 06:30 to go to the beach for a dip. I was aware that the morning was particularly dark, but put it down to the fact that my eyes weren’t fully open. As I charged down Sheikh Zayed Road, it was as if I was the only thing moving; the rest of the world was absolutely still. At the beach the sea was dark and twitchy.

Raff and I were towelling off after a 1000 kilometre swim when it started, and it rained like an angel run amok with a divine fire hose. Driving home with wipers on hyper, I had to pull off the road because I could not see the front of the car.

It is only a 10 km drive from the beach to our house, and by the time I reached the Springs the whole place was flooded – roundabouts under three feet of water, rivers washing down the footpaths. At home, the garden was a paddling pool – we had asked the builders to lower the level by half a foot. It was probably just as well, since the ground floor would have been flooded otherwise.

The following day fifty-six people turned up for the party. I wasn’t aware we knew fifty-six people in the whole world, never mind in this region. They all wedged into our living room – well not quite: we put two in the laundry room, and there had to be at least one person occupying the guest bathroom at all times. In the end, the house could not contain the horde and there was an overspill into the soggy garden.

Being Irish, I always over cater, ever concerned that someone might die of malnutrition on my watch. I mean, how do you explain that to the police? In preparation for the party, I had cooked for a fortnight. Every square millimetre of every level surface hosted vats of food: hummous, tabbouli, kebabs, salsa, guacamole, nachos, pesto pie, olives with rosemary, sun-dried tomato dip, garlic bread, a variety of salads, potato salad, chicken drumsticks with barbeque sauce, steaks and lamb legs, baked potatoes, cakes and fudge. As you can see, the Arabic and Mexican guests were well catered for – shame none turned up.

We are still eating leftovers two months later.

Later that night, we fell into bed exhausted (and admittedly not completely ebriated). At some sinfully dark hour of the morning, I was woken by the sound of empty beer cans rolling around the garden paving. Every time the cans stopped rattling and I was reconsidering unconsciousness, the wind would pick up again.

Eventually, tiring of waiting for Andrew to get up and address the cacophony (I prodded him a few times but he simply snored louder), I wrapped a dressing gown around me and padded off to see to the mess.

Five minutes later, the garden freshly de-cannified, I returned indoors and groped my way up the stairs. Feeling my way across the top landing, I was in front of the bedroom door – mid-yawn – when Andrew leapt out at me. After nearly choking on the yawn, I sorted that out and let out a great roar.

He maintains he was coming to check on me, but the timing was such that he can only have been lying in wait behind the door.

He should consider himself lucky he didn’t wind up having my leg surgically removed from his scrotum

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