Buchan's Spells

Specific board for this popular undertaking.
Chat Noir
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Location: York

Buchan's Spells

Postby Chat Noir » 15 May 2020, 1:05pm

I was unaware either of Alexander Buchan or his Spells until my 94 year old mother mentioned him in an e-mail to me referring to his views that there were times of the year when cold and hot spells came every year. Intriguing.

I think that meteorologists do not accept his spells theory these days. One of his cold spells is from 9 – 14 May. My mother says that she hasn’t really noticed the spells over the years apart from the May dates which she says she has found to be generally true.

I mention Buchan’s Spells to end to enders because cycling the length of the country for 7 to 14 days or more you will experience all that our varied weather can throw at us and, if there were a pattern of days to avoid or select, why wouldn’t you choose the better days? I don’t really think this is an actual pattern of weather spells but looked at an account I wrote of an end to end I completed in 2015, starting on 6 May. I remember the start saw some pretty severe weather (I started in York), loads of wind most days but what really intrigued me was comments I made: on 10 May I wrote ‘stayed “cooled” all day’ (rode with Mick F some of the way), on 11 May wrote about being ‘cold’, on 12 May ‘so cold’, on 13 May ‘cool’ and on 14 May ‘cool or cold’ and I don’t think I referred again to the cold apart from a conversation I had with another end to ender on my way back south and he told me he’d been severely cold earlier in his ride.

Maybe there is something in Buchan’s Spells!

Here is a you tube link about him: https://youtu.be/JR_amnnDpXU and if you really are bored, here’s a link to the ride I mentioned: https://yetey.wordpress.com/

Stay safe.
Dawes Galaxy 1979; Mercian 531 1982; Peugeot 753 1987; Peugeot 531 Pro 1988; Peugeot 653 1990; Bob Jackson 731 OS 1992; Gazelle 731 OS Exception 1996; Dolan Dedacciai 2004; Trek 8000 MTB 2011; Focus Izalco Pro 2012

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Mick F
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Location: Tamar Valley, Cornwall

Re: Buchan's Spells

Postby Mick F » 15 May 2020, 1:26pm

Hi Chat! :D
Regards to your mother, and to your brother out in USA.

Just looked at my diary for May 2015.
Yes, I have rains, winds, cools, colds, damps, and only a few sunnies ........... not in the slightest like this May though it has been chilly these past few days.

I've never hear of Buchan - other than John Buchan! I'll have a read of your link later. Taking the doggie for a walk shortly.
Mick F. Cornwall

Jon Lucas
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Re: Buchan's Spells

Postby Jon Lucas » 17 May 2020, 9:53am

I have often heard about weather lore like this, though didn't know its name. This sort of weather lore will have come about by observation by one individual in their own area, and may well have been applicable at that time in their area. However, we are currently living in a time of rapidly changing climate, so the relevance of this sort of lore is unlikely to apply now.

May is generally a month when high pressure sits over the north Atlantic, which has varied results for the UK's weather. One is that the Scottish highlands, which is the wettest area of the country, has by far its driest weather, and can often also be surprisingly warm or even hot, so tends to be the best time of year to explore there. Unfortunately the only time I've managed to cycle up there in May, it didn't turn out that way! Another is that cold northerly winds, that blow directly from the Arctic, particularly affect the eastern side of the UK, and especially north-eastern facing coasts. Buchan is a north Aberdeenshire name, so I'm guessing he would have lived there in the 19th century. If so, it may well have been the case that May 9-14 was a period when the weather was particularly dire there.

I have kept a daily weather record in my area (Bristol and Bath) for a long time, and thought I would check what had happened in that week during this century. It appears that overall, there is no difference between that week and others in the month, but that May can be a very variable month. Roughly 7 of those years, that week has been cooler or much cooler than the others during the month, and in another 7 it was warmer or much warmer. There are often times when the weather will be either much cooler or much warmer in the previous or following week. The variability can be seen in that in 2008, that week was very hot, and much hotter than weeks either side, whereas two years later, in 2010, we had a very cool May and that week was the coolest.

2015, for your interest, seems to have been mainly cool westerly winds bringing rain during that week down here.

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Buchan's Spells

Postby Cyril Haearn » 17 May 2020, 9:57am

Farmers, countrypersons back then were very aware of the weather, I believe their sayings have some basis

'Dinnae cast a clout ere May is out'
= Keep your winter clothes ready through May
Seems to make sense
Entertainer, intellectual, idealist, PoB, 30120
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Mick F
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Re: Buchan's Spells

Postby Mick F » 17 May 2020, 10:37am

Don't cast a clout until THE MAY is out.

Refers to May Blossom - blossom of the hawthorn. Been out here for some weeks, and a good year for it too.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: Buchan's Spells

Postby Jamesh » 18 May 2020, 11:00pm

It was snowy up in the cairngorms at start of lockdown and the weather for most of rest of UK was remarkably warm and sunny since apart from last week or so..... When I planned some seedling out and the wind shredded them...

Cheers James