In England, it rains all the time! However, we don’t get nearly as much as some places on earth. In Maghalaya in India, they get around 10 times more rain than us, near the bay of Bengal. What Does Rain Smell Like? is by two highly qualified meteorologists and answers 100 questions including why rain doesn’t fall all at once, why the sky is blue, what weather is like on other planets, and how rainbows are formed.
Here we don’t get torrential rain like that, but we do get floods. This is increasingly thought to be due to governments and businesses chopping down trees, and not investing properly in modern inventions. Beavers are also good at building dams (that’s what they do).
Another way to prevent floods, is for people to stop grouse shoots. This is because the land is flattened to attract these wild birds that eat the heather, so that people can shoot them for fun and profit. Another way to avoid floods is to not buy peat. Again, taking it away from nature flattens the land (the rough peat helps to absorb water).
Where do you think the wettest part of England is? If you thought the Lake District, you would be right. The driest areas are London and Clacton-On-Sea (in Essex).
Rain: Four Walks in English Weather is a meditation on the local landscape in wet weather, by nature writer Melissa Harrison. Whenever rain falls, our countryside changes. Fields, farms, hills and hedgerows appear altered, the wildlife behaves differently and the terrain itself over time is transformed. Melissa follows the course of four rain seasons in four seasons: across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor.
Light Rain, Sometimes Fall has 72 short chapters looking at the ancient microseasons of just a few days each – gardens, streets, park and wild cemetary. From the birth of spring (risshun) in early February to the greater cold (daikan) in late January, these seasons inspired by Japanese lotus blossom also look for bramble, woodlouse and urban fox, hawthorn, dragonfly and peregrine.
Use Rain & Wind to Find Your Way
Use nature’s signs to find your way, with the help of natural navigator Tristan Gooley. He can get you anywhere, by looking at which ways the trees are blowing, looking up to the sky, tracking wildlife prints, or looking at a puddle! He is the author of several books, here are just a few (you can also take his course online).
- The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs shows how to read the clues in the natural world. The roots of a tree indicate the sun’s direction and a passing butterfly can hint at the weather. A sand dune reveals prevailing wind, and the scent of cinnamon suggests altitude. Tristan shares over 850 tips for forecasting and learning more about the natural world, to help you walk in the country or city, along a coast or by night. The ultimate resource on what the land, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals and clouds can reveal – if you only know how to look. on, stars, plants, animals, and clouds can reveal-if you only know how to look!
- How to Read Water is also by Tristan. He can show you over 700 clues, signs and patterns to spot dangerous water in the pitch black (with the help of a clock face), forecast the weather from waves, decipher wave patterns on beaches and find your way with puddles.
- The Natural Navigator is the 10th anniversary edition of this popular book. Tristan blends natural science, myth, folklore and a history of travel to show how to find your way using nature, from the feel of a rock to the look of the moon. Find north by looking at a puddle and use natural signs to navigate the open ocean or in the heart of the city. Packed with beautiful illustrations for an instrument-free journey of fascinating stories.
Would you like to know where to find sustainable raincoats? It rains a lot, so nearly everyone has a raincoat. But did you know that most conventional raincoats of quality are covered with toxic sprays? When time comes to replace, here are more sustainable options.
Thought Organic Cotton Callie Mac is made from a heavyweight but super-soft organic cotton twill, with full lining to protect against spring showers. Falling just below the knee, this timeless mac has flattering pleat detail at the back, and slightly blouson sleeves. It has been designed to be over-sized but with a classic double-breasted silhouette and a removeable tie belt, for an adjustable fit. It has deep side pockets, handy for keeping your phone or keys in, when out for a walk. Packed in a biodegradable polybag.
Organic cotton is far better for the planet and wildlife, and is also nicer for farmers, as they can pick the cotton, without need to wear protective clothing in very hot weather. Around a quarter of the world’s agricultural chemicals are used to make cotton, so try to find organic or recycled cotton garments, rather than new. Unlike synthetic fibres, cotton is safe to launder without breaking off microplastics into the ocean, and safely biodegrades.
Many eco raincoats are made from recycled plastic bottles. Is this safe, considering plastic has hormone disruptors? Obviously you don’t want to use for clothing next to a child’s skin (and definitely not for baby clothing). But raincoats are not touching our skin, and they do keep out the rain. Organic cotton raincoats are great.
Are Recycled Plastic Raincoats Safe?
Many eco raincoats used up recycled plastic bottles, as this material is waterproof. Is it safe? Dr Martin Mulvihill (a chemist) says that it takes 38 days of a water bottle being heated to reach unsafe levels for water you ingest (not fabric on your skin). So he says unless you are working out in 150 degrees, wearing recycled plastic clothing is not likely to be a problem. Be concerned about the finish (used to stop wrinkling). However always wash recycled plastic clothing (and synthetic materials) in a microfiber catch bag, to stop microplastics breaking off in the machine.
- Nomads Clothing offers organic cotton raincoats, made with 90% biodegradable materials and a water-resistant organic cotton canvas outer and soft viscose lining. The simple flattering silhouette has practical pockets, a removable hood and drawcord-adjustable waist.
- Thought offers quality organic raincoats, with no toxic coatings.
- Seasalt (Cornwall) offers fully waterproof raincoats, made from an eco-friendly alternative to oilskin. Tested in Cornish windy rain, you will however have to ‘read the ingredients’ of each, as a few have leather trim, and there is no filter.
- Frugi (Cornwall) has its own line of bright fun rainwear, made from recycled plastic bottles, along with matching waterproof trousers and rubber wellies, In various designs from sunflower to unicorn puddles to Loch Blue Nessie! These coats are designed to protect against the elements with a chin chard, storm placket and elasticated cuffs, and have reflective print details (and a dipped hem to keep bottoms warm and dry). There’s even a label to write your little one’s name on.
- Billycoats & Raincoats make children’s raincoats from old tents! Discarded tens at festivals are a real problem in England. With designs inspired by the Brecon Beacons, these are lightweight and bright with chunky YKK zippers (plastic) and deep pockets for snacks and finds. For ages 2 to 9, with free repairs in the first year.
Choose a Recycled Umbrella
This recycled plastic ‘London’ umbrella is made from plastic bottles, with a sturdy bamboo handle. The fun design in bright colours, quickly folds away into its own protect bag, with wrist strap. This design helps to remove plastic from our waste system, and a portion of proceeds helps Marine Conservation Society, a charity that protects our oceans.laughter in the rain
Billycoats & Raincoats is a clothing brand that makes colourful raincoats for children, made from upcycled tents, one of the most common waste items across the UK, often left in fields by festival goers. The 10 coats are all locally made and suitable for 2 to 7 year old children, in simple or bold designs. Save a tent from landfill, and keep your precious bundle dry at the same time!
Chat & Chips in the Rain by Jennifer Verny-Franks