Thursday, January 24, 2013

Boris Johnson's Ice Age

The Canberra Times printed an article yesterday written by Boris Johnson (he being the mayor of London).  Johnson wrote how he had stared through his window at a flowerpot and his bashed up barbeque and noticed that the layer of snow he could see outside his London home was getting thicker. He wrote "This is now the fifth year in a row that we have had an unusual amount of snow; I mean snow of a kind that I don't remember from childhood: snow that comes one day, sticks around for a couple of days, followed by more."

He concludes "But I observe something appears to be up with our winter weather, and to call it "warming" is to strain the language".  So Boris consulted learned astrophysicist Piers Corbyn, "...who has very good record of forecasting the weather". Corbyn reckons global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb (the sun). And that 'mood' is one of declining solar sunspot activity known to have coincided once in the past with a severe cold spell on Earth (the Maunder Minimum).

Johnson writes "I am not saying for a second that I am convinced Corbyn is right ... I am only speaking as a layman who observes there is plenty of snow in our winters these days, and who wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility - however remote - that Corbyn is right". He concludes by writing "I look at the snowy waste outside, and I have an open mind".

Well Boris.  I live in Canberra, the capital of Australia.  Here, The Canberra Times (same day) also reports "Canberra heading for January heat record as storms spark fire fears".  The article tells us "Canberra is sweltering through what could be its hottest January on record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology".  The average daily maximum temperature in January for Canberra is 27C.  This January so far, our average daily maximum temperature is sitting at 33C, a massive 5 degrees C above average!  Now it's only 24 January today, so we may be lucky to be blessed with some days where the maximum fails to exceed 30C (here's hoping) and lower the average daily maximum somewhat.

Boris - you look out your window and wonder if sunspot activity is leading the world to another Ice Age.  I look out my window and wonder when Canberra's summer will start cooling down to the long term average!

Perhaps an article written with a bit of fun in mind, but it might be sensible, Boris, that you look further than your own backyard to see if your conditions are reflected elsewhere.  And perhaps consult more than one expert (and perhaps not just an astrophysicist). From what I can tell, places like Washington and New York (regular deep freezes most winters) seem to have seen nary a snowflake at all this year.  Perhaps all their snow has gone to London!

So, I wish I was in London right now, enjoying the sight of snow falling rather than than my garden trees scorching under a relentless sun (see my poor Gingko below).

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Red Lion at Marsworth

In a post last year (Marsworth - Visit to an Ancestral Home), I described how my older son and I visited Marsworth in Buckinghamshire (England) and lunched at the Red Lion pub. 
I also mentioned that my ancestor, William Rowland, left his ancestral home of Marsworth early in the 1850s and then migrated to Australia in 1852.  William returned, with his daughter Susan, to visit Marsworth in 1898.  According to his obituary, William "... saw the house in which he was born and the church in which he was baptised".

Extract from William Rowland's Obituary
 
In my previous post, I wondered whether the house in which William was born still survived.  I strongly doubted it, because very few early-1800s buildings remain in Marsworth.  One of the few that does remain is the Red Lion pub.

Well, can you imagine my surprise when I recently came across a court record dating to either 1832 or 1833, in which William's mother and grandmother are both mentioned. In that record, William's mother (Jemima) was living with her mother-in-law (who was Mary Rowland) at the Red Lion. Here is the exact text:


R. v Thomas Page [aged 20], Marsworth, Stealing 4½ crowns belonging to Robert Russell, on 8 Dec. Witnesses: Robert Russell, keeps beer house at Marsworth, and a wharf Joseph Rowland, constable of Marsworth. Jemima Rowland, lives with mother-in-law at Marsworth (Red Lion). Guilty - 4 months hard labour.

Source: From the County of Buckinghamshire Quarter Sessions "Epiphany Sessions 1832 [no ref. or date]" [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=008-qs_2-1&cid=1-3-9-3-4#1-3-9-3-4] (accessed 01-Jan-2013).

Folks, if William's mother Jemima was living at the Red Lion with her mother-in-law Mary, then surely her husband (William senior) and her children (including my migrant ancestor William) would have been with her too. Mary, by the way, was a widow in 1832 - her husband John Rowland had died in April 1820 and his occupation (according to his will) was 'victualler' (i.e. the operator or owner of a public house or similar licensed establishment) at Marsworth.

This court record gives me a good degree of confidence in believing that William Rowland (junior) not only lived his very early years at the Red Lion, he was actually born at the Red Lion (born 9 November 1828).  Hey ... perhaps a little bit of a stretch but I'm willing to go with this and confidently say that my son and I also saw and went inside both the house in which William Rowland was born and the church in which he was baptised (All Saints, Marsworth).



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