St Helena weather can always be relied upon to give us a good dose of Scruffy August, an annual dastardly deed of gloom. It feels even worse if summer only puts in a ‘meh’ performance.
‘Scruffy August’ on St Helena is so called because of the rain, mud, wind and general lack of sunshine during the month of August, signalling the depths of a southern hemisphere winter.
Feeling The St Helena Winter Blues | Sharon Henry
Scruffy, because it’s neigh impossible to step outside without mud sticking to your shoes, not be spat on by rain and try as you might to protect that hairstyle, the wind will give it an unwelcome ‘once-over.’
Scruffy, because it’s a challenge to dry laundry, surfaces grow a layer of mould and the cold brings an onslaught of runny noses. Nothing is left clean and dry. Yes, it’s miserable and so tempting to snuggle under the duvet all day.
But as the saying goes, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ So we cast off the duvet, throw on multiple layers and venture out towards Longwood to photograph just how gloomy the weather is.
The sky an opaque white shows no a hint of sunshine, the tarmac’s slick and leaves are dripping wet. A low lying fog gives the landscape the appearance of a washed-out watercolour painting.
Getting The Grass Cut
It’s difficult keeping the camera dry even in a light drizzle so a plastic carrier bag is hastily employed for protection. Cars slosh by with windows wound up and wipers set on a constant swipe.
At Hutts Gate trees bend, submitting to the wind’s billowing force. Longwood Avenue road disappears into mist, the visibility is bad.
St Helena’s only golf course is blanketed in fog; tethered goats graze along the fairway as a natural form of grass management. Here player skills are tested on avoiding the animals and treading carefully to avoid droppings.
This weather even defeated Napoleon Bonaparte who suffered chills and lamented the island’s damp climate. Temperatures on St Helena can dip as low as 10 degrees Celsius. This might sound ‘balmy’ to our friends overseas but for whatever reason, buildings here on St Helena are not equipped with insulation or internal heating (bar those few with wood stoves) so we feel the bite.
But after all my grumbling, there is a beauty to Scruffy August in a morbid, melancholy sort of way. Especially when the fog momentarily clears to reveal views that makes St Helena one of most stunning places we’ve ever seen.