Afloat on birdsong, hawthorn petals and young leaves
Oct. 10, 2021

Shipping Forecasts and Weather Logs

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When I meet people who listen to this podcast, one of the most frequently mentioned features is the inclusion of the weather log with which I end each episode. This week I talk about what inspired it, one of which is my childhood love of the BBC’s Shipping Forecast. What makes these stark lists of climatic data ring so powerfully in our minds?    

Journal entry:

“8th October, Friday

Laundry-water coloured skies
 Heavy dews
 Clumps of willow-herb hang like desolate sodden paper tissues.

The sock on my right foot keeps balling
 Under the arch of my instep.
 I lean against the brickwork of bridge 65 to readjust it.

Penny contentedly sniffs out the worlds 
 Hidden from me.

But my mind is filled with childhood snow scenes
 And socks that never stayed up in gum boots.”   

Episode Information

For lovers of the Shipping Forecast and, particularly for those outside the UK who might now have heard it, the 99% Visible Blog and podcast has a wonderfully informative online article by Roman Mars, ‘The Shipping Forecast’, that sketches out its history and characteristics, as well as featuring links to recordings of it. 

You can listen and watch Laurie Macmillan read the Shipping Forecast accompanied with ‘Sailing By’ on: Radio 4 Shipping Forecast (Youtube). 

Vangelis’ track ‘Albedo 0.39’ can be found on his album Albedo 0.39(1976) released by RCA. To listen to it: Albedo 0.39 (Youtube). 

 In this episode I quote excerpts from:

Charlie Connelly (2019) Last Train to Hilversum published by Bloomsbury 

Peter Jefferson (2011) And Now the Shipping Forecast: A tide of history around our shores. published by UIT Cambridge.

Nic Compton (2016) The Shipping Forecast: A miscellany. Published by Ebury

Seán Street’s poem ‘The Shipping Forecast: Donegal’ is from his Time Between Tides (2007) published by Rockingham. There is a beautifully crafted and presented reading of it on Soundcloud. To listen to it: The Shipping Forecast: Donegal.

General Details

In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at

Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River Weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence. 

Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.

All other audio recorded on site. 

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