AFTER months of anticipation it is finally here.

Previous unseasonally damp summers haven't left us with great expectations. Forecasts are an indication of what to expect yet the weather can still be difficult to fathom.

Downpours when, seasonally, it should be blazing sunshine and heavy snow when snowdrops and other blooms have put in their appearance symbolising the start of spring have left us flummoxed.

Who could forget the deluge in the summer of 2012 which even caused the cancellation of The Great Yorkshire Show - the first time the agricultural event had been cancelled due to the weather during its 154 year history.

This year's Beast from the East brought misery and mayhem. This unseasonably snow-go season at what is generally the beginning of spring led to Britain being battered by blizzards leaving commuters struggling to get to their destinations or, at worst, stranded.

Of course, the icy conditions we encountered are now a distant memory as we bask in what has felt like an endless heatwave - but we're trying not to complain!

At times the heat has been oppressive - especially for those with medical conditions - but it's been a welcome relief from the wind, rain and snow.

For those willing England on in the early days of the World Cup tournament the heatwave couldn't have come at a better time for BBQs.

Sales of burgers and sausages and beverages such as beer and wine have rocketed along with tubs of icecream, salads and strawberries.

Customers have also been clamouring to keep cool when the heat is on - demand for electric fans out-stripped supply with many retailers running out. Tesco estimates it sold around 25,000 fans during the hot spell.

Tesco's ice cream buying manager Sonia Morland said: “Many people have switched their shopping habits and are continuing to enjoy BBQs in their gardens, as they make the most of the fantastic weather.”

For horticulturalists and nature the weather can have a significant impact. The picturesque pond in East Bierley, a village designated as a conservation area in recognition of its 'special architectural or historic interest' in 1981, is almost bone dry.

John Keeling, treasurer of the East Bierley Preservation Society, can recall only a handful of times in its lengthy history that the water has dried up.

Gardening expert John, who grows orchids and has run a family nursery for many years, says it is unusual to have had such a long spell of consistently dry weather.

A Met Office spokesman explains during the current spell of hot weather there were 16 consecutive days where a weather station somewhere in the UK recorded 28C or above, ending on July 9.

"While this is unusual it is not unprecedented. In 2013 we had a 19 day run, in 2006 we had 16 days and 1976 saw an 18 day run through June and July and then another 15 day spell in August," says the spokesman.

"The reason for the hot weather is that the UK has been sat under an area of high pressure (sinking air which suppresses the development of cloud). This has allowed the June and July sunshine to penetrate to ground level, and for heat to build. Also the high pressure isn’t easily moved, so the Atlantic weather systems effectively become blocked.

"Looking at the dry weather, if we define a dry day as one receiving 1mm rain, the longest spell of consecutive days on record for England is 32 days in 1976, although for South East England the highest is 42 days (1997) followed by 1976 (38 days). The driest summer (June, July & August) on record was 1995 with 64.7 mm of rain followed by 1976 with 72.7 mm. So far this summer June recorded 35.4mm of rainfall making it the 9th driest for the UK as a whole, and July 3.4mm.

"We have always had spells of hot weather (that we could call a heatwave) and we get them in the UK about two or three times a decade. It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to attribute this current spell of hot weather down to climate change, although we are expecting to see more extreme weather events as the planet warms.

"Since pre-industrial times, the planet has warmed (on average) by about 1 C. That means that on average heatwaves will be around 1 C hotter, so extreme events are likely to be more extreme. Equally though we will still see cold extremes – like we saw earlier this year. It’s just that cold events may around 1 C less cold."