Gloomy outlook puts damper on holiday

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IT WILL BE a traditional bank holiday. Rain will spread from the West, reaching most seaside resorts by Sunday morning. There will be contraflows on the M4 and railway engineering work near Southend.

The official weather forecasters yesterday cast the first hint of gloom over the forthcoming holiday weekend. The London Weather Centre said, with some understatement, that the forecast was 'not very brilliant'.

Rain is expected to become more persistent tonight. There will be blustery showers and perhaps gales on the west coast. By Sunday, 'most places will be wet and windy', the centre said. 'Basically, it is not going to be very nice.'

However, all that is a matter of opinion. Bill Foggitt, 79, Britain's best known alternative weather forecaster, said things were looking good.

'The barometer has been rising steadily. It's cleared up nicely and the clouds are thinning out. It is looking settled for a good weekend, although it will be breezy,' Mr Foggitt, of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, said. 'There is an old saying: 'What July and August can't boil, September will scarcely be able to fry'. August has been colder than average, so it looks as if September will be chilly.'

Whoever you choose to believe, there will be no escaping the traditional traffic chaos.

The Automobile Association warned of road works in most areas, with contraflows on the M20 motorway in Kent, the M6 in Staffordshire, M4 in Gwent and M9 in Lothian.

Drivers near the border between France and Spain have been warned of the risk of serious disruption because of a Spanish lorry drivers' strike which is due to start on Tuesday. The Foreign Office said long tailbacks were likely from Sunday, especially near the border at Irun.

A record 845,000 passengers were expected to pass through Heathrow airport over six days of the holiday period. The most popular destinations are Paris, Amsterdam, Florida - now reopened to air traffic after Hurricane Andrew - and Mediterranean resorts. The Met Office expected the sun to shine there.