It’s spring, but not as we know it

Today is the spring equinox here in UK.  At last the long nights are over, the days will be longer than the nights from now on.  I am certainly stirring much earlier to the sound of the birds in the garden.

I love the equinoxes, and the solstices for that matter, I like these moments where we acknowledge the effects of the sun and nature on our lives.  Especially for this city dweller, whose exposure to nature is more limited.

The start of spring is a time of hope for me most years and today will not be different.  Without hope, this period of distance from others will be hard.  So my focus this morning is on all the good things.

We’ve been without physical Scouting for all of three days in the UK and yet there is virtual scouting happening already and I know many volunteers are putting plans in place to meet up online next week.  Work is moving apace to create activities young people can do at home, but still part of a group.  So much creativity and determination to keep communities together.

Choirs seem to be determined to keep going.  Gareth Malone is creating a virtual choir, a friend has invited me to Sofa Singers and my husband’s physical choir is working on how to move their weekly rehearsal online. 

I have long used Yoga With Adriene at home and now other teachers are moving that way, I have heard of a Tai Chi class being live streamed and have just signed up for a yoga nidra sound bath this weekend.

Online book groups are flourishing apparently and my own Facebook book group has spent the week discussing whatever we’re reading now and recommending books for the time we may have available for reading now.

My son recommended a programme for playing games together (not free), the RSC has made recordings of its productions available online.  There are museums you can visit virtually.  I am sure there will be so many other things we can do over the coming weeks.  For today as we start spring, the creativity and sense of community that is springing up is giving me lots of hope.

Welcoming spring

The start of March has changed the weather.  The annual maternal warnings about March and lambs and lions are being ignored this year (sorry Mum), I am living in the joy of a clear early spring day yesterday.  At one point at the weekend we exclaimed about the feeling of warmth in the sun as we found a moment in sun and out of the wind.  And yesterday the sun shone and the wind had disappeared.

Our morning run felt much easier without any wind or rain and with less avoidance of puddles and muddy patches needed.  The birds were singing and there was a pretty mist rising from the water.  I felt like I had had more sunshine on my face in that one run than I had in the whole of February.  I relished moments outdoors in my work day and the late afternoon sunshine as I ventured out for various chores.

One sunny spring day fills me with joy, it is tangible proof that for everything there is a season and seasons change.  I feel hopeful and that is a good way to tackle the worries of work deadlines, coronavirus, climate change, a poorly dog and an ever-increasing list of tasks that must be tackled in my volunteering life and around the house (yes, my worries range from the trivial to the devastating).  All those worries may make me feel grey and gloomy in any one moment of the day, but the light and warmth will return, often the next moment.  And I am ignoring the sound of rain on the window as I write this.  Spring is here. Honestly.

Change of location

A while back I wrote about finally getting a desk sorted out for myself in the house. That has remained important to me. It’s a space in a family home where I am absolutely in control of the physical surroundings. Yes, that clutter is mine. In fact one of my stresses last week was that I spent a week dumping things on the desk and not prioritising sorting them out. I felt frazzled all week. Possibly not because of the state of my desk (and it has to be admitted my house generally) but that was contributing to the feeling of being a bit out of control.

Clearing it up is relatively easy – most of the clutter is now in the ‘pictures to hang’ pile. I know, I know – that is just moving the piles from one place to another. I am internally chortling as I write this though: the pictures to be hung pile is much more hidden from view. Marie Kondo would despair I am sure.

What has also been preoccupying me is the choice of the desk’s location. At the moment it is in a room with everyone else’s desk, the room where the clutter tends to build. But it is next to the window and beautifully light.

This morning I am celebrating the first blog of spring by writing this at my desk looking out of that window as it is light already. The view is of a very busy road, but that is not too bad. I am feeling connected to the world as I watch people drive by, I can see the blue sky and appreciate that Storm Freya has passed and the trees are still.

I am not convinced it makes the blog any more interesting – sorry about that, but staring out the window at a hedge is much better than surfing the internet whilst waiting for a thought to come. In case you hadn’t realised this is one of those ‘just write something and get back in the habit of blogging’ blogs. Well done if you have read this far.

Weather ranting

No one wants to read angry tirades first thing in the morning, but I am compelled to write in outrage.  The subject of my ire is of course, the weather.  I got woken up in the night by wind howling through the room and the sound of rain hammering against the window.  This morning my commute is going to be soggy to say the least.

I am a firm believer in the adage of no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.  But the correct clothing for unseasonably cold, wet, windy weather combined with hot trains and tubes and a day of business meetings is impossible even for those less sartorially challenged than I.

I have tried staring out the window and accepting that the weather is what it is.  To no avail.   I am trying to think gratefully of my amazing winter coat which keeps out cold and wet. What, I have to wear it again?

I am utterly fed up of this cold grey sky that is determined to drive me nuts this year. Winter just needs to go now, I demand spring.


PS obviously none of this changes the fact that I am going to get very wet this morning, but I do feel better for a teenage-style rant in writing.  This is what my teenage diaries were like.  Honestly! Stay dry and warm folks.

OK, OK, it’s nowhere near this bad.  But I am having a moment.

In need of sunshine

I read a great line yesterday about snow in late March no longer feeling like weather, but more like a personal attack.  The sentiment does ring true now.  There is a running joke in the family that every time we pack away the thermal layers it snows.  Yesterday, they were put back into their cupboard and an hour later the Met Office issued a yellow warning for snow on Monday.

Today, Good Friday, is traditionally a clear-up-the-garden day in our house, so we can be ready for the weekend’s visitors and lovely hours spent sitting in the gentle spring sunshine on the patio chairs, all newly brushed down, whilst the children rush around finding eggs.  Well that is what happens in my head anyway.

Instead, we are checking weather reports and challenging my planning abilities.

Fortunately, we always have a wet weather alternative, and although I am relinquishing day dreams of Sunday afternoon spent on the patio sipping prosecco whilst the youngsters entertain each other by hunting eggs, we will of course have fun.

Meanwhile, I have memories of a glorious warm sunny spring day last weekend, which felt like it topped up fuel reserves for a few weeks.  I am continuing taking Vitamin D and getting outside as much as I possibly can.  My other tactic is booking camping trips, that always gives me hope that summer is inevitable.

And I possibly ought to remember that it is just weather, it’s not a personal attack at all.


Visiting Birmingham

One of the spring time resolutions is to discover more about my home town of Birmingham, UK.  I am an immigrant to the city, arriving here 19 years ago, drawn by a sense of friendliness, a real buzz as the city changed dramatically from its industrial roots.  There seemed to be a desire to do something different, not develop, that implies it was in some way backward, but that is not true at all.  This is a city built on discovery, on science and industry, and on a strong sense of being Birmingham.

For those of you not from here, I know the reputation is not always of a dynamic city, but believe me it is.  I have myriad political views about whether that dynamic nature is being encouraged and allowed to thrive, but despite cynicism on my part on the reduction of local facilities, education, health care, social care, I suspect that there’s something in the nature of being here that will ensure the city continues to thrive.  Ever the optimist.

So this spring I intend to visit some of the many places I have never actually been to.  Feel free to add to the list, but so far I have Aston Hall, Selly Manor, Blakesley Hall, chunks of Sutton Park (I have done some, but seriously, it’s huge!).

I have one of the brilliant Independent Birmingham cards and intend to start working through the members of the scheme.

I haven’t been to the Ikon gallery for ages and there are rooms at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery that I have never seen.  And – confession time – I have never been to the Barber Institute of Art.

There are a couple of quirky places I want to get to – the Coffin Works and the Pen Museum are on that list.

Add to that the miles of canal to explore and the parks to visit, and I am wondering if this is a whole year’s work?



Getting through the dark mornings

It’s that odd time of year of clock changes in UK.  It always amazes me what an effect it has on me.  How can just one hour of time difference discombobulate me for several days?  It was quite hard to keep time last night as it felt so much earlier than it actually was, so I did rely very heavily on looking at the time closely.  I just did not feel tired at my usual bedtime, so found myself reading and chatting to a friend on WhatsApp instead of sleeping, so of course I feel a bit more tired.  The mornings are suddenly so dark – I do feel like I have woken up in the middle of the night.

This week is all about adjusting.  Relishing the light evenings is easy.  We spent Sunday evening in the pub waxing lyrical about the sunshine, light evenings, the general feeling of wellbeing that a beautiful spring day brings.  This evening may include a quick walk after dinner – something that only ever happens in the light evenings.

The mornings are being faced by a grim determination to reset the body clock – making sure I get up with the alarm and get moving and that we get out to see the sunrise.  Although rainy skies this morning may put an end to that.

Hopefully it will all feel normal by the weekend, but has anyone else got any tips?  Does everyone struggle like this?pexels-photo-359989.jpeg