Hints & Tips
Thank you Julie Andrews! Well. Finally the weather looks like it’s decided to come and join the party, pausing only to wipe the winter mud from its feet and put on its dancing shoes. yes Spring has most definitely sprung now and is bouncing cautiously towards summer.
As Drew and Dick keep telling me, we could all do with a bit more rain, to really help things grow and keep things fresh, but in the meantime, let’s be jolly and happy and celebrate my top five favourite things about spring.
1/ The Bluebells. Not the Scottish indie rock band, from the late 80s whose hit Young At Heart entered the charts twice in 1984 and 1993 (I am the Pop-mistress!) but the astounding carpets of stunning deep blue flowers that we all love, lurking and silently tinkling in the woods. And we’ve all done that! Even the Spanish bluebells that seem to be spreading like wildfire (coming here, taking our woods) have their attraction. Bluebells are one of the most glorious sights of the spring and bring joy to a great many people. I love them. You can find out here where your nearest bluebell Wood is located. There has been a lot of hoo-haa recently about people who pick wild flowers and the general feeling seems to be that they are there for everybody so leave them alone. So go and gawp but don’t pick!
2/ The Light Comes Back. Yes those dark hours of British Winter Time are a distant memory. Suddenly people are out and about in the evening light, people are strolling around wiondering whether its warm enough to discard the jacket, pub gardens are looking less sad and lonely and their grizzled regulars are suddenly seeing each other in natural light for the first time in a year… not always a sight you want over your pint of Guinness or gin and tonic, but part of the process.
3/ The Spring Cleaning. Yay. Who doesn’t savour putting on tatty old jogging pants, a scrappy old university tee-shirt, whipping around with Henry or Charles (vacuum cleaners BTW) and wafting a feather duster over the cornices? or, in my case, hiring a fabulous woman called Dankianka from a smart agency in North London to do it for me while I sit in the garden with a glass of something zingy from around Veneto way.
4/ The Seasonal Clothes Swap. Do you do this? Every year, as the light comes back and the winter retreats to the far corners to regroup and plan his next campaign, I pack away the fisherman’s jumpers, thick wool dresses, the cashmere sweaters and the scarves in air-tight boxes bags and hanger-bags and fill them full of moth-treatments (little rotters that they are, they love a bit of cashmere). Then they all get stored away and I release from captivity all my silk blouses, cotton dresses, sarongs and cut-off tops, dust off the Birkenstocks, Borns and Eccos and look forward to wafting around in white linen like a Merchant and Ivory character. Ah. Deep joy!
5/ The Flowers That Bloom in The Spring Tra La. Oh, and the Fruit and Veg. I am aware that I have already covered bluebells but this is different. This is about ABUNDANCE. It’s about the crocuses, hyacinths, lily of the valley, looking forward to strawberries, the coming of the precious, sacred British Asparagus season (thank you the fabulous Chins of Herefordshire amongst others). Yes, traditionally starting on St Georges day (two days ago) the Asparagus season finally means A/ Restaurants and supermarkets who should no better won’t be flying it 1000s of miles to our tables from Kenya (I ask you) B/ So it will actually taste good. Plus, who could not want to taste and experience fresh artichokes, avocado, watercress, radishes, spring greens with lemon dressing or smell and gaze at daffodils, tulips, Camelias, sweet peas. Birds singing, grass growing, butterflies doing whatever it is they do. This is what we have been waiting for through the cold, dark and dismal days, the vibrant colour, taste, profusion and glory of nature at it’s most unashamed. Ooh, I’ve come over all Alan Titchmarsh. I need to go and rest for a while. See ya. Holly.