Repeat after me: spring has sprung!
In any regular year, March is the month where we find ourselves saying “the worst of it is over” after winter. The nights are shortening with the promise of post nine-to-five daylight hours any time soon. Our shoulders un-hunch after weeks tightened against the cold. City streets have a scent again. It is, as Katherine May writes at the end of her book Wintering, “almost warm”.
Nature unfurling itself feels even more welcome this year. Not that you need reminding, but lockdown rules begin to ease this month, with schools reopening in England on March 8 and some outdoor socialising allowed from March 29.
We may have to wait a while yet for proper hugs, but here are seven things we plan on embracing this month that aren’t each other.
Looking out for... those darling buds
Endless vistas of greyish-brown will be jolted into vibrant colour with sparky yellow (and purple) this month. The croci are already poking through the grass of lawns and parks, and the first daffodils won’t be long behind them.
Spot the blooms when you look up, too. The National Trust has announced it wants to introduce a ‘blossom season’ to the UK – much like the one in Japan – “to help signal reflection and hope.”
A ‘blossom circle’ will brighten up London’s Olympic Park, where 33 trees including cherry, plum, hawthorn and crab apple will represent each of the London boroughs. The scheme will also be extended throughout the UK.
Numerous studies tell us that nature is crucial to mental health, so check out the Trust’s guide to blossom to watch out for and feel yourself blooming, too.
Settling in for... some excellent TV and movies
Binged It’s A Sin already? There are some new TV must-watches this month, including the celebrity edition of The Circle, in which famous people will ‘catfish’ one another by pretending to be other famous people.
Loose Women’s Kaye Adams and Nadia Sawalha are both set to ‘do’ Gemma Collins, while Drag Race UK’s Baga Chipz will take on cleaning icon, Kim Woodburn. How long can this cast of absolute huns keep each other fooled?
Other things to circle in the TV mag of your mind include Celebrity Bake Off, which begins on March 9. Series six of Line of Duty finally has a launch date: March 21. Meanwhile movie wise, Netflix teen flick Moxie, about a gang of high school feminist activists, drops on the platform on March 3.
Films buffs, also take note: LGBTQ film festival Flare, organised by the British Film Institute, takes place online this month. The line-up is released shortly and an online purchase gives the viewer four hours to watch the film at home. A series of free-to-watch short films will also be available on the BFI website.
Thinking about... the beginning of the end of lockdown
We are still a way off 100% “unlockdown” (even if Boohoo are priming us to party on June 21), but there’s respite in knowing restrictions will finally begin to lift this month. As well as parents breathing a collective sigh of relief on March 8 when schools reopen, it’s also the day you can start socialising with one friend in the park without using exercise an an excuse.
From March 29, households will be allowed to travel to meet one another. And things gets easier for friends closer to home, too. The rule of six comes back into force on the same day, meaning six separate people or more if limited to two households, can also mix outdoors while socially distanced.
If in doubt about your path to freedom, check out the brilliant One Way Road To Beer counter, that takes you from a tinnie in the park with one friend, through the opening of pubs outdoors, then indoors, to beer everywhere with everyone.
Supporting... International Women’s Day
March 8 falls on a Monday in 2021 – tellingly, the same day kids go back to school – and this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge.
We’ve lost count of the stories we’ve written and read about how much women have shouldered during this global pandemic, and how central they have been on the Covid frontline: in healthcare and science, at work and in the home, balancing it all at once.
Online events are being held across the world that will no doubt discuss the juggle and struggle, as well as celebrating everyday heroism. The Southbank Centre’s Women of the World gathering is leading the way with its usual mix of talks, panels, workshops and performances – and it’s all online, of course. Follow the hashtag #IWD2021 to find out and follow all the latest happenings.
Planning... for an amazing summer
With UK hospitality and travel getting back on its feet from mid-April, and festivals and other large-scale events given the cautious go ahead by government from June 21, we’re finally able to make some summer plans.
Talk about putting the “tent” in tentative – but we’re excited. There’s clearly an appetite for life after lockdown, given the amount of UK festivals already selling out. So if you’re tiring of your park walks and TV binges this month, why not indulge in a little light (or heavy) diarising.
The forecasted return of UK-wide travel from April means campsites and hotels are already taking provisional bookings. And yes, international travel is slated to begin again in May, but remember each step of easing is subject to review.
Celebrating... mums of all kinds.
Mother’s Day on March 14 will still be online for most of us who don’t live with our parents, but think of it this way – it may be one of the last celebrations twe have to endure virtually. Even if you harbour a sense of impending Zoom (an idea this cartoonist nails well!), it’s nice there’s a day in the calendar to celebrate mums – plenty of whom are isolated and in need of a good cheering up.
There will be many, of course, marking their first (or umpteenth) Mother’s Day without a parent – or paying tribute to chosen family instead. If that sounds like someone in your life, why not make sure they feel extra loved with a call, card or letterbox gift of their own.
Preparing... our picnic game
Picnics united us all in the first lockdown, and while we have to wait until the end of March to picnic legally again, there’s joy in thinking ahead to their return.
Looking for ways to up your picnic game? How about ordering a classic picnic hamper, some fancy cheeses (vegan cheeses aren’t so bad these days either) and a bright new rug to throw down?