Hang out the sheets (and other Spring festivals)


I do like a nice Breton stripe

I’m standing in the sunshine, pegging clothes on the rotary dryer. Birds tweet, woodpeckers peck, the rays warm my back. It’s the first time I’ve done this in 2016. There’s no more sure or welcome sign of Spring than being able to dry the washing outside. No more damp towels hanging dispiritedly off radiators. And the linen smells wonderfully fresh.

Here are a few more unmistakeable signs that a long winter is drawing to a close:

  • The close of the porridge season. At a certain point, a bowl of congealed oats starts to feel a bit – winter. I crave fresh fruit, yoghurt, muesli. And an extra five minutes in bed, instead of stirring the porridge pot.
  • The changing of the hosiery. My legs haven’t faced the world through anything less substantial than thick woolly tights since November, but now that’s just a bit too cosy. I’m not throwing caution to the winds, though. Black opaques will do nicely.
  • The Christmas book pile demolition. If I’ve had a good year with presents, I can snaffle the shortlists of the Booker and the Wellcome Prize, which collectively keep me going till about mid-March. At which point it’s time for:
  • The making of the birthday book list, with highlights from the Costa, the Baileys and anything that promises to help me garden my way to a glut of vegetables.
  • The all-Dulwich weed eating contest. Wild garlic, young nettles, hawthorn leaves, dandelion leaves… I get very excited about foraging for food. The Gentleman Caller has learned to be cautious about asking what’s in the salad.

What are your favourite Spring rituals? I’d love to hear.


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