“I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.”
Virginia Woolf had it right. The rising temperatures, the brighter sun and the longer days are so, so welcome. I feel that spring has begun properly now. It’s safe to say spring is here.
Yes, I know the early signs were there in January, when the crocus buds were pushing up through the snow, and the days were starting to stretch out a little.
But I think it’s only when we begin to feel summer breezing across our skin and see it in the hazy light that we can feel confident about spring.
Partly that’s because we’ve had a pretty rough winter – and one very rough month in a lot of ways with March.
I didn’t enjoy March very much. There was a lot going, from multiple illnesses (including one hospitalisation) in our family and some work problems.
And in the perfect metaphor, there was the Beast from the East. It locked its jaws around the legs and was not for letting go. There was an unforgiving ferocity.
Now, though, we can see that there are – literally – better days ahead.
It’s the season of new life, renewal, hope and new beginnings.
There has been a lot of upheaval lately and I’m glad it’s now in the past.
For one thing, I am no longer with the Gazette.
The problem was all to do with terms and conditions. Although I was employed by the Gazette’s owners, Johnston Press – and had been approached, interviewed and appointed by them – the post was actually funded by the BBC through their Local Democracy Reporter scheme. This involves them partnering up with local papers across the UK to share content.
The BBC said that I would have to give up all my other commitments if I wanted to carry on in the job. Given that the Gazette job was part-time, I didn’t feel able to do that and so we parted company.
Of course, it would have been better if all that had been ironed out before they gave me a contract… but these things happen. There is no blame and there will be new opportunities.
I have felt optimistic all week but I got a particularly deep sense of it this afternoon. I had parked at Cuddy Point and, with the sun beating down, I got the dogs out of the car and headed out for a walk to the viewpoint.
I was plugged into music too, listening to Steven Wilson’s To The Bone album. I don’t expect many of you to have heard of him – the Telegraph famously once described him as “the most successful British artist you’ve never heard of” – and I wasn’t familiar with him until very recently.
But he is my absolutely favourite listen right now (I’m playing his album on repeat as I write this). And he gave us one of the very few genuinely good moments in March.
The hubby and I saw him at the Armadillo in Glasgow a few weeks ago and it was incredible. I won’t try to describe it for you as that would be near impossible – he is cross-genre but most closely associated with prog rock. It was just an incredible experience though, and completely captivating.
A lot of his music tends towards melancholy but not all of it and when I plugged in this afternoon, the first song on the phone was Permanating.
It is so damn cheerful that I had to fight the impulse to bust out the dance moves on the low road. I won (just). Equilibrium has been restored.
Then came another song that made me smile. The lyrics soared like a bird into the cloudless sky.
I’m tired of Facebook
Tired of my failing health
I’m tired of everyone
And that includes myself…
So the day will begin again
Take comfort from me
It’s up to you now
You’re still here
And you’ll dig in again
That’s comfort to you
It’s up to you now…
I feel like I’ve just stepped out of a Games of Thrones set piece. Time to lay down those furs. Winter is no longer coming.
This school holiday has served as the perfect break in time and the kind weather has helped make it so.
It has been great for the kids — and particularly poignant because they enjoyed some last days before Michael’s best friend moved away to Skye.
Monday will be Nathan’s first day in his new school in Portree – good luck, a’ bhalaich – and Michael has written a wee piece in his honour.
The pair of them are pictured above. Michael is standing between the twins, Arran and Lewis, and Nathan is on the end. The twins’ mum took the pic, hashtagging it #squadgoals (thanks Kayleigh) during their playdate in Arnol last week and you can see just how good the weather was.
What I also love about the picture is that you can feel the friendship in it.
And here is what eight-year-old Michael had to say about his pal. As with his first post on the blog (his blogging is notable because he has never been taught to read or write in English, being a Gaelic Medium pupil), I’ve fixed capital letters and a few full stops but otherwise it’s as he wrote it…
Hi guys I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that my friend called Nathan is moving to Skye. He is my best friend and I’m really sad.
Now my best friend is Craig and if anyone says his name in a talk or a blog or something like that HE LAUGHS. He thinks it’s really funny but everybody else thinks it’s not. But I think it’s a bit funny but not that much. Actually I don’t know if anybody thinks it’s funny.
The good news is that I think Nathan is coming to my sleepover and Craig is coming to and the twins in my class. if you think about coming your not gonna be allowed to come in and it’s in June.
I made a little song about Craig.
GO CRAIG GO CRAIG GO CRAIG GO CRAIG GO CRAIG GO CRRRRRRRRAIG. Come on Craig.
Here are all of the people that are coming to my sleepover, well almost.
Arran and Lewis, Nathan, Craig.
My brother is annoying my brother is annoying my brother is still annoying.
So there you have it. Michael’s poor wee brother is rather maligned as usual but the pals are riding high.
There is something perfect about their exuberance, especially in such good weather.
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
So wrote William Shakespeare in one of the Sonnets – and his words have endured through the centuries as commentaries on our psyches, our flaws, society in general and the way we intertwine with nature.
But I’m not going to end with him. I’m going back to Virginia Woolf for the final word about the season that we’re in.
“Yes, I deserve a Spring — I owe nobody nothing.”