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Down to Earth with Robert Barker

Spring’s small pleasures - birdsong, blossom, a blue sky - are among the keys to happiness, writes Cambridge garden designer Robert Barker

No matter how positive a person you are, and no matter how hard you have been trying to put a positive spin on the winter months, there are no two ways about it: it is not the easiest of seasons to enjoy.

I always love the build up to Christmas, but the later months can be an uphill climb. Scraping ice off windscreens, the car covered in mud almost instantly after it’s been cleaned, having to bathe the dog almost daily, the constant search for one of the children’s lost gloves. . . All these things make you cherish the end of winter.

So now that spring is upon us and the days are brighter we can (almost) breathe a sigh of relief. A small note of caution, as March can be a very fickle month - we have been known to experience snow just as we think we are out of winter.

Blossom is among spring's greatest gifts, says Robert Barker (iStock) (29360113)
Blossom is among spring's greatest gifts, says Robert Barker (iStock) (29360113)

I appreciate I’m potentially looking too deeply into things, but life isn’t always easy. When I was a child I used to presume life got easier the older you got; we all know how naïve a presumption that was. A lot of my friends are, like me, in their early forties with a young family, busy workload and can often find themselves overwhelmed. Modern trends don’t help us focus on the positives either, as, as a society, we seem to enjoy basking in controversy, fake news and drama.

During my many one-on-one ‘counselling’ sessions with my friends (over a beer in a number of pubs in Cambridge), I don’t pretend to have any definitive answers. But I am starting to believe that the secret to life is in finding joy in the little things: the signs of hope, the signs of life, the signs that take you out of yourself and remind you that while you’re recovering from road rage, thoughtless neighbours, disappointments and confrontation, the beauty of nature is all around us.

Right now in our gardens the air is fresher, green shoots are sprouting up everywhere, there might be the sight of tree blossom or spring flowering bulbs, birds are busy. . . The list goes on. We are all busy - modern life almost demands that we stay busy - but this month, if you can, even for a few minutes, go outside, inhale the cool air and search for those signs of life; signs of hope.

See robertbarkerdesign.com for more.

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