British Billy welcomes springtime

  • Published
  • By British Billy
I love the changing seasons in Britain, and I especially love spring. My paw pads start to tingle, and my tail twitches with anticipation. So much is happening! The bees are buzzing around the heather, the rabbits and moles are frantic with activity, and the birds are busy impressing each other as they feel the urge to start their little feathered families afresh.

We celebrated the vernal equinox March 20, and from now on the days lengthen as we head toward midsummer and the summer solstice, June 21. Now that the worst of the frost has gone and the days are getting warmer, we've been busy digging over the vegetable garden, and hopefully the traditional British mix of rain and sun will bring us a wonderful harvest. I supervise all the gardening hustle and bustle with a keen eye and a fastidious paw, of course.

Out in the hedgerows, green buds of new leaves are starting to sprout, and the chaffinches are darting in and out as they build their nests. After a mild, wet winter, the daffodils are making their glorious golden presence felt. It's as if everything is building up to a huge crescendo of life and colour.

In all the excitement, don't forget to set your clocks forward by one hour this weekend, March 26, officially the start of British Summer Time. We may be losing an hour, but with extra daylight in the evenings and a long summer ahead, there's plenty to look forward to after the clocks change.

The change officially takes place at 1 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, so set your clocks forward before going to bed Saturday night to avoid getting up late in the morning.

Of course, it makes little difference to me, as I spend three quarters of each day sleeping, but I know how many of you are slaves to the ticking hands of time.

It's all to do with saving the hours of daylight and was started by a chap called William Willett, a London builder, who lived in Petts Wood in Kent, England.

Basically, he reckoned you could improve the population's health and happiness by putting forward the clocks by 20 minutes every Sunday in April and doing the opposite in September.

His idea was not taken up, even though a Daylight Saving Bill was introduced some five years before the outbreak of World War One. But once the war started, it was considered prudent to economise, and promote greater efficiency in using daylight hours and artificial lighting. So in 1916, Daylight Saving Time was introduced.

Back in 1968, Britain tried a four-year experiment by advancing time one hour ahead of GMT throughout the year. Those living further north, particularly in Scotland, found it most unsatisfactory, with dark mornings for much of the year, and the experiment was dropped. However, the idea is once again gaining popularity. We shall see. With my amazing optical abilities, it matters little to me, but it is never a good idea to upset the Scots.

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London, is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World, making it the official starting point for each new day, year and millennium. If I were to go there, I could actually stand with two paws in both Western and Eastern hemispheres, which I think is pretty amazing and worth a visit.

Even though we will lose an hour this weekend, spring always wafts the scent of optimism into my nostrils. That must be why I am about to sneeze.

It must be spring fever.