Now, truth be told, I am pretty fond of Winter. I like that I have a birthday in November, for example, and that throughout December the presence of Christmas makes virtually any amount of louche behaviour perfectly acceptable. I like putting the heating on, and drinking red wine, and eating mashed potato in the knowledge that no-one will see the full extent of my thighs for several months. I like watching television with a fleecy blanket over my knees in the manner of someone several hundred years old, and one day, sometime soon, I hope to own an electric blanket which will cause me to go to bed ever earlier each night.
Still, Spring is pretty good as well. Travelling to and from work in daylight, for one thing, and not having to get up extra early to scrape several tons of ice off the car. Going out in the evening without having to apply fifteen layers of clothing, many of which will find themselves left, forgotten, in an ale house somewhere. Today is the first day of Spring, and I for one have a number of enticing events booked in my diary over the next few weeks to celebrate this cheery fact. To wit:
1. This Saturday 22nd March marks the occasion of the inaugural Didsbury Community Craft, Vintage and Local Products Fair at Parrswood High School. Nothing spells out the imminent arrival of Summer like a local fête, and this one pretty much has the lot - over 50 stalls including face painting and tombola, a pop-up restaurant from no less than former Mark Addy chef Robert Owen Brown, and, best of all, a Bake Off. And who is judging this Bake Off, I hear you cry. Well, it's the best, most random line-up since someone thought to team Mary Berry up with Paul Hollywood: Robert Owen Brown, Tina O'Brien (aka Sarah-Louise Platt off Corrie), Emma from Heaton's Cakes and....ME. Full details of how to enter are here on the website, but essentially - and I think I've got this right - you make and bring the cake, I eat the cake, I nod wisely and look thoughtful whilst pretending I don't have a face full of crumbs, somebody wins. Although clearly, the real winner here is me.
2. Beautifying Clarins treatments at The Hard Rock Cafe. Whilst these bright sunny days are all well and good, it's easy to feel like poor old Blanche DuBois emerging warily into all this harsh daylight, blinking blearily and wishing we too could festoon every lightbulb with a paper lantern to disguise our pasty winter skin. Clarins seem to realise this, and will be on hand at The Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester's Printworks on Tuesday 25th March between 6 and 8 to administer samples of their new ‘radiance plus booster’ - the name alone makes me feel slightly better about my too-much-mashed-potato complexion. I'm a big fan both of Clarins and of Hard Rock, who do great cocktails and some pretty fine burgers, and as this free event offers a welcome cocktail, a selection of food from the new menu and Clarins goodies, I'm pretty sure you'll spot me there.
3. Lovely Liz Kershaw launches her new book at Twenty Twenty Two in the Northern Quarter. People called Liz are nearly ALWAYS lovely, but this Liz is culturally important as well, and will no doubt have lots of interesting stories to tell when Clint Boon interviews her about her new book, The Bird and the Beeb, on Monday 7th April. Liz's autobiography - which came out on March 12th - promises to spill the beans on her long and eventful career on BBC Radio, a medium in which women are still under-represented. I would also like to know how she keeps her fringe under such immaculate control, although it is unspecified whether the book deals with this thorny issue. Doors open at 6.30, with Clint and Liz in conversation and some of Liz's favourite tunes between 8 and 10.30. There will then be a Q & A, a book signing, and more music until late - and all for a fiver. Tickets are available from the venue, or here via Bop Local Productions.
So hurrah for Spring - it's surely only a matter of time before the ice cream van is doing its merry rounds once more. In the meantime, I've got cake judging to prepare for and am off to find my roomiest pants...