Saturday, 4 April 2020

The Beatles Rooftop concert - Savile Row / VIDEO: (2010)

On 30 January 1969, the Beatles enacted the final public performance of their career with an unannounced concert held from the rooftop of their Apple Corps headquarters at 3 Savile Row, within central London's office and fashion district. Joined by keyboardist Billy Preston, the band played a 42-minute set before the Metropolitan Police asked them to reduce the volume.
Although the concert was conceived just days before, the Beatles were planning a return to live performances throughout the early sessions for their album Let It Be (1970). They performed nine takes of five songs as crowds of onlookers, many of whom were on their lunch break, congregated in the streets and on the roofs of local buildings. The concert ended with the conclusion of "Get Back", with John Lennon joking, "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition."
Footage from the performance was used in the 1970 documentary film Let It Be. The first performance of "I've Got a Feeling" and single takes of "One After 909" and "Dig a Pony" were also featured on the accompanying album.

Although the concert was unannounced, the Beatles had planned on performing live during their Get Back sessions earlier in January. According to author Mark Lewisohn, it is uncertain who had the idea for a rooftop concert, but the suggestion was conceived just days before the actual event. George Harrison brought in keyboardist Billy Preston as an additional musician, in the hope that a talented outside observer would encourage the band to be tight and focused. In Preston's recollection, the idea to perform on the Apple Corps rooftop was John Lennon's. Ringo Starr remembered:

There was a plan to play live somewhere. We were wondering where we could go – "Oh, the Palladium or the Sahara". But we would have had to take all the stuff, so we decided, "Let's get up on the roof."

In his autobiography Sound Man, recording engineer Glyn Johns claims the idea for the concert was his. Former Apple Records Ken Mansfield believed it most likely that the idea came from director Michael Lindsay-Hogg.

The audio was recorded onto two eight-track recorders in the basement studio at Apple[9] by engineer Alan Parsons. Film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, working on what would become Let It Be, brought in a camera crew to capture several angles of the performance, including reactions from people on the street.

When the Beatles first started playing, there was some confusion from spectators watching five storeys below, many of whom were on their lunch break. As the news of the event spread, crowds of onlookers began to congregate in the streets and on the roofs of local buildings. While most responded positively to the concert, the Metropolitan Police grew concerned about noise and traffic issues. Apple employees initially refused to let police inside, but reconsidered when threatened with arrest.

As police ascended to the roof, the Beatles realised that the concert would eventually be shut down, but continued to play for several more minutes.[ Paul McCartney improvised the lyrics of his song "Get Back" to reflect the situation: "You've been playing on the roofs again, and you know your Momma doesn't like it; she's going to have you arrested!" The concert came to an end with the conclusion of "Get Back", with Lennon saying, "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition."

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Coronavirus: Charles speaks following virus diagnosis

Coronavirus: Charles speaks following virus diagnosis
Prince Charles has spoken of a "strange, frustrating and often distressing experience" following his diagnosis of the coronavirus in March.
In a recorded a video message in support for the charity, Age UK, the Prince of Wales called for "faith in ourselves and in each other" as the world battles the pandemic.

The REAL Belgravia

Belgravia is an affluent district in Central London, shared within the authorities of both the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Belgravia was known as Five Fields during the Middle Ages, and became a dangerous place due to highwaymen and robberies. It was developed in the early 19th century by Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster under the direction of Thomas Cubitt, focusing on numerous grand terraces centred on Belgrave Square and Eaton Square. Much of Belgravia, known as the Grosvenor Estate, is still owned by a family property company, the Duke of Westminster's Grosvenor Group. Owing to the Leasehold Reform Act 1967, the estate has been forced to sell many freeholds to its former tenants.
The area takes its name from the village of Belgrave, Cheshire, two miles (3 km) from the Grosvenor family's main country seat of Eaton Hall. One of the Duke of Westminster's subsidiary titles is Viscount Belgrave.

During the Middle Ages, the area was known as the Five Fields and was a series of fields used for grazing, intersected by footpaths. The Westbourne was crossed by Bloody Bridge, so called because it was frequented by robbers and highwaymen, and it was unsafe to cross the fields at night. In 1728, a man's body was discovered by the bridge with half his face and five fingers removed. In 1749, a muffin man was robbed and left blind. Five Fields' distance from London also made it a popular spot for duelling.

Despite its reputation for crime and violence, Five Fields was a pleasant area during the daytime, and various market gardens were established. The area began to be built up after George III moved to Buckingham House and constructed a row of houses on what is now Grosvenor Place. In the 1820s, Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster asked Thomas Cubitt to design an estate. Most of Belgravia was constructed over the next 30 years; it attempted to rival Mayfair in its prestige.

Upper Belgrave Street, Belgravia
Belgravia is characterised by grand terraces of white stucco houses, and is focused on Belgrave Square and Eaton Square. It was one of London's most fashionable residential districts from its beginnings. After World War II, some of the largest houses ceased to be used as residences, or townhouses for the country gentry and aristocracy, and were increasingly occupied by embassies, charity headquarters, professional institutions and other businesses. Belgravia has become a relatively quiet district in the heart of London, contrasting with neighbouring districts, which have far more busy shops, large modern office buildings, hotels and entertainment venues. Many embassies are located in the area, especially in Belgrave Square.

In the early 21st century, some houses are being reconverted to residential use, because offices in old houses are no longer as desirable as they were in the post-war decades, while the number of super-rich in London is at a high level not seen since at least 1939. The average house price in Belgravia, as of March 2010, was £6.6 million, although many houses in Belgravia are among the most expensive anywhere in the world, costing up to £100 million, £4,671 per square foot (£50,000 per m2).

As of 2013, many residential properties in Belgravia were owned by wealthy foreigners who may have other luxury residences in exclusive locations worldwide; so many are temporarily unoccupied because their owners are elsewhere. The increase in land value has been in sharp contrast to UK average and left the area empty and isolated.

The novels of Anthony Trollope (1815–1882): The Way We Live Now, Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux, The Prime Minister, and The Duke's Children all give accurate descriptions of 19th-century Belgravia.

In Brideshead Revisited, a novel by Evelyn Waugh, Belgravia's Pont Street is eponymous with the idiosyncrasies of the British upper classes. Julia, one of the main protagonists, tells her friends, "It was Pont Street to wear a signet ring and to give chocolates at the theatre; it was Pont Street to say, 'Can I forage for you?' at a dance."

Flunkeyania or Belgravian Morals, written under the pseudonym "Chawles", was one of the novels serialised in The Pearl, an allegedly pornographic Victorian magazine.

In the popular British television series Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–1975), the scene is set in the household of Richard Bellamy (later 1st Viscount Bellamy of Haversham) at 165 Eaton Place, Belgravia (65 Eaton Place was used for exterior shots; a "1" was painted in front of the house number).[33] It depicts the lives of the Bellamys and their staff of domestic servants in the years 1903–1930, as they experience the tumultuous events of the Edwardian era, World War I and the postwar 1920s, culminating with the stock market crash of 1929, which ends the world they had known. In 2010, filming began on a mini-series intended to pick up the story of one of the main characters, Rose Buck, in 1936, as she returns to 165 Eaton Place to serve as the Holland family's housekeeper.

In Downton Abbey Lady Rosamund Painswick, sister of Lord Grantham, lives in Belgrave Square.

The first episode of the second series of the television programme Sherlock is "A Scandal in Belgravia", loosely based on the Arthur Conan Doyle short story "A Scandal in Bohemia".

The REAL Belgravia: How London's aristocratic district which inspired new ITV drama went from a swampy marshland occupied by thieves to 'Billionaire Square' - and the birthplace of afternoon tea

ITV show written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes premiered last night
Set in first half of 19th century in Brussels just before the Battle of Waterloo
Drama begins with a ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond in Brussels in 1815
Central plot of caddish aristocrat duping naive woman into bed is based on truth
Moves to London's Belgravia 26 years later and features real life characters

PUBLISHED: 12:13, 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:48, 16 March 2020

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows' new drama Belgravia kicked off on ITV last night - providing us all with a much-needed sense of escapism from the escalating coronavirus crisis.

The series follows the lives of the Trenchard family and their ascent to the aristocratic society of London's Belgravia. Two decades earlier, their daughter Sophia became embroiled in a scandalous - and ultimately tragic - love affair with caddish aristocrat Edmund Bellasis.

The period drama, set in the first half of the 19th century, kicks off in Brussels on the cusp of the Battle of Waterloo before moving to London's Belgravia in the 1840s - a glamorous district inhabited by aristocrats and the 'nouveau riche'.

While the storylines are inherently fictional - adapted by Fellowes from his novel of the same name - certain events and characters are based on real people and events, with historical references woven into the narrative.

Here FEMAIL takes a look at how Belgravia went from a swampy marshland occupied by thieves to 'Billionaire Square'.

ITV's new period drama Belgravia is set in the first half of the 19th century and kicks off in Brussels on the cusp of the Battle of Waterloo. Pictured from left to right: Actress Alice Eve as Susan Trenchard, Ella Purnell as Lady Maria Grey, Jack Bardoe as Charles Pope, Harriet Walter as Lady Brockenhurst, Philip Glenister as James Tranchard, Tamsin Greig as Anne Trenchard and Tom Wilkinson as Earl of Brockenhurst


In the show, James Trenchard (played by Philip Glenister) starts off as a supplies man for the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo before becoming a self-made property developer.

The character's success is spawn out of going into partnership with English master builder Thomas Cubitt and his brothers, who in real life developed many of the historic streets and squares of London - in particular, Belgravia, Pimlico and Bloomsbury.

As Mrs Trenchard explains quite accurately to Lady Brockenhurst during afternoon tea at the Duchess of Bedford's home, Thomas Cubitt began as a carpenter before devising 'a new method of building', employing all the trades under his own management.

She references Cubitt's first major building project - the London Institution in Finsbury Circus, built in 1815.

Thomas Cubitt (pictured) and his brothers developed many of the historic streets and squares of London, especially in Belgravia, Pimlico and Bloomsbury          

Cubitt's first major building project was the London Institution in Finsbury Circus, built in 1815      +23
Cubitt's first major building project was the London Institution in Finsbury Circus, built in 1815

Cubitt's development of areas of Bloomsbury, including Gordon Square and Tavistock Square, began in 1820 for a group of landowners including the Duke of Bedford - a clever tie-in by Fellowes given his success is discussed by the Duchess of Bedford.

In 1824 he was commissioned by Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster, to create a great swathe of building in Belgravia, centred on Belgrave Square and Pimlico - which became his greatest achievement in London.

Cubitt had two brothers; contractor and politician William, and civil engineer Lewis, who designed many houses built by Thomas.

Cubitt had two brothers; contractor and politician William and civil engineer Lewis, who designed many houses built by Thomas

Thomas was also responsible for building the east front of Buckingham Palace. His developer-architect son George, by his wife Mary Anne Warner, was created Baron Ashcombe in 1892 and was a great-great-grandfather of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

After his death in 1855, Queen Victoria said Thomas was 'a real national loss' in his sphere of life, adding that 'a better, kindhearted or more simple, unassuming man never breathed'.

A statue of Thomas can be seen on Denbigh Street in London, while another stands in Dorking - where he was revered for his architecture on his Denbies estate.

History of Belgravia and Belgrave Square Gardens

Belgravia was developed in the 1820s by Richard Grosvenor, the 2nd Marquis of Westminster, and takes its name from one of the Duke of Westminster's subsidiary titles - Viscount Belgrave.

The village of Belgrave in Cheshire is two miles from the Grosvenor family’s main countryseat of Eaton Hall.

It was designed at the order of the 2nd Marquis of Westminster by London architect Thomas Cubitt - and there is now a gastro pub on Elizabeth Street named after him in the area.

Map of Belgravia circa 1814 - now one of the wealthiest districts in the world 

Belgrave Square Gardens was designed by English architect George Basevi and planted by Thomas Cubitt in 1826. They feature a tennis court and a children's playground as well as a 'quiet area'.

It was previously known as Five Fields - a swampy marshland situated between Hyde Park and the Thames, which ironically used to be home to thieves and bandits.

The Grosvenors were inspired to develop it in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars and the conversion of Buckingham House into a palace for George IV.

In 1874, a five-storey building called the Pantechnicon, which occupied almost two acres in Motcomb Street in the middle of Belgravia, went up in flames.

In 1874, a five-storey building called the Pantechnicon, which occupied almost two acres in Motcomb Street in the middle of Belgravia, burnt down

The cause of the fire was never established, but the Pantechnicon fire focused public attention on urban fires and how to prevent and contain them   

It was built in a similar in style to museums such as the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, and was originally conceived as a bazaar with stalls selling artwork before it became a storage facility for carriages and a warehouse where wealthy Londoners stored their valuables.

It was branded 'the largest, the safest, and the most fireproof warehouse in the metropolis' - and the blaze has been billed the largest episode of destruction of art and furnishings in the Victorian era.

It took almost all the fire engines in London and troopers from the nearby Chelsea barracks as well as members of the Salvage Corps to bring the fire under control.

The cause of the fire was never established, but the Pantechnicon fire focused public attention on urban fires and how to prevent and contain them.

Large swathes of Belgravia is still owned by the family-operated property company Grosvenor Group - with the Duke of Westminster as its figurehead.

The opulent rows of white villas and townhouses which inhabit Belgravia were initially owned by members of the aristocracy - but following the Second World War, the make-up of it changed significantly.

The Sunday Trading Riots of 1855 in Belgravia     

More embassies and institutions moved to the area, and Belgrave Square is now noted as a popular spot for embassies.

During WWII, Belgrave Square was used as a tank park. Three bombs were dropped on the square during the Blitx, with Eaton Square suffering nine direct hits.

Now it is among the most expensive areas in the world to live in, with average property prices in the region of £3.4milion - with some houses worth up to £60million.

Many of the square's grand mansions have been bought by foreign multi-millionaires, including some whose wealth is so outrageously vast they are listed as billionaires.

Belgravia is within a conservation area and a great deal of its properties and buildings, some of which are embassies, are listed.

This gives them protected status and will ensure the character and appearance of Belgravia's heritage and architecture is preserved.


Branded a 'spangled city for the rich' by Lady Brockenhurst in the show, Belgravia is indeed a unique area in the capital.

Built on marshy fields and executed as a total design concept, it has - according to Fellowes - a 'uniformity that few other places in London can match'.

Branded a 'spangled city for the rich' by Lady Brockenhurst, Belgravia (shown in the show) is indeed a unique area in the capital   

He added that the concept of Belgravia itself is unusual in London because it doesn't overlay any buildings from a more ancient time.

'It was born of the prosperity that came at the end of the Napoleonic Wars,' said Fellowes.

'Industry and trading shot up. They generated enormous fortunes for individuals, and it became clear that Mayfair was no longer big enough to accommodate everyone smart.

Built on marshy fields and executed as a total design concept, Belgravia has - according to Fellowes - a 'uniformity that few other places in London can match'. Pictured: Belgrave Square in 1828  

Belgrave Square circa 1850, which was laid out by master builder Thomas Cubitt for the 2nd Earl Grosvenor in the 1820s     

'The Marquess of Westminster, or his advisors, realised this and they approached the brilliant Cubitt Brothers, who understood at once that the proposed site on the edge of London was perfectly placed for a new development.'

Famous faces who have lived in Belgravia
Noel Coward
Virginia Woolf
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Mary Shelley
Former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin
Joan Collins
Sir Michael Caine
Sir Lawrence Olivier
Christopher Lee
Vivien Leigh
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber
Elizabeth Hurley
Sean Connery
Roger Moore
Roman Abramovich
Jose Mourinho
Sven-Goran Eriksson
The Barclay Brothers
Sheik Ahmad Al-Sabah
Sheik Mohammed

According to Fellowes, Belgravia was 'a manifestation of prosperity' - but it wasn't just the upper classes who lived there. The aristocracy were no longer automatically in charge and had to accommodate their neighbours.

Today Belgravia continues to attract rich and famous residents, from former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, football manager Jose Mourinho and actress Liz Hurley.

The show itself wasn't filmed in actual Belgravia; producer Gareth Neame said it's 'quite impossible' to shoot scenes in the actual location because 'there's no way you can shut down these parts of London and have horses and carriages going around for four days'.

Instead, the show was shot predominantly in other parts of the capital and in Edinburgh New Town.


When Mrs Trenchard arrives at the grand home of the Duchess of Bedford - the first scene set in London's Belgravia, 26 years after the Battle of Waterloo - she informs her host she is 'so interested by your invention of afternoon tea'.

The concept is indeed believed to have been the idea of Anna Maria Russell, the wife of Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford, who was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria and lived in Belgravia.

The duchess is best remembered as the creator of afternoon tea while visiting the 5th Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle in the mid-1840s.

When Mrs Trenchard arrives at the grand home of the Duchess of Bedford (pictured played by Naomi Frederick) - the first scene set in London's Belgravia, 26 years after the Battle of Waterloo - she informs her host she is 'so interested by your invention of afternoon tea'               +23
When Mrs Trenchard arrives at the grand home of the Duchess of Bedford (pictured played by Naomi Frederick) - the first scene set in London's Belgravia, 26 years after the Battle of Waterloo - she informs her host she is 'so interested by your invention of afternoon tea'

The Duchess of Bedford (pictured) is best remembered as the creator of afternoon tea while visiting the 5th Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle in the mid-1840s    

During the 18th century, dinner was served increasingly later in the day, meaning an extra meal called luncheon was created to fill the midday gap.

Due to luncheon being very light, people became increasingly hungry in the afternoons - and the duchess found a serving of cakes and sandwiches with Darjeeling tea was a good refreshment.

She began inviting her friends over to join her, and afternoon tea subsequently became an established tradition in many middle and upper class households.


Lady Charlotte Gordon, the eldest child of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, and his wife, Jane Maxwell, became the Duchess of Richmond when she she married Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond, 4th Duke of Lennox and 4th Duke of Aubigny, on September 9, 1789.

In 1814 the family moved to Brussels, where the cost of living was much less expensive than it was in Britain - where overseas trade restrictions had caused a surge a prices.

On June 15, 1815, the Duchess of Richmond held the now infamous ball during which the Duke of Wellington received confirmation that Napoleon Bonaparte's army had entered the territory of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands near Charleroi (now the Kingdom of Belgium). Pictured: an engraving of the Duchess of Richmond's ball

This appealed to upper class families who wishes to maintain the standard of living they'd become accustomed to.

A year later on June 15, 1815, the duchess held the now infamous ball during which the Duke of Wellington received confirmation that Napoleon Bonaparte's army had entered the territory of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands near Charleroi (now the Kingdom of Belgium).

Fellowes described the ball as an 'extraordinary acme for a certain kind of tragic privilege'.

Sophia Trenchard becomes embroiled in a scandalous - and ultimately tragic - love affair with caddish aristocrat Edmund Bellasis (pictured together at the Duchess of Richmond's ball)       

'Uniquely entitled young men with their nice fiancées, wives and sisters were dancing at the Duchess's ball. They then left the dance floor to go straight to the battlefield,' he said.

'Many of the details fascinated me. As the men left and the women were weeping, some people carried on dancing. Some of the young officers were still in their dress coats when they died at Waterloo two days later. There's something about that image that is both glamorous and incredibly sad.'

The Richmonds continued to live in Brussels until 1818, when her husband was appointed Governor General of British North America. He died a year later.

Fellowes described the Duchess of Richmond's ball as an 'extraordinary acme for a certain kind of tragic privilege'

In the second half of last night's drama, set in 1841, the duchess - played by Diana Kent - reveals she has 14 children; seven sons and seven daughters.

Charlotte was known to have a fierce temper, and was described by Spencer Madan, a tutor employed by the family for their two youngest sons, as 'one of the sourest most ill-tempered personages I ever came across in my life'.

He criticised her 'constant and ill-judged interference with regard to the boys' and complained about her 'haughty and disagreeable behaviour'.

In the second half of last night's drama, set in 1841, the Duchess of Richmond - played by Diana Kent, pictured - reveals she has 14 children; seven sons and seven daughters

In Belgravia, the duchess tells Mrs Trenchard (played by Tamsin Greig) that she 'doesn't even try' to pretend she loves them all equally, adding: 'I'm fond of some of my children, on reasonably good terms with the rest, but I have two I actively don't like.'

This could be a reference to her younger boys, Lords Frederick, Sussex and Arthur, whom she once described as 'the most headstrong, untoward little pickles she ever knew'. The duchess died at the age of 73 in London on 5 May, 1842. 


A central plotline of Belgravia involves the Trenchard's naive daughter Sophia and her infatuation with Lord Edmund Bellasis - the nephew of the Duchess of Richmond.

Determined to sleep with a woman of good standing before going to war - but frustrated by Sophia's desire to protect her chastity - Lord Bellasis tricks her into a fake marriage, 'officiated' by one of his comrades.

A central plotline of Belgravia involves the Trenchard's naive daughter Sophia (Emily Reid) and her infatuation with Lord Edmund Bellasis (Jeremy Neumark Jones) - the nephew of the Duchess of Richmond  

Fellowes said he was inspired by a similar scandal 30 years earlier involving a peer called Frederick Berkeley and butcher's daughter Mary Cole.

'The storyline is true and based on the 5th Earl of Berkeley,' he said. 'Although Berkeley did eventually marry the same woman, it was not until after they'd had six illegitimate children, none of whom were allowed to inherit the title.'

Berkeley and Cole claimed they had married in 1785, a year before the birth of their firstborn, William, who they wanted to inherit the family title. However, the first record of their marriage was in 1796.

Fellowes said he was inspired by a similar scandal 30 years earlier involving a peer called Frederick Berkeley  and butcher's daughter Mary Cole

Karen Davidson, archivist at Berkeley Castle, said: 'They claimed they had married in Berkeley church before his birth. There is no entry in the parish register recording this marriage, but in court it was claimed there was a note of the marriage by the vicar.'

The issue was debated in the House of Lords and the title eventually passed to Thomas Morton Fitzhardinge Berkeley, the couple's fifth child - but the first born after the couple were married.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Birds, buds and bright days: how spring can make us healthier and happier / Nature can be source of solace in crisis, says David Attenborough

Birds, buds and bright days: how spring can make us healthier and happier

Longer, lighter days can help us banish old habits, sleep better and improve our mental health, even during the lockdown

Amy Fleming
Sun 29 Mar 2020 15.00 BST

Thank goodness that, in this time of crisis, it is now spring. In the northern hemisphere, at least, we can say hello to green shoots, flowers, bumblebees and butterflies. Finally, the clocks have gone back to British Summer Time. We’ve lost an hour of sleep, but hello, light.

The greatest hope for the new season this year is that better weather will start to make it harder for coronavirus to spread. And for those lucky enough to still have their health, spring can provide other consolations. Its strong sense of a new beginning nudges our outlook and actions in welcome ways. Katherine Milkman, a behavioural scientist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied the phenomenon and found that there is more to spring cleaning than the sunlight suddenly showing up cobwebs and window smears. “The start of spring generally makes us feel more motivated – it’s a so-called ‘fresh start date’,” she says. As such, it makes us feel less connected to the past. “That disconnect gives us a sense that whatever we messed up on previously, we can get right now. Maybe the old you failed to quit smoking or start a lasting exercise routine, but the new you can do it.”

These moments, she says, also tend “to promote bigger-picture thinking, which gets us focused on our goals”. Whether facing health, financial or professional worries, newly working from home or home schooling, or being suddenly at a loss for something to do, Milkman says this effect can stretch “across all of our goal-oriented activities. We’ve seen that it affects everything from decisions about exercise to retirement savings.”

Spring can also fortify us with the relief it brings from seasonal affective disorder (Sad). Even if you do not have a clinical case of it, says Hugh Selsick, chair of the sleep working group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “most people will experience some degree of lifting of mood in the summer months”. Studies looking at populations in North America have illustrated this neatly, according to Selsick. “The further north you go, the worse our mood gets in the winter, because of that lack of light. For us [in the north] the payoff is that we also get these really nice bright long, spring and summer days.

“As humans, we evolved in a tropical place, where there was a lot more light,” Selsick says. This means our brains have evolved to expect a certain amount of it. “It’s probably why we are so susceptible to changes in light,” he says. And why the gloomier months can negatively affect sleep patterns and mood.

Sad symptoms that spring might alleviate include low mood, tiredness, sleeping longer than normal and, says Selsick, cravings of carbohydrates in particular. So feel free to harness this knowledge to fuel a new effort to start exceeding your five a day.

Now that most of us are only allowed out once a day, for exercise, the greatest gains in terms of making the most of spring light are to be had from stepping out first thing in the morning. Not only will getting up and out help avoid the crowds of joggers, but morning light is the most crucial for setting our circadian rhythms. “It’s much better at synchronising our body clocks and getting us back into sync with the outside world,” says Selsick.

When it’s dark, we produce melatonin, which acts as a time signal to the body, telling it we should be sleepy. “That first bit of light in the morning,” says Selsick, “is very effective at switching that melatonin off, which then tells the brain and the rest of the body it’s now time to be awake and active.

“We have a special set of receptors in our eyes which communicate directly with the body clock in the brain,” he adds. “They’re particularly sensitive to blue-green light, which on a [sunny] day like today is the colour of the sky. So that sort of bright sunlight, that outdoor light is what our brains are particularly sensitive to.” Exposure to this in the morning helps us to wake up and shake off bleary-eyed grumpiness. “And it helps to regulate our sleep. If your body knows when the day is starting, it’s easier for it to also know at what time it needs to start winding down and getting ready for sleep.” And of course sleeping well has the positive knock-on effect of giving you a better shot at feeling content and having good overall health.

The big danger with being locked down, warns Selsick, is “allowing your whole rhythm to drift”. Even if a temporary break from commuting allows you to sleep in a little, keep your waking-up time consistent to reap the benefits of the spring sunshine. “If you’re getting that first dose of light at a different time every morning, your body has no idea where it is in time,” he says. “You’re essentially jet-lagging your body by having a different rising time every day.” Setting regular meal times helps keep our daily rhythms in sync, too.

It’s essential that we make the most of opportunities to be outside, whether it’s that one permitted outing, or additional gardening, or spending some time on the balcony. “The more outdoors you can get the better, without getting in close contact with people,” says Selsick.

Getting some sun can fill our heads with new ideas, too. In 2005, psychologists at the University of Michigan found that half an hour out in the sun boosted not only mood, but also memory and creativity. To test the latter, they assessed changes in what they call cognitive broadening – “a style of thinking in which people become more creative and which is hypothesised to be an adaptive shift in cognition that leads to behavioral flexibility and exploration”, write the authors.

Late-evening light may be less likely to have an impact on circadian rhythms than morning rays, but, says Selsick, “people do generally report a better quality of life if they have some light in the evening”. Indeed. A 2016 study by researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah looked at six years of data from more than 16,000 adults and found that seasonal increases in hours of sunshine correlated with decreased mental health distress.

Longer days also seem to extend the amount of use we get from waking hours. When it’s light in the evenings, it feels like daytime for longer. Staying up to batch cook, bake bread or, in the current climate, have beers with friends over Zoom, will seem appealing all of a sudden. “Light does to some extent push sleep away a little bit,” says Selsick. “And people do often feel more alert when there’s bright light.”

And of course, with spring, light and warmth comes nature. April will see the return of swallows, swifts, cuckoos, martins and other feathery summer visitors. The more birds we see in our neighbourhoods, and the more greenery, the more robust our mental health will be, according to a 2017 study by the University of Exeter. In 2019, data from 20,000 British people crunched by researchers at the same university showed that the more time spent enjoying nature, the greater life satisfaction reported.

This is why GPs have been prescribing gardening as therapy. So plant some seeds and watch them grow, whether that’s in a flowerbed or a window-sill or balcony pot. Get a bird feeder – ensuring it’s inaccessible to squirrels, which are bird’s nest predators. Dig out your binoculars and indulge in some twitching, or figure out (with some online help) which song belongs to which bird.

The green shoots of a new chapter in our lives provide opportunities to do better, says Milkman. “The Covid-19 crisis is inaugurating a new era and shaking up our routines. Horrific as the crisis is, it presents an opportunity to size up our routines and consider what we want to change and how we can be better. I hope people will capitalise on that motivation and find ways to help one another (from a requisite social distance) and themselves achieve important goals.”

Yes, we are on lockdown. We may be emotionally exhausted and scared, but at least spring makes our daily outdoor exercise allowance more enticing. On warmer days, we can throw open the windows, let the fresh air flood in and expel the indoor pollutants that have accumulated from a winter’s worth of cooking and cleaning. We can welcome the reduction in traffic noise and fumes. These may be bittersweet byproducts of virus hell, but it’s all the better to hear the birds.

Nature can be source of solace in crisis, says David Attenborough

Broadcaster says in magazine interview that if we damage nature ‘we damage ourselves’

PA Media
Mon 30 Mar 2020 00.01 BST

David Attenborough
 David Attenborough spoke to the Big Issue in early March, before the UK went into lockdown.
The natural world can be a source of solace during times of crisis, Sir David Attenborough has said.

Speaking about the climate, the broadcaster and naturalist, 93, said the world was at an unprecedented point.

He told Big Issue magazine: “In times of crisis, the natural world is a source of both joy and solace. The natural world produces the comfort that can come from nothing else. And we are part of the natural world. If we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves.”

He also said he had cause for hope: “Kids these days are knowledgeable, aware of what’s happening, and are concerned. They are vocal. I haven’t known a generation of children that could be placed alongside these today.”

He said of the environment: “We’re in an unprecedented situation. We know quite a lot about the history of the world. We go back 500m years and there is no species with anything like the power Homo sapiens has over the natural world.

“There is nothing remotely like the situation we’re in at the moment. There’s no moral to be taken from what happened in the past. We’ve got a completely blank sheet of paper in front of us.

“The plain fact is that every mouthful of food you eat comes from the natural world. There’s no food that nourishes you that doesn’t come from the natural world. Every lungful of air that you take is refined by the natural world, oxygen breathed out by plants. If you can’t breathe and you can’t eat, you don’t exist.”

Attenborough was interviewed by the magazine in early March, before the UK went into lockdown.

He said: “Problems are short-term and long-term … the short-term we deal with and the long-term ‘we’ll do tomorrow’. But tomorrow never comes. And then suddenly we discover it’s too late.”

The full interview is in the current edition of Big Issue. Vendors are unable to sell it on the streets because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the publication and its beneficiaries can be supported via subscription.

The English Season cancelled by Corona Vírus ?

“When travel journalist Sophie Campbell squeezed into heels and a hat to investigate the English social season, she got more than she bargained for. Why, she wondered, were events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, The Derby at Epsom, Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta, Wimbledon Fortnight and Glorious Goodwood so formal, so fashionable and so famous?

Her hectic and sometimes hilarious journey through the English summer proved as exotic as any tribal rite of passage as she swam the River Thames in the dark, partied with owners and trainers at Ascot, camped out for Wimbledon, joined Irish Travellers at The Derby, infiltrated the parents stand at the Eton v Harrow cricket match and got caught using a mobile in the Stewards Enclosure at Henley. En route she found a fascinating and surprisingly complex social structure dating back to the time of the Stuart monarchs and involving fashion, food, art and the marriage market. The English summer will never be the same again.”

Summer of sport is CANCELLED... Wimbledon, Ascot, the Olympics and cricket face the chop as coronavirus looks set to wipe them out with Euro 2020 already pushed back to next year

The English Season
The English Season comprises a number of quintessentially British social and sporting events that take place during the spring and summer each year.

Our luxury accommodation in Eton and Windsor is set in the ideal location and provides the perfect place to reside when attending any of the English Season events.

We can arrange for tickets and event packages for our guests through our concierge services, and organise chauffer-driven transportation to the events if you would like to travel in style.

Evolving with the English nobility and aristocrats in the 17th and 18th centuries, the traditional highlights of the English Season now include the Chelsea Flower Show, the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Henley Regatta, Glorious Goodwood and Cowes Week among others. However, this has greatly expanded over the years to capture many fabulous events for which England is now famous.

The events are now as diverse as rowing, horse racing, classic car shows, tennis, polo, golf, cricket, motor racing and music festivals for both the young and the “seasoned”. There is something for everybody!

Many of the occasions are a wonderful excuse to dress up in tailcoats or blazers, elegant dresses and extravagant hats, and all provide the best food, champagne and entertainment available.

For a full event list and calendar, visit our English Season Calendar.

Here are the events though that we think make the perfect English Season (dates vary annually):

Cartier International Polo
Hosted by the Guards Polo Club, the Cartier International Polo Day takes place in Windsor Great Park in late July.

The Cartier International is much more than polo - guests enjoy gourmet food and exclusive shopping.

Chelsea Flower Show
Hosted in May by the Royal Horticultural Society, The Chelsea Flower Show is held at the Chelsea Royal Hospital.

Experience award winning gardens, exhibits, trade stands, cafes and restaurants.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Festival
Taking place in March - four days of the best horse jump racing at Cheltenham Racecourse – with over 220,000 attendees each year.

Cowes Week
Cowes Week is the largest sailing regatta in the world - taking place since 1826.

8,500 competitors take part in August each year - from Olympic and world class professionals to weekend sailors.

Epsom Derby
The Derby, or Epsom Derby, is a flat horse race in early June – and is Britain’s richest horse race.

Formula 1 British Grand Prix
The British Grand Prix takes place at the Silverstone circuit in July, but started at the historic Brooklands racetrack in 1927. Glamour, fast cars and VIP enclosures make this a very special event.


Goodwood Festival of Speed
The world’s greatest car event featuring classic cars, Formula One drivers, driving experiences and more. Usually held during late June and / or early July.

Glorious Goodwood
Glorious flat horse racing spread over five days every August – along with exclusive entertainment and culinary delights.

Glyndebourne Opera Festival
The Glyndebourne Opera Festival in August is a must for all opera lovers – taking place from May through to August.

Henley Royal Regatta
Henley Royal Regatta is the best-known regatta in the world. Five days of rowing and VIP socialising during late June.

Last Night of the Proms
The Proms consists of 70 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, London - culminating in the Last Night in September. The Last Night is traditionally a lighter evening than the other concerts and is a display of English eccentricity at it’s best.

Louis Vuitton Classic
The Louis Vuitton Concours d'Elegance of vintage cars is held at the Hurlingham Club. It usually takes place every June.

Royal Ascot
For over 250 years, Royal Ascot has been a showcase for the best racehorses in the world. Takes place in the third week of June every year.

The Boat Race
First taking place in 1829, Oxford and Cambridge universities race each other on the River Thames every March or April.


The Grand National
Taking place since 1839, the Grand National is a three-day horse jump-racing event in April and the most anticipated horse race of the year.

The Queen's Club Aegon Tennis Championship
The traditional men’s warm up tennis event for Wimbledon, taking place in June every year at the beautiful Queens Tennis Club

Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Strawberries and cream, Centre Court and the best tennis players in the world. Starts late June every year.