Spring has sprung and it’s time to make travel plans.
Has spring sprung for you yet? It would be easy to doubt it this year because of the weather. But, depending on whom you believe, spring began on the 1st of March…
Or did it?
The ‘official’, astronomical start of spring
Officially (according to the astronomical calendar) the first day of spring actually falls on the vernal equinox between the 20th and 21st of March. This is the day when the sun passes directly over the equator and when day and night are both 12 hours long. From here the days lengthen until the summer solstice on the 21st June. We call that day midsummer’s eve, which seems a bit odd as it’s just three months after the equinox. But that’s another story.
Spring, according to the Met Office
According to the Met Office spring starts on the 1st of March. They call it the ‘meteorological spring’ nowadays following a bit of a backlash from purists and politicians with nothing better to do, which basically gets them off the hook for going against the grain.
The reason for this adoption of the 1st of March is that the Met Office likes to be neat and tidy with the seasons. They consider that March, April and May are the months of the spring season. Unfortunately their argument that the whole of March should be considered as spring does have some logic to it. Finishing spring and commencing summer on the 21st June seems a bit late. Flaming June is - as we know – the height of summer. We’d like to think so wouldn’t we?
Nature’s version of events
Have you picked your sides yet? Even if you have already decided between the two contentious dates, there is something else to consider. That’s nature. As we all know, nature cannot be constrained by our rules and calendars so the first day of the spring – in ecological terms – can change from year to year and climate to climate. That’s because it is natural events that mark the change from winter to spring, with biological indicators such as the appearance of the first snowdrops (for example) governing the start of the season. For us it may well be the cheery sight of the appearance of the first daffodil that signals the off towards summer, which seems quite apt, if a bit unhelpful.
And it’s changing all the time
But what about climate change? If we are to experience milder, wetter and windier winters (such as the one we have just been through) then it means spring will come earlier and earlier in the years to come. On this subject the Met office has this to say: “…records show 'spring' has advanced 2-6 days per decade in the UK. Those with gardens need to start cutting their lawns almost two weeks earlier than they did in 2001. Research has also confirmed that the growing season of plants is likely to increase by around 40 days by 2080, due to the earlier start to spring and later end to autumn.” Does that mean they are due to change their official date anytime soon? Who knows?!
So that’s settled then?
Take your pick! Is the first day of spring the 1st, the 21st, or the day your daffs hit the daylight? Or is it the day you fire up the mower? You decide. Does it really matter? Either way, it’s definitely the right time to think about getting out your shorts and flip flops and planning your next trip. There’s nothing like a bit of spring sunshine to raise the sap and set the heart racing.
Don’t forget about us when you book!
When spring does actually arrive it’s easy to get excited at the prospect of travel and good times to come. But don’t forget about us when you book that Easter break, the two weeks away in August or a mini-break in between.
As soon as you make a booking with a hotel, holiday company or travel agent you are entering into a contract and can be made to honour it – even if your circumstances change and you can’t travel. So it’s important to remember to book your travel insurance with cancellation cover at the same time as you book. And that doesn’t mean you have to go with the ‘recommended’ insurers your airline, hotel or agent are tied in to. They may not be able to offer you the best cover at the best price, especially if you have a medical condition. But we can.