Ben Lowry: We have made it through the worst of the dark, dreaded winter lockdown

Last year it was said that we were fortunate in Europe to be embarking on a lockdown after winter.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 12:29 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th March 2021, 3:29 pm
The sun rises over Boscombe beach in Dorset on the day of the Spring equinox this morning. The worst of lockdown in short dark days is over. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Being confined to home was a less unpleasant prospect in good weather than bad, assuming you had access to outside space (I hesitate to recommend yet more red tape for the construction industry, but I do wonder if all new-build properties including flats should be required to have some outdoor seating area such as a balcony).

Then, late this year, Northern Ireland embarked on a dreaded winter lockdown, which commenced at the darkest time of the year, beginning in late December, in a part of Europe that has some of the shortest days in the continent.

Well, we have got through the worst of it, thank goodness.

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The stay-at-home advice was not observed as widely as last year’s pre summer lockdown. Just by walking or cycling down a main road it has been obvious since the new year that traffic levels have been far higher than last year. At times, traffic seems to be almost normal.

Meanwhile, the days have suddenly become radically brighter than they were just weeks ago. The half hour of near daylight before sunrise and after sunset mean the days already seem more light than dark (although the equinox is only today tomorrow, so it has technically been still more night than day until now).

When the sun came out on some days last week it was like summer, with the sound of birdsong and lawn mowers and happy human voices in gardens. It is a reminder of the fine weather last April and May.

March is a similarly cheerful time of the year, and this year boosted by the sense of optimism fuelled by the rapid vaccine rollout.

The good weather is all the more enjoyable when I think of developments that might help nature. We have learned that we can cut our pollution and still live well. Lockdown has hastened a leap forward in digital technology, which will help solar power and electric vehicles. In future, we should be able to enjoy the freedom of the car while causing less damage to the planet.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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