Tuesday 23 March

One year on since the first lockdown. There have been sombre moments, remembering those who died, and thinking of the other sacrifices which people have had to make during the past year. I looked at my diary for this day last year, I was certainly very frightened. I slept very badly after the government’s announcement: I felt I had never experienced anything like this before and could not see a way forward. Today there have been many articles and analyses. I like the ones which focus on the positive: people who have enjoyed not having to commute on a crowded train, who have spent more time with their family, who have made a big effort with their garden. For me personally it has not been such a disastrous year. I have of course chafed under the restrictions, it has been awful not to see friends and family who do not live in the immediate vicinity, I have missed the theatre, concerts, exhibitions like everyone else. But I did not have the struggles which so many people had: furlough, home schooling, relatives in a care home. We have all remained fit and healthy, I have had fun writing the blog which has kept me in touch with many people around the world, not quite a year of that yet!

Today I visited Wisley Royal Horticultural Garden, which has a spectacular display of spring flowers. The Japanese cherry trees are in full bloom at the entrance, and there is some appropriate music playing in the background. It is exquisite.

There were many people there: this photo is quite canny. There were still many daffodils in flower, and late-blooming white and purple crocuses. Many different kinds of magnolia

some early rhododendrons, witch hazel, daphne bholua, camellias.

Tempting to photograph every other plant and tree. It is all wonderfully cared for, the plant centre and shop are open and there are many little refreshment kiosks around the grounds. As with National Trust properties you have to book a ticket in advance but the car parks were pretty full. It is so spacious anyway that social distancing is automatic. A great day out. And I managed to buy some birthday cards.

I watched Ben Fogle New Lives in the Wild. The family he was visiting had started off in a static caravan on the Isle of Rum, completely off grid and exposed to wind and weather. When he visited them five years later, they had moved to a house on the mainland. Still very remote, and still trying to live the good life with chickens and a vegetable patch, but had to admit that with two growing children on the Isle of Rum, life in a disintegrating caravan was not much fun, it was pure survival and trying to keep warm and dry. I like Ben’s philosophical analysis of what makes these people tick. He is never explicitly critical but I feel he does try to show what might or might not work.

It is not quite bluebell time, but this is a beautiful video, made by my friend Mark Harmer, whose birthday it was recently. Many happy returns Mark: it seems an appropriate day to play such a contemplative piece. (Please cut and paste the link, it does not seem to work directly) It is an Ocarolan piece played on the harp, by Mark, who is sitting in a bluebell wood near his home.

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