During my government-approved daily exercise excursions this week I’ve been noticing nature more.
The weather helps, despite its impeccable comic timing, finally lurching into spring just as we’re ordered to stay in. So while we may not be allowed to enjoy spring sunshine as we usually would (wine on a riverside terrace, beers in a pub garden, cans in the park, whatever floats your boat) there is still plenty to savour when we can venture out.
In this spirit, the National Trust urged us all to enjoy the spring blossom on Thursday. Bloom boom time tends to last for about two weeks, a fortnight we’d usually spend commuting, perhaps noticing blossoms only when they’d fallen onto the floor and disturbed our peripheral vision as we gaze downwards at phone screens.
We’re all doing more than enough website consumption at home at the moment, so collectively looking up and enjoying the blossom seems a noble aim.
Andy Beer, nature expert at the National Trust says: “It’s really easy to take this moment in nature for granted. Celebrating blossom is a pivotal, seasonal moment that can often be all too fleeting and we want to do all we can to help people and families at home to enjoy and take stock of a special moment in the calendar."
If you can’t see it in person there is the Blossomwatch hashtag, proving that Twitter has the capacity to be more than a collection of the world’s worst people sharing the worst opinions possible in the worst possible way.
While we’re in the mood for enjoying nature, here’s a rare bird that has been photographed for the first time recently:
This is the first time a South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher has ever been photographed. An ultra rare beautiful bird, threatened with extinction. These pictures are a result of a decade of laborious tracking by field biologist Miguel De Leon. https://t.co/pXtdwX8yAq pic.twitter.com/mSFpWLXj0u
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) March 26, 2020
And I would highly recommend the great Joe Shute’s piece today about how self-isolating is turning us all into birders.
Here’s Harriet with the rest of today’s reasons to be cheerful.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home reportedly rehomed more than double their usual amount of cats and dogs last week. Pet shops were also cleared as people looked for a companion for the lockdown.
British scientists have developed a new ventilator for the NHS in just a week – they hope the simple design will make it easy for manufacturers to produce en masse.
Families in America, Canada and some parts of Britain, have been decking their houses like it’s Christmas with fairy lights, decorations and inflatables.
Millions of the world’s poorest people will receive over 20 million hygiene and cleaning products, including soap and bleach, from a new campaign by Unilever and the Department for International Development.
A mental health company called Unmind has made their online resources free for all NHS workers to combat the impact of pressure and demand on staff mental health caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ve already had 7,000 NHS staff members sign up.
Tesla Inc will reopen its New York factory "as soon as humanly possible" to manufacture ventilators for coronavirus patients, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Wednesday.
A 96-year-old woman is now the oldest South Korean to fully recover from the coronavirus.
The National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal has raised almost £11 million since launching a week ago (Weds 18). The first £2.5 million is now being distributed to front-line charities, which will deliver food to isolated people, help people recover after leaving hospital, and protect vulnerable children now schools are closed.
A Vietnamese restaurant is selling coronavirus-shaped burgers in Hanoi, Vietnam. The owner said: “We have this joke that if you are scared of something, you should eat it.” There have been no reported deaths in Vietnam.
A World War II veteran, Jack Bowden, is believed to be the oldest person in the UK to survive coronavirus. The former Royal Navy petty officer is 98 and was discharged from the hospital three days after testing positive.
A number of Norwich City football players have been calling season ticket holders over 80 years old to check in and see if they require any help during their isolation.
Adrian Blomfield reports that an Anglophone rebel group in Cameroon has agreed to stop fighting for a fortnight in response to UN's call on warring parties around the world to declare ceasefires in order to aid the global fight against the new coronavirus. The armed wing of the Communist Party in the Philippines has done the same.
One million members of the public could be sent antibody testing kits to check if they have ever had coronavirus within a couple of weeks, health officials have said.
Graffiti artists in Senegal are using their spray cans to spread public health awareness messages and encourage people to protect themselves. Many read “Together against Covid-19,” while other messages, which were spray-painted next to a health hotline number, said “A big thank you to the caregivers.”
Dogs are being trained by scientists to see if they can detect coronavirus through their sense of smell. It follows earlier research that showed that dogs can detect malaria. If successful, the dogs could be stationed at airports after the epidemic to prevent the disease returning.
A group of nine friends have set up a non-profit called Meals for the NHS, which after receiving donations from the public, provide front line workers at London’s NHS hospitals with free meals. A £30 donation feeds six NHS workers – cooked by restaurants suffering financially during the lockdown. So far over £100,000 has been raised.
By Harriet Barber
Three pleasant things to put into your head
A “birthday drive-by” sounds like a particularly grim chapter from a gang war. This, from Sligo in Ireland, is far nicer:
So my daughter, Katie, had her 12th Birthday today. She couldn't have any friends over so we arranged a birthday drive by with all her friends as a surprise for her. Best bunch of friends ever!! #rathcormac #sligo #ireland #socialdistancing #COVID2019 pic.twitter.com/G0sV2zGPXU
— Katie (@katiekins76) March 26, 2020
A herd of deer taking advantage of a quieter than usual Richmond Park
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