Can you smell it yet? Somewhere between the floral notes of sweet blossom and the earthiness of dawn it’s there – the heady, wonderful anticipation of summer. No sooner do the clocks go forward then the extra hour of daylight begins its fruitful labour, heating up our days with its abundant rays, and ripening up everything around us into little blooms of happiness.
There is nothing that could possibly mar the excitement of an impending summer – except the anti-BST brigade calling for our extra hour of respite from darkness to be scrapped.
For the next week or so, until the infectious warmth of daylight has worn them down, these curmudgeons will argue many things about why our nation’s tradition is nought but an excuse to spend more time lazing, relaxing and being foolishly British in the sun. It is, of course, but there are so many reasons why that extra hour of light is a precious gift we cannot give up. Here are 10 of them.
1) 1) It is one of our nation’s happiest traditions. When Kent builder William Willett proposed altering the clocks to benefit the health, happiness and wealth of the population in 1907, little did he realise it would become an idea so successful in its aims it would be adopted in various forms by other countries. Although Willett died the year before the Summertime Bill was passed in 1916, his legacy lives on in the hour of joy and freedom he has given us.
2) 2) There’s no denying the extra hour of sunlight a day is good for your health. Studies have shown that between 80 and 100 per cent of our vitamin D requirement is met by sunlight, meaning in the winter months many of us could be deficient. Some suggest this could increase the risk of heart disease and MS. The good news is experts believe 30 minutes of sunlight to the face and arms between April and October is enough to give adequate levels of vitamin D for the year – making that extra hour almost a medicinal necessity.
3) 3) It makes people in general happier, shinier and brighter. Like a grey veil being lifted to reveal a radiant, blushing bride, the 60 minutes of new-found daylight has the power to transform not just the mood of a nation, but its entire demeanour. Whether it’s the psychological effect of having light in our lives, or just that tiny bit more exposure to the sun’s nurturing rays – gone is the wan pallor of winter from our aspects and in its place is the glow of a new season.
4) 4) We get to reclaim our lives from the grindstone. There’s far less of an impetus to leave work on time when all you’ve got to look forward to is 15 hours of uninterrupted darkness ahead. But when you know you’ve got at least another two hours of daylight to make the most of, it’s down tools and out of the door with a multitude of untapped possibilities just waiting to be explored.
5) 5) It makes you fitter. Maybe it’s just walking home instead of taking the bus, or playing football, running or cycling. Whatever your chosen activity, there are so many more opportunities to exercise when the nation is observing BST.
6) 6) Originally, when the concept of daylight saving time was first mooted, one of the main arguments in its favour was reducing fuel costs. This is just as relevant today, with reducing carbon emissions and saving energy being uppermost in society’s conscience. Now the clocks have gone forward, we light our homes for less time in the evenings. Who knows, the daylight may encourage us to stay out longer, thus reducing our energy needs further.
7) 7) Hibernation is over. Gone are the days of curling up at home with the curtains drawn, the time has arrived for an entirely new pastime – al fresco dining and drinking. The daylight brings forth all sorts of culinary possibilities. It’s about beer gardens, early evening picnics and barbecues – all of which are even more delicious when tasted anew after a dark winter indoors.
8) 8) What is that sound? It’s the lesser known shrieks and high-jinks of the post-winter child. Youngsters, too, have been in hibernation. Their fun has been confined to soft-play warehouses and leisure centres. Lighter evenings give them the chance to do what all children should be doing – being active, using up energy and enjoying the outdoors.
9) 9) Sunsets. There’s nothing more soothing than watching the day’s dying rays melt into the horizon. Yes, it happens every 24 hours, but how often do we get to watch it? Now the days are longer, the pleasure of the sunsets can be shared and enjoyed once again.
1Li10) Life is simply too short to be languishing in the dark. We spend so much time indoors – in the artificial glare of neon strip-lit offices, in our homes, while in transit – we often forget just how great the outdoors really is. BST liberates us and throws up opportunities that just aren’t there when the nights draw in earlier. It’s amazing what can be done with that extra hour given to us by Mr Willett almost a century ago. He spent years campaigning for daylight saving time, only for his own life to end just before he could enjoy the benefits it would bring. We owe it to him to turn our clocks forward, write off the loss of 60 minutes’ sleep, get out there and savour every second of daylight we can.
WWhat do you think? Let us know your thoughts.