Spring is a torment in the city. You can’t keep it out, however urban the view. Outside my study window, a tree-goodness knows where it grows in this terrace of pokey Pimlico backyards-has turned a luminous shade of lime green. It’s an exotic tree, unidentifiable by me, with feathery leaves, amid which the blue tits find something worth pecking at.

I strongly suspect that a pigeon has made a nest in an angle of drainpipe just above my window out of sight. I loathe pigeons, but haven’t the heart to disrupt this avian bower-even though I know that the fledglings there will soon grow up into pests that I would gladly see poisoned. Visiting a friend’s roof terrace the other day, I saw, flying over a neighbouring building, a kite: not a kite as in the bird, but attached to a string. Nevertheless, it imitated a bird of prey, and the pigeons went somewhere else: an elegant solution.

But the plane trees that bring shade to so many squares and streets are notoriously bad for hay fever. And as the temperature rises, sunshine only serves to remind me how much more agreeable it would be if one were somewhere less dusty. Ramsgate for example. We were there at the weekend, rebuilding the altar, made from old bricks, which is the barbecue. Roll on the school holidays.

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