In days of yore, the seasons were well-defined by the agricultural and ecclesiastical calendar. For most of us now, however, the progress of the year is marked by other milestones. One day, I’ve decided, I’d like to write a coffee-table book with photographs, about what indicates changing seasons in the modern world. They’re different for all of us, and they don’t have to be limited to four.

For me, in Cambridge, the first real change occurs when I can ride a bicycle without wearing gloves.

A little later, the punts start appearing on the river, and then the hearts of the colleges descend into silence as exams approach. Female undergraduates wear sleeveless dresses.

Post-exam balls lead us into high summer, as our undergraduates are replaced with language students, who spend a few months here learning English and learning to cycle on the left.

Then, after a while, you find that the walk to a college dinner is something you do in the dark, and before long, you need to wear gloves again when you’re cycling home.

What defines the changing seasons for you?


This is a fascinating idea. As an academic, I’ve long felt that my personal New Year is somewhere at the beginning of October thanks to my annual teaching cycle refreshing at this point — a much more real ‘new year’ than the one beginning in January. The first time I arrive at work on a bright day with my breath misting I feel a sense of renewal and always find it deeply satisfying.

I moved from heavy winter gloves to light summer glovers for motorcycling yesterday 🙂

Certainly flowers don’t currently know the seasons any more, so that’s one less indicator. Perhaps they need you book 🙂

There is a moment in spring shortly before the clocks change that one does not need lights to cycle home. Also, in the depths of winter one needs lights to get to cycle to work, but depending on your schedule that becomes unnecessary by February. When I had a lengthy commute (32 mile round trip) in my gap year I plotted sunrise and sunset times for the whole year to see when these lighting thresholds would be…

First change is having enough daylight hours , with out get up at the crack of dawn, to go for a 21 mile walk.
next step is when its warm enough to go for a swim in the cam without it being freezing cold…and being able to go to Jesus Green pool too 🙂

I think that would be a great idea for a “book”…..

Mine is cycling without a scarf and gloves…I cycle into town not far but the cold winds seem to get us..Cambridge is a lot warmer…

The female undergraduates wear a lot less than sleeveless dresses!!! My son would know, he was always going to visit his uncle who lives in Cambridge…I wonder why??

Spring is here when the leaves of the horse chestnut trees that line the Long Walk unfurl their fresh green leaves, and the seagulls that visit the Thames during bad weather have gone back to sea, and the air is fresh even if still chilly.

After that, we have event season (complete with traffic) when Horse Shows, Royal Ascot, and Garter Day bring ladies and gentlemen dressed in fascinating fashions to mix with the rest of us sporting T-shirts and jeans. Plenty of good sights to behold; I should take photos …

In Windsor, the summer holiday feeling starts early as American tourists congregate around the castle and top end of town from the beginning of June onwards. This is more of an audible change, with voices and accents being more obvious than any visual cues such as clothing style.

Seeing our ‘dragon breath’ in the morning as we talk on the way to school usually means it is autumn. Walking home from school in the dark means it is definitely winter.

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