Daylight is gradually increasing, and cold grey sleety afternoons are occasionally giving way to pink sunsets. Clusters of porcelain white snowdrops scatter the front lawns reminding us that winter is gradually drawing to a close.

I enjoy my long mid-morning walk in the silent, deserted streets. Snowflakes relentlessly whirl and fall through pale-white light. The freezing wind reddens my face. It looks like there is no-one around. My breathing is quite heavy as the street is slightly uphill and the temperature is minus five degrees.

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My thoughts wander. I lived in Canada for about a year once. I recollect those dramatically low temperatures and how they plummeted down to minus twenty that winter. The weather existed on a different scale out there. I loved waking up to heavy Canadian snowfalls and gazing in wonderment out of the window at the stillness, at metre long crystal-clear icicles. You had to go out to work or to go food shopping regardless. The Canadians dressed appropriately, wearing thermals, layering and not forgetting the right socks, gloves, scarves and hats.

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I remember somebody once telling me that there are about a dozen Inuit words for snow and ice. According to the Canadian encyclopaedia, “Inuktitut has a far superior ability to distinguish between types of snow and ice than most languages.”

As I continue to walk, alone with my thoughts, I think about what I was doing this time last year. An image of crunching sweet and salty popcorn in the cinema comes to mind. I let my daughter finish the popcorn we shared, then moved onto my vanilla cappuccino. The lights were low, we nestle into our comfy seats and within seconds I had forgotten about everything and was absorbed by the story. The hypnotic power of movie magic took a hold. I think the film was Little Women.

Then I remember last February when I was meandering around the toiletries and cosmetics departments of Debenhams. The joy of spraying a new perfume or two onto cards, trying on lipsticks on the back of my hand, looking in the mirror and putting sparkling jewelled earrings against my ears. Browsing in the aisles and not knowing what I might find, a new hair conditioner with avocado oil or a coconut milk foot soak?

Or memories of walking into Waterstones, to my left, bookcases were crammed with recently published books, a literary feast awash with brightly coloured covers; I read lots of blurbs, unsure which book I’d be walking out with.

Eventually, March 2020 arrived. As scary as the pandemic was, at first it was a relief to slow down, to see nature come to life without millions us milling about. It felt as if the earth had stopped. Society had been forced into an inertia. I rather enjoyed the rest, renewal and new routines at first. Those springtime walks, baking scones and learning a new language online.

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Now though, a year on, we are all tired of this and can’t wait for society to open up again. Apart from catching up with hugs, I think many of us are excited about going down the pub. Those seem to be our top two priorities.

Of course, hairdressers must reopen soon! As my hair is quite dark and pretty long now so I am beginning to look like a 1970s folk singer from Southern Europe. I just need to buy myself a pair of thick black rimmed spectacles and I would look like a close female relative of Nana Mouskouri!

I can’t wait to sit back and let the hairdresser lather up and wash away the grime; let the hairdryer and barrel hairbrush move in symphonic unison along the length of my long hair as I sip tea, leaving me with the glossiest of finishes. Then I’ll leave my hairdresser a little tip for taking five years off me…a priceless gift!

I can’t wait to jump on the Thameslink, sip a cappuccino alfresco somewhere in London breathing in the London vibes and fumes! To nourish my soul with an art exhibition, or maybe a Sadler’s Well’s dance performance where I’d lose myself in the leaps and twirls of contemporary dance; or to sit in an audience in the West End absorbed by anything from a Shakespearean play to a singing-a-long feel-good musical!

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Imagine sitting at one of those round marble tables in a Pizza Express, surrounded by black and white framed photography and biting into a Fiorentina, washed down with an Orange San Pellegrino drunk from those blue glass tumblers. How wonderful!

On the other hand, maybe we have all just become more domesticated and are planning what we’d like to do in the garden next month. Perhaps we’ll be heading to our local garden centres and choosing some hyacinths and tulip bulbs, or primrose and pansy seeds. Or maybe we’re planning which Netflix series we’d like to catch up with next, while sipping a cinnamon and nutmeg infused hot chocolate from the comfort of our own sofas to be followed by a long winter’s nap.

Whatever it is we’re looking forward to, brighter days are on their way. As we go for our vaccines, the spring will come, and the dry warm heat of the sun means that the virus won’t be able to thrive as much anyway. Either way we will adapt and overcome. We will do as we please. We always do. As Darwin reminds us: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

  • Marisa Laycock moved to St Albans in 2000. She enjoys sharing her experiences of living in the city. These columns are also available as podcasts from 92.6FM Radio Verulam at