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The return of the blackthorn winter

Blackthorn bushes are bursting into flower. Credit: National Trust Images/PA

After the record breaking (and astonishing) warmth of 21C in February - the first time on record we have exceeded 20C in winter - it's been a notably cold Spring this year.

While the Beast from the East brought record amounts of snow last March, this year was wet and exceptionally windy, rather than wintry.

This April - so far - has been colder than March.

Hail, sleet and snow fell last week, with overnight frosts and temperatures falling as low -7C this week.

Daytime temperatures have struggled to get near 6C-7C in places, especially in the breeze as we draw in cold air from southern Scandinavia and the Continent.

Wintry weather in spring is known as 'blackthorn winter'. Credit: DPA/PA

Wintry weather in the spring is known as "blackthorn winter" - an old phrase to describe colder spring air - originating in rural England where the confusingly-named white blackthorn blossom blooms in the hedgerows and mimics the springtime snow or frosts in the adjoining fields.

The same hedgerows eventually produce sloes in September.

A blackthorn winter can be described as the opposite of an Indian summer - and certainly not unusual.

With longer days and sun gaining strength this time of year we're often duped into expecting warmer weather - but it's often not the case.

Statistically, we're more likely to see snow at Easter than Christmas.

What is bizarre this year is, since February, we've seen temperatures fall rather than rise.

At least there's sunshine today after a misty, grey few days for some - the brighter skies coinciding with the county cricket season.

Great news - as long as you still have your thermals on under the cricket whites.