You might have noticed your nose running or eyes itching a bit more than is usual for this time of year, and if so you’re not alone - hay fever season has arrived three weeks early and sufferers have been warned to stay indoors over the Easter period.
This is thanks to the unusually warm winter we’ve had in the UK, with minimal call for putting on our big coats as temperatures remained mild. On top of this, the record for the warmest winter day in UK history was broken not once but twice in February, as temperatures climbed to the dizzy heights of 21C.
These hot, sunny days have caused trees to develop pollen-holding catkins earlier than usual - meaning pollen is being released prematurely - and now up to 18 million Brits are paying the price, as they struggle with hay fever symptoms in the run up to Easter.
Birch tree pollen - reportedly the variety that triggers hay fever symptoms in one in four sufferers - is already being released into the atmosphere.
For southerners the pollen season usually starts in the second week of April, but trees down there started releasing pollen from March 24th, and now trees in Manchester - and as far north as Newcastle - have already joined in with this premature release cycle.
And thanks to a spell of dry and windy weather, which is the perfect conditions for pollen to become airborne, the counts are set to soar over the Easter holidays.
At least you’ll have a load of chocolate to help your survive your incarceration while the pollen wreaks havoc.