What’s your favourite harbinger of spring? For me, it’s the sweet song of the blackie and from the end of February onwards, I’m straining my ears to hear it. So far I’ve heard only one or two blackbirds singing in the distance, and so I’m hoping that this month they’ll be in much finer fettle! Leopard April 2015 cover

Our ‘Buchan Birdlines’ columnist, Hugh Ouston, says the swallow is his most welcome sign of spring and has an enchanting photograph to share with us. In ‘Gardens’, Simon McPhun agrees, and says anemones are a close second. But if lambs happen to be your favourite spring symbols, I hesitate to recommend that you turn to ‘The Kilted Kitchen Garden’, where Craig Wilson has one for the pot. Our Kilted Chef promises to cater for those of us who are vegetarians, very soon; meantime, I’m sure the rest of our readers will enjoy his tender Easter offering!

Banchory is in the spotlight this month, and Duncan Harley has uncovered more fascinating ‘Our Town’ tales - including the escapades of ‘Fleein’ Geordie’ and his amazing flying machine.

Charles Burnett concludes his fascinating two-part feature on the ‘hidden’ heraldry on Aberdeen’s bridges, while Martin Pucci continues his occasional medical local history series by commemorating the 80th anniversary of the death of JJR Macleod, one of the team responsible for isolating insulin and pioneering the life-saving treatment of diabetes.

Mark Chalmers returns with a biopic of the late Aberdeen architect Mike Shewan, the man behind the groundbreaking 1960s design of Gray’s School of Art, in Aberdeen.

And on the events front, Annie Woolridge has a Wicked preview for us, as well as the usual jam-packed ‘Diary’, while Grace Simpson’s ‘What’s On’ listings are as varied and colourful as ever, reflecting the rich cultural environment we enjoy in the North-east.

Judy Mackie, Editor