The current warm February weather has brought unexpectedly early demand for some local small businesses, like Marco Corelli’s Italian ice cream stand on Hampton Court Bridge.

Mr Corelli would usually set up shop in Spring and work until the end of October, as he has done for the past 15 years. This year, bright sunshine and unseasonal temperatures of around 18 degrees Centigrade mean he has arrived early. And business has been good.

Mr Corelli said he was surprised at the “steady” flow of customers despite the time of year. Having seen the weather forecast he said he “panicked” before quickly putting up his stand on the bridge last week, eager to extend his usual selling period during the summer.

He has a prominent spot beside the River Thames and near to the front of Hampton Court Palace, attracting tourists and locals. With the warm spell expected to last this week, out-of-season ices and cold drinks sales are likely to continue - good news for other local entrepreneurs enjoying the benefits of the ‘early spring’.

In the Palace’s gardens nearby, which attract visitors from around the world, people sat on the grass in t-shirts enjoying Mr Corelli’s ice creams, and flowers bloomed far earlier than usual.