TV’s Britain

I find myself having a nice, slow evening, catching up with my ironing with the aid of the wood burning stove and the noticably sub-zero temperatures outside. What more excuse could I need than to start on one of my christmas presents, a DVD of Robbie Coltrane’s B-Road Britain.

As Robbie Coltrane points out, the building of the motorway network in the 1950s went a long way to shrinking our green and pleasant land into something of a blur as we hurtle from A to B as quickly as possible. Efficient, but perhaps not as fun as paying attention to all the places you’re skipping past.

I’ve watched most of the first episode and whilst I’m not mad keen on the Direction, he’s certainly done a fine job of highlighting lots of characterful places and events. From the Cotswold stone houses to High Wycombe’s Mayor Weighing Ceremony, stopping past the World’s only Formation Wingwalking team..

I stopped the DVD just in time to catch the opening episode of Oz and James Drink to Britain.

I wasn’t much of a fan of their previous adventures, but this series, I thought, was going to be something special. I’d caught wind of its existance from another blog in my lunchtime collection, the Bruichladdich Distillery, who are apparently going to feature in 2 weeks time.

I was hoping that I would be able to more easily relate to James and Oz’s adventure and what better place to start their tour than with Oz described to be the root of civilisation, Beer and Yorkshire!

They started by visiting two rather distinctive establishments that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting myself, the Tan Hill Inn (although James had difficulty telling the difference between the Dales and the Moors, tsk tsk) and Leventhorpe Vinyard, just outside Leeds and well within reach of an evening’s trip from work. hic.

Another personal highlight was, rather unfortunately I suspect, a James May’s choice in t-shirts. I’d spotted this as a poster when I was last at my favourite book shop, a copy of which is now prominently displayed on the wall at work. Apparently somebody’s set up a small online business selling Keep Calm and Carry On merchandise. Most excellent and highly British. Now why the hell didn’t I think of that..

I’ll leave this celebration of things quietly British with one of the headline facts from Nicholas Crane’s Britannia programme. Today, fish accounts for 3 – 4% of our diet, but in Elizabethan times, it was up to 25%. This was protected in law with Fishdays; Fridays, some Wednesdays and lent, enforcable by a stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Bet the EU and our fish stocks wouldn’t stand for that nowadays..

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