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Voyages et Plein air
Country Life

Country Life 11-Dec-2019

Published by TI Media Limited Country Life, the quintessential English magazine, is undoubtedly one of the biggest and instantly recognisable brands in the UK today. It has a unique core mix of contemporary country-related editorial and top end property advertising. Editorially, the magazine comments in-depth on a wide variety of subjects, such as architecture, the arts, gardens and gardening, travel, the countryside, field-sports and wildlife. With renowned columnists and superb photography Country Life delivers the very best of British life every week.

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6 min.
o come, all ye faithful–and faithless

‘All are welcome and any motive is fine by me’ DON’T ever mess about with Christmas carols. I once got into big trouble for making a suggestion in a book that I still think is perfectly reasonable. I proposed changing the words of O Come, All Ye Faithful to O Come, All Ye Faithless. Why? Well, simply because a quick look at the original Christmas story in the gospels makes it clear that the people who first encountered the baby in the manger at Bethlehem were not the usual suspects. Shepherds were people who got on and did the work so the more religiously rigorous flock owners could do their devotional duties. They were more like outsiders—not considered the most clean people in society. Magi were foreign astrologers, whose curiosity led them to…

1 min.
season’s greetings

THE first ever Christmas card—produced in 1843 by the artist John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole, the founding director of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A Museum)—is among the highlights of ‘Victoria and Albert: Treasures from a Royal Marriage’ at Lincoln’s Usher Art Gallery and its neighbouring museum, The Collection. Some 1,000 copies were printed and sold for a shilling each, but, according to the Charles Dickens Museum, London WC1, which also has a copy of the card on display, the tradition took a while to catch on. It was 1877 when the next Christmas card was produced, but this time, 4.5 million were posted. The 1843 version on display at Lincoln is special, as it is presumed to have been sent from Horsley to Cole, with the artist…

1 min.
follow the star

IN a UK first and nearly 500 years after the Antwerp artist’s death, an exhibition devoted to the altarpieces of Jan de Beer (about 1475–1528) has opened at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham. During his lifetime, de Beer’s paintings were renowned for their Gothic architecture, rich costumes and psychological depth, and were popular all over the world, but he had been all but forgotten by the end of the 19th century. ‘Truly Bright and Memorable’ hopes to restore fully de Beer’s reputation as ‘one of the most talented European artists of the Renaissance’. Exhibits particularly pertinent for this time of year include the Barber’s recently restored, double-sided Joseph and the Suitors and The Nativity, two The Adoration of the Magi panels (both 1510s, one of…

1 min.
fat lot of good

BY all means, do as the bird lady in Mary Poppins says (or sings) and feed the birds, but please don’t give them cooking fat from the Christmas feast. This happens so often that the RSPB feels the need to remind the public feeding birds remnant fat from the roast ‘can have disastrous effects’. ‘Many people wrongly believe leaving cooked turkey fat outside is beneficial for birds,’ explains the RSPB’s Katie Nethercoat. Leftover cake, biscuit or mince-pie crumbs are fine, but meat fat goes rancid, causing food poisoning for our robins, blackbirds and wrens, and easily gets smeared on feathers, which makes winter insulation and waterproofing problematic. ‘Only pure fats such as lard and suet should be used to make fat balls, which will give birds energy and nutrients.’…

2 min.
nothing sheepish about this

LAST month, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) held an event in Cumbria to showcase just how profitable our smallest, often-overlooked, native sheep breeds are. Seven were studied— Hebridean, North Ronaldsay, Manx Loaghtan, Soay, Castlemilk Moorit (above, from right), Boreray and Shetland, the first and last now happily no longer classed as rare—with experts explaining to farmers and craftspeople that each sheep can bring in more than £140 profit per head, as long as its produce is marketed effectively (‘It’s time to go primitive’, August 7). For example, ‘there’s a real interest in rare- and native-breed wool,’ says Alice Underwood, who organised the fibre aspect of the project and runs a native-breed-yarn business. ‘We are seeing a growing body of consumers who want to know exactly where their wool comes…

1 min.
what makes a house a home?

IT comes but once a year, but researchers with Knight Frank have discovered that houses on roads incorporating the word Christmas have the highest average price of any festive-themed names. Streets with the word Holly were bestsellers in 2019, closely followed by Robin, Ivy, Fir and Berry. ‘Contrary to popular belief, December is a productive time of year when it comes to buying or selling your home,’ explains Rupert Sweeting, head of national country sales at Knight Frank, with ‘the percentage of offers to viewings considerably greater than in the traditional spring/ summer months associated with buying and selling. [This is] because the house is usually packed with family and friends at Christmas time, highlighting that more bedrooms, entertaining space or outbuildings might be needed.’…