Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed the film Jingle Jangle with its fantasy setting with a British Victorian flavor. Heather shared “a quick fun holiday read” — Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe. Tina told us about a fun Christmas contest at Nigella Lawson’s website and about an upcoming novel set in Devon, Finding Home by Kate Field. Jean wrote her 11th, and final, installment to walk us through the intimidating classic The Golden Bough by James George Frazer.
I suppose you’ve all heard the bad news out of Britain — a new, more easily transmitted, strain of coronavirus that prompted unexpected lockdowns in London and surrounding counties just the week before Christmas. This year, all of us who celebrate Christmas seek the spirit of the Whos down in Whoville to make Christmas come without some of its usual trappings. Londoners will work harder at that than many of us.
Some, I imagine, will find solace in BBC radio. I just discovered that we can listen, too, even in the US, at BBC Sounds. At any given time, there are a dozen or more live feeds.
I haven’t played with the live feeds much, yet, but on Christmas Day, I will jump on to BBC Radio 4 at 9am, Central Time, which is 3pm in London. That’s when the Queen will give her annual Christmas Address. I may stay on for news, a gardening show, a drama called Star Child featuring Jim Broadbent, and a show about the natural world hosted by Sue Perkins who I remember from earlier seasons of The Great British Show. That will get me to the point in the day when I’ll need to be thinking about our own little festivities.
So far, I mostly enjoy BBC Sounds as a place to find something intriguing that was recorded previously.
I discovered BBC Sounds when I looked for Evensong services. Evensong is a mostly Anglican tradition of an evening service that is heavy on music and lighter on spoken words. You can find these services on YouTube, especially in the time of COVID, but the sound quality is often poor. A show called “Choral Evensong” airs on BBC Radio 3 every week on Wednesday afternoon. Each show remains available for a month on BBC Sounds. The sound quality is wonderful. Part of my Winter Solstice observance on Sunday was the Evensong service at Hereford Cathedral.
BBC Sounds has a long list of Christmas Mixes available — most have about an hour of Christmas music. I’ve been enjoying one with jazz instrumentals and another of choral music. The Winter Sleeping Forecast that includes calm classical music + Ernest Shackleton’s 1902 expedition diary + The Shipping Forecast worked as a sleep meditation for me a couple of times this week.
Of course, there are also various talk shows available through BBC Sounds. My favorite, so far, was an episode of You’re Dead to Me, a show that blends history and comedy. The most recent show was about Victorian Christmas traditions.
Will your Christmas have a British element to it?
The last time that Christmas fell on a Friday, 2015, I wrote one of my favorite #BrFri posts — check out Fantasy London Christmas in honor of Londoners and all of us who could use a bit of fantasy to brighten our Christmas days.