The world is a challenging place at the moment, as I am writing exactly one year after the first Coronavirus lockdown started here in the UK. Depending on where you are currently living, you may be experiencing greater or lesser movement restrictions, ability to do things out & about, and work & live normally.
Here in London, my children have been back at school for a couple of weeks now & the Easter holiday is about to start.
I have been reflecting that I have not written much recently about British culture in this blog, and I think part of the reason is that I have felt that it has been a tricky topic to talk about, as my usual recommendations & resources to share have not been available to enjoy & experience the best of the full diversity of British traditional & contemporary culture.
Restrictions are starting to ease here in the next few weeks with London slowly opening up again, and I hope things will get better soon for you too, wherever you are living. In the meantime, I thought I would share my favourite books, films, blogs & online events for you to immerse yourself in British & London life, culture & people, safely from home, wherever you are.
These are just some of my personal favourites, so I would love to know what your recommendations are too! So please feel free to reply & share with me what your favourite ways to experience British culture are right now.
Have fun & enjoy!
- Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
- Watching the English by Kate Fox
- Londoners: The Days and Nights of London by Craig Taylor
- Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
- Very British Problems by Rob Temple
- Brick Lane by Monica Ali
- Anything by Zadie Smith who writes about contemporary, multi-cultural London. I particularly liked ‘NW’, as it is set locally to where I live, but ‘White Teeth’ is one of her most famous books & been made into a TV series
- Saturday by Ian McEwan
- A week in December by Sebastian Faulks
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
- The King’s Speech (royal history)
- West is West (multi-cultural life in 70s Britain)
- Darkest Hour (all about Churchill)
- Rocket Man & Bohemian Rhapsody (British music history)
- Trainspotting (Scottish street life)
- Billy Elliott (family life in Northern England)
- Four Weddings & a Funeral (classic Hugh Grant comedy)
- Notting Hill (for great views of London life)
- Any James Bond film!
- The Crown
- Downton Abbey
- The Great British Bake Off
- The Office (British version)
- Gavin & Stacey
Blogs to follow:
- Secret London
- Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays
- Time Out London
- London Perfect
- London Unattached
- A Little Bird
Best of seasonal British food to experience at home (or make yourself if you are feeling up to the challenge!):
- Hot Cross Buns: sweet bread rolls with raisins inside, with a cross on the top. Traditionally eaten on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter), these are a popular snack in the UK, eaten cold or cut in half & toasted.
- Simnel Cake: a traditional Easter fruit cake decorated with marzipan balls to represent Jesus’s disciples.
- Cadbury’s Creme Egg: an extremely sweet chocolate egg, filled with white & yellow sugary syrup. The British are obsessed with them, although I actually don’t like them!
Online British cultural events coming up:
- The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, 4th April: Usually you can go down to the river to watch this historic rowing competition between the 2 big universities, but this year we are encouraged to watch it on TV from home.
- National Tea Day, 21st April: Everyone can join in this one! Just make your perfect cuppa & join in. I will have an Earl Grey, I think.
- National Theatre at home: live streaming service to watch the best of British plays.
- Globe Player: live streaming service from the Globe theatre to watch Shakespeare.
- Royal Opera House live streaming the best of London’s opera
- British Museum collection online
Victoria Rennoldson, Founder of Perfect Cuppa English
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