I do try not to be a telly addict, and to not centre my life around the television screen. But sometimes the television can be a welcome distraction, not to mention full of fascinating facts and thought provoking ideas.
For example, my three favourite programmes at present are as follows:
'Countryfile'. This is broadcast by the BBC and presented by John Craven (who funnily enough reminds me of my uncle John). It covers the latest in countryside and environmental stories, often with breath taking scenery and inspirational tales.
One of my favourite episodes appeared last Sunday. This episode concentrated on generations of writers, poets and composers and how the British countryside has inspired them.
The composer, Sir Edward Elgar’s birthplace was featured, which is the area around the Malvern Hills on the borders of Worcestershire and Hertfordshire. And the Elgar Birthplace Museum. This museum was set up by his daughter, Caprice, after his death in 1934.
The little town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk was shown, which is associated with Sir Benjamin Britten. In this picturesque seaside town you can find the Britten-Pears library, which was originally assembled by Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) and Peter Pears (1910 - 1986) as a working library built on their personal collection of books, manuscripts, printed scores and sound recordings.
The home town of the authoress Daphne Du Maurier also featured. This being in Cornwall, where she soaked up the atmosphere for her stories of smuggling, murder and intrigue.
And the famous Bronte sister’s home in Yorkshire was displayed, where the surrounding countryside inspired them to write novels including Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
One of my favourite books was mentioned, Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame and how The River Thames caught his imagination.
And probably one of the world’s best known mystery writers is Agatha Christie. Her house in Devon, Greenway House, was shown and how her imagination was fired by the area surrounding it. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and another billion in more than 45 foreign languages. She is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.
And yesterday’s announcement of the Countryfiles photography competition caused my little ears to prick up and my imagination to run away with me. The theme is ‘All creatures great and small’. Photographs should be taken in the UK and have the natural world or the countryside at their heart. I best get my thinking cap on and my camera lens off.
The second programme I enjoy viewing is 'Cash In The Attic'. Another BBC production where the presenter visits a family's home to find out what it is they need to raise money for. They then explore the house, finding antiques and valuing them, with the help of antique expert extraordinaire. They then go to auction with the aim of making their financial target.
I love admiring the family heirlooms and hearing the stories behind them, or the car boot sale bought items, which to their surprise are an exhilarating part of history and worth a small fortune.
And last but not least 'Come Dine With Me' on Channel 4 is in my top three list of viewing. Here five amateur cooks take it in turn to host a 3 course meal, dinner party. The nosey parker part of me enjoys taking a step into other people’s homes and lives, but I also love watching and collecting recipe ideas. It’s an entertaining programme, sometimes fiercely competitive as they are all marked out of 10 at the end of the evening, and the winner receives a cash prize of £1,000 on the final night. Yesterday’s episode featured dinner parties in the houses of Cambridge. The owners being an ex nightclub singer turned market researcher, a mother of three, the perfectionist estate agent, the house husband and home grown produce fan, and German born domestic goodness. Some unusual and not so unusual dishes were served, food such as strawberry kebabs with white chocolate and baked figs with ribblesdale goats cheese and pink peppercorns.
My appetite grew wildly while watching 'Come Dine With Me' last night, and so I decided to cook a roast dinner. Cooking on an empty stomach always brings out the greedy side in me and the plates were over flowing with food. Still, there were no complaints as chicken seasoned with herbs, roast potatoes sprinkled with rosemary, carrot and swede mash, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot batons and sage and onion yorkshire puddings were served.
Yes I have eaten well this weekend, and admired antiques and the countryside, with a photography competition idea rattling around in my tiny mind.
Picture of the day:
The English countryside.