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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Our Love Affair with Country Life

Intriguing concept?  Well, have to admit we are talking about a magazine here.  Country Life is a weekly slick publication in the UK to which a few privileged Americans (like Kristine) have subscriptions.

February 1, 2012 issue


The website is here. It give a wonderful summary of what is in the magazine -- but to be honest, holding a heavy copy in your hands and turning the glossy pages provides a particular thrill.  You will find lots of information and pictures on the website, but give me a fresh issue, a cup of tea, and a hassock on which to rest my feet.  Picture a perfectly contented person, dreaming of that perfect house...or ideal estate...or a London pied a terre.  And every week, a new source for those dreams.



I assume that the lavish property ads give the magazine its primary income as well as its fantasy factor for those of us who spend hours pretending...would I prefer a townhouse...or an estate on the coast...or in the Yorkshire Dales?   A recent issue concentrating on the Cotswolds  absolutely gave me palpitations.  I simply couldn't choose which one  I would focus my dayreams on. I had to read it over and over.


The covers are wonderful, from the Queen to the noble hen above. Or the antique airplane (a Sopwith Camel, c. 1917, I think)  below.




Not only are there  wonderful property ads -- you will also find art and antiques, clothing and jewelry, all for the upper crust crowd.  But, as I say, we can dream.

The magazine's editorial content is devoted to all the topics that might interest a country gentleman or gentlewoman.  They are sometimes unabashedly involved in political issues, taking a rather traditional approach in defending the interests of the countryside in issues such as land use, development, and agricultural and coastline policies. 

Cornish Coast, NT


Other articles describe notable gardens and give hints on growing various kinds of plants, both decorative and edible.  Or raising dogs, especially sporting and working dogs. Hunting and fishing are often discussed, as is fox-hunting.

Every issue carries a picture of a lovely young lady, sometimes about to be married, other times in business.  This has been a feature for many years.   I remember reading an Alexander McCall Smith story about a young lady who had been the "girl of the week" and was embarrassed to admit it to her university friends.

Among my favorite features are the stories of stately homes, their preservation and their presentation to the public.  It is not hard to imagine what a financial burden these piles are for the families who own them; that is why so many are English Heritage or National Trust.

After I finish my reveries (delusions?) about property, I usually flip to the back page to look at the wonderful cartoon in Tottering -by-Gently, the work of Annie Hurst.  For more views, click here.



Among my other regular favoites are the columns of the Country Mouse and the Town Mouse, for random observations on life, always amusing and/or thought-provoking.



They even have recipes and restaurant reviews. Below, a suggestion for your next Tea Party.

carrot relish recipe

 Whatever your favorite magazine feature, you will be entertained and amused by Country Life.  We love to read the magazine in an aspirational mood -- for almost everything here is beyond our reach, however much we admire it.  It's delicious for wishing!! 



Kristine here, who just finished reading the issue above - the piece on coaching inns was marvelous. My subscription to Country Life is an annual gift that I make to myself and I look forward to its arrival each week. Like Victoria, my favourite bits of the magazine are the real estate ads at the front, some of which I've posted here on the blog. Stately home articles, historic tidbits, recipes, gardening, architectural stories and, of course, the husbandry of various animals all make for a weird yet satisfying combination. Where else would find such articles as "Why the English love their chimneys" and "The quintessential gourmet experience in London" in the same issue?
Victoria - I've a new batch of Country Life issues to give you when next we meet.

3 comments:

Louisa Cornell said...

I get the Country Life e-mail with snippets from the magazine and all it does is whet my appetite for more! Going to have to break down and "post the coal" for a subscription one of these days. Sigh!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Now I simply HAVE to have my own subscription. I imagine a US subscription comes at a dear price, but you have inspired me.

Evangeline Holland said...

I adore Country Life--though I content myself with copies from the late Victorian and Edwardian eras (as befitting the time of my novels).