Country Life Today: How ‘Green Friday’ is taking on Black Friday, protection for Harlech’s maid and a dragon with a Christmas pud

In today's round-up we bring you remarkable news from the art world, the UK's first protected military aircraft crash site, and John Lewis' charming new Christmas advert (complete with a friendly fire-breathing dragon).

The consumerist madness that sweeps the world on Black Friday — and, these days, for a week or so either side — is facing a backlash in the shape of ‘Green Friday’, a movement urging people not to buy things they don’t need.

The ‘Make Friday Green Again’ movement started in France, and over 300 retailers have signed up, according to the BBC.

‘Today we don’t buy what we need; we buy because we are tempted,’ explains Nicholas Rohr, co-founder of eco-conscious clothing company Faguo,

‘We are not in a good relationship with consumption any more. We want people to focus on what they already have in their wardrobes then, if you really need something more you can buy it.’

It’s hard to disagree. Obviously some things are essential — not least a Country Life subscription, naturally — but a lot of the time we’re guilty of ‘picking up bargains’ rather than using the sale to get a good deal on something we’d been planning to buy already.

No doubt there’s also a little bit of self-interest at work here from small, independent retailers for whom Black Friday is a logistical nightmare. Yet we’d be quite happy to return to the days of normal pricing until Christmas Eve, and the sales starting up on Boxing Day.

Full story (BBC)


Here be dragons: The 2019 John Lewis Christmas advert

Edgar the Excitable Dragon.

Edgar the Excitable Dragon. Credit: John LewisIt might seems strange that an advert for a shop — no matter how pleasant it is — becomes a surefire sign that the Christmas season has begun, but that’s exactly what has happened with John Lewis’s now-famous adverts in recent years.

This year’s star is Edgar the Excitable Dragon, whose fire-breathing antics get him into all sorts of trouble before earning him banishment, only for him to be brought back into the fold by a caring friend — with the help of a Waitrose Christmas pudding, naturally…

Full story (Country Life)


Botticelli ‘copy’ turns out to be the real thing worth tens of millions

Virgin with Child and Pomegranate by Sandro Botticelli.

Virgin with Child and Pomegranate by Sandro Botticelli. Credit: National Museum of Wales

For years, a work thought to be in the style of Sandro Botticelli languished in a museum storeroom. But since the removal of the ham-fisted efforts of a previous dealer or restorer has shown that the painting is the real thing.

The painting, The Virgin and Child with Pomegranate, once thought to be of relatively little value is actually worth millions — the record price for a recognised Botticelli painting is $10.4 million, but one was recently put up for sale with a $30m price tag.

Full story (Country Life)


On this day…

Princess Anne with Master Peter Phillips in August 1978. Credit: Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy Stock Photo

On 15 November, 1977, Princess Anne gave birth to Peter Phillips. The son of Captain Mark Phillips was born at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington at 10.46am. Shortly afterwards the princess telephoned her mother with the news and Captain Phillips rang his parents in Great Somerford in Wiltshire where the church bells were rung in celebration.


Ghostly remains of WW2 fighter plane granted protected status

The Maid of Harlech lies off the coast of Wales. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The remains of a crashed fighter plane can only occasionally be seen beneath the sand off the Welsh coast, but the significance of the wreck has earned it a special status.

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, nicknamed the Maid of Harlech, crashed in September 1942 when its pilot, Second Lt Robert Elliott, 24, of North Carolina, got into difficulties during a training exercise. Mr Elliott walked away from the accident, but was reported missing in action a few months later.

The wreckage has remained in its position off the coast of Harlech well beyond the second world war, and this month the site has been granted protected status.

The resting place is the first military aircraft crash site in the UK to be granted protection for its historic and archaeological interest by Cadw, the Welsh government’s historic environment service.

Full story (Country Life)


Prince Charles helps save iconic Edwardian suspension bridge

The Cambus O’ May bridge was buckled and torn during Storm Frank. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The Duke of Rothesay has pledged his support for a project to repair a storm-damaged suspension bridge in Scotland, which has been unusable since 2015.

Storm Frank left the Cambus O’ May bridge seriously damaged due to severe flooding of the River Dee and it has since been closed.

However, the future of the Edwardian structure has now been secured, thanks to a multi-organisation effort to restore it to its former glory.

The Prince’s Foundation is among the groups funding the initiative, as well as Aberdeenshire Council, who is committing £250,000 towards the £400,000 project.

Full story (Country Life)


And finally… I’m dreaming of a ‘woke’ Christmas

The Telegraph reports increasing demand for an eco-friendly Christmas among the UK population.

From rented trees to shunning Christmas cards, celebrities such as Emma Thompson have joined the trend and said they will refuse to buy presents in order to be more sustainable.

Full story (The Telegraph)