Internet infrastructure improvement with BT Community Partnerships and Rural Gigbit Scheme: Hernhill update

This is a very exciting development for our village and the updating of the BT infrastructure to enable faster internet.

Currently there are three separate applications in the pipeline:

Dargate, including all residencies in the area from and including Plum Pudding Lane, Dargate Road including the enclave at Belvedere Farm, through Butlers Hill. ending at Summer Lees Farm, including Hernhill Primary School – Lead Michelle Harris
Monks Hill area – Lead Kerry Parsons
Staplestreet area (around and including ME139HZ) – Lead Christopher Hildyard

All of these applications are hoping to draw upon the funding available from the Rural Gigabit Scheme to update their internet provision.

I spoke with the regional BT manager for Kent. He told me that we had now all missed the deadline to catch the funding which ends on March 31st, as we would have had to have a final offer price by Februay 14th, which none of us did. There is another Government Scheme in the pipeline, to begin in April, but the details of it are not yet known. It is likely to be a similar scheme and the indications are that this region is eligible, and all the applications are still progressing to that end.

Regardless of current speeds, all residences in the distribution point are eligible for the vouchers

The Monks Hill application is still waiting for a provisional offer to give a ball park idea of the cost before a more detailed quote is given known as the ‘final offer’. The Dargate and Staplestreet applications are waiting for the ‘final offer’. Details of the properties included in each application is listed separately below – Staplestreet here; Dargate here.

My understanding is that once the final offer is made, BT will write to every residence that benefits from the scheme (which is governed by the current phone lines’ distribution point). Regardless of current speeds, all residences in the distribution point are eligible for the vouchers. In the case of the Dargate application, this will be fibre to the premises, which will have the capacity to deliver much higher speeds than from the cabinet. Addresses in the distribution point will be provided with information as to how to pledge their vouchers to the application. if a business is registered from the address, in the old scheme, additional funding was available for that residence. Once the required funding level is reached, the pledging process ceases, there is final communication to inform everyone that the target has been reached and then the project is put into the upgrading diary of BT and will be completed within a year.

If you live in the target areas please keep your eyes open for information coming from BT and act on it as quickly as you can; the success of these partnerships depends on each residence in the community pledging their voucher support.


Staplestreet
Core community – 47 Premises

Initial Estimate – £67,032.00

Cost Per Premise – £1,426.21

Addresses included in Scheme:

FAIRBROOK BUNGALOW HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
FAIRBROOK COTTAGE HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
STAPLE STREET ROAD GOODNESTONE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HY
1 CHERRYWOOD GOODNESTONE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HY
2 CHERRYWOOD GOODNESTONE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HY
6 CHERRYWOOD GOODNESTONE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HY
LAVENDER COTTAGE STAPLE STREET ROAD GOODNESTONE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HY
WESTLAND HOUSE STAPLE STREET ROAD GOODNESTONE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HY
KEMSDALE LODGE HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JT
4 STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UD
5 STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UD
ALBION HOUSE STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UB
THE BOTHY STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UB
FORGE ORCHARD STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UD
KENT COTTAGE STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UD
SUTHERLAND HOUSE STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UD
2 FAIRBROOK OAST STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9FE
3 FAIRBROOK OAST STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9FE
4 FAIRBROOK OAST STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9FE
1 FAIRBROOK OAST STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9FE
3 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
4 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
5 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
7 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
8 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
9 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
10 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
11 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
12 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
13 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
14 CHERRYWOOD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
FAIRBROOK FARM HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
1 OAST COTTAGE HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
2 OAST COTTAGE HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
1 LOWER OAST COTTAGES HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
2 LOWER OAST COTTAGES HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
FAIRBROOK HOUSE HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9HZ
KEMSDALE FARM KEMSDALE ROAD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JA
THE COACH HOUSE KEMSDALE ROAD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JP
1 KEMSDALE HOUSE KEMSDALE ROAD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JP
2 KEMSDALE HOUSE KEMSDALE ROAD HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JP
1 EASTLEA OAST BULL LANE BOUGHTON-UNDER-BLEAN FAVERSHAM ME13 9JF
2 EASTLEA OAST BULL LANE BOUGHTON-UNDER-BLEAN FAVERSHAM ME13 9JF
1 STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UD
VICTORIA COTTAGE STAPLE STREET HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9UD
GARDENERS COTTAGE CHALKY LANE BOUGHTON-UNDER-BLEAN FAVERSHAM ME13 9SP
1 CHALKY LANE BOUGHTON-UNDER-BLEAN FAVERSHAM ME13 9SP


Dargate Application

Core community – 86 Premises
Initial Estimate – £107159
Cost Per Premise – £1246.03

8 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
10 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
11 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
12 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
9 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
3 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
4 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
5 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
6 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
7 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
THE OLD GATEHOUSE BUTLERS HILL DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EW HONEYSUCKLE VILLA DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EU
GEORGE BELL FARM DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EU
KENNELS EVALUNA PLUMPUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EY CLARIDGES FOSTALL HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JJ
THE OLD FARMHOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
CHAPEL PLANTATION DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
THE CHAPEL DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
BUSHEY WHILDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HQ
DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HQ
HOMESIDE HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HQ
LITTLE ORCHARDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
1-2 WOODLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HJ
BRACONDALE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
BELVEDERE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH

2 MILES COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
NEWLANDS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
BARN ADJACENT BRECONDALE AND NEWLANDS BUTLERS HILL DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
1 MILES COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
OAKLEIGH DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
PEAR TREE COTTAGE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
YEW TREE HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HG
CHAPEL COTTAGE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
CHAPEL HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
DARGATE FARM DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
TUDOR WALK DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
FLAT THE DOVE INN PLUMPUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB DARGATE FARM PLUMPUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9JE
CAIRO LODGE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
BROOK FARM DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HH
2 LILLIES PLACE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HQ
ORCHARD POULTRY FARM DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
ACORNS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HG
1 LILLIES PLACE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HQ
ELMTREE COTTAGE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HG
SUNNYSIDE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HG
2 POST OFFICE COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX
PLUM PUDDING COTTAGE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX
2 MEADOW COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EU
SUMMER LEES FARM FOSTALL HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JJ
WOODFIELD FOSTALL HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JJ
FOSTALL HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JG
OAKLEIGH MANOR LANDSCAPES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
PLUM PUDDING BARN BELVEDERE FARM DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
THE PADDOCKS BELVEDERE FARM DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
BELVEDERE MANOR BELVEDERE FARM DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
APPLE BARN DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
CHUDLEY HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
THE FORMER COLD STORE DARGATE FARM DARGATE ROAD DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
1 RED BRICK COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EZ
2 RED BRICK COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EZ
PLANTATION HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
ORCHARD HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX
DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
2 HONEYSUCKLE COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HA
1 HONEYSUCKLE COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HA
TWIN MAYS DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX
THE OLD POST OFFICE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX
5 OAST COTTAGES PLUM PUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EY
4 OAST COTTAGES PLUM PUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EY
3 OAST COTTAGES PLUM PUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EY
1-2 OAST COTTAGES PLUM PUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EY
OLD POST OFFICE PLUMPUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX

EVALUNA DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EU
3 SUMMER LEES COTTAGES FOSTALL HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JJ
BLACK OAST FOSTAL FAVERSHAM ME13 9FD
FORSTAL HOUSE FOSTALL HERNHILL FAVERSHAM ME13 9JJ
LAMBOURNE HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9HB
1 MEADOW COTTAGES DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EU
BAILIFFS COTTAGE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9JE
PLUMPUDDING LANE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX
DARGATE HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9JE
GATE HOUSE DARGATE FAVERSHAM ME13 9EX
MOBILE HOME 2 HOLLY HILL FARM DAWES ROAD DENSTROUDE CANTERBURY CT2 9LF
KEEPERS COTTAGE DENSTROUDE CANTERBURY CT2 9LE
HOLLY HILL HOUSE HOLLY HILL FARM DAWES ROAD DENSTROUDE CANTERBURY CT2 9LF

Michelle Harris

Culture Corner: Episode Five

Welcome to the fifth instalment in our new series, Culture Corner, sharing ideas for cultural activities during these challenging times; from great reads to gripping TV, binge-worthy boxed-sets to stream and ideas for listening (from music you might know to music you might not and some Slow Radio), aiming to keep you engaged, entertained and maybe even amused whether you’re isolating, in lockdown, or looking for ways to keep occupied.

Front cover depicting a large, creepy=looking mansion seen through a wrought-iron gate
Time for something entrancing…

Recent Reads: for admirers of Mervyn Peake’s timeless Gormenghast trilogy, a similar spirit haunts the pages of The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times, Xan Brooks’ debut dreamlike novel, published in 2017. It’s not a charming tale, perhaps – one of the threads running through it is definitely not that at all… – but it’s wonderfully atmospheric, and its mythical, at times surreal, depiction of an England just emerging from the First World War is evocatively drawn, with a cast of memorable characters as quirky, vicious and eccentric as Peake’s enduring panoply of creations.

Winning Watchables: we can all, I’m sure, identify with Zoom fatigue and the tiring nature of communicating via screens; this sense is distilled to wonderful perfection in Staged, the second series of which came to iPlayer recently (the first series is also available on Netflix). Charting the highs and (mostly) lows of two actors trying to rehearse over Zoom, under a hapless director, David Tennant and Michael Sheen (or should that be Michael Sheen and David Tennant ?) bicker, argue, reconcile, shout, plot, play games, laugh and generally do everything but rehearse online, aided by their long-suffering (real-life) partners. The first series, which aired last year, was both inspired by and created during lockdown, and brilliantly reflects the mood-swings to which we’re all accustomed by now; one of the few great things to come out of the current crisis, Staged captures the zeitgeist and holds it up for us to recognise ourselves, our situation and the fact that we’re not alone in what we’re experiencing and how we’re coping…

Available to watch on iPlayer here.

Our new Lockdown Listening is the fiercely creative Time is of the Essence by the late, great saxophonist, Michael Brecker. Backed by a band of musical luminaries including Pat Metheny, Elvin Jones and Bill Stewart, amongst others, and released on the cusp of the Millennium in 1999, it ranges from the punchy syncopation of ‘Sound Off’ to the ambling ‘Timeline,’ the lyrical melancholy of ‘As I Am’ and the busy agility of ‘Dr Slate.’ Featuring Brecker’s inimitable improvisatory style matched by Metheney’s trademark guitar sound, there’s much to relish about this perhaps slightly under-rated album. Listen to how ‘Renaissance Man’ ticks in, already eager with barely-suppressed energy, before the band kicks into an unstoppable groove.

Visionary post-war England; bickering over Zoom; unstoppable jazz grooves; hope you’ve found something new this week…

Culture Corner: Episode Four

Welcome to the fourth instalment in our new series, Culture Corner, sharing ideas for cultural activities during these challenging times; from great reads to gripping TV, binge-worthy boxed-sets to stream and ideas for listening (from music you might know to music you might not and some Slow Radio), aiming to keep you engaged, entertained and maybe even amused whether you’re isolating, in lockdown, or looking for ways to keep occupied.

Front cover depicting a large, creepy=looking mansion seen through a wrought-iron gate
This might cast a spell over you…

Recent Reads: a thumping good read for fans of the epic fantasy genre, Peter Brett’s The Painted Man is the first in a mighty sequence of novels charting the rise of one man from humble villager to be a being of awesome power in mankind’s battle against demonkind. If you enjoy the usual tropes of the genre, you’ll find them all here in this eminently-readable series, in which, each nightfall, demons rise from the earth to plague humanity, and Arlen Bales discovers a lost means of combating this enduring threat.

Winning Watchables: there’s a lovely, gentle atmosphere to Winter Walks, a series of rambles through scenic routes in Yorkshire and Cumbria by well-known faces including Reverend Richard Coles, Selina Scott, Lemn Sissay and Simon Armitage. Armed with only a self-operated selfie-stick and a determination to explore, each episode takes the viewer on a walk through some epic landscapes, accompanied by the presenter’s amiable monologue along the way. Simon Armitage’s walk from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay is an especial treat, with dramatic coastal views, crumbling cliffs, and jigsaw-puzzle views of the hotch-potch jumble of the town of Robin Hood’s Bay winding and clinging its way down the cliffside. Available to watch on iPlayer here.

Our new Lockdown Listening recommendation is something slightly different, and a welcome respite from the hectic demands of our current lives. The Slow Radio series on BBC Radio 3 offers an opportunity to escape into a variety of sonic landscapes, and the Sounds of the Earth selections gives us the chance to listen to birdsong, rivers and streams and other sounds of the natural world – all without leaving the comfort of your home. Wildlife sound recorder Chris Watson’s recordings capture the seasons, different landscapes and more in a wonderful treasure-trove for the ears. Explore the archive online here.

Epic fantasy; scenic rambles; sounds of the natural world; hope you’ve found something new this week…

Culture Corner: Episode Three

Welcome to the third in our new series, Culture Corner, sharing ideas for cultural activities during these challenging times; from great reads to gripping TV, binge-worthy boxed-sets to stream and ideas for listening (from music you might know to music you might not and some Slow Radio), aiming to keep you engaged, entertained and maybe even amused whether you’re isolating, in lockdown, or looking for ways to keep occupied.

Front cover depicting a large, creepy=looking mansion seen through a wrought-iron gate
All good clean fun until someone loses an eye…

Recent Reads: for a dark, modern take on the campus novel, or even just a noirish thriller, Black Chalk offers a fascinating tale of what happens when a game gets out of control and the impact on friendship. As the book unfolds, what initially began as a game of ‘dare’ between six university friends spirals gradually out of control as the forfeits become progressively more harsh; told in flashback, the novel builds inexorably towards the conclusion as, fourteen years later, the two remaining players must meet to bring the grim game to a conclusion. Gripping and well-constructed, open the book and join the game for yourself…

Winning Watchables: for some neat bubble-gum crime watching, Criminal Minds on Amazon Prime is highly watchable. Each episode covers the solving of a case by Jason Gideon and his team of FBI agents, who use behavioural profiling techniques to capture criminals. The team’s unusual technique of building a profile based on the criminal’s psychology and predicted behaviour is usually met with bucketloads of contempt by local law enforcement, which is then won over at the denouement when Gideon’s methods prove successful. Not half as macabre as Hannibal, there’s always a sense of satisfaction as each episode nearly wraps up another baffling serial spree…

Our third Lockdown Listening recommendation steps into the strange, hypnotic, cinematic, sometimes otherworldy, sometimes meditative world of the American composer/performer Meredith Monk; one of the major figures on the American compositional landscape since the 1960s, Monk has been fiercely creative as a composer, singer, choreographer, filmmaker, writing music that sometimes defies neat categorisation. Her album Impermanence from 2008 moves from the opening fragility of Last Song through the vocal tapestries of Passage and the quirky, hopping Particular Dance. Start with that track and see what you think…

Meredith Monk: Impermanence

Chilling games, satisfying crime-solving, unclassifiable music; happy New Year, stay tuned for the next in the series; hope you’ve found something new.

Culture Corner: Episode Two

Welcome to a wintry second episode of our new feature, Culture Corner, sharing ideas for cultural activities during these challenging times; from great reads to gripping TV, binge-worthy boxed-sets to stream and ideas for listening (from music you might know to music you might not and some Slow Radio), aiming to keep you engaged, entertained and maybe even amused whether you’re isolating, in lockdown, or simply looking for ways to keep occupied.

Front cover depicting a large, creepy=looking mansion seen through a wrought-iron gate
The Mist in the Mirror: dare you take a look…

Recent Reads: winter is a great time to read a ghost story or two; when the nights are dark and cold and the past seems to rise to the surface and be within touching-distance, somehow a ghost story fits the season – perhaps as an antidote to all the jollity and over-indulgence of Christmas… Two short novellas by Susan Hill, The Mist in the Mirror and The Man in the Picture fit perfectly into winter-night reading, written by the author of The Woman in Black. Hill’s stories sit firmly within the tradition of the great MR James, suitably atmospheric and told at one remove to create a sense of I-heard-it-from-someone-who-heard-it-from. She writes evocatively – fog-shrouded Gothic houses, menacing Viennese carnival – although, for me, there was something slightly underwhelming about the ending to each story, a sort of ‘Wait, was that IT ?’ that left me somewhat confused, as though I’d misread them. But that might just be me; and the atmosphere permeating each book is worth the read alone.

Top TV: not for Dickens purists, and even though Christmas is over (or if you don’t want to let it go quite yet…), take a walk through the dark Victorian streets of the 2019 BBC three-part adaptation of another ghost story, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Made by the creator of Peaky Blinders (which may or may not put you off…), it’s a darkly fascinating take on the classic seasonal tale starring Guy Pearce as the curmudgeonly Scrooge, and includes Andy Serkis as a truly menacing Ghost of Christmas Past. There’s a lot of back-story building explaining how Scrooge and Marley made their fortune at the expense of others, and an interesting shift where (without giving too much away), women have a critical, more powerful role than in the book; but there are some fabulous conceits, and the image of a terrifying Ghost of Christmas Part burning all the Christmas trees, decorations and toys of previous years in a huge bonfire in a a desolate, wintry landscape is magical. Not for those who prefer faithful adaptations of Dickens’ masterpiece, but for an engaging re-imagining, this is worth watching – on iPlayer for the next few weeks.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000csdp/a-christmas-carol

Our second Lockdown Listening recommendation is a late period Chet Baker album, No Problem, a mellow, relaxed, middle-of-the-road disc featuring the great Danish bassist, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, with all the tracks written by pianist Duke Jordan.

Admittedly, the album doesn’t push any boundaries or take any great risks – it’s more of a ‘comfortable’ listen, with all the players well inside their comfort-zones. Chet is by now over his brash, vigorous post-bop days – perhaps he never really recovered after his teeth were knocked out in a brawl in the mid-60s – and is into the last stage of his career (he would die nine years later, in 1988.) The opening track mixes Latin and swing; Sultry Eve is a gentle ballad, Chet blowing in a fragile state through a harmon mute; Glad I Met Pat is a graceful jazz waltz; The Fuzz is a gentle nod to the post-Bop era; and the final track features Chet’s inimtable, love-it-or-hate-it scat singing. If you’re looking for a jazz album that’s a classic masterpiece, you won’t find it here; but if you are looking for a comfortable, easy listen, you can’t go far wrong with this one.

No problem listening to this one…

Wintry words, a chilling retake on a classic tale, relaxed swing; happy New Year, stay tuned for the next in the series; hope you’ve found something new.

Culture Corner: Episode One

Welcome to the first episode of our new feature, Culture Corner, sharing ideas for cultural activities during these challenging times; from great reads to gripping TV, binge-worthy boxed-sets to stream and ideas for listening (from music you might know to music you might not and some Slow Radio), hopefully there’ll be something for everyone as the series unfolds, to keep you engaged, entertained and maybe even amused whether you’re isolating, in lockdown, or looking for ways to keep occupied.

The City of Mirrors bring the trilogy to an enthralling conclusion

Recent Reads: maybe a little too close to the mark at the moment, but for a riveting post-apocalyptic read, Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy is an enthralling , sweeping sequence charting the story of a virus accidentally unleashed across the world (sounds familiar at the moment!), and one man’s desperate bid to find a cure as the world is overrun by vampires. Unfolding across three sprawling novels, the secret heart of the whole sequence unfurls in the third book, The City of Mirrors, with a love-story reminiscent of the campus-drenched setting of Brideshead Revisited.

Top TV: if apocalyptic vampire tales aren’t for you, try the festive mirth of the Goes Wrong Show; the series following the accident-ridden mock amateur theatrical productions has been a big hit, and all seven episodes are currently available on iPlayer. Last Christmas’ The Spirit of Christmas, including a drunken Santa, an elf stuck in a chimney and a snowman almost engulfed by a present-making machine, is still there to watch, and this season’s disaster-laden retelling of The Nativity is also jolly entertaining. All available here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000csgs/the-goes-wrong-show

If you still have room for festive cheer, our Lockdown Listening recommendation evokes the spirit of the Golden Age of Big Bands with the swinging jollity of Jamie Cullum’s The Pianoman at Christmas. In the spirit of the Good Old Days of big band swing and the classic crooning of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin, Cullum’s seasonal offering ranges from the bold swagger of So Many Santas and Hang Your Lights to the surprisingly intimate title-track and How Do You Fly. If you’re looking for a suitably seasonal album to play as the soundtrack to your stay-at-home New Year’s Eve party tonight, this might just be the thing…

Jamie Cullum: The Pianoman at Christmas

And if you haven’t found something this time, don’t worry, tune in for the second episode coming soon for non-seasonal suggestions. Stay safe and well…

Culture Corner: company for lockdown

With the prospect of an imminent tightening of restrictions and a likely lockdown looming (too much alliteration ?!), we’re pleased to launch Culture Corner, a regular feature sharing cultural avenues to explore online, to keep you engaged, entertained and possibly even enlightened as the days unfold.

With Recent Reads to Top TV, Lockdown Listening and Winning Watches, hopefully there will be something here for everyone. We’ll be sharing one of each as the feature appears (with links), with the hope that there will be something to amuse, occupy, and keep you company during the coming months. Look after yourselves, stay safe, and enjoy our regular selection of offerings; a sort of cultural Quality Street…! First one coming shortly…

Image: freestocks via Unsplash