"Britain is great because of its most endearing national trait, MODESTY. We're a people of low self-esteem in a good way. In an age when confidence is said to be everything, it's reassuring to find a land that perpetually underestimates itself and therefore surprises and delights all the more."
This contribution by writer Alain de Botton to the Mulberry Brilliant Britain project is one of the thousand interesting snippets included in the guide, which is online at www.brilliantbritainguide.com. In a year that has seen several momentous British celebrations – principally the Olympics and the Jubilee – Mulberry has done some research to provide visibility to the unsung heroes, craftsmanship traditions, home cooking, art and science, and hidden talents. The result is a fascinating read. Did you know that the earliest wedding cake was made of oysters, pine kernels, bacon, cockscombs and other unspeakable animal ingredients? Or that a 900-year old manor house in Gloucestershire is said to be home to at least four ghosts, one of which was a Queen?
The guide is divided into categories, from architecture to stage and screen, with a special section of Brilliant Friends, personalities who have contributed to the guide with their own ideas on what makes Britain great. Singer and songwriter Eliza Doolittle says that it's British summers... that one week when the sun shines and transforms the country into a kingdom of sunbathers, albeit very briefly. Jane Bruton, editor in chief of Grazie, says it's pubs, while blogger Emily Johnston says it's Pimms served by the bucket load in summer. Model Pixie Geldof highlights British people's GSOH.
A map of the country helps locate the Brilliant Britain nominations. It looks like London is leading at the moment... hey, at last I have an opportunity to put Hemingstone on the map! (That's my home village).
It's an interactive project. Anyone can put forward their nomination to what makes Britain brilliant, with a photo and brief description. By participating, you'll also have the chance to win a limited edition Union Jack Bayswater bag filled with loads of British treats. Here is an example: Pawel Kolodynski proposed the Great Gardens of Cornwall.
The website went live on 8 October 2012, while edited highlights have been collected into a printed booklet, which will be launched in Mulberry stores in the UK and Europe in October, and later in the United States.
It's a fascinating read, highly recommended!
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