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Essentially England News, Novemberm 2008 -- Make Your Money Go Further this Christmas!
November 19, 2008

Make Your Money Go Further this Christmas!

A cheerful welcome to everyone who subscribed to Essentially England News during the last month! Here you'll find England news, site news, travel tips, reviews and our Recipe of the Month, all in one easy-to-digest email.

November's been a mad month with very mixed weather. Some mornings as I drive to work I wish I could stop and just take photos of the stunning sunrise or the reflections of clouds on the river. At other times it's so dark and damp, I can barely find my way out of bed.

Guy Fawkes Night has been and gone with its usual abundance of fireworks and now the shops are turning to full Christmas mode. They're already worried that nobody will spend any money this year, so special offers are come early. I had a trawl and picked what I thought might be useful … giving this issue of Essentially England News a bit of a money-saving theme.

And – at this time of the year – this can't be bad, can it?

What's New at Essentially England?

Due to work commitments, I haven't been able to work on the site as much as I would like. The Northumberland section of the site is growing, starting with a page about Warkworth Castle. Pages about Alnwick, Berwick, Hadrian's Wall and Lindisfarne are in the works.

I've also added recipes and treats to the Christmas pages. If you need a hand with some last minute preparations, here's a list:

And here are a couple of special offers you may not have come across before:

Inspirational, Elegant, Distinctive, Classic. For over 50 years, the Laura Ashley brand has been all of these and more. And now you can stock up just in time for Christmas with their 3 for 2 Mix and Match on Gifts and Jewellery

If you're still looking for Christmas trees, lights and decorations, or gifts for the green-fingered person in your life, then try out Christmas Trees and decorations at Wyevale!
If you order before 21st December, enter code WYEVALE10XMAS at the checkout for an extra 10% off their already very reasonable prices!

Travel Tips and Reviews

Travelling can be hard on the pocket, but this year there's help at hand.

If you're planning to visit London, Bath, Bristol or Oxford then make sure you check out this special offer from The Trainline.

Print off the vouchers and get 2 for 1 entry to some of the best attractions in the south and west of England, including Bath's famous Roman Baths, the Museum of Fashion and the Aqua Glass workshops. You could go on a Pirate Walk around Bristol or visit the Bristol Old Vic. Or you could have a wonderful day at Blenheim Palace or Oxford Castle.

There are plenty more offers where these came from, so make sure you check them out.

Fairs, Festivals and Things to Do

If you always wanted to know what goes on behind the curtain at a theatre, you could be in for a treat. London's National Theatre offers Backstage Tours that show you precisely what goes into putting a production together.

Learn all about the theatre's long history, check out the auditorium and backstage area and watch props being made.

And the cost of such an unusual day out? A mere £6 per person or £13 for two adults and two children. Click here to check out dates, book online and create a lasting memory for the theatre lover in your life!

Recipe of the Month - Real Sausage Rolls

I'm always on the lookout for some unusual old recipes, and this month I'd like to introduce you to a historical version of the old party favourite: sausage rolls.

I'm not too fond of the modern ones, as they are invariably rather greasy and not easy to transport, as the puff pastry wrapping crumbles very easily.

But this recipe – which goes back some time and appears to come from Sussex – is ideal if you want to make sausage rolls part of a portable lunch. As such they might do well during a long, invigorating Boxing Day walk. Or you could take them on a day out, to a rustic New Year's Eve party or feed some hungry carol singers.

And despite their heartiness, these sausage rolls are very easy to make. To feed 6 you need 6 good quality sausages and 300g bread dough.

Sausages are easy. Just buy the ones you and your family like best, or pick something unusual for a little experimentation.

Now for the wrapping:

  1. Mix 300g strong flour with ½ teaspoon fast action yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 200ml hand-warm water.
  2. Combine to a soft dough and knead for a few minutes until your hands come away clean.
  3. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a teacloth and keep in a warm place until doubled in size. Depending on the temperature, this will take between 30mins to 1 hour.
  4. Heat the oven to Gas mark 7 / 140 deg C.
  5. When the dough is ready remove it from the bowl and divide it into six pieces. Roll out each piece into a square as long as the sausages you are using. Place the sausage close to one end of the dough and roll into a shape. Make sure all of the sausage is covered by the dough.
  6. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 20-30mins until well risen and golden

Eat at once or leave to cool completely and eat cold, somewhere on a moor maybe?

Time-saving tips: If you have a bread machine, go for the pizza recipe and make one quantity. Then continue from step 4.

If you're unsure about making bread, pick up one of the ready-made bread mixes from your local supermarket and follow the instructions on the packet until the end of step 3.

Ready-made bread mixes also make a nice change if you want to experiment with textures and flavours. Sun-dried tomato bread goes very nicely with Toulouse sausages.

If you want to be really adventurous, add some fried onions alongside the sausage before you roll up the dough. Or chutney, or chilli salsa, or mustard ...

And Next Month …

Well, there's Christmas of course. But by the time the next newsletter is ready to go out, it will be mostly over. So instead, I mean to look forward to the new year ahead.

I've also done an interview with Karen and Richard from Canal Boat Escapes which will go up on the site over the next few weeks. Based on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire, they have one of England's least crowded bits of canal right on their doorstep and some very interesting tales to tell.

Until next month, keep well and think of England…

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