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Essentially England News, April 2010 - Celebrating England's Patron Saint
April 19, 2010

Celebrating England's Patron Saint

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.

Spring’s here – finally! It’s amazing how much difference a bit of sunshine makes, even if it’s still on the chilly side. The tandem’s been out for a couple of times already as we’re gearing up for an exploration of Lincolnshire come June.

Along with the sunshine, the travel chaos has arrived. Not the usual travel chaos, but the one caused by the British Isles being declared a No Fly zone. As a geologist, I may be excused for watching the eruption with fascination. But I’m sure there are many stranded holidaymakers – in England and abroad – who are now praying for the eruption to stop and the weather to change.

What's New at Essentially England?

As promised last month, I’ve added more holiday cottages and a few chic hotels. And if you’ve always wanted to stay in a proper English castle, then here’s your chance.

I’m also rebuilding the Fun Days Out section and adding lots of new pages to make it easier for visitors to find and share ideas for really great days out in England.

And for all of you who like to share your England experiences, there’s now All About England. Ask England questions, share photos, recipes and travel stories, recommend your favourite English company or product and check out the latest deals and special offers.

Travel Tips and Reviews

There’s little point at the moment offering travel tips. If you’re stranded abroad you may get the chance to come home on HMS Ark Royal but beyond that, most tour operators and airports are hopelessly overrun with worried people.

But if you live in England, or plan to come on a holiday in the future, then I’d like to acquaint you with this little gem that I came across only last week. MyCityDeal publishes a new deal for different English cities every day and some are especially good for travellers, such as half-price restaurant deals or even heavily discounted spa treatments.

Attraction vouchers and discounted concert and cinema tickets can also come in very handy, especially if you’re preparing for the summer holidays with the kids.

Pick your city and check out the daily deals, or sign up for MyCityDeal’s newsletter and never miss a tasty deal again.

Fairs, Festivals and Things to Do

Late April is when England really starts to buzz.

First, on April 23rd, there’s St George’s day. In case you didn’t know, he’s England’s patron saint. His feast day is not a national holiday – unfortunately – but it’s celebrated all across the country.

This year, St George’s Day falls on a Friday, and celebrations last for a few days. Check out all the happenings on St George’s Day on this page, kindly supplied by Essentially England’s newest guest blogger: Enjoy England (also known as the England Tourist Board!)

St. George’s Day also marks the beginning of one of my favourite festivals: The British Asparagus Festival. It starts with the Great Asparagus Run on St George’s Day and continues all the way through to the Bretforton Asparagus Auction on May 30th. In between there’s all manner of asparagus madness going on, and lots of asparagus eating to be done. I’m already standing ready: griddle pan in one hand and whisk in the other.

And then, of course, there’s May Day. If you’re in England on May Day, there’s bound to be a festival somewhere near you. Padstow has its hobby horse dance, Hastings and Cerne Abbas favour Morris Men, and in other places you can dance around a maypole or roll cheeses. Where will we be? Maybe this year I’ll make my way (at daybreak) to Magdalen Bridge in Oxford to hear the choir… it’s been on my ‘must-do-list’ for long enough…

Recipe of the Month - Northumbrian Girdle Cakes

These are quickly-made little cakes that taste equally good for breakfast, as they are served at teatime. Traditionally, these are baked on a hot scone or cast-iron griddle. A heavy-based frying pan is fine.

  • 1lb / 450g self-raising flour
  • 4oz / 100g sugar
  • 4oz / 100g raisins or currants
  • 8oz / 200g butter
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 fl oz / 150ml milk

Mix the flour with the salt and sugar. Rub in the flour until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs. This can be done either by hand or with a food processor. Stir in the currents. Then add the milk and beaten egg, stirring until well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead lightly. Then roll it out to ½ in (1 cm) thick.

Heat a griddle or heavy frying pan and grease well. Traditionally, lard would have been used, but oil is fine.

Cut the dough into rounds and fry each until golden brown. This should take approx. 4-5 minutes per side.

Serve hot, with butter – and some freshly brewed tea.

And Next Month …

There’ll be more about gardens, ideas for days out and lots of music. English violinist Nigel Kennedy has a new album coming out and I’m getting a sneaky preview …

Until then, keep well and think of England…

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