Back to Back Issues Page
Essentially England News, January 2010 - Marmalade Galore!
January 31, 2010

Marmalade Galore!

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.

A very happy New Year to you all! It feels as if 2010 has been around for ages already, January has been so busy. First, there was the snow. Rather a lot of it for England – certainly the most I’ve ever seen in almost 20 years. I used to like the stuff, but this January has brought it home to me how much stress snow can cause… when one’s not used to it.

And now that the snow is gone, I’m knee-deep in marmalade. That’s actually something really enjoyable – the house smells so wonderful while its cooking and I get to listen to all sorts of music I’d almost forgotten I had. If you want to have a go yourself, make sure you buy bitter Seville Oranges to make your marmalade with. The instructions are very easy to follow. All you really need is a bit of patience and nobody else in the kitchen....

And once you've made your marmalade? Eat it on toast, make Orange marmalade cake, or try this month's recipe: very moorish marmalade rock cakes!

What's New at Essentially England?

With all these distractions and interruptions, not that much, actually. I’m still researching my way around all the Norman castles in England, and try and turn up a nice holiday cottage for our next tandem holiday.

And for all us prehistory lovers out there, I've found a rather wonderful website, Standing with Stones. Well worth checking out....

The a question about England section has seen quite a bit of activity, with some very intriguing questions. So if you have a question about England, I hope you’ll know where to come to ask it!

Travel Tips and Reviews

I’ve had very good feedback from many of you about my decision to list holiday cottages on the site, so I’ve added three more pages to the page of Northumberland cottages that I’d experimented with.

They cover counties where we’ve done just that – rented a cottage and explored by tandem (and car, occasionally).

So if you’re planning a holiday in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Kent, then check out these beautiful cottages.

As usual, I’m picking the historical and/or slightly eccentric and find some wonderful holiday ideas in the process. (I really need to round up a bunch of friends for a break in that converted church in Suffolk… or was that the lighthouse in Kent?)

Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, where we’ve lived for a few years, are next on the list. And if you’re planning a holiday to somewhere I haven’t been yet, just go straight to the English Country Cottages website.

Fairs, Festivals and Things to Do

Half-term holidays fall into the beginning of February this year, and if you’re after something historical to do with the kids, then check out the Top 10 Days Out as suggested by English Heritage. This page has something for everyone, regardless of where in England you find yourself.

Watch archery practise at Kenilworth Castle, explore Eltham Palace or visit Dover (and don’t miss the Henry II exhibition).

Food festivals are also getting underway in February, with – you guessed it - The World’s Original Marmalade Festival held in Penrith, in Cumbria, on February 13th and 14th.

The Rye Bay Scallop Festival, on February 20th – 28th, celebrates all things scallops. Check it out even if fishy things don’t get you going, because Rye is a lovely little place, worth an afternoon’s exploration!

And towards the end of February, on the 26th and 27th to be precise, the town of Wakefield hosts the Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb. When I see the first of the pink stems arriving in my local supermarket, then I know that spring is almost on the way. Well worth celebrating, that!

Recipe of the Month - Marmalade Rock Cakes

These ones are so easy to do; you could slip them into half-term week to keep the kids amused. Alternatively, if you are making marmalade and your kitchen is full of jars and bubbling cauldrons, then unexpected visitors for tea may not be what you’re looking for. If they do turn up, though, excuse yourself for half an hour and return with a large platter of golden rock cakes and a large pot of Earl Grey. I promise you’ll be the star! (And if you have any left over, they are just as good, cold.)


  • 115g (4oz) butter
  • 115g (4oz) sugar
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped dessertspoon of marmalade
  • 1 egg
  • 55g (2oz) sultanas or raisins
  • a little milk


Blitz the butter, sugar and flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. (You can do that by hand if you have the time. The kids love that bit!)

Still using the food processor, add the marmalade and egg and blend to a stiffish dough. Add a little milk if the mix is too dry. Then turn out and knead in the raisins or sultanas.

If you’re doing it by hand, you can add the raisins along with the egg and marmalade. You just don’t want to pulverise them in the food processor.

Heat your oven to 190C / 375F / gas 5.

Grease a baking sheet and place irregular spoonfuls of cake mix onto it. Bake for about 10mins until golden.

And Next Month …

I’m adding cottages as I find them. And maybe a few hotels as well… the weekend break variety. There will also be an updated list of England’s food festivals and – of course – more Norman castles.

Until then, keep well and think of England…

P.S. If you think that some of your friends or colleagues might like to read our newsletter, then please forward them this mail. They can read newsletter back issues and subscribe here.

Back to Back Issues Page