Back to Back Issues Page
Essentially England News, June 2011 - The Dangers of Longbow Practice... and Saturday Travel
June 26, 2011

The Dangers of Longbow Practice
...and Saturday Travel

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.

We're told that every now and then we should do something that scares us a little, like … joining a crowd of enthusiasts at a book festival. I love to write, I hope to see one of my novels published one of these days, but talking about writing with others sounds about as comforting as a trip to the dentist. Fortunately, last weekend's Witney Book Festival went a long way to soothe my worries. A) it was friendly and informal. And b) everyone's enthusiasm made talking books and writing a very enjoyable experience.

As a writer, I really enjoyed Harry Bingham's talk about the business of getting a book published. As a reader and book lover, I found The Write Fantastic hugely entertaining. (And folks, you missed Ursula K LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness off your list of All Time Great Fantasy Novels!)

And to all the organisers: thank you and a well deserved pat on the back. I hope you'll do it again next year.

A Little History: The Dangers of Longbow Practice

There's a law in England that requires each male between the ages of 16 and 60 to keep a longbow in their house and practise with it every week. But considering some new research into fatal accidents in Tudor times, I'm really glad it's not a law that's rigorously enforced. Otherwise we might read about accidents like the one suffered in 1552 by Henry Pert from Welbeck in Nottinghamshire, who shot himself in the head with his own longbow. Impossible? I would have thought so, but apparently his arrow got stuck in the bow while he was trying to shoot straight up into the air and when he leaned over to check what was wrong…

Places to See and Things to Do

Saturday Travel

Travelling can be hazardous. But did you know that flying on a Saturday is more hazardous than flying on any other day? It is very dangerous, indeed – for your wallet! According to this artilce a family holiday can be seriously more expensive when travelling on a Saturday during the day time, as tour operators really hike their prices. So – of course – many families now choose to fly late at night, very early in the morning and midweek. Often, staying in a hotel close to the airport for one night is a good option, as many hotels offer low-cost, safe parking for your car while you’re away on holiday, keeping the costs down even further. And with this offer from National Express, you can now get cheaply from your hotel to your terminal and back. Prices for adults are around £4 and children and luggage travel for free.

Cycling in Northumberland

Alternatively, why not stay in England this summer? It's beautiful and there's plenty going on, and councils, local tourist boards and holiday firms come up with bigger and better things to do in England. The Northumberland Tourist Board just launched lots of new cycle routes for all the family. They’ve decided on two ‘cycling hubs’ in the county and have developed waymarked rides from between 7 and 40 miles from each. One hub is in Haltwhistle, close to Hadrian’s Wall and the North Pennines. The other is in the north, in Wooler, which makes a great base for exploring the Northumberland National Park, my personal favourites the Cheviot Hills, and some of Northumberland’s best castles. You can check out the available rides here, and even download the GPX files for the routes. And if you want to remind yourself what Northumberland is all about, there’s a whole section on the site, along with ideas of where to stay and what to do. So if you’re up north this summer – have a great time!

Recipe of the Month - A Superfast Strawberry Treat

I'm sure I've started many recipes on the site with the words "this one is very easy to do" – but believe me, this recipe is! Blissfully so. And since it's Wimbledon and English strawberries are at their very best, why not make these little strawberry treats and enjoy while sitting in the sun? After all, strawberries and cream are essentially English!

You won't need to sweat in the kitchen, either. This is the ultimate sweet treat: no cooking (or baking) required. And provided your larder is well stocked, these make a quick and tasty standby to serve to unexpected guests. And won't THAT make you look good! Game, set and match – really.


  • 6 meringue nests (shop bought or home made, whichever is the easier for you)
  • 100g / 4oz fresh, ripe strawberries, sliced or halved
  • 6 whole strawberries, tops left on
  • 100g / 4oz double cream (whipping cream)
  • A little sugar to taste

This makes six strawberry treats, but really – who wants to eat just one?


Whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks.

Take the meringue nests and carefully break a hole in the top. Place a few strawberry slices in the bottom, then fill the hole with the whipped cream, sitting the whole strawberry on top.

Place the meringue on a plate and scatter strawberry slices all over. Lightly sprinkle with sugar if your strawberries need it or you have an extra sweet tooth. And for a real classy look, decorate with a sprig of mint.

Did I mention that was the fastest dessert ever?

And Next Month …

I've finally managed to get the new Essentially England sitemap organised. Actually, the site has grown so much over the last 18 months, that we now need several sitemaps to keep everything straight and easy to find. So far, responses have been positive, so I'll hope you find them useful.

So until next month, 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