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Essentially England News, October 2009 - Between Glorious Trees and Potted Shrimps
October 30, 2009

Between Glorious Trees and Potted Shrimps

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.

What a glorious autumn we’re having this year! It’s balmy and calm, sunny more often than not and the trees have turned the most astonishing colours. We had friends from Germany staying with us and couldn’t have asked for better weather – especially as it was snowing at the same time in Germany!

We had a great time introducing the kids to London, cream tea, Glastonbury Tor and … fish and chips. On the hunt for those we found a truly lovely restaurant, the Urban Reef, at Boscombe, just outside Bournemouth. Right on the beach, with stunning views out to sea, open fires and super-friendly staff, this is one restaurant I’ve bookmarked for a repeat visit. And the fish and chips, I hear you ask? Beyond reproach. And if you can manage to finish the giant chips, then I’d like to know!

What's New at Essentially England?

My worst month this year for working on the site! Rather than gallivanting around admiring the trees, I should be chained to my computer!

I’m still adding bits and pieces to the Christmas pages … I’ve found some truly beautiful advent calendars, that I had to share with you. And I’m always on the lookout for stocking fillers, just because they’re so much more fun to pick out than large bulky presents.

The England Q & A section has also seen a bit of a revamp. I’m receiving so many really interesting questions that I thought they might entertain others besides me … do you know if Richard the Lionheart wore armour when he was hit by that fateful arrow?

Travel Tips and Reviews

It’s Halloween tomorrow … and Guy Fawkes Night is only a very few days away. If you’re in Wiltshire this weekend, why not make your way to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway and book a trip on the Halloween Ghost Train? A few of my colleagues are taking the children and I look forward to hearing how scary it was…

If you prefer your Christmas with lots of snow, but haven’t booked anything yet, check out the website. They promote environmentally sound holidays in England and around the world and have just posted their latest winter holidays. A few very good offers amongst them …

If you like to go away for Christmas, but don’t want the chaos of crowded airports, then you might like to check out English Country Cottages. Renting a cottage somewhere pretty over the holidays makes a real change and there are some terrific deals out there at the moment.

Fairs, Festivals and Things to Do

It’s quiet on the fairs and festivals front at the moment… until the Christmas fairs start, that is.

But there’s one thing you really should check out if you’re planning to visit London. We were taking our German friends on a whistle-stop tour of the capital and planned in all the usual sights: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Pauls. The day before we went, though, my husband found this website, which lists the times when the Tower Bridge opens to let ships through. In almost 20 years in England I’d never seen the bridge open… but I have now! It was sort of … uncanny, watching all the traffic stop for a sailing boat. But very English, I’m sure.

Recipe of the Month - Potted Shrimps

Must be all this wandering around with our German friends, but my tastes are very traditional at the moment. And there are few things more traditional than Potted Shrimps.

On the face of it they seem more suited to an outdoors lunch in the middle of summer, but I seem to crave smoked and preserved fishy things as the weather closes in. And walking around admiring the autumn colours tends to give you an appetite...

You can buy Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps from good supermarkets and most delis – as well as directly from the producers – and they’re a terrific standby to have in the larder over Christmas, but sometimes I like to make them myself.

So if you have friends round and want to offer something a little different, follow me.

  • Warm 100g / 4oz butter in a pan until melted.
  • Add 1 teaspoon mace and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus pepper to taste.
  • Now tip in 500g / 1lb shrimps. Brown ones are traditional, but you can just as easily use the pink North Atlantic ones.
  • Stir them in the butter and spices until well coated, but don’t overcook.
  • When warmed through, pile them into ramekin dishes and pour the melted butter in the bottom of the pan over them to seal.

Leave to cool and serve with crunchy brown toast, watercress and a little lemon for a light lunch or part of a traditional afternoon tea.

And if you have some left over, try them stirred into scrambled eggs... even our cat thinks they're divine!

And Next Month …

We've visited so many interesting sites over the last few months and collected so much great information that I really need to lock myself into the study and put in some work on the site.

Difficult to say what I'll tackle first: Roman England or Ironbridge Gorge and the industrial revolution? Devon or Somerset?

Until next month, keep well and think of England…

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