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Essentially England News, October 2010 - Bonfire Party Time
October 30, 2010

Bonfire Party Time

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.

Autumn has well and truly arrived in Gloucestershire. The colours are breathtaking - the chestnuts were early this year, but beeches, maples and birches make for a heartstopping panorama, especially when the sun comes out. It's been several years since I've seen the hedgerows laden with that many sloes - some years there were barely enough for a couple of bottles of sloe gin, while this year there are more than I can decently fit into my larder without making it look like a distillery.

And as the nights draw in and it gets colder, we take any excuse for a good party.

What's New at Essentially England?

The site makeover is finally done! After a lot of painting and decorating, I can finally go back to adding new information to the site. I've got a rather long backlog of England questions to answer, there will be new recipes and lots more history.

Right now, there's a lot of new stuff in the Christmas section of the site, including food treats, cookery shortcuts and cheats, and gift ideas for food and history lovers. I'm particularly fond of beautiful wooden advent calendars, unusual decorative biscuit tins and these very whimsical Christmas stockings.

Fairs, Festivals and Things to Do

Halloween weekend is approaching. It's not as widespread in England as it is across the pond, but you shouldn't be too surprised to meet scarily dressed kids on the street at this time of year. Still, we're much more likely to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th than Halloween. So if you're in England, find yourselves a bonfire party. I'll guarantee it will be fun.

Apart from fireworks and bonfires, this is also the time when we're inching towards Christmas. And it doesn't need to be all about shopping and cooking. So why not make some time for a very special history experience?

If you're on the Isle of Wight on November 20th and 21st, you could experience the spirit of a traditional Victorian Christmas right at Queen Victoria's family home, Osborne House. Delight in the magic and illusion of the side-shows, have a go at hoopla and the coconut shy and imagine yourself back in the old days.

One of England's most romantic ruined castles and one of my favourites, Kenilworth Castle, is just as enjoyable in the autumn and winter. Check out the Christmas Weekend on November 27th / 28th and enjoy tall Christmas tales and craft activities in Leicester's Gatehouse. Then follow the trail of clues around the castle and claim your festive treat from one of the little helpers.

If Christmas food is the bit you like best about the festivities, then you really should make your way to Audley End House on December 4th/5th. The kitchens will be in full swing for the festive season as Mrs Crocombe, our resident cook, prepares delicious Victorian treats.

Recipe of the Month - Bonfire Party Food

October and November are all about making the best of the weather and spending as much time outside before winter really kicks in. Clearing leaves and putting the garden to bed are sure to give you an appetite. Adn then, there are the many bonfire parties all across the country.

So, what traditional foods could you serve to keep everyone warm and glowing? Here are a few ideas?

  • Sausages are always a favourite with everyone. You can grill them on a stick over the bonfire, or bake them in the oven before you come out. You could pre-prep a large tray of Toad in the Hole and serve it cut into squares. For the ultimate finger food, wrap the sausages into bread dough and bake in the oven until hot and warming.

  • Baked potatoes are great for the kids to cook themselves. Just wrap them in foil and place into the bonfire until the hungry crowds are ready for them. Served with baked beans and grated cheddar for a really traditional feast.

  • Just because you're outside doesn't mean you cannot serve a sweet to your party guests. baked apples make great use of the fire or can easily be prepared ahead. Served with cream or hot custard, they make a lovely outdoorsy pudding. And everyone simples loves toffee apples.

  • And to drink? For the juniors in the party, hot sweet apple juice or hot chocolate are popular, while the grown-ups can indulge in treats like mulled wine, mulled cider, sloe gin or even mead.

Have a great party!

And Next Month …

With the site makeover complete, there's lots to do and lots of new stuff to add. If you'd like to see anything specific, please let me know.

Until then, keep well and think of England…

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