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                        Living in America vs England



February blog 2018

Posted by dawngriffis on February 11, 2018 at 12:15 AM

How to start this blog? It’s the month my Gran used to say she liked because if it snowed, or turned cold it didn’t last long. Obviously she didn’t live in Vermont, where winter cold and snow can be here for at least another six weeks. Snowdrops and aconites are covering the ground throughout the woodlands, church yards and gardens in England. We have snow dropped on us, right nor ours is about 3-4 feet deep with more to come. This global warming melting the ice caps to the north, and south is pushing their ice cold weather north and south so everywhere is getting blasted. The US having such a large land mass can’t escape it, but even our small Island of Britain has felt the brunt of it to. Then some of the nay sayers say it’s all a hoax, I’d hate to tell you what I’d like to say to them!!!


February holds a special day for all Brits it is Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. It is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday followed of course by Lent. Most of you in the US probably know the British people hang on to traditions for a very long time; Pancake Day is no exception. It all started back in the 14th century.

Pancake Day

as explained by by Ellen Castelow with some adding and editing by me.

Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter – was traditionally a time of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Anglo Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” (absolved from their sins). A bell would be rung to call people to confession (they could not be late). This came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today.

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9. In 2018 Shrove Tuesday will fall on the 13th February. So you have time to plan for it. They are flat similar to crepes usually served by sprinkling sugar over each pancake and a little squeezed lemon juice, roll the pancake up and sprinkle top with a little more sugar and lemon on top usual serving is 2-3 per person.

Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients.

A pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan. A traditional English pancake is very thin and is served immediately. Golden syrup or lemon juice and sugar are the usual toppings for pancakes.

The pancake has a very long history and featured in cookery books as far back as 1439. The tradition of tossing or flipping them is almost as old: “And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).

The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year:

Eggs ~ Creation

Flour ~ The staff of life

Salt ~ Wholesomeness

Milk ~ Purity


To make 8 or more pancakes you will need 8 + oz plain/ all purpose flour, 2 large eggs, 1(Imperial) pint milk, (I use 16 ozs milk + 4 ozs water, small pinch of salt.)

Put flour in a large glass, ceramic or plastic bowl (not metal)

Make a well in the middle of the flour and break and drop 2 large eggs that are at room temperature. (Do not take straight from fridge)

Add a small pinch of salt; have ready 16 ozs of milk whole or 2%. Add 4 ozs of water to milk.

Beat the eggs with a wooden spoon so you gradually work the flour into them, when you can’t work any more into eggs, gradually add the milk mixture beating as you go to work lumps out, when it is pretty much just liquid add rest of the milk and beat with spoon held at a 45 deg angle until some big bubbles form and there’s a loping sound. Leave wooden spoon in it and set aside on counter for a minimum of 20 mins (Very important step) I have let it sit several hours what is ever is the most convenient for me.

Heat a little fat or shortening in a frying pan until fat is piping hot (very important), pour in very small amount of batter, just enough to cover the base of the pan and let it cook until the bottom of the pancake has browned. Then shake the pan to loosen the pancake and flip the pancake over to brown the other side. (Easier to do it from front to back and just flip it) This same recipe is used for Yorkshire Pudding to be served with roast beef, or for Toad in the Hole, or for pop overs. The mixture does not like cold, reason for not using metal as part of prep.

In the UK, pancake races form an important part of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations – an opportunity for large numbers of people, they must wear a dress, apron and head covering, hat or scarf, to race down streets tossing pancakes. The object of the race is to get to the finishing line first, carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake in it and flipping the pancake 3 times as you run.

The most famous pancake race takes place at Olney in Buckinghamshire. According to tradition, in 1445 a woman of Olney heard the shriving bell while she was making pancakes and ran to the church in her apron, still clutching her frying pan. The Olney pancake race is now world famous. Competitors have to be local housewives and they must wear a dress, an apron and a hat or scarf. Each contestant has a frying pan containing a hot pancake. She must toss it three times during the race. The first woman to complete the course and arrive at the church, then serve her pancake to the bell ringer and be kissed by him to be the winner.


The following poem was written

by Beverley Coleman for month of February to go in the Banbury Friends calendar a few years ago


Hearts and Roses everywhere

Chocolates by the score

Will you be my Valentine

I couldn't love you more


With spring just round the corner

Love is in the air

Time for many courtships

As creatures start to pair


Take a Pancake ...Toss it up

Put it on a plate

Add sugar and Lemon

Now you have a date.

What you need to make English pancakes from Banbury Friends calendar

What an English pancake looks like before being rolled

Pancake rolled ready for finishing touches

This time of the year birds in the New England area really need to have access to food especially when snow is so deep, I feed mine suet with seeds and fruit in it to give them added warmth. In UK the birds love the feeders as they start their nest building, many of my UK friends’ report lots of nest building activity has already started.


Here is one for this time of year in England

by Beverley Coleman

Taste of spring


The ground on which we walk on

Is showing signs of Spring

New life is forming everywhere

The birds begin to sing.


The Robin and the Blackbird

The Blue Tit and the Thrush

Are sorting building quarters

In boxes and in Bush.


Snowdrops show they’re perfect heads

Scattered here and there

A scene of white amazes me

I can only stand and stare.


The ground is warming up now

Dead leaves still lay beneath

The birds’ just love to forage

For what lies underneath.


Buds are forming in the trees

Patiently laying in wait

The cows come in for milking

The Farmer shuts the gate.


It’s early in the morning

The sky shows signs of light

As daytime is approaching

To now replace the night.


As we say Good Morning

And are about to start our day

Keep them peeled ...for springtime

And all enjoy your day.

Robin by Anthony Morris


Blue Tit by Anthony Morris

Hertmit thrush by Jane Glick similar to an English Thrush

Black bird by Anthony Morris

Snowdrop path at Welford Park by Anthony Morris as are the next 2 photos

Carpet of snowdrops at Welford Park

Snowdrops and Aconites at Welford Park

The folks around here in Vermont and New Hampshire have enjoyed excellent skiing both down hill and cross country. Some farms turn their land over to cross country ski trails for the locals to use as does Crossroads Farm in Post Mills Vermont. Tim Taylor, Janet Taylor's husband built or sets the trails for all to use as you see in the photo. Some just ski through the woods, when we were younger we liked to snow shoe through the woods. Vermont has more than it’s share of woods so easy to do.

Crossroads Farm cross country ski trail with Tim Taylor trying it out.

Vermont cross country skiing this one and next two all taken from the internet

Deep in the woods

Total white 

Our deck after the last storm a couple of days ago!

Valentines Day is near Mike & I don’t give each other cards or gifts – why? Because we couldn’t top the best one we gave to each other back in the mid 60s. We gave to each other our daughter Penny, she is the kindest, most considerate, loving person to all, and she goes out of her way to help those around her. No she isn’t perfect, from a very young 3 year old child,she has nagged us that she doesn’t think we keep house as clean as she thinks it should be, but then we aren’t perfect either! Here she is through the years our Valentine 

At 8 months

at about 5 years old

As a teenager

With her first grand daughter 5 years ago.

Happy Pancake Day, and Valentines Day to you all.


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