Passport to Fun - England

Travel the world from the comfort of your living room with this Passport to Fun series!  Whether you use these ideas as a date night, family fun night, or homeschool study, you'll be sure to have fun and get a bit of a feel of jolly old England!

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You'll remember that I came up with a pretty awesome idea for G's Christmas gift this year.

If you're new here and don't know what I'm talking about, then feel free to wander on over to this post to read all about it.

I'll wait.

For our next "trip," we visited someplace that I don't think I could ever get tired of - I'm such an anglophile!

While the cuisine for this country isn't quite as adventurous as others, it's the perfect comfort food for all those crisp autumn days that are heading our way (in our dreams, at least!)

September - England

Set the Stage

I added the next stamp to G's passport so he'd see where we were going, then left it out where he'd find it the next morning before he went to work:

What to Decorate With

The flag thing seems to be working out pretty well for us.  It's something fairly simple for Gv and I to do together, uses supplies we already have, and still lends an air of the locale.

This flag was a little trickier than most, but the easiest way to make it is by folding a sheet of white construction paper (don't use copy paper like I did, because it's too small - can you see all the spots I had to piece it together?)  into quarters and then cutting out the two triangle shapes (use the blue above for a guide).  Then, fold up a sheet of red construction paper the same way and follow the white sheet's pattern, but cut the red smaller. Glue the red onto the white and then onto a blue sheet for the background.

Gv and I made a Tube sign to hang:

I also printed out this fun sign and displayed it along with some photos I have hanging on the walls throughout the house.

What to Dress Like

Hmmm...grenadiers, bobbies, a certain MI6 agent, the Beatles...we considered all of those, but instead went with an odd assortment of characters that we could find clothes for.

I'd laid out everything G needed to transform into Sherlock (the Benedict Cumberbatch version, that is, since we didn't have "the hat" for the original), but he said there was no way he'd wear a trench coat like that and not look like a flasher, so he went and put together his own outfit.

The best I could come up with was my take on Twiggy - a mod mini and floppy hat like she wore in a famous campaign.

I think G looks like Basil Exposition, how about you?  My hands look all goofy like this, but I was totally attempting the hat pose Twiggy had, so it made sense at the time...

Gv's Alice in Wonderland worked out the best.  If we didn't already have her Halloween costume made, I'd probably just do this with her again.

I figured this outfit would work once I remembered Gv had a blue shirt-dress.  She only has a black apron, but I created a white one out of a pillowcase!

What to Listen to

It's pretty difficult to create a playlist for this visit (so much great music!), so I'm not even going to try.  

Instead, use these names to get your brain warmed up and create your own:

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Adele, James Blunt, One Direction, Coldplay, Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Mumford & Sons, The Clash, Elton John, David Bowie, The Police, and - Engelbert Humperdinck (who happens to have one of the most awesome names, ever!)

What to Eat

I really was craving two particular pub dishes, so I decided to just make them both and claim one was an appetizer.

We began the meal with tea (with milk, of course!) and scones, then followed up with not-really-an-appetizer Cornish pasties.

Our main dish was a cottage pie (the lamb version is called shepherd's pie) and plenty of ale and porter to wash it all down with.

We finished things off with a banoffee pie - something I've never had (and never really wanted to, since I'm not a big fan of bananas), but was just too curious to try out, since it's such a traditional British dessert.


What You Need

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder (make your own!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 Tablespoons cubed butter

1/4 cup honey

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped fruit (we're still working our way through a case of frozen cranberries)

What You Do

1.  Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

2.  Add in the butter and combine it all until you have small granules.

3.  Add in the honey.  Then the milk.  Then the fruit.

4.  Pat the dough into a circle and slice into 6-8 wedges.

5.  Slide it onto an ungreased baking sheet (I used this) and bake at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Cornish Pasty

What You Need

1 cup whole wheat flour

pinch of salt

4 Tablespoons cubed butter

2-3 Tablespoons cold water

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup diced potatoes

1/2 cup sliced swede (or cabbage or turnip or do what I did and just use peas and carrots)

1/2 cup cubed steak (I actually used tempeh, since all our meat got ruined when our freezer died)

salt and pepper

beaten egg

What You Do

1.  Throw the flour, salt and cubed butter into your food processor and mix it all up really well.  Add in the water a Tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition.  You just want the dough to come together, so stop adding water when that happens.

2.  Divide the dough into 4 pieces and then roll into 6 to 7-inch rounds.  Chill for at least 15 minutes.

3.  In a separate bowl, mix together onion, potatoes, swede (or whatever you're using instead), and steak.  Add in some salt and pepper.  Be brave and just throw in a dash or two of each.

4.  Plop this mixture onto the four pastry disks (leave a little space around the edges), fold these in half and crimp the edges shut, then brush with the beaten egg (but only if you want a pretty, shiny crust and aren't lazy like I am).

5.  Grease a baking sheet (or use one of these) and bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until golden.

Cottage Pie

What You Need

1.5-2 pounds ground beef (you can probably guess that I used tempeh)

3 carrots (dice 2, thinly slice the other)

6 cloves minced garlic

1 Tablespoon thyme

2 onions

8 ounces chopped mushrooms

3 dashes oil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup beef stock (I just used chicken stock)

1 cup beer (or use more stock)

4 potatoes

1/3-1/2 cup milk

3-4 Tablespoons butter

salt & pepper

What You Do

1.  Make mashed potatoes.  I'm guessing you already know how to do this, but just in case you don't, you'll want to boil the potatoes, drain them, then mash them all up with the milk, butter, salt & pepper listed at the end of the ingredients list.  Set the taters aside.

2.  Caramelize the onions.

3.  Cook the sliced carrots in the oil with the salt on medium for about two minutes, then turn down heat and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

4.  In a pot (you're already looking forward to all the dishes, aren't you?), brown the meat and then add in the diced carrots, pepper, garlic, and thyme.  Cook this for about 5 minutes, then add in the stock and simmer it all for 15-20 minutes.

5.  Fold in the onions and carrots from steps 2 and 3.

6.  Fill a lasagna pan with the mixture, then top with the mashed potatoes and broil until golden.

Banoffee Pie

What You Need

Pie crust (or even go the graham-cracker crust route)

**Super-simple pie crust: 2 cups whole wheat flour, pinch salt, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup milk (mix everything together, roll out & place in pie plate, bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees)

2 cans sweetened condensed milk (although you know I just had to make my own, lower-sugar version of this - which was a total fail):

I might try this again one day using coconut milk, but as you can see, regular milk and honey don't work!

3 sliced bananas

Whipped topping (make your own using: 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or this coconut milk), 1/4 cup powdered sugar & 1 teaspoon vanilla)

What You Do

1.  Get your crust of choice into a pie plate.

2.  Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 8x8 glass baking dish, then cover with foil.  Set this dish inside a larger one (like a lasagna pan) and then fill the larger pan halfway up with water.  Bake for 1.5 hours at 300 degrees.

3.  Once everything is cool, pour half of the milk mixture into your pie plate. Layer the sliced bananas on top and then pour the rest of the milk mixture on top.

4.  Slather the whipped topping over the whole she-bang.  (If you're making your own, then whip the cream/coconut milk with the sugar until fluffy, then lightly fold in the vanilla.)

What to Do

For some reason, everything I came up with for us to do was active and outside.

And just about everything ended up getting crossed off the list.

Oooh, we could play tennis...but I could only find one racket.

Hmmm, maybe we could try our hands at cricket...but of course it's not like we have the gear lying around the house and I didn't think creating wickets out of toothpicks would be such a good idea...

Darts!  We could play darts!  With old, missing-the-end-pieces (whatever those are called), but they still stick.

Croquet!  That would be fun...but I'd have to fashion wickets out of wire hangers (totally do-able) and then we'd have to hit our bocce balls with a rubber mallet...

Finally, we settled on a rambunctious version of polo - riding on brooms instead of horses and hitting balloons (a beach ball, because guess what, balloons break when they hit grass) from one end of the yard to the other with the Swiffer.

What to Read

So many great books to share:

A Walk in London

Katie in London

Katie and the British Artists

This is London

This is Britain

Pop-Up London

An English Year

And, of course, for the older crowd (or as read-alouds):

And as far as great reads for the grown-ups, I just have to take the easy route and suggest something by Dickens, Austen, Agatha Christie, or those focused on a certain spy or famous detective (you can download most of these great classics for free from here!)

What to Watch

I love British films, so it was really difficult to keep this list manageable, but here are some fun ones for you to explore: Pride & Predjudice, Sense & Sensibility, ElizabethMonty Python, Miss Potter, Austin Powers, Billy Elliot, The King's Speech, Shakespeare in Love, Educating Rita, Withnail & I, Shaun of the Dead, Death at a Funeral, Sherlock Holmes, Bridget Jones, The Full Monty, Calendar Girls, The History Boys, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Oxford Blues, anything Hitchcock, and, of course, my favorite James Bond.

(Also, if you never managed to jump on this bandwagon, you can always binge-watch it right now, along with other television hits like Sherlock, Dr. Who, Top Gear or Graham Norton!)

For the kids, you can't go wrong with:  Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Mary PoppinsHarry Potteror Wallace & Gromit.

Gv had her first introduction to Alice and G and I decided to go with one of his favorites, Educating Rita.


And that wrapped up our ninth "trip" together for the year.  It was another huge success and we can't wait to jet off to someplace new next month!

Travel all over the world, without leaving your living room!  Come back each month to see where we head next.  Can you think of any other ideas to add for a trip to England?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Also, if you don't want to miss a single minute of great tips like this and all the fun around here, be sure to sign up for free updates and then look forward to having each post delivered right to your inbox.

Want more?  Check out some of our other trips:

Italy - India - France - Africa - Ireland - Switzerland - Canada - Greece - Germany Thailand - Russia China - Jamaica Egypt - Mexico - Japan - Brazil Cuba Scotland - Australia - Scandinavia

Love this idea, but want the easy, made-for-you-and-all-you-do-is-print-it version?  Click here to get your own pack and see what inspired me to create this series!

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  1. Oh my goodness this is such a great idea!! What a wonderful present to give your husband and what fun memories you are making!! Your outfits are so cool and the food looks so delicious. The polo game looks like fun too.

  2. So thorough!! I love this night. You would eat well in england for sure! Cornish pasty looks fun to try out.

    Thanks for sharing at #bloggerspotlight!

  3. Wow, you did it again Lisa. I love the creative things you come up with. So beautifully thought out and the food sounds so yummy. Love the outfits.

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