Monday, 13 January 2014

Hallowe'en / Bonfire Night

I got relatively caught up on “life blogging” only to lose track again. That’ll teach me. Anyway, I forgot to write about Hallowe’en, which is silly because it’s one of my favourite holidays, and in England we get to stretch the celebration all the way out to Bonfire Night (which should be on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day, but is always stretched to the weekend following).

Right. Hallowe’en. Hallowe’en in England is not the big thing it is in North America. There seems to be some custom where you take the kids to the houses with the lit jack-o-lanterns if you want to guarantee candy. As I’m not really versed in this custom, and as the kids are too little to be allowed candy (yes, I’m that mean mum who tries to keep control over their sugar intake), we thought we’d give costumes & trick-or-treating a pass yet again. Yes, I long for the day when I can dress the children up in costumes, but it seemed more prudent to stay in and have our own celebration.

We did get Walter a little pumpkin to carve. It was one of those silly things where he won’t remember doing it and we didn’t use it, aside from lighting it on Hallowe’en, but it was good family fun anyway. Walter was interested in the whole process, he didn’t eat the pumpkin seeds, and he gave it many benevolent smiles from his highchair (the finished product being perched in the middle of our table).

lid on, lid off
On Hallowe’en Day we ended up having to make a trip to Cambridge, as David’s University Library card was expiring and, given his odd status as a non-student-non-alumnus (because he’s submitted his thesis but hasn’t graduated) it was necessary to speak to a Librarian in person about how best to renew his card. The kids & I went on an epic adventure to buy some shoes for Walter (and thanks to St Anthony found a super pair of Clarks for 50% off and Emily’s Christmas dress at Marks & Spencer for only £3 – trust me, it’s not that trivial to ask St Anthony for shoe finding help, as I’d been trying for months to find something Walter could walk in and we were getting desperate). On our way home we decided to drop into Fitzbillies and pick up Hallowe’en themed pastries for afternoon tea: a fairy cake for me and a fondant toad for David. Delicious.

the frog got a bit bashed on the journey back -- makes it look my Hallowe'eny
Supper was one of my special treats – Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good (bread, cream, bacon, & cheese). The pumpkin, being one of the mass market carving ones, was lacklustre but the filling was delicious. We also had Hobgoblin beers & a dish of Hallowe’en candy.

David suggested we watch a spooky movie, so we settled on The Skeleton Key. There’s always a big debate in this house when it’s time for scary movies. I’m a huge fan of vampires, but not really of other monsters. I don’t like watching movies, or reading books, that have a heavy dose of supernatural evil in them. David doesn’t like watching movies about serial killers/mass murderers, even though this is my favourite kind of horror/thriller movie. So to find a movie that manages to strike the right balance is a bit of a challenge. Skeleton Key ended up being a great choice. It had a supernatural element, but it was one that I could handle (it’s movies about demonic possession etc that I really can’t watch). It was cheesy but also managed to be creepy. I’m still going over the plot a few months later, because I thought that the story was interesting even if the movie wasn’t worth watching again.

Once Hallowe’en was over it was time for the English to break out the Guy Fawkes traditions. David’s viva was on November 5th, so we had no trouble scoring a box of fireworks to set off in honour of his pass. When we went to the park to light them, we were able to watch the fireworks from elsewhere in the city. Walter loved watching the beautiful explosions and it was a really fun little expedition.

Ely was having a big charity fundraiser fireworks display on November 9th. We’d planned to go, but when I looked online that day I discovered that they were charging £8 for a family entrance fee (in Cambridge it was always “by donation”), and we don’t have money for those kinds of extras, especially as the kids are too little to really care. It worked out just as well – we were able to watch the whole display from Walter’s bedroom window. The fireworks exploded over Ely Cathedral and it was just gorgeous. Walter perched on his windowsill and had a great time watching the event. I think we got a better view than if we’d gone to the park.

we were heading to a wedding after the fireworks, hence the suit


  1. I love how you guys make things special and fun!

    1. Thanks! We really do try -- life is always stressful so it's important to look for ways to have fun and enjoy what you can.