Saturday 8 November 2014

The Bonfire

I have been rather busy this week, as you may have divined. This morning, for example, I was up at seven to check my email, and then to listen to Polish for 45 minutes and then to review Polish vocabulary for 15. After that I copied a letter I had written in Polish into my exercise book to be corrected later by its recipient, and then I cleaned the kitchen. I took out the trash on my way to the postbox and on my way home I stopped in at an absent friend's house to feed her cats lunch. No time for blogging, you see. And that's the kind of week it's been.

The highlight of the week was, surprisingly, Bonfire Night. The 5th of November is called Guy Fawkes Day in England, which is odd, since the majority of the English think of him as a baddie and have burnt him in effigy for three hundred years. But in Scotland it is called Bonfire Night, and boys of all ages buy fireworks or build bonfires and give rein to their inner pyromaniacs. no different. Sadly, we were not permitted to set off fireworks anywhere on the Historical Estate, but we were given permission to have a bonfire, perhaps in part because the gardeners and foresters have to have the regularly anyway. So B.A. talked about and planned this bonfire for days,even dragging me out the night before to see his chosen site.

The evening of November 5 was dry but cold, and I was not feeling in a particularly bonfirish mood. I had a lot to do, and walking all the way to the nearest Tesco to buy pork belly was not high up on my list of the more enjoyable tasks. What I wanted to do was finish watching "Man of Iron" with my friend Angela and keep her company as her husband gave rein to his inner pyromaniac by setting off fireworks.

Angela's husband had a terrible cold, however, so Angela and I left him to blow his nose in peace and drove to the Historical House to see how B.A. was getting on. To my chagrin, he was not in his chosen bonfire space even though it had been dark for a solid hour. So went to the House, and lo, he was not there. I called his mobile, and he admitted that he had found a new and better bonfire site and ordered us to come at once.

I was feeling very blasé about the whole thing--quite apart from the fact that Guy Fawkes was an innocent Catholic scapegoat, poor man, it was very cold and very dark and campfire cooking is not, in my experience, the best way to make food tasty. However, I heated up a bottle of mulled wine and filled up two thermoses--one for Angela, and one for me---and packed some food, fetched three canvas garden chairs and stumped off into the black night to find B.A's fire.

Now that I had been told where it really was--the ex-kitchen garden--it was hard to miss.  The bonfire was enormous. I dumped the food bag by the barbecue--thank heavens, B.A. did not mean to bury things under the fire but to shovel the fire's hot coals into the barbecue--and set up two chairs in the warmth. Over the stone wall separating the House's ex-kitchen garden from Lord X's fields, fireworks exploded. I sat down and took a pull of mulled wine.

Aaaahhhh.....! It was fantastic, really. And I didn't have to do anything except sit, watch the flames, look for fireworks in the sky, listen to them explode for miles all around, eat sausages and belly of pork on soft white rolls, and drink a thermos and a half of hot mulled wine. B.A., happy as a lark, rushed about throwing doors and trees on the flames between bouts of barbecuing.

It was awesome, really.

"We should do this more often," I said.

Someone has photos and a film of B.A. dancing around the fire, excuse me, HIS fire, so perhaps I will add them here later. But now I must go to Tesco, feed the cats again and make the Christmas fruitcake.


  1. Stupid council stopped us having bonfires by the time I was a teenager. Killjoys. I preferred Halloween even to Christmas. Magical night with wine apples, monkey nuts, mandarins and sparklers all around the bonfire until after midnight. It always seemed so quiet as the night went on, despite a couple of dozen children sitting there munching away. All the neighbours pretending they didn't recognise us and shouting BOO!! at them when they opened their doors. We actually believed we had them fooled. :-D I was a nun one year, dressed just like your pal at that abbey. Do kiddos knock on your door Seraphic?


  2. It would be a brave child who knocked on OUR door, for to get to it they would have to walk down an unpopulated street, and then turn into a deserted lane with a carpark rumoured to play host to drug dealers and continue into the woods (rumoured to be the haunt of heroin addicts) to the courtyard where a very probably haunted Historical House looms down while owls hoot. (There are Hallowe'en activities for the children in the grounds the weekend before.) Meanwhile, there are now ghost story tours in the HIstorical House for the night before Hallowe'en, Hallowe'en and All Saints, so B.A. and I have to sit up in our attic as quiet as mice. My one gift to the neighbourhood is my Canadian-American style jack o'lantern, which sits high up in the dining room window--too small to be seen, really! Next year I will buy early and get a huge pumpkin.

  3. Aw, I would've made the trip as a kiddo with my pals I'm sure. Although with such a big house I would have expected you to answer the door in a tiara and princess dress. :-) I will send you the photo of me as a nun if you publish bonfire photos
    (with BA's consent obviously). Sinéad (mad for bonfires)

  4. Deal! I am waiting for B.A. to get them.


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