Remember, Remember

It’s the fifth of November, and last night was Bonfire Night 2017. We went to Battersea Park for the bonfire and fireworks, which was the best fireworks display we’ve ever seen in person.

Bonfire Night in the UK is a little like the Fourth of July celebrations in America, with a very different historical background. If you’d like a quick summary on that, this article covers the basics.

Or you could ask my 4-year-old, who will recite the nursery rhyme: “Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason, and plot,” and will tell you something along the lines of: “Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the houses of Parliament with gunpowder and kill the king, and the good guys stopped him. He’s dead now.” So there you have it.

There are fireworks displays all over London, but we’d heard the Battersea Park one is really good, and it’s not far from us. We could actually see some of them from our top floor last year, when we were barely home from the hospital with Baby R.

M’s parents are here right now, so they were able to join us for our first Bonfire Night celebration, and some friends of ours who have children the same age came along with us, too. My friend Tomoko and I wore the babies in our Ergos, and bought some baby ear-protecting headphones to pop on them during the fireworks.

We bought our tickets in advance, and pushed onto a very crowded bus with lots of other people headed to the same place. There were food and drink stalls set up in the park, and ​vendors selling various light-up toys for people to wave around in the dark. We enjoyed some drinks and pre-fireworks entertainment:

Then they lit the bonfire:

img_0792

And then the main event, a 25-minute fireworks show choreographed to music.​

Tonight we watched the first episode of the BBC period drama “Gunpowder,” which is a three-part series (starring Kit Harington) depicting what happened back in 1605 that led to the annual festivities. It was a bit gory at times (man, they were brutal back then), but interesting, and definitely helpful in understanding what the treason and plot were all about.

Advertisements

Happy Halloween From the Gruffalo Gang

img_0705.jpg
I didn’t know how much I liked the American version of Halloween (i.e. more fun than scary) until I moved to England and convinced other mums to get into it. And with how excited E and her friends got last year—more than Christmas, seriously—I felt like I needed to live up to last year and put on a great pre-trick-or-treating party to hype everyone up and show them how Americans celebrate a fun night of playing dress-up and begging for free candy.

I wore this tiny witch hat clip in my hair to school drop-off this morning, and got multiple comments on how very American I am, to be all ready for Halloween in the morning. (I also put a pumpkin hat on R and Halloween fingernail stickers on E.)

img_0684

Witch please. This is nothing. My brother sent me this picture of his neighbor’s house in Portland:

img_0727

Now THAT’S American.

A lot of houses here have gone all out, too, but it’s primarily spiderwebs and caution tape. Not much room for inflatables in the tiny front gardens.

img_0700
I did not take E trick-or-treating to this one. Yikes.

It still baffles M and me that children dress up in “fancy dress,” aka costumes, for so many different things here–birthday parties, world book day, Christmas parties, last day of school–but then not for school on Halloween. Growing up in America, how much fun was it to go to school on Halloween and see everyone’s costumes, especially the teachers? The more creative, the better. I don’t subscribe to the British way of Halloween costumes being strictly scary–witches, skeletons, vampires, zombies, ghosts, monsters. It’s just too disturbing to see a toddler with fake blood on his face. And excuse me, miss, what are you… a fairy that was recently murdered? Why? There was even a young Donald Trump… shudder.

One woman showed up to school pickup with a knife in her head. But no, I’m the Halloween nut.

We did go more British this year with our kids’ costumes, in another way: my friend Amelia and I dressed our children as all the characters from the beloved English children’s book The Gruffalo. E was the Gruffalo and Baby R was the mouse (her first Halloween!), and Amelia’s children were the fox and the owl.

And who was the lucky one who got to be the snake?

IMG_0760
The indignity.

Poor Wren. She hates Halloween the most. WHY ARE ALL THESE STRANGERS COMING TO OUR DOOR ALL NIGHT THEY ARE TRYING TO MURDER MY FAMILY SEE THEY HAVE BLOOD ON THEM THEY ARE SERIAL KILLERS BARK BARK BARK WHY DOES NO ONE SEEM CONCERNED BARK BARK BARK ALSO CHOCOLATE IS POISON BARK BARK IF IT WERE TRICK OR MEAT I’D BE SO IN BARK BARK BARK

She’s the best dog. There’ll be some Gruffalo crumble in your dish later, Wren.

I knew the excitement level would be over the top, and there’d be plenty of sweets, so I made some healthy-ish snacks for the kids before trick-or-treating (we gave them pizza too, I’m not trying to win any mum-of-the-year awards here).

Recipes:

And with Halloween, R’s first birthday, and Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night (which means fireworks; again, poor Wren) all in the space of one week, it’s just about the most exciting week for E, full of party party party and sugar sugar sugar. Then next week we’ve got my in-laws here, M’s birthday, my best friend Jess and her family coming to visit, and Jess’ birthday, so I’d say we are ushering in the holiday season of weight gain full throttle in just the first two weeks of November. Now bring us some figgy pudding…

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!