Bonfire Night On A Budget

1 November 2010

Bonfire Night 1George Osborne cancelled bonfire night this year. In previous years our local council has run free displays in its main parks. Cutbacks mean this year, they're only holding a single display on the common in the middle of the borough. But far too far for us to travel with little kids late on a Friday night.

The only other fireworks display within easy distance is a pay-to-enter event. Not much, perhaps, but for a family of four it'd cost just over £18 to get in. It also has a funfair in the grounds, and it is hard to get the kids past the bouncy castles and slides. Then there's the hot food vendors, and weirdly, ice cream van. Last year, it was freezing, yet my son shivered his way through the entire ice cream cone!

Halloween Update

I've been inspired to do our own bonfire night by having a lovely, inexpensive Halloween. It was a huge amount of fun for both the kids and the adults. Making and finding costumes and decorations mopped up all those little bits of dead time in the half term holiday. The two large pumpkins we got had so much pulp inside, I made enough soup for six adults, and a large pie, AND still have an entire casserole dish of pulp left over. I wonder if you can freeze it?

For anyone following the Pumpkin Carving and Recipes post, yes I did roast the pumpkin seeds! I used the recipe posted by Moozikgal (thanks). But, I would advise that people check the recipe the day before, and not ON the day as I did. Slightly disconcerting to get to the step where it says "place seeds in the salt-water solution and let soak for 8 to 48 hours." This is optional, but the reasons given for doing so make it pretty compelling.

And practicing pumpkin carving beforehand paid off, big time. Got lots of compliments, and I didn't ruin any pumpkins! Scooped out enough pulp to make them thin enough to let out light, but thick enough that when carving I didn't accidentally slip the knife and ruin the entire front!

Penny for the guy?

from Eastender ArchiveDoes anyone ever do this anymore? I've got friends who remember making a guy and taking it around to collect money to buy fireworks. They used to go to the local pubs and said they made a small fortune! Is this a tradition that has gone though, a victim of our over cautious times? Or has it got the boot because, frankly, it is just a stop short of begging and not something we really want to encourage our kids to do? What do you think?


We're not the only ones stuck for something to do on bonfire night this year. So we've got together with six other families.We'll each bring one or two fireworks, and a packet of sparklers for the kids. Plus marshmallows for roasting, hot chocolate, and hot dogs. If everyone isn't sick of it by then, I'll be bringing more pumpkin soup!

And this year, for the first time ever that I can remember, we'll actually be having a proper bonfire. One family has been renovating a house they bought in the summer. It has a huge garden, that is not overlooked by any houses and they took down two trees so we've got plenty of wood.

Fireworks for saleThe safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a public display. Personally that's my preferred kind, and to some, it is the only way to enjoy fireworks. As a kid though, we always had displays at home. And you know, I don't really have to tell you the safety basics of dealing with fireworks and bonfires do I? It is really quite common sense stuff. Fireworks are explosives, so treat with respect and keep them in a metal container. If you're having fireworks at home yourself, please do read this site very carefully - Safer Fireworks - from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

We're having ours in a 90ft garden, and there will be 60ft between the spectators and the fireworks. Plus, for those that want it, large floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the patio to stand behind. I won't be lighting any fireworks myself, as I'm scared to death of them. I can only just handle a sparkler, and even that frightens me.

Here's a fab tip. Get the kids to wear their gloves. Good for keeping warm on a cold night, plus it'll keep any of the hot sparks (this is the bit I always hated) from burning their hands. Children under 5 shouldn't really get sparklers, although son got his first one last year when he was 4. I think this really depends on the child, and you'll know yours best. However we would recommend sticking with the 5 year old rule. And of course always keep an eye on them. Me and my cousins ran madly around the garden with our sparklers when we were kids. Not entirely sure I'd be letting my son do that in the dark, with a thin very hot stick in hand!


Bonfire of the Suburbs

I was quite surprised to find that, according to the Government website, Directgov, there's no actual laws on bonfires. Local councils can stop you if you're burning stuff you shouldn't (like painted wood, treated wood, plastics etc), or are being a nuisance with them and annoying the neighbours. Directgov points out that "It is an offence to get rid of domestic waste in a way likely to cause pollution or harm to human health, including burning it."

The site also provides some good advice on bonfire safety. I also really like this site, put up by Wigan Council, as it provides some very specific guidelines like bonfires not being more than 3m high, which therefore means you need to keep spectators 5 metres away.

And Finally...

I'll come back and post some pictures on how our night went! Would love to see the Halloween and Bonfire night pics of any of our PlayPennies parents if they'd like to share. Post a link in the comments!

TOPICS:   Halloween   Christmas


  • Moozikgal
    I hope your pumpkin seeds turned out well if you did them them the next day. I tried various pumpkin seeds this year, the ones soaked in balsamic were probably the best ones!
  • Kevin
    If there's a fireworks display in your local area try watching it from nearby. You don't need to be underneath it! Lucky if your council has been putting on a free display, Cambridge has had to be additionally funded by private companies and bucket collections on the night for many years.
  • Luschka O.
    And dont forget hearing protection for the little ones! :)
  • Lynley O.
    Moozikgal, luckily I did my pumpkins early enough in the day that I could soak them for JUST about 8 hours. I put them in to roast when we got back, and served them as a snack right at the end of the night. They turned out OK, but I think that next time I'll definitely soak them for the whole 48 hours. How did your Halloween go? Any pumpkin treats?
  • Lynley O.
    Bucket collections are good - then people can give what they can. I wouldn't have a problem with that. The pay-for-event I mentioned used to be really good value. When the step kids were much, much younger they used to put on bands too. OK so it was stuff for teeny boppers, but the kids loved it. Pop stars like Billie Piper, and Hear'say (remember them!). They still charge the same to get in, but no music now!
  • Lynley O.
    Ha ha! I think that is they're a bit OTT myself but still interesting point about putting on the noise cancelling ones if you've already got a pair.
  • Moozikgal
    I had to carve 4 pumpkins for an event last weekend so had masses of pumpkin seeds which I roasted. We had a fantastic party for our 4 year old. We made the orange jellys into pumpkin heads We did some pumpkin carving This one is a haunted house and this one too Spooky cup cakes baked, orange shortbread bats, peanut brittle to name but a few treats. One of the pumpkins was cut up tonight to make into bacon and pumpkin pasta. The other one will be turned into soup tomorrow. Trying to work out which firework display to go to here. Council run one which is free and we have been to every year but has been moved further away from the let off site due to health and safety concerns due to numbers, or a private display with fairground and £3 in each.
  • Lynley O.
    I love those jelly oranges! And OMG how COOL is that pumpkin you carved. I am dying of envy here. How did you do it - with a stencil? My favourite though is the pumpkin being sick. I've still got SO much pumpkin left over. Can I have your bacon and pumpkin pasta recipe? Your fireworks dilemma sounds like mine! I really hate it though when they put a fair inside the display like that, those things really do suck up a lot of cash. Even though he'll only go on the bouncy slides and tinies rides, with that and hook a duck it is easy to spend the best part of £20.
  • Moozikgal
    Glad you like the pumpkins. Yes I use stencils for them. The other weekend I did a Michael Jackson pumpkin and Lady GaGa one. Sadly no photos tho! Here is the pasta recipe. I hope you enjoy. My 4 year old loved it but refused to eat the pumpkin as he is convinced that they are not for eating! He ate everything but... :) Bacon and Pumpkin pasta Serves 4 – 6 people, about 20 mins cook time inc prep. Left over pumpkin peeled and chopped into one inch cubes (I used the back half of the pumpkin and threw away the front cut half of the pumpkin) pack of cheap bacon (or whatever you have in) one medium sized onion two cloves of garlic Mushrooms (Used what we had in the fridge, about half a punnet) 150ml stock (I used chicken) 1tsp dried sage 2tbs crème fresh Pasta (enough for however many you are serving) Parmesan Cheese to serve Salt and Pepper Bring a pan of water to the boil for the pasta. Chop bacon into small pieces and fry off in a small pan till crisp, remove from pan leaving any oil in the pan. Set aside till later. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the pan with a little more oil if needed, cook on a low heat till soft, add in the pumpkin and mushrooms, turn up the heat a little and stir. Add the stock to the pan with the sage and plenty of seasoning. Add the bacon back to the pan and stir. Keep the pumpkin on a medium to high heat and cover for 5 mins leaving it to cook. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per packet instructions. After 5 minutes remove the lid from the pumpkin, give it a good stir and turn the heat up to reduce the stock down. The pumpkin should have started to change colour slightly, it should be soft but not mushy and still have a little bite in it. Add seasoning to taste at this point. Drain the pasta well and add back to the pot. Stir in the crème fresh and season the pasta with salt and pepper. Add the pumpkin mixture to the pasta. Serve with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
  • Lynley O.
    oooh that sounds yummy. I will have to give it a go. I am very very very cross with you though. You carved Michael Jackson and Lady GaGa pumpkins and DIDN'T take a photo!!!! Grrr.
  • Moozikgal
    Sadly no as I did not have my camera with me. By the time I got back, I was heading out the door again and forgot all about taking photos. I was fed up of carving pumpkins by that point as I had been doing demonstrations in the local shopping centre and had children asking what they were and if they were carrots!!
  • hansa60
    If there's a fireworks display in your local area try watching it from nearby. You don't need to be underneath it! Lucky if your council has been putting on a free display, Cambridge has had to be additionally funded by private companies and bucket collections on the night for many years.
    but it is also fun that day
  • hansa60
    And did you have fun on that day

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