George 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!
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?
Does 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.
The 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.
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!