Bonfire Night is finally upon us, and it is one of our favourite winter festivals. What better way to spend the early evening than gathered with family and friends around a glorious, crackling fire, its glowing embers cartwheeling up into the deep night sky?
We have been longing for bonfires all summer long, watching the piles of garden cuttings grow ever taller in the parched meadow, and not wanting to risk the slightest spark. But now that the days are getting shorter (and damper) it’s time to get out the pitchfork and the matches, and to watch the sparks fly.
Bonfires take work, preparation, and participation. Before you light yours, do remember to check for wildlife. This is the time of year when hedgehogs start to find places to hibernate, and a pile of cuttings and wood will seem very like a very welcoming spot. Best practice is to remake your bonfire the afternoon that you will light it, moving it from one spot to another, so as to disturb any squatters.
Things to remember, remember...
Banish any thoughts of cooking in the bonfire- it is going to be far too hot — not to mention dangerous — for that. Instead, bring hot sausages from home, wrapped in tin-foil, a bag of buns and a copious amount of ketchup (some paper napkins wouldn’t go a miss either). Bonfire addicts will also recommend a hit of bullshot to keep the chills at bay; our favourite is made with beef stock, seasoned with celery salt, tabasco and a healthy dash of sherry, kept hot in an insulated bottle.
Fireworks for us are a pure spectator sport — ideally viewed at a distance, reclined in a deckchair, head on a cushion, and wrapped up in a snuggly wool throw. And of course, those with nervous dispositions (and dogs) will be forgiven for staying inside, but that doesn’t mean the night is forgotten. Scent your house with a bowlful of mellow quinces, light candles in glass candle holders, and wrap your hands around a mug of steaming hot chocolate (in our lovely Bonfire Mug) and you will be around the bonfire in spirit.
Remember, remember: head torches, toffee apples, sparklers
Forget: high heels, marshmallows, anything acrylic...
Bonfire Night Recipe: Yorkshire Parkin Gingerbread
What is it?
This traditional Yorkshire recipe is so closely associated Bonfire Night that, in Leeds in the 1800s, 5th November was actually known as ‘Parkin Day’. A more syrupy version of gingerbread, this loaf bake is perfect alongside a cup of tea on a chilly November evening.
• 280g SR Flour
• 230g soft, Dark Brown Sugar
• 3 teaspoons of Ground Ginger
• Pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda
• 170g of Margarine
• 170g Golden Syrup
• 2 Eggs
• 140ml of Milk