A Rather British Halloween: 2013 365 Challenge #305

Pumpkins 1& 2

Pumpkins 1& 2

So today is Halloween. It’s not a big holiday in the UK like it is in the States. It’s becoming more celebrated every year, slowly taking over from the one I remember most growing up; Bonfire Night on 5th November (which commemorates the anniversary of the date a man called Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament).

We don’t really do Halloween in our house yet, though I’m sure we will as the children grow older. Hubbie and I say things like, “We weren’t allowed to go trick or treating when we were kids” and other such stuff which excuses our lack of enthusiasm.

We always carve pumpkins, because there’s something satisfying about hacking away at a giant orange vegetable and being creative with it. Same goes for all the fab Halloween craft that the local attractions lay on because it’s also half term. The children have made witches’ hats, spooky spiders, ghosts and masks and I didn’t have to do anything more than aim the glue.

Today's efforts

Today’s efforts

I did buy a bag of chocolate so that we would be ready for any trick or treaters who might come to our door. Only then I ate most of it, so we decided not to put the pumpkins out: the secret signal by which children know it’s safe to knock (so very British).

This evening, though, while I walked the dog round the block after hubbie got home from work, I felt rather sad that I had been so rubbish as to eat all our offerings. There were several families out in fancy dress, on a chilly night in an almost pitch black village (where they’ve switched off most of the street lighting to save money).

I could see it was almost a game, to spot the houses with pumpkins lit outside. “Friend or foe?” I heard one husband say to his wife, as they stumbled past in the dark towards the faint glow of pumpkins up a driveway.

Our inviting window display

Our inviting window display

In total I counted about eight houses in our village displaying pumpkins. Poor reward for anyone brave enough to venture out with their little ones in the dark.

So, when I got back, we lit the pumpkins and put them in the front window, and raided the cupboards for sufficient treats to offer. Unfortunately by then most children had gone home for their tea. We did get one brave soul come to the door and retreat with a bag of cookies. I’ve since made inroads into the hanging tub of treats. Oops.

So, on this very British Halloween, we have a plastic pumpkin tub full of chocolate lurking at the bottom of the stairs and the faint odour of burning pumpkin in our lounge. Happy Halloween to you all.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire came back to awareness like someone rising from the bottom of the ocean. Slowly she became conscious of the car door pressing into her back and Conor’s hip crushing her against the metal. She felt his hands tangled in her hair and the light stubble on his chin grazing her skin. The tingling in her lips seemed to be hardwired to every nerve in her body and she knew it was entirely possible that she would crumple to the floor if her boss was not holding her up.

With effort she pulled away from the kiss and ducked under Conor’s arms, cursing as the movement tugged at her hair. Ignoring the pulsing sensation making demands she had no intention of honouring, she fumbled to get her key in the lock. Before Conor could move or speak, she was in her seat and pulling the door closed behind her. Her only thought was to escape.

It took three attempts to get the key in the ignition and find a gear. Out the corner of her eye she could feel Conor watching her through the window. She let her hair fall in a curtain, obscuring her view, and revved the engine. Without checking to see if he had moved away, she reversed out the parking space and onto the street, forcing herself not to look in the rear view mirror as she left.

Her hands shook as she switched on the Sat Nav, trying to keep her scattered thoughts on the road ahead. The screen shone brightly in the dark before settling into night mode, and Claire blinked away the dazzling spots dancing in her sight. Soon her destination was programmed in and she was able to concentrate on getting there in one piece.

Driving in the dark left too much time to think. All the stunning scenery lay hidden behind the veil of night and Claire’s eyes watered as she concentrated on the yellow beams leading her to her bed. She had no idea what time it was, and hoped the hostel would still be open when she got there.

She was half way back to Salcombe before her heart rate returned to normal. Her hands felt slippery on the wheel and she smoothed them down her trousers, fearing she might lose her grip on the tight switchbacks up to the hostel.

What was he thinking?

The words echoed continuously through her mind. What is it with blokes and their inappropriate behaviour?

As the tingling subsided the fury began to take hold. Like history repeating, she remembered Josh’s advances only weeks before. All her irritation at him for betraying his wife and putting her in an impossible situation amplified her anger at Conor for breaching the boss-employee trust.

Other sensations wove through her thoughts. She could still feel the pressure of his kiss on her lips, the feeling of his hands wrapped in her hair. The look on his face as he’d made his move – the wide-eyed vulnerability – fixed in her mind like a poster tacked up on the wall of her skull.

Don’t fall for it, woman. You knew the first time you met him he was a charmer. The fact that he made a move on his employee makes him a sleaze. Either resign or pretend it never happened; there is no other outcome.

She knew it made sense; she knew the moral high ground was the only path to follow. So why did it leave a cavernous hole in her heart?

***

8 thoughts on “A Rather British Halloween: 2013 365 Challenge #305

  1. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing how you celebrated.

    What you described sounds more like what it was like when I was younger. Last night, the kids dressed up and we went to a local church that had a “trunk or treat.” Parents decorated the trunks (boots?) of their cars (all parked neatly in the parking lot so everyone had access) and gave out candy. There were only a few kids going from house to house, but that could also be due to this being an older neighborhood. Going from house to house is starting to disappear because it’s no longer considered as safe as it once was.

    The signal here (that I remember) is a porch light. If the porch light is on, you can ask for candy. Honestly, though, I can’t remember the last time we had kids come by.

    Lighting up a jack-o-lantern is always a trick. I use LEDs, but others use tea lights.

    Oh! And the seeds taste really good if you have the patience to shell them. You can get them roasted and salted here. Great snack.

    (I apologize for yet another lengthy comment. Just got hit by a wave of nostalgia reading your description. That’s all. Won’t happen again.)

    • Don’t apologise! I’d much rather have a comment that shows someone has connected with my post thank a ‘great post’ (although those are nice too!)
      It’s unusual to see children going round here without parents and I think the darkness of the villages discourages a lot of people. Like you say, it doesn’t feel safe.
      I love the trunk or treat idea; much more like a big party. I think that’s why we celebrate Bonfire’s Night more in the UK: families pile out to a nearby field and watch fireworks, play with sparklers and eat baked potatoes. It’s much more social than going door-to-door asking for sweets!

  2. I remember not being able to go trick or treating when I was a kid so to me Halloween isn’t too important, despite living in the US. My child thinks otherwise! 🙂

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