Tuesday 5 November 2013


The temperature has plummeted. On Saturday it rained on and off all day. On Sunday it was bright but cold. Friends came for brunch, waffles with bacon and maple syrup for three of us, with bacon and sriracha for one with a limited appetitie for savoury sweet. After brunch we headed out for a walk, over to the Botanics, through the gardens to Inverleith Park, the temperature dropping more as we went. Our friends peeled off and we holed up in a quiet corner in Stockbridge with Guinness for me, Landlord for him. Last night it was -2, today there is a freezing cold mist hanging over the city.

In previous years the 5th November has been and gone with conversations about how mild it seemed. How mild compared to those childhood bonfire nights when we wore layer upon layer upon layer, heading outside a little bundled mass to look at the Guys that had been entered for the competition (the winning Guy destined to be carried aloft, flung onto the roaring bonfire). The brown paper bag heads with features drawn on, the old pair of trousers, shirt, tank top or jumper, all stuffed with newspaper and secured with string.

As we got older there were other bonfires. One with teenagers and adults walking with flaming torches to light the fire. One in our garden, the wood a little damp, a dubious decision regarding petrol, matches, and singed eyebrows (not mine). My favourite bonfire night as an adult, in London, watching from our balcony as the sky was lit by fireworks, spotting the glow of bonfires spread across the city.

But those bonfire night memories that I come back to the most are memories of Milland, the village we lived in until I was six. Maybe that's when this night felt the most magical. Going out after dark, watching the fire start and grow, holding sparklers with mittened hands, watching the fireworks. Halloween was fun but bonfire night felt special, otherworldly.

Today feels like one of those bonfire nights. Built for layers, for warm drinks, for frosty breath over sparklers.We'll be at home this evening, the heating will be on, bangs will pepper our conversation. We'll look outside, we'll see fireworks from Leith, from Calton Hill. It still feels special.

1 comment:

charlotte said...

"Holding sparklers with mittened hands".. that's such an enduring memory for me, too. The cold air, standing in the dark, waiting for the Catherine wheels to be lit - total magic.