Thursday, 10 November 2016

Gun power, diesel and plonk

Some people look forward to this time of year as a great opportunity to set off a few fireworks and burn an effigy as we commemorate someone who once tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament (I tried explaining this particular tradition to my non-British colleagues and they all thought we were stark raving mad!). But around here it’s the time of year when we eagerly await the delivery or our annual lamb as part payment from the farmer for the grazing in our fields. Last year, you may remember, said lamb rocked up bleating loudly on the back of a quad bike, all a bit Mad Max, what with the ensuing dispatch on the drive and all. This year’s offering arrived more like one of the mob, reclining imperiously in the back seat of a Landrover Discovery, all blacked out windows and leather seats, like North Wales’ woolly answer to Don Corleone. Alas this poor lambster did not come tooled up and before he could make us any kind of offer we couldn’t refuse he was swimming with the fishfingers in the bottom of the chest freezer.

Lamb safely dispatched it was time to turn our attention to our bonfire. Nothing like an ongoing renovation project and several years’ worth of crap in the crumbling barns to give you enough fuel for a ruddy great burn up. Having invited some friends around to join us we endeavoured to make it look (at least on the outside) less like a pikey fire and something more akin to the beautifully constructed pyramid shapes you see in parks up and down the land in the first week of November. We were doing pretty well disguising the mountains of cardboard and chipboard and old curtains with tasteful, well-seasoned hazel poles and branches.  But then in the absence of a guy (or an effigy of Donald Trump which we were sorely tempted to create) I opted to burn all vestiges of my previous life as a commuter, symbolically crowning the fire with my two old lap top bags. There was also no disguising the unmistakable whiff of diesel fumes that my husband assured me was “just to get the thing going”. A classic bushcrafter's technique, I don't think.  Anyhow go it went. Whoosh. No toasting marshmallows on this baby. No way Jose.

Symbolic end of an era? Or just a massive pikey fire?

Dressed and ready to burn
Our beautiful fire alight
(Note the traffic cone and other miscellaneous items to be burned later to the right of the shot) 

Recoiling from the intense heat (that could quite possibly have melted a car), we wandered round to where we had set up a series of fireworks. Now this being our first attempt at pyrotechnics and in the interest of not giving our new nervy cockerel, sheep, dog, cat, young children, or heavily pregnant friend coronaries or the onset of early labour I had gone through the proffered box of fireworks with my husband in advance and carefully vetoed anything with a name like ‘Earth Shaker’, ‘Deep Impact’ and ‘Jet Screamers’ and opted instead for the lovely, gentle sounding names like 'Diamond Burst', ‘Silver Shower’ and ‘Golden Sprinkles’ (why is it that the names of fireworks all sound like some dreadful double entendre or 1970s soft porn film titles?!). Anyway off my husband went, religiously sticking to the Rules of Fireworks, (25m away, never return to a firework, yadda yadda) setting off our nice, tame fireworks to the reception of many squeals of delight. Right up until the last lot when it soon transpired that he had sneaked in a few noisy big boys to get the party started. And with that the sheep all high tailed it over the hill and far away, the cock and hens retreated hastily inside their hut and the dog pretended he no longer existed with his paws over his ears under a camping chair. 

Standing well  back!

After all the excitement it was then back to the house for some light refreshments. Nothing like some homemade sloe gin to warm the cockles and defrost the toes. And good to clear out last year’s supplies before we embark on the 2016 vintage. I do believe very strongly in a strict clear shelf policy when it comes to homemade tipples. At least that’s what I told myself as I swigged the last drops in the bottle and lolled slowly to sleep in the rocking chair by the fire, children safely in bed and the dog finally back on speaking terms with me. And he calls himself a gun dog. Really.

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