Bonfire Night and A Drive in the Wilds of Wiltshire

 Remember, remember!
 The fifth of November,
 The Gunpowder treason and plot;
 I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

(English Folk Verse, c 1870)

When we lived in America, the ushering in of November brought with it a twinge of sadness for me, as I was unable to share with my children one of the most important nights of the year which I celebrated as a child growing up in England, a night steeped in centuries-long tradition: the night of November 5th, otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night.

For those of you who might not know what this is all about, the activities which will take place this very night up and down this wonderful isle of ours are held in celebration of a failed (Catholic) gunpowder plot to blow up  (Protestant) King James I and the Houses of Parliament.

It was Guy Fawkes’ misfortune to be caught red-handed, on the night of 4th November, 1605, in the cellars below the House of Lords with a rather incriminating pile of dynamite.  This dynamite was planted directly beneath where the King was due to sit to preside over the opening of parliament the next day.

For his treasonous sins, Guy Fawkes was tortured for two days until he finally signed a confession, whereupon his sentence was to be hung, drawn and quartered.  This  meant that he was to be hung by his neck within an inch of his life, cut down while still alive, his testicles cut off and stomach ripped open, spilling his guts in front of his own eyes before being beheaded and cut into four parts, all of which would be sent to the four corners of the Kingdom and put on display as a warning, lest others should dare try the same thing.

We are a bloody lot really.

But the good news for poor Mr. Fawkes is that he managed to jump from the gallows with the rope around his neck, making sure that he was already dead and so was spared what would have been the most agonising of deaths.

This then is why, every 5th of November, we Brits burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on top of a bonfire (when I was growing up this would be in our own back garden and built with whatever we could find to burn) while setting off fireworks.

Me helping gather leaves for the Guy (or digging, as the case may be!)  - Surrey, 1967 (c) Sherri Matthews 2013

Me helping gather leaves for the Guy (or digging, as the case may be!)
Surrey, 1967
(c) Sherri Matthews 2013

The preparations started several days beforehand. I will always remember the fun my brother and I had as we gathered up piles of autumn leaves from the ground and stuffed them into an old pair of my dad’s trousers and one of his shirts, tying up the legs and sleeves with string and finishing off with a ‘head’ made out of an old pair of tights stuffed with newspaper.

On the day itself, Dad would get things ready by putting out milk bottles from which to launch the rockets and banging nails into pieces of wood for the Catherine Wheels (which would usually fall off half-way through their spinning).

All day long the excitement would build and at last the skies would grow dark, bringing with it November’s bitter chill.  Soon enough we would be warmed through as we stood near the roaring bonfire, drinking tomato soup out of mugs and eating jacket potatoes that had been charred baked in the bonfire and all the while watching with childlike wonderment, ‘oohhing’ and ‘ahhing’ at the explosions of colour as the fireworks lit up the sky above.

These were my Bonfire Nights and I didn’t think that I would ever get to share them with my children, but life has a strange way of turning the tables on us in the most surprising of ways.

I was not to know then that my marriage would end and that I would return to the UK in  2003 with my two younger children, then fourteen and eleven.  They had to start a brand new school where they didn’t know anybody.

Soon after, thank goodness, my son was befriended by a boy and his group of friends and as Bonfire Night approached my son was very excited to tell me that he had been invited to his friend’s house for the festivities.  Not only that, but his friend’s parents, knowing that it was just the three of us (my older son was away at University) had also, very kindly,  invited my daughter and I.

The only problem was that they lived in a rural village some miles away from the town where we lived and I had no idea how to get to their house.  My son had been there to stay several times, however, and was confident that he knew the way.  I asked him to get directions from his friend anyway, just in case.

Bonfire Night arrived and we piled excitedly into the car.  I knew how to get to the village and so far so good.   Then began the fun.  I got to the village alright but drove right through it, ending up as quickly as you can say ‘Roman Candle’ in deep, dark Wiltshire countryside on an isolated, rural road.   I pulled over, stopped the car and turned on the inside light, asking my son for the directions.

What he produced was a tiny scrap of paper upon which he had drawn a road.  In the middle of the road he had also drawn a bridge and a house at one end.  That was it.

You have to also bear in mind that by then I had been living in the UK for only three months having lived (and driven) in California for the previous seventeen years.  Although I had grown up in the countryside and so had learnt to drive on narrow country roads, it had been many years since I had done this.

had also never been to this part of the world before in my life, so at this point I was totally reliant upon my son to get us to his friend’s house.  It was pitch black outside, the  moon hidden by ominous looking clouds, and my sense of direction was shot to pieces.

My dear son, telling me to calm down (don’t you love it when your kids tell you to calm down) promised to get us there.  I turned around and found our way back to the village and by  no small miracle we found ‘that bridge’. Driving over it we followed the road which became narrower and narrower and before you knew it, we were in the middle of a wood.

Driving over a cattle grid was the last straw and I threatened to turn round, convinced that we were horribly lost.  My son insisted that no, this was right and to keep going.  My patience was growing very thin, but I held on to my faith in him and we continued on, going deeper and deeper into the dark, eerie woods.  For all I knew, we were in the middle of a  scene fresh out of The Blaire Witch Project.

Wikipedia - Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike

Wikipedia – Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike
Credit source: Yoninah 01/05/2010

About to give up and turn back, suddenly we came to a clearing.  “This is it! Keep going!” urged my son.  The relief in his voice was not lost on me.   So I did, and there, dear reader, just beyond the clearing we saw it, a huge bonfire, burning like a beacon in the night guiding us to our destination and welcoming us to this magical retreat in the middle of the English countryside.

When we were friendless and strangers in our own ‘home’, people who didn’t know us took us in and welcomed us.  I am eternally thankful for the kindness and hospitality of these wonderful folk.

This was the beginning of our new life back in England and I couldn’t think of a better way to start it than by sitting on hay bales around a bonfire, sipping hot cocoa while watching a magnificent firework display somewhere in the middle of a field in the wilds of Wiltshire.  I  got to share a precious tradition from my childhood with my own children after all.

Oh, and if you were wondering? My son and the boy who befriended him eleven years ago?  They are best friends to this very day.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November… Happy Bonfire Night 🙂

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, Family Traditions, Friendship, Mothers & Sons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to Bonfire Night and A Drive in the Wilds of Wiltshire

  1. Rachel says:

    What a lovely story, Sherri.

    Guy Fawkes night is recognized in New Zealand but not in the same way as here. In NZ, people set off fireworks but that’s it. They don’t really understand why they are allowed to buy fireworks at this time of year only nor the significance of the night. People here seem to understand the history much better. My son, Daniel, was telling me all about Guy Fawkes and the plot last night and I must say I was shocked by how much he had learnt at school. Even my 3-year-old came home from nursery telling me about it.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Rachel, glad you enjoyed it!

      Wow, I loved reading about your NZ take on Guy Fawkes night. That’s really interesting as I had no idea it was recognized there but only the fireworks part!

      It’s great to know that your children are learning about some really traditional things about our British history. We certainly learnt all about it at school but I wonder if this was stopped for a while and is now back on the curriculum? Not having shcool-age children anymore I’m not sure but I have read in the papers about the changes taking place in our schools 🙂

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  2. Steve Rebus says:

    Thanks Sherri for sharing this lovely story with us!
    Will you be doing anything this year to celebrate? 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Hi Steve, and thank you, I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading it!
      Yes, we will be letting off fireworks in our back garden, but sadly no bonfire as we live in the town now 😦 Still, it will be lots of fun. Love those fireworks!
      How about you? Hope you have a great time no matter what you do 🙂

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      • Steve Rebus says:

        Fantastic! We will not be going anywhere this year, it’s just too difficult to get around for us in the dark, but posted some photos from last year. The pics were taken from a video taken at the display.
        When Sarah got home from working in London, We made hot chocolates and i played the whole video of the fireworks and turned the volume up full blast! 😀

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  3. What a fascinating story, Sherri. Since Jenny mentioned Bonfire night in her post last week, I’ve anxiously been waiting for your post. I love how you told the story of driving to the village with your son, I felt as though I was in the car with you. What a great story! Thanks for sharing this piece of history. 🙂 You are too cute in your boots! 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Ha Ha! Oh yes, those boots! Always the wellington boots (wellies as we call them!) 🙂
      Thanks Jill, that’s great knowing that you were looking forward to reading about Bonfire Night!
      It certainly was quite a trip we took that night, we will never forget it 🙂

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  4. xbox2121 says:

    This was a great story Sherri it not only told me of your adventures last year but informed me of a tradition and legend I have never heard about before. You Brits have a much longer History of your culture than us Americans even i some of practices are a bit strange to me 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Bob, I’m really glad that you enjoyed reading all about a part of our very gory British history!! I do agree, it certainly does seem a bit strange celebrating by burning an effigy of a criminal of the times on a bonfire but growing up, what really mattered was the fireworks, watching the bonfire burn (what kid doesn’t have a fascination with flames?!) and of course all the good food 🙂

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  5. Andy Oldham says:

    What a great story Sherri! I was right with you through the dark countryside! This is a great memory for you and your son!

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  6. Steven says:

    Another wonderful story Sherri! I have always loved Bonfire Night. Sparklers at the ready! Far too childishly excited for the fireworks this evening. Have fun with your display – remember those oohs and aahs 😉

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  7. Lorraine Marie Reguly says:

    I recognized the poem and knew I heard this story at some point in the past but the way you presented the history and then coupled it with your personal story was very cool, Sherri.

    We don’t do stuff like this in Canada. Not in my family, anyway. but we do have the occasional bonfire in the summer and roast marshmallows.

    I think I need more culture in my life!

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Lorraine, I do enjoy sharing stories from my family’s past. It helps me remember that out of some very painful times there was also a lot of good.

      Your summer bonfires sound fun! The closest we had in California was when we went camping by the lake where we would have open fires and do just as you do, roast marshmallows and make Smores! I loved those times 🙂

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  8. mvschulze says:

    Wonderful story. Felt like I was right there. M

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  9. I’ve never had this explained this well. Nice to keep up old traditions.

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  10. Great story, Sherri. I didn’t know anything about Guy Fawkes Day. I’ve learned something new!

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh thanks so much Bev, I wrote the bit about old Guy Fawkes for those like you who didn’t know about it and I love it when I can share something new and especially to know that you enjoyed it 🙂

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  11. jennypellett says:

    Ha Ha! Your Dad and the Catherine Wheel was a re-enactment of my own father’s ability to keep them in one place – they used to career all over the garden! (The Catherine Wheels, not my Dad, although, come to think of it…) Tomato soup – yes – I’d forgotten that, but you are right – wouldn’t have been the same without it. As we got older, Mum changed that to her homemade curried parsnip but it wasn’t the same – for one thing it didn’t stain quite so badly if you spilled it down your front in excitement.
    Driving in the depths of Wiltshire in the dark was actually very brave – I’ve done it with a sat nav in the fog, and believe me, it wasn’t easy.
    Am imagining you with a few sparklers tonight. We are relying on the neighbours to provide the entertainment which we can watch from the upstairs window – all the fun and none of the bother!
    Happy Bonfire Night x 🙂

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  12. Sherri says:

    Ha Ha! Yes, I just had a feeling that you would have very similar memories of Bonfire Night Jenny! What is it with those darn Catherine Wheels and Dads anyway?
    It was quite something driving like that, and no sat nav. Just my son’s little map… hey no!
    We are letting fireworks off in the back garden which the neighbours always enjoy, especially the little boy next door who gets to stay up especially! We usually get a few resounding “Is that it?” from his dad, very cheekily though! We say what do you expect for a free firework display? All in good fun, they are lovely people…
    Enjoy your entertainment and Happy Bonfire Night to you too 🙂 xx

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  13. I feel so ignorant after reading your article. I never took the time to research what Guy Fawkes was all about. A proper American ignoramus! Thoroughly enjoyed reading of all the wonderful memories Bonfire Night meant to you. Beautifully told I might add! Happy Guy Fawkes Day and may the Bonfire burn brightly!!!

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks so much Diane, so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you too for sharing it on your Facebook page, I really appreciate you sharing my blog with your friends and family 🙂

      We did have a lot of fun on Bonfire Night growing up and we were blessed in that we always lived in places where we could have big bonfires. Can’t do that now where we live in the town sadly 😦 But we did enjoy our fireworks last night and the rain held off, just a damp drizzle 🙂

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  14. Pat says:

    Loved the story and your adventure, Sherri. I didn’t know anything about Guy Fawkes day and was happy to learn about it. Sounds like a fun time for family and communities.

    Over here in the states, we get to vote — Nov 5th is election day for us every couple of years or so. Doesn’t sound quite as exciting. 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Pat and so glad to know that you enjoyed reading this and learning a little of our bloody British history!

      I do remember the 5th of November as being election day over in the States now that you mention it 🙂 It always seemed strange to me that no mention would be made of Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night but then why would it be?

      What I did hear mention of was the upcoming ‘holiday’s and Thanksgiving and I will definitely be writing about that and my experiences of my first ever Thanksgiving 🙂

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  15. thirdhandart says:

    Love the way you bring your readers right into the story Sherri. I too, felt like a passenger in your car. Was a little anxious until you saw the bonfire just beyond the clearing.
    Sitting on hay bales around a bonfire, sipping hot cocoa sounds wonderful. Hope you have a marvelous Guy Fawkes Night!

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thank you Theresa, that’s a lovely compliment. I really do hope to be able to convey in my writing what it is I’m trying to express, so this means a lot!

      We certainly did enjoy our Guy Fawkes Night and the rain held off so that was a relief 🙂

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  16. Denise says:

    This is an amazing story. And I so know the feeling, living round here, of picking your child up from a new friend’s house and *thinking* you know where you are and subsequently driving in a circle for an hour. So I completely feel your relief and amazement to discover the right place after all!

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks so much Denise, and really glad you enjoyed reading this story. Yes, I can just imagine you finding yourself in that situation where you live as you are quite rural from what you describe. We don’t do directions in rural places very well do we??!!

      Hope you and your LDs had a super Bonfire Night 🙂 We did fireworks in the garden but no bonfire since we live in town now, but we did have soup and jacket potatoes!!!

      My son and his girlfriend, having just moved to Lewes as you know, were in the right place last night and had a super time 🙂

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      • Denise says:

        I was saying to my friend if you lived in Lewes and had a base to go from, you could do Bonfire. But neither of us has ever done it – the not being able to get in or out of the town easily is quite scary.

        Lucky lucky son to be right where the action is!

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        • Sherri says:

          Yes, I know what you mean as he attempted it once when he lived in Brighton and said it was an absolute nightmare getting back home afterwards so he stopped going. As you say though he is very lucky now!

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  17. Wonderful story, Sherri! I was hooked with the history lesson (even the torturous almost hanging and then the grisly plans that he cheated by making sure he hanged first!). But the adventure with your son, trying to find your way across eerily wooded areas (I thought of Blaire Witch Project even before you wrote that comparison!), was beautifully concluded with the welcoming friendship and the summation about your son’s long-time friend.
    This had it all, and I loved it!!!
    Well done.

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thank you Marylin, so much. How lovely for me to know that you enjoyed reading this story (and the mini history lesson!) and I so appreciate your wonderful summation of it 🙂

      We went on to spend several Bonfire Nights with these lovely people (and my mother also joined us a couple of times) but as the years went on and the boys grew up, left school and went on to college and eventually jobs it became harder to get everyone together. Hopefully we will all meet up again oneday but yes, my son and his friend have never lost touch. In fact, he has been a wonderful support to my son since his recent breakup with his girlfriend and I am eternally thankful not only for his friendship towards my son but also to his lovely family for the way they welcomed us all those years ago…

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  18. tieshka says:

    What a fun story Sheri.. I was on FaceBook prior to trying to catch up on reading posts and my younger cousin made a reference to Guy Fawkes night- I had no clue what he meant until I read your post. So returning to the UK when your kids were (pre)teens let them experience those British traditions after all. Life before GPS was something else- glad you trusted in your son to make it to the bonfire.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Tieshka! How funny that you should have read that reference on Facebook before reading my post! I’m so glad that I was able to let you know a little about Guy Fawkes!

      Yes, my son was right all along and I learnt a valuable lesson that day about that. I learnt to listen to him and to let him show me the way for a change. I will never forget that journey we took together, with my daughter sitting in the back of the car, just the three of us alone in the dark woods…and the relief we all felt when we saw the lit bonfire just ahead of us… 🙂

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  19. TBM says:

    What a nice memory. I get horribly lost all of the time, but glad your son kept pushing you on. And how cool that they are still friends. I still haven’t experienced a true bonfire night since our dog has such a rough time with all the fireworks that I stay home with him and try to convince him that he’s safe and sound and not to bark. He gets so worked up.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks TB and yes I can relate, I don’t have the best sense of direction at the best of times! I can just imagine your dog not enjoying all the sounds of the fireworks. Our cats just disappear under beds until it’s all over 🙂

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  20. Sherri, I love it when you write about your adventures. It does feel like I’m right there! I have a 16 year old nephew who now gives me directions whenever we drive together; I trust him implicitly as I have no sense of direction whatsoever! I had every confidence in your son’s ability to get you exactly where you were going. 😉

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  21. Great post Sherri – from your summary of the Guy Fawkes story, to your atmospheric description of the journey to the bonfire, to the reference to the start of your new life – it was a wonderful post to read and I wished I was sat on those hay bales watching the fire! I do wish they still held big bonfires here, but it’s only fireworks displays – which are lovely too, but I don’t think you can beat a bonfire for atmosphere.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Andrea! Really glad that you enjoyed reading it!
      Yes, it is sad that bonfires are not so common now, unless for those lucky ones who live in the countryside such as my son’s friend’s family. We grew up with bonfires and as you say, although the fireworks are lovely to watch, it was always the bonfire that added to the magic of it all 🙂

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  22. Sherri says:

    Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:

    Can I get away with re-blogging my November 5th post from last year? I am cheating, I know – and apologies to those who read it last year – but for those who haven’t and would like to know a little more as to why we burn an effigy of a man called Guy Fawkes on a bonfire night every November 5th, hopefully this will explain things a little clearer! To those of you celebrating later on, I wish you a very Happy Bonfire Night!

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  23. Ah Sherri, your Bonfire Nights as a child sound so similar to mine!! Honestly. Exactly the same. We used to help stuff newspaper in my dad’s old work overalls, and set up a big bonfire in the back garden, having a big party with friends and family coming over. And then the Catherine Wheels always launched themselves off the fence and gave everyone a heart attack as they dove for cover. And the jacket potatoes and steaming food. Such fond memories. I love Bonfire Night so much it hurts.

    Very glad that, in the day, you managed to stick out that dark drive to their house! And it’s lovely you were so welcomed back home, really 🙂 The kindness of others is indeed a beautiful thing.

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    • Sherri says:

      Yes Jenny Jen Jen, you just described so beautifully the exact same Bonfire Nights! And weren’t they so wonderful? I adore them just the same. Haha…yes, those Catherine Wheels gave us all such a fright! I will never forget that night with my son. And yes, the unconditional kindness of others is truly wonderful, and so often, it doesn’t take much. I hope your Bonfire Night was fabulous as always 🙂

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  24. TanGental says:

    Hey, I’m new so of course you’re forgiven. Lovely story. I especially liked the sceptical you relying on the son and heir. Brave and what trust. I wouldn’t rely on mine’s sense of direction to chose the right door for the bathroom. My dad had an ambivalent relationship with Guy Fawkes night, mostly because, in 1949 and freshly demobbed he goes to his then girlfriend’s later wife’s house for fireworks. Mum’s two brothers were teenagers (not that they existed back then) and had laid everything out, leaving dad in charge of the lighting taper (as required by my grandma). The first rocket set off correctly but the bottle for the second wasn’t properly buried. It fizzed fell over and rammed into his groin. He was bruised but worse still his demob suit, the one smart piece of clothing he had, the thing he would use for interviews for jobs had caught alight burning an irreparable hole by his fly. To his death he swore my uncles set him up.

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    • Sherri says:

      Haha…great to have you read this Geoff, thanks so much and glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Ahh yes, well, things did get a little heated at one point in the car as you can imagine, out there in the middle of nowhere, no street lights, nothing. How he got us there I have no earthly idea, and when I saw his ‘directions’ I was staggered. But he had been a Boy Scout once in the States so I have to give them some credit for that…maybe the compass reading stuff really did pay off 😉
      Oh your story had me in stitches, not for your poor dad but for the way you tell it…Geoff, this is priceless. Of all the places too that a firework would burn a hole – by his fly!!! You couldn’t make it up could you? I bet this story was told many a time at your family gatherings and no doubt lots of ribbing about it for years to come. Thank you so much for sharing it with me, I just love reading your stories 😀

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      • TanGental says:

        Every guy Fawkes as a kid, if one of my uncles was about he (or they) would pretend wrestle my dad to put him on the bonfire ‘to finish the job properly’. Until I realised it was a joke I would try an hold my dad causing unexplained mirth. Best of all I remember mums cooking for the night. Hot sausage rolls baked potatoes in silver foil filed with butter to warm our fingers and these chestnut patties that she made from sweet chestnuts we collected locally – you’re a Surrey girl so maybe we collected in the same woods.

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      • Sherri says:

        Oh what jinks!! But poor you, thinking your uncles were going to put your dad on the bonfire! That must have been quite traumatic thinking about it…we adults do forget what it’s like to witness such things through the eyes of a child at times don’t we? Glad it all came out as the joke it was though 😉 Ahh yes,the food our mums used to make. Always the baked potatoes that seemed to end up more charred than usual on the outside despite the foil for some reason, but so fluffy and steaming hot and extra delicious on the inside. Then the soup and the sausage rolls…divine. But I don’t think we had chestnut patties, although we could well have walked in the same woods once upon a time..it’s a small world after all 🙂

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  25. What a wonderful post Sherri. I am reading a book at the moment Sovereign set in Henry 8th’s time. Such vivid descriptions of the cruelty of our forebears makes me cringe. You took me with you on that trip to the bon fire and I can understand your son’s relief. We used to have Bonfire night on Empire day which I couldn’t tell you now when that was. We used to have a half day at school where we’d do things to celebrate the Empire then the afternoon off to prepare for our bonfire and firecrackers. I don’t think that we ever had a bonfire – even in those days risk of fires were great and it was already hot coming into summer. The firecrackers though were another story. 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      So glad you enjoyed reading it, thanks Irene! Oh I adore anything to do with Henry VIII as you know. One of my all time favourite books is Alison Weir’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII’. Also love her The Princes in the Tower. I must look out for Sovereign. Still thinking of your Beth Throckmorten you see…and still letting her name slip off my tongue 😉 The cruelty though is horrific as you say. Oh I love your story of Empire Day, I didn’t know anything about it and I love learning new things like this. I bet you looked forward greatly to that day. Never mind the bonfire but as you say, bring on the firecrackers! Just wonderful 😀

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      • The book is by C J Sansom and it the third in the Shardlake Series. Australia was very British when I was growing up. More so than growing up in Britain at the time. When we went to the pictures we would all stand for the national anthem before the first film began. Roger said that had stopped in the UK long before. Even now most halls and public spaces will have a photograph hanging of the queen. 🙂

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      • Sherri says:

        Thanks for that Irene, will definitely look out for that series. Yes actually I can well imagine that over there. It’s funny because in California there was a proper English tearoom that I used to go with friends from time to time and it felt more English to me than anything back home. There were photos of the Queen and Charles & Diana everywhere. For the seventeen years I lived there those pictures never changed 😉

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  26. It’s wonderful that Guy Fawkes day is memorable for you beyond the grizzly political plot! I was never quite sure whether the rhyme was so we would remember Guy Fawkes’ bravery or be warned by his attempt to overthrow the government. Does your town hold a communal bonfire? I know some of the smaller villages in UK do one in the village center for all the children.

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thanks so much BT! Yes, I have to say I often wondered that myself! My eldest son and his girlfriend are part of the Bonfire Society in Lewes in Sussex and they really get into all this history of November 5th down there. Bonfires spring up all over the place and on one, an effigy of the Pope is burnt, apparently. Lewes is steeped in history, at the top of town is a plaque marking where 17 Protestants were martyred between 1555 and 1557, burned at the stake. So it all goes way back. There is a communal bonfire in our town but we never go, preferring to let fireworks off in our back garden. And yes, the villages do have them. We’ve been to one or two of those over the years and they can be fun. But as a kid, we always had a bonfire in our back garden. My dream is to live in such a place again one day so that we can do the same 🙂

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      • There are Bonfire Societies? Wonders never cease! Hopefully soon you will get to live in a town where they allow backyard bonfires so you can live your dream. 🙂

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      • Sherri says:

        Yes, haha!! I need to find out much more about these Bonfire Societies. It was my son’s first time participating last night so I can’t wait to talk to him about it 🙂 Ahh…thank you, that’s so kind 🙂

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  27. That’s a wonderful story and I’m glad you’ve shared it again. (I especially like the part about your children telling you to calm down — I find that particularly maddening!).

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  28. Very gruesome, but fascinating bit of history. Loved the part driving to the bonfire. I would have been nervous tool

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Sherri, I loved this! And I learned a few new things as well. Now I know what drawn and quartered really means! Yikes!
    It’s funny how God can answer our desires in the oddest of ways. I’m glad to hear you found welcoming arms on your return “home” and in the process your son made a dear friend. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yikes indeed! Not very pleasant to say the least o_O Thank you Lilka. it was a time of huge rift in our family but God brought us back to a place of family and friendship and most important of all, I had my children with me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I’ll let you into a secret. I was really scared of fireworks as a child (hated the flashes and bangs), and I wasn’t much better about big bonfires. It was feat enough for my father to persuade me to hold a sparkler!
    One year though, as an adult, I did get a laugh when my neighbour on one side of me rigged up extra powerful fireworks (he was a chemist) to fly over my garden and land in the garden the other side of me with explosions such as you’ve never heard before. He was literally at war with this neighbour — even burnt an effigy of the fellow on a bonfire!
    As for Guy Fawkes — I wonder how much it would have altered the course of English history if he’d have succeeded in blowing up the Houses of Parliament.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh dear, it sounds as if bonfire night was quite traumatic for you Sarah. I bet you couldn’t wait for it to be all over with as soon as possible! But that is hilarious with your neighbour, goodness, even down to the effigy…yikes!!! I wonder if the other neighbour called the police? Or fired some of his own right back? Hopefully you weren’t caught in the middle of it. Yes, I wonder too about that…what an ‘if only’ that makes 😉

      Like

      • The neighbour at the receiving end of it was a lawyer, but he didn’t call the police. Probably though it was best to ignore the provocation, which was probably the wisest thing to do. The dog I owned at that time was frightened of fireworks, so she wasn’t too pleased, although I had given her the usual calming herbal remedy, so she only cowered at my feet shivering, rather than rushing about the house in terror! Fortunately, my dog now doesn’t bother about them at all. In fact, as a puppy, she used to sit in the middle of the garden watching the rockets flying. Must be the gun dog blood in her.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Marie Keates says:

    We had an apple tree in our garden and Mother would put all the tiny fallers on the bonfire so I always remember the smell of roasting apple and woodsmoke. Your getting lost story reminds me a little of trying to find Popham Airfield on bonfire night when I was expecting my youngest son. I wrote about it last week. At least yours had a happy ending.

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh I need to come over and read your post about that Marie…
      What a wonderful memory of the roasting apple and woodsmoke…reminds me of a delicious pork roast 🙂

      Like

  32. restlessjo says:

    Well, now I know I’m not senile at all! (perhaps just a tad 🙂 ) I hadn’t read it but I’m glad that I now have. My excuse is that, it being my 65th, I was in Barcelona! How could I forget that!!!
    I do love a firework display though, Sherri, of whatever kind. I missed out again this year because I was in Tavira. I don’t know- these people who want the best of all worlds! Yours is a lovely story and I admire your patience. There would have been ‘sparks flying’ if it were me! 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      That’s why Jo…of course you’re not senile!!! Ahh…Barcelona last year. You certainly do know how to celebrate your birthdays in style. I barely made it to Brighton Beach, haha 🙂 And may I say, you don’t look 66, not one iota. Ten years younger definitely. Must be all the wonderful walks you take, keeps you so fit and healthy.
      Thanks Jo, I’m so glad you enjoyed this little story…but I do admit that a few sparks did fly when I was crossing that cattle grid in the middle of a wood…at that point, if we hadn’t caught sight of the bonfire I think fireworks would have gone off…inside the car 😀

      Like

      • restlessjo says:

        Thanks for the kind comment, Sherri. You know how to make a’girl’ feel good (and a man too, I suspect 🙂 ) Nearing the weekend. Not sure if that’s good or bad. Still below par with my cold and can’t believe that I haven’t even been home for a week yet! Hugs, darlin.

        Liked by 1 person

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