The half-term holiday has put an end to my navel gazing and thrust me into the role of referee. The girls may fight like cat and dog at home, but take them out for the day and they behave like little angels. Not surprisingly, I have been looking for lots of activities to keep them entertained for the coming week. When I saw a Michaelmas Fayre and Spooky Halloween Walk at a local manor house advertised, it seemed perfect. A chance to enjoy the beautiful, autumnal East Yorkshire countryside with a dollop of tradition and a helping of Halloween seemed too good to miss.
It was a cold day due to a very unseasonal flurry of snow during the night. There was the usual collection of craft, artisan and up-market food stalls, and we had a great time slurping and munching our way around the Fayre. When we had eaten our fill, we headed off to the Spooky Halloween Walk.
To be honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting. Halloween has not reached the dizzying heights of celebration that it has in the U.S.A. That said, our celebrations have improved over the years. There are many more parties, and kids go Trick or Treating. Our shops are full of Halloween related stuff to buy and, I believe, it is one of the biggest money-making holidays for them in the U.K. This has changed a lot from when I was a child.
Whilst our greengrocers’ are now full of pumpkins, when I was a kid you just didn’t see them. I’m sure they must have sold them somewhere, but goodness knows where or how much they cost. However, this didn’t stop us making Jack-O-Lanterns. In a war-time, make do and mend spirit we used turnips. I kid you not. Can you imagine how long it used to take to hollow out a rock hard turnip? Well, I’ll tell you, all afternoon. Just in time to go Trick or Treating or Halloweening as we called it. We never got given sweets either, but money which we would then go and spend on sweets. Better really as we could then buy what we wanted. And we didn’t wear fancy dress. Looking back, I’m actually glad that things have moved on and got a bit more colourful.
As I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Spooky Halloween Walk. I wasn’t expecting a Disneyesque creation, but I did think they would have gone to more trouble. The manor house has an established woodland walk, which they lovingly and imaginatively dressed-up to create a spooky, scary and frightening experience. The kids were given a five question quiz to complete. They then had to find five Jack-O-Lanterns, which had the quiz questions attached to them. That was it. Five Jack-O-Lanterns. This does not a Spooky Halloween Walk make.
To be honest, I’m not sure what they could have done differently. Anything too garish would not have sat well in the rural, stately setting, and the girls enjoyed it anyway. The real problem was in naming the walk. They should have been more honest and called it the Slightly Vexing Walk. This would have prevented expectations being raised too much. I’m pleased to say that they did, however, use pumpkins for the Jack-O-Lanterns!