Fireworks, Fun & Friends by The English Seaside!
By Patrick H. Hoy
Patrick H. Hoy here – and I just can’t believe how quickly summer is flying by this year! It was only just a few weeks ago that we were celebrating Independence Day in America with parades, BBQ’s, friends – and of course fireworks!
As many of you know, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of living in London, England for the last 18 years. I love all of the history in this great city, and throughout the entire country. I also love all of the traditions that the English have. But most of all, I LOVE that when I moved here, I didn’t have to learn a new language! J
Every year around July 4th, I get lots of emails from our USA viewers – as well as my American friends – asking me if the British celebrate July 4th– or if there are any other celebrations over here where the English celebrate with fireworks.
As you can imagine, the English don’t celebrate July 4th– because as you’ll remember from high school history classes – the reason that we celebrate Independence Day in America is because our founding fathers wrote a Declaration of Independence to leave the United Kingdom – and to start up our new wonderful country they chose to call the United States of America. Our celebrations every year on the 4thof July are to honor our independence from the UK. But I can assure you that I’ve never heard anyone over here say anything negative about our celebrations – after all, that was over 200 years ago! In fact, every year, my English friends always wish me a Happy 4thof July – and on 5 different occasions, I’ve had British friends even host 4thof July BBQ’s in their gardens/backyards for me and our other American friends – how wonderful is that?! They might not have set off actual fireworks on those evenings, but I can tell you that the grill was full of fire – and the food was Quack-A-Licious!
In answer to the second question that many of you have asked me, YES – there is a celebration here in the UK where the British let the fireworks light up the English sky – and that’s known by a variety of names. Some call it Bonfire Night, while others refer to it as Fireworks Night. But the official name is Guy Fawkes Night – and it takes place every year in the United Kingdom on November 5th.
English history states that on November 5th, 1605, there were a group of individuals who tried to blow up the House of Lords by placing gunpowder under the building. Security guards arrested Guy Fawkes, who was guarding the explosives that the plotters had put there. As Wikipedia states: “Celebrating that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London.” And to this day the tradition continues not only in London but throughout the United Kingdom – and in these modern times, spectacular fireworks have been added to the festivities. So I guess that this is a type of an Independence Day for the UK as well, in celebration that the House of Lords & King James I were not taken over from hostile parties!
I always enjoy celebrating this day with my British friends. Like our 4thof July celebrations, there is a lot of great food, wonderful friends, amazing fireworks – and a BIG bonfire as well – which is perfect for roasting marshmallows during that cool November night every year!
Here are some pictures of our recent celebrations. We always head down to the coast so that we have a big enough space to safely set up the bonfire – and to set off the fireworks.
As you can see, on our last Bonfire Night, it rained during the day – but we were happy about that because it meant that the ground was damp – which meant it was safer for doing an outdoor bonfire. As you can see, even though it was in November, the winter flowers were in full bloom!
Speaking of flowers, we wanted to decorate the house a little since so many people were coming over – these were some of my favorite flowers:
We placed them throughout the house – don’t they look beautiful on the coffee table in the main drawing room?!
And of course, if you’re going to have a big bonfire outside, you have chop a LOT of wood – thank goodness we were able to put it all in the woodshed to keep it dry while it was raining!
For food, we decided to make something yummy & warming for a cool autumn night – and nothing is more perfect than homemade Shepard’s Pie – it’s the ultimate in English ‘comfort food’! And when it comes to delicious Shepard’s Pie, no one comes close to my dear friend Stephen Richardson-Pope’s version of this traditional English specialty. Here he is putting the first layer of sautéed meat in one of the many dishes made that evening to feed the houseful of guests:
Next Stephen expertly piped the creamiest and smoothest mashed potatoes you’ve ever tasted onto the layer of meat:
Here’s his work ready to go in the oven – can you say YUMMY?! (And YES, it really did taste as good as it looks!)
Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without some cake – and wine!!
And since this all took place in the UK, you can bet there was a cheese plate as well – with some more cake! (Well, it would have been rude not to!)
Just before sunset, the bonfire was lit – and what a beauty it was – everyone was so impressed!
Then it was time for drinks! Here we are with our beautiful friend Kirsty:
As the sunset, we knew it was going to be an extra special evening because there was a full moon peeking out from behind the clearing clouds!
The rain had stopped, so we were able to move the party outside:
We even managed to set up the bar in the backyard\garden just before the fireworks started!
And then it was time for the star of the night to make an appearance – the FIREWORKS – right there safely at the end of the garden!
We really got lucky with some of the fireworks formations – like this one:
And this one as well!
But my favorite picture of the evening is this one of our friends Border Terrier, Oscar. He’s not afraid of fireworks and bonfires – but he decided to stay inside where it was dry – and next to his own little warm fire. (Which, by the way, was near the kitchen – so I bet he was hoping for some leftovers – I’d say he’s one smart pup!)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little lesson in how fireworks play a role in celebrations over here in the United Kingdom! If you have any questions about other British traditions, make sure to leave them in the comments below – who knows, maybe I’ll turn one of your questions into a future blog!!
Love & Quacker Hugs From Across The Duck Pond!
Patrick H. Hoy
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