Monday, 31 October 2011

All Hallows' Eve

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I get very grumbly indeed about Halloween. Nonsense commercial farrago, sent to us, naughtily, by our American cousins. America has sent us many wonderful things: Dorothy Parker, Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Humphrey Bogart, jazz. But Halloween in the costumed, trick or treating, sugary incarnation is not a good one.

So when I go into the Co-Op and see all the awful, hideous Halloween cupcakes and nylon witches’ hats, I get very, very cross. Except for today, when it was suggested that the great-nieces and nephew might come and pay me a trick or treat visit. Suddenly, it was the most joyous, wonderful, giddy festival, and I should push out that boat.

I swung into action. There would be special Halloween tea. Rather than get everything with spiders and worms and in orange, which seems to be a thing, I decided to cook. I based my menu on memories of bonfire night from when I was little. I remembered always loving tomato soup in cups, so that was what I made. I was running late, so I did a complete cheat, simply simmering some fat tomatoes and two garlic cloves in Marigold bouillon and then liquidising with a gloop of olive oil, and some passata for extra oomph. That was it. (If you were doing it for grown-ups, I would add some chilli and perhaps some marjoram.) It went down a storm. I made cheese straws with a thin line of Gentlemen’s Relish running through them for a little anchovy kick, a huge pot of popcorn with Maldon Salt, and a chocolate fridge cake.

Two small witches and a pumpkin arrived at four-thirty. They cast spells, patted the dog, shrieked ghoulish shrieks, and ate all the popcorn. I got a lot of special Halloween hugs, which is the thing I like the best. It was an absolute riot. I take it all back. I absolutely adore Halloween, and I hope you are having a happy one, wherever you are.


Sadly, there are no photographs of the momentous afternoon, on account of me being too dim to work out how the flash works on my camera, but here are some beech symphonies instead, from earlier in the day:

I can't quite believe this picture of the avenue is real. It looks almost like a painting:

31 Oct 1

See how flat and white the sky is? Even in a dull light, these great old beeches are flaming scarlet:

31 Oct 2

31 Oct 3

31 Oct 4

The lovely beech hedge:

31 Oct 6 31-10-2011 15-07-40

And opposite it, on some rough ground, a line of young beech trees has been planted, like an echo:

31 Oct 9 31-10-2011 15-08-00

My favourite of the young beeches. This one is about five years old:

31 Oct 10 31-10-2011 15-10-45

Very happy Pigeon:

31 Oct 20.ORF

31 Oct 21

And in more contemplative, faraway mood:

31 Oct 23 31-10-2011 14-46-07.ORF


31 Oct 24 31-10-2011 14-45-34


  1. Most beautiful hill today - for Halloween I wonder? I am pleased you embraced the festival - and your soup and straws sound lovely. I copped out this year I confess; I could not face it, so we did Danish curried meatballs with apples and the children had sweets for tea. Yes they did. And I am not ashamed to admit it. No trick or treating, just a lot of sugar. Here's to November 1st...I like a new month. Lou x

  2. I had two cats and three witches join me for lunch, we had (home made) pizza and decorated (home made) cakes and cookies.
    The pirate's cat (aka my 5 year old) was delighted to hand out sweets all evening. It was great fun. (My mother remembers trick or treating as a child in Glasgow, so I'm never convinced it came from America, I think we Celts exported it!)
    I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
    (One mother asked her little trick or treating children,to "Say thank you, to the nice lady!"....I was delighted)

  3. Stunning photographs.
    My due date today :) nothing to report.
    Happiest of Halloween's to you and The Pigeon.

    PS-the sorry for your traumatic encounter but huge thanks for making me+the husband laugh our heads off!

  4. Lou - Danish meatballs sound HEAVEN.

    A Trifle Rushed - oh, hurrah for the polite children and nice ladies everywhere. :)

    Anne - so thinking of you and imminent arrival, and love thought of you and husband laughing over wasps.

  5. I'd love to have seen the pumpkin!

  6. Me too (about seeing the pumpkin especially).

    For years I stocked up on several kinds of candies (mini-Mars Bars and chocolate covered caramels called Chocotoffs made by Cote d'Or) and no one -- not a single person -- came trick or treating (since Belgium doesn't really celebrate Hallowe'en despite all the supermarket displays of plastic pumpkins, warty witches, hairy spiders and fluorescent skeletons). And then daughter and I would devour the booty within two days, each gaining several kilos in the process.
    So tonight with not a single piece of candy in the house...of course, there were THREE small children on the stoop. I paid them off (a euro each). They were polite, sweet-looking kids and all three were dressed as that white masked, black robed, cowl covered character from those (awful) "Scream" movies. Ah me.

  7. But Gusiing is not an American tradition really - it is s trong Celtic tradition related to Samhain is it not? Or so I thought at least. The sweets part is all American though, I think the treats were not always so sugary and silly.

    We had no guisers this year and I was well prepared for them but maybe next year they will be back.

    Your cheese straws sound wonderful. I would quite like to try them (and your cheat tomato soup)

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