Bonfire night

Steve's favourite night of the year is bonfire night. Steve, Tracey and I grew up in Sussex, not far from the town of Lewes.
Lewes, and its surrounding villages are world-renowned for their huge bonfire celebrations. Although Tracey and I (and Rich) really enjoy a good bonfire and firework display, our enjoyment is not even on the scale of Steve's.
For the last three years we have tried to bring a taste of a Sussex bonfire night to Devon.
It starts with preparing the torches. Each piece of branch has felt wired round its top and on the night they are dipped in paraffin.
Then we build the bonfire. We ensure there are four tunnels going through which create the draft needed to give the fire the draw it needs.
There are things to do for all of us leading up to the night..
The kids love writing their welcome messages on the slates.
We knew people were bringing rockets so Molly made this wonderful slate to signpost the box they were going in.
Like in Sussex, we chose a few 'responsible' boys and girls to dress in smugglers outfits and generally make sure the whole event was safe and ran smoothly.
Tracey was responsible for the food and drink and she did an amazing job. The kids had hot dogs and the adults had butternut squash & sweet potato soup, bean and chorizo cassolet, a cheese board, dips, rum hot chocolate, mulled cider and...
everyone bought cakes!
Many with a fab bonfire theme. These were some of my favourites
baby sweet!
Anda made this wonderful bonfire creation which must have taken hours!
a bonfire 'matchstick' cake!
Many local friends packed into our Snug and Ballroom and the atmosphere was cosy and warm and very exciting..especially with the background noise of Steve and his mischievous mates letting off 'rook scarers' outside!
After sparklers out on the terrace,
we had fountains of fire coming from the pillars in the Italian garden, to start the display.
Followed by our girls' favourites..the Catherine wheels..
The sky was filled with noise and colour
I just love this picture of Zac as he watches the fireworks with his friends.
Each year we have made more of these lanterns. They are made with bamboo, tissue paper and hold a candle inside. It is really good fun making them and well worth the time because the effect at night is wonderful.
We line everybody up, hand out torches and lanterns and
process through the garden, weaving through the trees in the woods..
and arrive at the bonfire where we throw the torches on.
It burned hot and bright
as friends basked in the warmth.
Charlie, our no.1 bonfire boy
The atmosphere was...magical and
Steve clearly loved it!
The carnage of the morning after! The kids loved collecting in all the empty cardboard tubes
which we put in the trailor and took round to the bonfire
Zac recovered a torch from the ashes and re-lived the night before
while the girls had rides amongst the debris..can you spot Liza?
A beautiful sunny day made the clear-up fun.

I think it will take a few days for the smile to fade from Steve's (aka Gandalf's) face! x

PS I just found this piece of paper scrumpled up on the floor. Hilariously, it shows Steve's plan for each firework - where it is situated and who is going to light it. This is completely unseen and unknown footage showing quite how much he loves it. Is his name by every one? Sorry Steve, had to expose x