Tuesday, 22 November 2011

November in England


How quickly one's perspective can change. For years living in the southern hemisphere, November meant lush spring-time, the near-end of the school and academic year and the promise of a long hot summer and beach holidays to look forward to. 


In Britain I'm already inured to a November that means early darkness and long nights as the clocks change, the reappearance of winter coats, gloves and boots, and autumn's colour (above and below, snapped early this month) already fading, as most trees are by now stark and leafless. 


It also means ... Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot ... We drove out to Cookham Dean Village in nearby Berkshire (see last year's post here) to celebrate the annual excuse for pyromania that is Bonfire Night in Britain ... 


... our little South African/Zambian party joining the crowds on the very English village green that was alight with fire-torches and sparklers, warming ourselves with hot mulled wine ...


The 'pyre' this year had the usual Guys of stuffed straw made by local school children, though it was larger and more solidly constructed than usual ...


The men from Health & Safety spent a tediously long time crawling around the inside, doing their checks, while the kids chanted 'make it burn!', before finally setting it alight 

snap, crackle, pop ...


... but apparently they didn't anticipate the effects of a strongish wind that quickly blasted the crowd with great gales of smoke and flying, burning ash causing mild chaos as we scattered for safety ... nice one, boys!


The usual fireworks completed the pyrotechnic extravaganza ...


video


While we made our way to a local pub for a post-sizzlefest dinner, younger daughter was getting into the spirit of things for a late Halloween party ...


La Bella with her dashing ragazzi Italiani !

November also means Remembrance Day in Britain, and this year it seems to have been a bigger event with a longer build-up than I've ever noticed before. 

In the first days of the month, tired early-morning commuters including myself were greeted at London's Marylebone station with the surprising sound of bagpipes ...




The poppy brigade was there in full force, as well as a handful of bearskin Grenadiers, a colourful scene I couldn't resist snapping with my phone camera 


And at 11.00 am on 11/11/11 (what a fabulous synchrony that day was), I happened to be driving past our local church green ... listening to silence on the car radio, as over most of the country ... and saw this going on ... 



I thought it such a very English scene, complete with light drizzle, and the  Norman church tower looming out of the mist.





... even the ubiquitous CCTV cameras - a reminder that we are always being watched in Britain.



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