Gunpowder, treason and plot!

This post is not at all about running. It’s all about Bonfire Night.

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder season

should ever be forgot.

Yesterday was November the 5th. Which, if you’re British, is a big deal. We call it Bonfire Night, or, to a lesser degree, Guy Fawkes’ Night. But generally it’s Bonfire Night. And across the UK,  nearly everyone celebrates. Most towns and cities have official bonfires with firework displays, generally set to music. And plenty of people have bonfire parties with fireworks in their gardens. It’s a big British event, and I LOVE it. It’s a little like our equivalent of July 4th in many respects. Something intrinsically British.


 The history behind it is as follows. On Nov 5th 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested guarding explosives under the House of Lords – a failed assassination attempt against King James 1st (aka James 6th of Scotland). To celebrate the King’s survival, the people of England lit bonfires round the country and it became an annual public event.

I’ve always found it desperately romantic. Stood in the cold and the dark, wrapped up in layers. The fire warming your face and a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine in your hand. Snuggling up with the one you love with fireworks bursting in the sky! So romantic.

When we moved here, one of my concerns was that there would be no Bonfire Night celebration. This is our fourth November 5th in America, and we’ve done well every year so far. Twice we went up to the Pelican Inn in Marin for their beach bonfire and once we went to a bonfire on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, where the weather was so bad we only lasted five minutes before finding a restaurant! But this year, we couldn’t find any events, so we had to make our own.

Some American friends of ours with a garden and a fire-pit opened their home to a bunch of Brits. It was like a flash-mob Bonfire Night – we swept in en masse at 5pm bearing hot-dogs, soup, mulled wine and hot chocolate. We all wore British layers (and sweated profusely), we stood round the fire and snuggled our loved ones (alas, no Husband this evening) and then at 7pm, we packed out all our rubbish (like wilderness camping) and went home. It was pretty magical.

Cupcakes and hot chocolate in my bestest mug
Pretty much perfect!


PS…don’t you think Gunpowder, Treason and Plot would be amazing names for three cats?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Great cat names. A most interesting holiday too!

  2. Nic J says:

    Alternatively, its the weird Brits creating a voodoo doll and then sacrificing it on a burning pyre. We know how to get our kicks… My Canadian mates were always slightly disturbed by the whole idea of burning effigies.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yes! Generally I am very much anti-effergy burning but for some reason, at Bonfire Night, I find myself yelling ‘Burn Him’ like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

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