Jaqui's Daily Blog

On Building A Bonfire

Today I built a bonfire.

I honestly can't remember the last bonfire I had the makings of, surely it can't have been back in the days when I was a Girl Guide, Patrol Leader of the Swallows who once came runners-up in the Strathcona Cup. I do remember almost winning that cup; we successfully identified (as in, guessed) that one of the mystery objects discovered on our woodland trail, was a snake skin. Without the snake in it, of course, that would have been a giveaway. Or, more likely, a runaway...

Mr B tells me stories of the massive bonfires built by two rival gangs of boys (yes, girls, boys really did have all the fun in the Olden Days) in readiness for Guy Fawkes night in the village where he spent his childhood. Apparently members of his gang, representing the east side of the village, used to drag whole tree trunks from the local woods in a bid to ensure that their fire was the biggest and the best. Risk of sabotage was high so boys used to take it in turns to stand guard in the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night. Presumably they were known as the Fireguard, I suggest? Mr B does not grace this attempt at a joke with a response.

The saddest bonfire story I can relate concerns my brother Phil (Phillip with two l's, he always says). One year he saved up all his pocket money so that we could have the best of a Bonfire Nights. I remember the awe with which my sister Maggie and I surveyed his purchases which were stored for safety in the garden shed.

Come the big day and our Dad fastened the first firework, a Catherine Wheel, onto the shed door. We all stood back and waited to be amazed. Dad lit the firework which sputtered a bit, made a couple of feeble turns, then hopped off the door into the shed, landing in the box of fireworks and setting off the whole lot at once. I imagine it was quite a spectacle but we children were too busy having panic attacks and imagining that we were all going to die of Firework Frenzy, while the adults were too busy with buckets of water putting out the conflagration. My poor brother stood by, the expression on his face one of the most abject misery. Never was so much expected and so little delivered.

My dear Mum, as usual, sought to make the best of things by cooking jacket potatoes on the bonfire. I am not sure they really compensated for months of pocket money literally going up in smoke but I seem to remember they were tasty. There's a thought, I tell Mr B - maybe we should cook potatoes wrapped in foil in the embers of my bonfire - and how about toasting marshmallows on sticks? Mr B reminds me that we have bought his favourite Jersey Royal potatoes for dinner and he is not about to entertain a substitute. Somehow I don't think he is in touch with his Inner Bear Grylls.

It really is incredible just how much one can burn on a small bonfire. I have indeed found the whole Bonfire Experience most unexpectedly therapeutic. I can reassure you that I was extremely safety conscious and had both a bucket of water and a hose-pipe standing by in case of fiery disaster. I also asked Mr B to stand Fireguard which he did for a while, after which he clearly decided that the fate of England playing New Zealand on the last day of the First Test Match was much more important than any potential danger to our house or the garden fence from my modest blaze.

I have cleared a quite amazing amount of dead wood from the jungle at the bottom of our garden. I have found what looks like an old gate which might have led from our garden to our neighbour's plot Once Upon A Very Long Time Ago. I have also found a piece of an extremely large pot but sadly it doesn't resemble a Grecian Urn. More like the Common or Garden Variety of Pot.


I take a short break when our our Canadian cousin, Bob, returns our call from yesterday. I had rung him because yesterday would have been his lovely wife's birthday, had she lived. He was so touched that we remembered. I tell Mr B that this has made me think that I mustn't remove the names of friends and relatives from my Birthday Card List just because they are no longer with us. Mr B agrees, which is good of him considering he is always asking me to trim my card list which just grows and grows, like the weeds in the garden.

I tell Bob about my bonfire and he agrees completely about its therapeutic qualities. He has something called a Fire Pit on the land around his lakeside cottage and enjoys a Bit of a Blaze every so often. I wonder what a Fire Pit is and whether we should have one but Mr B says we don't have the space for one.

There's still quite a lot to be done but I have called it a day for now. It will give me an excuse to light another bonfire, another day.

I've added marshmallows to the shopping list...


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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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