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Tuesday, 04 November 2008

A busy week!

Hi everyone,

This week John was supposed to be writing the blog, but he's been a bit snowed under and so it's my turn again. Actually, I'm quite pleased as this week is a busy week in London (and around the UK), so there's quite a lot to tell you about. In fact, this is going to stretch to two blogs! (oh, and Ana Paula - Paul has promised to write a blog too and show you some photos of the cruise he went on!)

OK, let's start at the end of October. As you know, 31st October is Halloween. In recent years, the American tradition of "trick or treat" has caught on in the UK. Children dress up and go door-to-door collecting sweets from their neighbours. Although most of them will dress up as witches, wizards, monsters and other scary things, there's always someone who would rather be a fairy! Of course, young children are not allowed to go around the streets by themselves, so their parents go with them. Some parents go even dress up's my friend Claire:

Another Halloween tradition, again from America, is carving pumpkins in to faces. A candle is put inside and the effect is really spooky!

Of course, the problem then is, what do you do with all the flesh you've scooped out? Well here's a really simple recipe for pumpkin soup:

For 4 people:
400g of pumpkin flesh, cut in to chunks
1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 a large onion, peeled and chopped
3/4 of a litre of hot vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion for 10 minutes. It should be soft, but not brown.

Add the pumpkin and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.

Put the soup in to a food processor, and blend until smooth.

Put the soup in to a clean pan, heat gently and add salt and pepper as needed. Add more stock or water if the soup is too thick. Enjoy!

Does anyone else have recipes for pumpkins?

Unlike Olfa, we don't do anything special in England to mark 1st November. Our next event in this busy week is Bonfire Night on 5th November. In November 1605, some Roman Catholics plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I, by putting barrels of gunpowder in the cellars.

Guy Fawkes was the man in charge of guarding the gunpowder and lighting the fuse. On the 5th November, some soldiers discovered Fawkes hiding under the Houses of Parliament and he was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. It's now a tradition that before the official opening of Parliament each year, the cellars are searched! To mark the fact that he had survived, the King ordered everyone to celebrate with bonfires: and the tradition has continued. There is a children's rhyme about the event:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

If you want to know more about this story, look here

When I was a child, it was common to see children standing on the streets with a "guy" in an old pram. The "guy" was made of old clothes, stuffed with newspapers to make it look like a body and it had a mask of Guy Fawkes instead of a head. Children would ask people for a "penny for the guy". The money they collected was then spent on fireworks (or sweets!) and the guy was burned on the bonfire on 5th November. Nowadays, children aren't allowed to buy fireworks and most people go to big, organised firework displays rather than having a bonfire in their back garden. One of the big London displays is at Crystal Palace (if you've been following this blog, you'll have heard of Crystal Palace before!) and that is where I went on 5th November. I went with some of the Rangers, as one of them was celebrating her 18th birthday. We had to dress up warmly - November in England can be very cold

There were hundreds and hundreds of people there, enjoying the food stalls (chips, burgers, chips, fish, chips, doughnuts...oh, and chips) and the funfair rides.

No I didn

The merry-go-round

There were also lots of stalls where you could win prizes (usually soft toys) by throwing balls in to a bucket or darts at a board or just by picking a ticket with a lucky number

The birthday girl trying to win a prize

And, of course, the evening finished with a huge firework display which lasted for 20 minutes

Of course, fireworks never look as good in photos and I can't begin to tell you how noisy it was. When the rockets exploded, the ground under your feet shook! A good way to celebrate your 18th birthday, don't you think? In the UK, your two "special" birthdays are your 18th and 21st. Is it the same in your country? And how do you celebrate?

That's about it for this blog, but there are two more big events coming up over the weekend: the Lord Mayor's Show in London and Remembrance Sunday: I'll write about these in my next blog.

Until then, take care


snowed under: to be really busy
to catch on: to become popular
spooky: ghostly
Houses of Parliament : the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the House of Commons and House of Lords
treason:: the crime of betraying your country
soft toys: teddy bears and animals made of fabric and stuffed with soft material


Oh Carrie, it seems that you were pretty snowed under this week! I'm glad you have a whale of a time. I know that British people follow strongly their traditions and I admire them for that. Here in Argentina we also celebrate Haloween (imported from America) though we only have special dressed up parties and little children celebrate it at school. As for celebrating our birthday, here your 15th (if you are female) and 18th birthday (if you are male) are very important. You can have a big party but some teenagers choose to have a trip instead. Thank you for your Pumpkin recipe. By the way all the pictures are amazing, as usual:-) Have a nice weekend. xxx Cris

Hi Carrie, greetings to you and Rangers! Really good news we are to look forward to! Yesterday I started my after work walk at four pm and yet an hour later in full darkness 17 degree was displayed here. At eleven I was deeply snowed under working on a landscape in pastel (my course is tomorrow) which has turned up a bit dangerous for my carpet. In between, if it can be so described, the best quality espresso in the most expensive coffe house was as little personal celebration. Despite that any time and strenght for reading left. PS: Except my mother´s 80 birthday last month I can´t remember any nice celebration at the moment here but terribly naughty intolerance events. Wait, one really was recently - Qeen Elisabeth gave a visit to my country and it was superb, decent and very emocional. All the best! Marianna

Hi again, I am taking a better look at photos now. Any of you, girls, has not a little make up! It is a strange observation for me for my 16 years old niece, Barbora, wears thick layers of it since her basic school. Isn´t it similar in Britain? In my school years we had banned such things but now with democracy many has changed. Sory for trouble you much with such trivial question.

Hi,carrie It sounds you whooped it up on Bonfire night.We didn't go anywhere on that day but we are going to a belated Bonfire night party in local tomorrow. One of local churchgoers organises it to raise money for the church.I love whooshing around stalls and trying to win prizes but it has never happened to me yet.There are two special birthdays in Korea.These are first year and 60th birthday. On both birthdays relatives and friends get together in a house or a restaurant to celebrate.All the best!XX

Hello Carrie! I suppose that here in Brazil people use to celebrate the 15th birthday but just for girls, maybe men celebrate their 18th birthday because it is the adult fase of life here. But it is not a rule followed, I preffer to say that it is a celebration as any other and it could be a sort of "achievement" or something like: - Now I am man and I can drive a nice car!!! lol Here we have a day that many child use to go to the streets to get sweets, this day is called Dia de São Cosme e Dão Damião ( Saint Cosme and Saint Damião Day ) It is a catholic celebration that I really don't know so much its origins but I just know that it is really nice to go to each doors and get sweets. Take care!

Thanks Caroline, looks like you all had a great time and a great way to celebrate a special birthday (not yours of course -but one of your Rangers!)

Thank you for your soup recipe. I think I am going to make it. I like the pictures of fireworks which are beautiful.

Hi Carrie, you are a gourmet, aren't you? Me too. The pumpkin soup I usually make is very similar to yours, often I add celeri and leek. In my opinion the most tasteful pumpkin is one with green rind and yellow flesh. With it in Italy we make the "ravioli" ( pasta filled with pumpkin) and a delicious risotto. Here you are the risotto recipe. Ingredients (4 people):320 gr of rice - 400 gr of pumkin flesh - 1/2 onion - 30 gr of butter - 20 gr of grated parmesan - 1 litre of vegetable stock - salt. Chop the pumpkin in small cubes. Peel and chop the onion and put it in a saucepan whit 20 gr of butter. Fry slowly. Add the pumkin and brown for 2'. Add a small ladle of hot vegetable stock, stir and cook for 3 - 4'. Add the rice, a pinch of salt, stir and cook for 2'. Add the stock little by little, until the rice is cooked (it took about 20')and stir often. Switch off, add 10 gr of butter and 20 gr of grated parmesan.Stir, let it stand for 5' and serve. I hope you enjoy it.Have a nice Sunday Concetta

Hi Carrie! If you add some rice to the soup, it will become a risotto with pumpkin. It is very good. You can also make some fritters with the flesh of the pumpkin. I do not like them cause they are too sweety. As for our birthdays, it is a big deal when you turn 14 or 18. About the first, when you are 14, you can drive a moped, you can see the films which have a certificate like VM 14 (it means that if you are less than 14, you cannot see that film), you can buy fireworks and you can be arrested, if you commit a felony whereas if you turn 18, you can get a driver licence, you can vote, you can buy alcohol, you can get into the clubs at nights and if you are convicted of a crime you can get a life sentence and do your prison time inside an adult prison. Unlike the US, we do not have to show our ID each time we order alcohol or buy cigarettes. Because of the cigarette dispensers, anyone can buy a packet of fags and about the alcoholic beverages, you can freely buy them because a young person could say they are not for him/her, but for his/her folks. When I turned 18 I threw a party and I invited my close friends. We ate a pizza and then we went to a disco. Good to hear from you. Have a great week ahead!!

Hi Carrie! Thanks for the information about Paul. I´m looking forward to seeing the pictures of his cruise. Apart from that, I´m also looking forward to reading your next blog. All the best, Ana Paula.

I love all of your pictures,what beautiful pictures and i hope i will come there only once in my life.

Hi Carrie.Thank you for your receipt. My family like pumpkin, so I'm going to try this soup. I like the pictures of fireworks. Take care

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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