There is no getting away from Halloween these days. The shops are full to bursting with all sorts of spooky paraphernalia from ghoulish masks and costumes to glow-in-the-dark bats and rodents.
I had actually read about an alternative in the very tasteful magazine the simple things. I was inspired by a feature about an old agricultural festival called Samhain which is the last of the harvest festivals and falls on the cusp of October and November, coinciding with Halloween.
I thought, what a lovely idea to celebrate this event ourselves so we invited a few friends from our village round on Saturday and cooked up some autumn fare. We put the fire pit out so people could venture outside and keep warm.
I gathered a large armful of seasonal branches, seedheads and grasses and placed them in a vase. All those warm russet shades looked wonderful together.
One of the recipes in the feature was for Colcannon baked potatoes, basically scooped out baked potatoes, mashed and mixed with butter and cavalo nero leaves. We also did pulled pork with coleslaw in rolls and pulled mushroom dogs for the vegetarians. I made a sticky toffee pudding – a nod towards traditional parkin but a bit more pudding like.
Of course, this is the tasteful bit – all well and good but I couldn’t really do the kids out of some Halloween fun so we trimmed up the house and the garden with some spooky decorations. A ghost hung from a tree outside, cobwebs were draped across our front door and bats and mice scampered up a hanging black cloth.
And for the trick or treat element, a bowl full of sweets with a green hand emerging satisfied the kids. Despite the grabbing hand, the sweets disappeared pretty swiftly.
I have now gathered a fair few Halloween decorations which I will store away for next year – they’ll be rivalling the Christmas ones if I get any more carried away!