I bloody love Halloween! I think it’s my favourite holiday. When I was a kid, we would travel down to my Nana’s house in the middle of rural Dorset and set up camp for a few nights. It was a Halloween party, but with a dash of Guy Fawks night in there too. Grandpa would work on the biggest bonfire there was (I’m pretty sure he saved up wood throughout the year for it) while some others carved pumpkins. There was a trip into Bridport to buy scary masks and costumes and a whole load of fireworks (always Black Cat fireworks because we are a crazy cat family). My aunts and uncle would descend along with cousins and we would drink mulled wine (up until very recently I never thought of mulled wine was a Christmas thing, it was always for Halloween) and eat stews and Mum would tell us ghost stories about Eggardon Hill and other places in the local area.
Nana’s house always felt cold and there were always these horrible huge spiders everywhere (mum once woke up with two spiders fighting in her hair. In her hair!) and quite a few cats prowling about (Nan and Grandpa had up to 14 of them at one point. Told you we’re a crazy cat family) and being in the middle of nowhere with Dorset having that feeling of being stuck somewhere in the middle ages meant there was always a spooky feeling to the evening (and I could have sworn there were fae in the huge garden), but with all the family there chatting and laughing meant these Halloween weekends were some of the best memories of my childhood. Once day I hope we’ll have the space to do a similar thing with our family and really go all out on decorations and have amazing food, mulled wine and find space for a bonfire, although I don’t think we’ll be able to do anything like for good few years yet, we’ll need a house outside Enfield first!
Much to my excitement, Betsy is really starting to get into this Halloween lark. In particular, pumpkins. She has chosen a pumpkin dress already for the big day (we have a party to go to. Arthur has a skeleton sleepsuit) and every time she spots a pumpkin for sale at the supermarket she wants us to take one home. I’ve not even told her about our plans to do our now annual trip to Willows Farm to pick our own pumpkin from their patch. It’s going to blow her mind!
To get ready for the festivities, we made a pumpkin garland out of salt dough. I’ve not made salt dough before, it’s always been one of the things on that ever-growing ‘to do’ list, but armed with some pastry cutters and food colouring we had a go.
We used the salt dough recipe from The Imagination Tree. Although we added a whole load of cinnamon to the mixture, we couldn’t really smell it once it was baked and cooled. Betsy got really into the rolling out of the dough and using the cutters, which was good as most of my time was spent stopping a very interested Arthur from grabbing and eating the dough!
I used the end of a crochet hook to make the hole at the top and some garden twine to thread through. The garland is pretty heavy so we’ve had to be quite careful where to hang it (no dainty washi tape holding it up for us here), in the end we tied it onto a couple of window handles. It looks pretty good! It was such a quick and easy craft I’m slightly annoyed we’ve not done this before, but I’ve got a whole host of other ideas to use salt dough as it’s the perfect rainy afternoon activity. So apologies in advance for salt dough Christmas decorations and more rambling tales from my childhood.