On Halloween this year I found myself with 3 children; thirteen, eight and nearly two. The youngest is mine and the older two are my partners – all girls. I am not quite sure how, but I have managed to stay fairly ignorant of Halloween activities until this year. It must be down to my age bracket and ‘status’. Before, as a mid thirties somebody I guess I must have been too old to be invited to hip Halloween parties. Now, a mum and parent type of person to my partners girls (which means we get to do Halloween every other year (!)) I am going to have to start engaging with child centred festivities with a renewed enthusiasm.
So, this year in an attempt to fulfill young desires and parental type obligations – after a day out on Southwold beach and pier – we found ourselves driving to Bungay on the recommendations of an artist lady my mum knows who works in Craft Co. It was a bit of a treck but it was well worth it – in more ways than one.
By 6p.m. the whole of Bungay was alive with witches, ghosts and gruesome nasties. The centre of town, by the Buttercross, surrounded by food stalls; cakes, mulled wine and a whole pig sliced up from head to tail – past which we hurried to save our vegetarian sensitivities. Bridge Street was harangued with hundreds of children, mums and dads dressed so very scarily, trick or treating buckets a go go (mainly orange and from tesco’s I since discovered!). This was the town’s annual pumpkin night. Outside all the houses down Bridge Street sat the hugest pumpkins you ever did see. If I squinted down the street – with the mist and the light and the smoke off the fires rising into the damp night air I could almost have been in the middle of a medieval street festival. It was quite magical and definately worth a visit.
On the way back to the van we went into St.Mary’s graveyard to scare ourselves a little more and check out the claw marks left by the ghostly hound Black Shuck – but we got the wrong church! On August 4th 1577 during a raging thunderstorm it is said that during a service at St. Mary’s, the ‘The Black Dog of Bungay’ killed two and left another injured before tearing off to Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh where the creature charged down the aisle, before fleeing through the North door of the church leaving large black scorched gouges which can still be seen on the door.
The mist on the way out of town was almost impenetrable I had to drive back at 30 miles an hour. If I put my full beams on I was blinded by the whiteness. After a while it felt like the bluriness was actually on the surface of my eyeball. It was well scary and the drive was made more eery still by taking turns to continue a scary story about severed arms and wobbly eyeballs.
When we got back we took our pumpkin and candles in jars up to the graveyard behind my mum’s house, to see what Halloween had done to the old souls up there. My brother managed to swing round ahead of us to flicker on and off the mock victorian lantern that lights up the pathway and to give a few screeches. Meanwhile over the other side of the field my mum was whining like a dying cat. It did the trick. I took the eight and two year old back to the warmth and safety of the sitting room fire and left the braver folk to explore the graveyard close up.