The plan was to carve out Peter Pumpkin Head in the style of my favourite Beatle. Ringo may possess basic facial features that are on par with his drumming abilities, but he is still a bugger to represent in pumpkin form.
Inspiration then turned towards @murphie_kitten. We have enough problems getting the little Madam to pose for a quick photo, let alone a pumpkin carving session.
And so the blunt knife of Wivenhoe Halloween doom took on the task of creating a caricature of a very popular local character.
Can you guess who it is yet?
Mr X is certainly an artistic improvement on the Wivenhoe Halloween howler of some twelve months ago. We still can’t compete with the Jack ‘O lantern masterpieces that are proudly on display at the foot of Park Road.
The little fella has been strategically moved indoors for the evening. The last thing @annajcowen and I want is to be disturbed during Eastenders by some ankle biters demanding an iPod under the threat of some dog poo being pushed through our letterbox.
One Sunday you’re sat in The Greyhound answering questions about Reo Speedwagon as part of the Radio Wivenhoepub quiz; the following week and you’re sat in the very same seats, listening to Mr Mule reading out passages from Edgar Allen Poe.
My kinda pub…
Billed as The Night Before Hallowe’en – seasonal spook readings from Miss Hilary Lazell, Les Bell, George Mac and Mr Mule – Sunday evening at The Greyhound was the Wivenhoe equivalent of a fireside chat with Roosevelt, only with the economy replaced by the paranormal.
Or was it the other way round?
Either way, there was an eerie feel in the front saloon of The Greyhound. Only the occasional rumble of the No. 78 bus punctuated the silence. I discreetly went for a light touch scratching of the old fella down below. Some Halloween decor simultaneously fell from the ceiling.
Best keep the old boy in check for the remainder of the evening, I reminded @AnnaJCowen.
The art of storytelling is a skill that some say is in danger of dying out. Not so on a Sunday evening in Wivenhoe. Miss Lazell has the wolf in sheep’s clothes approach; sweetness and light with the elocution – a killer twist for the conclusion. Les Ball contributed some pieces specifically written for the evening. George Mac read out with his wonderful twist of that, um, John Otway classic, The Highwayman.
Mr Mule meanwhile did the Mr Mule thing – which is a selection of the obscure literary influences that have played a part in his prose, and then some seasonally timed personal work that made you look over your shoulder as he added a hyperlocal feel to the Halloween spooking.
The Day the Dead Began to Dance may *or may not* have been written about an aerobics class at the William Loveless Hall.
Similar to last year, it was standing room only in the saloon bar. Unlike the spooking of 2010, the North Essex estuary weather allowed the grace of a pair of shorts to be worn during the witching hour. That’s something that you’re unlikely to see in the Director’s Cut for The Exorcist.
An impromptu meeting of the Wivenhoe branch of the Surrey County Cricket Club Supporters’ Association got mixed in with all the ghouly goings on, as the good @MatthewLinely pulled up a bar stool. I’ve always reasoned that Chris Tremlett is something of a Herman Munster sorta guy.
With *ahem* medical matters on my own mind, the cautionary tale of Dr Claw – the practicing GP at a hyperlocal surgery close to you – sent a shiver down my spine, and a mental reminder to eat my five a day. And drink five a day of course.
And so for one night only, The Greyhound became a cavern of creepy crawly unpleasantness.
Whaddya mean for one night only?
Next year: St Peter’s in Alresford would make for the perfect hyperlocal Halloween location to hear all about the hit and miss hyperlocal blogger who had his left leg amputated after an unfortunate incident locked in the beer cellar of The Black Buoy.
And with perfect comedy timing, I am reminded that Ray Parker Junior was indeed one of the answers in the Radio Wivenhoe pub quiz.
The reputation that this occasion is now attracting is leading it to become something of THE social event in the Wivenhoe calendar. Walking past the train station shortly after 7pm on Saturday evening, and folk were even commuting in on the Clacton train to catch the spectacular display.
@AnnaJCowen and I, and guests… slowly made our way to the masses by the Rose and Crown, taking in West Quay and the surrounds. Much like the Regatta, the WORC fireworks have had the effect of opening up the community along the Quay. Every other house appeared to be having an al fresco party ahead of the fireworks.
With exceptionally high water earlier in the afternoon, preparations and planning over on the Rowhedge side were running slightly late. No worries – the suspense and excitement of the Halloween fancy dress competition kept the 2,000 plus crowd content.
And the winner in the Over Six category… um, @AnnaJCowen?
Seems like the girl was simply in her usual Saturday night gear.
The serious side of the fireworks is of course the fundraising undertaken by WORC on behalf of the Wivenhoe Royal British Legion. The display was also made possible with the incredibly generous financial support of many, many local businesses.
These were read out over the PA system – apologies, but there was simply too many for me to formally make a note of. Mighty fine work for all of those involved – from memory, Alfie the Barber, Mr Rollo and Papa’s Chip Shop all contributed.
I showed my appreciation later on in the evening with a double serving of jumbo saveloy.
The bucket shakers worked the crowd – and quite right, too. The wristband system seemed to work well, indicating that you had already shown your support for the event by contributing ahead of the evening.
This was an all round lovely, glowing Wivenhoe moment – any fireworks display that builds up to the big bang with PA music from Cream, Hawkwind and the Super Furries is fine by me.
We couldn’t get anywhere close to the Rose and Crown. My order of half a pint of lager shandy might have seemed trivial, given the queue for the quaffers by the bar. No worries – fifteen minutes holding up a flip cam in the direction of the muddy banks of Rowhedge requires a steady hand and a firm mind.
Ah yes – about those fireworks…
Most definitely worth the extra half hour wait. Time ‘n tide, and all that – just see for yourself.
The best view on the night wasn’t from the balcony of The Nottage, but back down Quayside and all aboard Mr Boat for his Potplants. It seemed to make all that effort in maintaining the good ship Potplant all year round worthwhile.
And then shortly before 9pm, and it was all over. Work was a calling for me (seriously) and so I legged it back to base and up the High Street. Wivenhoe was buzzing; the British Legion has hopefully benefitted considerably.
A huge, huge thanks to all the volunteers at WORC who continue to make this one of the highlights in the Wivenhoe calendar. In these austere days when local authorities are cutting the luxury of a mass public fireworks display, the work of WORC is genuinely appreciated by so many.
But how to top that?
Find out next year. See you Quayside on October 27th, Comrades.
Billed as the Battle of the Bottoms, I wasn’t entirely sure what bemusement might come my way as I arrived at Broad Lane on Saturday afternoon. This was a crack game, back to the walls and try not to be taken from behind etc – yep, the Battle of the Bottoms saw the basement boys of Wivenhoe Town and Great Yarmouth trying to avoid the skid marks of relegation.
What a stinker, etc.
It’s a mighty long way down rock ‘n roll (and Broad Lane) from the balmy Golden Day of July. Arsenal – of sorts – were the visitors during flaming July. Flipping fag end of October gave us Great Yarmouth in a shock six-pointer – and all before Christmas as well.
Never mind the league position – these are optimistic times up at Broad Lane. I was certainly cheered to see that my Moulton Deluxe wasn’t the only mode of transport that could meet the entry requirements of the esteemed Colne Valley Mini Wheelers bicycling club – which I’ve just set up, by the way.
On closer inspection and it turned out that the seventeen inches of rim fun (steady) turned out to be a kiddie’s bike.
And so what else had changed since the Golden Days when the Arsenal coffin dodgers limped out at Broad Lane? Building works seems to be high on the agenda. Build ‘em up, knock ‘em down etc – except in Wivenhoe we do it in the reverse position (steady, steady) with knock ‘em down, and then bugger off before they get a chance to be built up again.
The away end at Broad Lane wasn’t exactly in great demand for the Great Yarmouth masses, but as my preferred touchline stand in which to make a stand, all that is left now is rubble. Defiant to the last, I took up my spot with ambitions of guerilla rambling.
No one turned a blind eye. Or even cared.
It’s wasn’t even as if the 3pm feast served up by the basement boys was on par with the Chelsea Vs Arsenal ding dong from earlier in the day. Chances were few and far between for both sides in the first half. I found more interest in a four-legged friend that had kindly joined me for my afternoon of guerilla rambling.
The Battle of the Bottoms soon became an attritional war of long throw -ins. They don’t like it up ‘em, so to speak.
“Wivenhoe! We’ve not f-ing started yet!”
…was the battle cry from midfield. This is a comment that could be dated back to either the 3pm kick off, or sadly the past decade.
With shadows casting a long gazeful eye on the pitch, I pondered that there possibly couldn’t be a better place to be around these North Essex estuary parts, right here, right now. It helped that cans of Fosters were on special offer in the bar.
“Big Phil – f-ing WAKE UP!!!!”
…was the best it got from great Yarmouth.
The first half ended in with the ref falling flat on his arse in the centre circle. Which sort of sums up the forty-five minutes that had just passed.
My trip the bar at the break was rewarded on two fronts – three if you count the extra can of Fosters that I managed to slip in. Completing this trilogy of delights was the interactive map displaying the great and good of the Ridgeons Football League Premier Division, proudly on show in the clubhouse.
I imagine that up at Old Trafford and every seat has a personal iPad built into the design, displaying an app with all the digital delights that the modern day football supporter needs.
This trickles down the football league pyramid and translates at Wivenhoe Town with an OS map of East Anglia pinned to the notice board, and locations for every team in the division.
Being something of a secret amateur cartographer, I have to say that it was absolutely ACE. Lovingly presented in great detail, pieces of string directed you to all the non-digital facts.
You had to feel sorry for the Great Yarmouth masses on discovering that at 78 miles each way for an away trip, Broad Lane is a challenging place for any fans of Norfolk non-league football. Further thought about the Goals Per Mile ratio at half time made for a depressing moment of reflection.
This was only increased when ten minutes into the second half, Wivenhoe Town took the lead with a well-worked move down the left wing – always the best – and then a fine header form the six-yard box.
I punched the air, shouted out an exuberant profanity or two and then went back to the Fosters.
Funny old game.
Great Yarmouth were doing there best to observe the local etiquette, with a pitch side sign reading: Please Keep Out of Goal. The Dragons however had other ideas, with a second goal to complete the victory.
My Man on the Inside then gave me a very informative nod and a wink, and a catch up with all the Wivenhoe Town gossip.
Well I never.
Any illusions that the Battle of the Bottoms led to a spanking by Wivenhoe soon disappeared down a dark hole upon hearing that the away ‘keeper isn’t actually a ‘keeper, and he hasn’t actually laced up his boots in four years.
Do come back, fella; preferably in goal as well.
The remaining fifteen minutes or so weren’t exactly squeaky bum time, with Wivenhoe never looking like losing the two-goal cushion. The Battle of the Bottoms was a right pain in the arse for Great Yarmouth.
To @15QueenStreet! …early on a Thursday evening to celebrate the first birthday party of @ColchCircleMag. They certainly know how to party hard, these Sunny Colch types. No surprises that the 11:07 was the carriage awaiting the return of @AnnaJCowen and I back to Wivenhoe.
Twelve months ago and it was the very same location where @ColchCircleMag chose to launch, explaining to an appreciative crowd @15QueenStreet what the plans were for the publication.
Many of the same faces were present one year on, as well as a healthy mix of advertisers and local business support. Those bills don’t get paid on a love of art itself, dontchaknow.
With the formalities of a thank you and a looking ahead speech, I was then left to fondle around in the corner of the boardroom @15QueenStreet with a six foot paper mâché chap who was extremely gifted in the trouser snake department.
It turns out that the totem pole todger is something to do with The Big Draw, another in the many expanding creative events that is coming out of *shhh* the Cultural Quarter in this part of town.
Keeping it with all things artistic and it was very much a mixed multimedia evening, as I’m sure our friends @firstsite across the back garden would have it. Which basically means I mixed my booze and continued my fraudulent behaviour of pretending to understand all about art.
The good folk from @FilmColchester were there capturing the evening, with an array of equipment that was competing with the totem pole todger for creativity and adaptability.
Wivenhoe local @samking13245 seems to be ever present around Sunny Colch of late, using his considerable filmmaking skills to carry out the very important task of capturing snapshots of social history. A bloke with a bottle of Budd may not be epoch forming, but it is most certainly social, Comrades.
It was good to finally, finally catch up with the Gingerbread Lady, aka @gingerbreadmaid, or even Emily to her friends. Lady Ginger is another Wivenhoe local who has just moved back to the town after a decade away doing the London thing.
It’s not where yer from, it’s where yer at, etc…
Anyway, having cornered the Gingerbread Lady – and nowhere near the totem todger I might add – I questioned her about her gingerbread recipe, something that has started to get many local folk tongue wagging of late.
In the best of home cooking traditions, it was reassuring to find out that it is a family secret that has been passed down through generations of ginger. A local element is important – eggs are sourced in Wivenhoe from the esteemed @_thebikeguru_ and his back garden birds.
I found some familiar ground upon meeting @ekittl for the first time – a fellow @15QueenStreet flexi member who also works in local schools. She is about to undertake the rather unenviable task of National Novel Writing Month in November. We compared daily word counts, and much like my experience with the totem todger, I felt rather inferior.
Breathing space was by now becoming slightly tricky. All best parties end up in the library.
Well, not quite. A quick bypass through the reading space @15QueenStreet and the back garden was the hot (and cold) spot for the evening. It is only now with the open space of @firstsite giving access to the area that you can appreciate how this part of town is being transformed.
The garden had been decorated in bunting, all put together by the Stitch ‘n Bitch crowd, another initiative coming out of @15QueenStreet. Conversation got a little twisted with @edpattle. Apologies. We *will* share that ballcuzi together soon.
Time flies, and so does the 11:07 back to Wivenhoe. Was it really a year ago since @ColchCircleMag first stood up @15QueenStreet to generate interest and cooperation?
Seeing as though most searches for m’blog over the past fortnight have found their way over here looking for ‘wivenhoe+fireworks+2011‘ – I thought I better well blog all about ‘wivenhoe+fireworks+2011.’
Yep – almost that time of year again. Saturday 29th October sees THE social event in the congested Wivenhoe calendar down by the Quay. The Wivenhoe Ocean Racing Club’s absolutely ACEfireworks evening will be starting at 6:45pm with the children’s Halloween fancy dress. The big bang is scheduled for 8pm.
Most traffic was coming my way via searches for ‘New+Labour+sell+outs+Lambeth‘ etc. And then almost overnight, I seemed to pick up a Wivenhoe audience, having videoed and posted up online the wonderful WORC fireworks display.
I haven’t looked back, Comrades.
Of course I made the schoolboy error of confusing the most amazing organisation on the evening as the work of the fine Sailing Club and not WORC, who very kindly put on the fireworks by the Quay.
Apologies once again – we’re not from London, y’know…
There is a serious side to all the ooohing and ahhhing that I guarantee will take place this weekend in Wivenhoe. WORC isn’t so great at ocean racing, but instead carries out some incredible work in fundraising for the Wivenhoe Royal British Legion.
The fireworks display is free, but generous contributions in the buckets being passed around will be very well received. You can also buy a luminous wristband for £2 in advance this year, indicating on the night that you have already offered up your support. These should be available from local traders down towards the Quay.
As for the display itself? Having been let down back in Lambeth with the cancellation of the Brockwell Park Big Daddy of all displays (cuts and the blame game…) I was expecting maybe a box of fireworks from Sainsburys being let off by some old boy sitting outside the Rose and Crown.
How wrong I was.
The Quayside fireworks of last autumn were the most spectacular that I have witnessed. The location is stunning – you have the natural safety barrier of the Colne, with the fireworks being let off on the Rowhedge side of the river. Plus the water itself offers up a beautiful reflection for all those illuminations. Sadly low water is around 8:30pm this weekend.
Our friends from the Rose and Crown will no doubt be doing a roaring trade. My tip is to take a hip flask, *just in case* a queue of five deep forms as the big banger is about to be let loose.
Plus: The Broad Lane fireworks planned for the same evening have rather sensibly now been cancelled. In case you can’t make the WORC spectacular, you can do it all again up at Broomgrove a week later.
For a town that tends to dine out rather well on ambitions of artistic and bohemian behavior, the true barometer for detecting the creative pulse within Wivenhoe is of course assessing the standard of pumpkins on display.
Twelve months ago and my hatchet knife anti-art effort was rather cruelly defined by one passing chin stroker as: “Wayne Rooney paralysed by a horse tranquilser, sitting inside a tanning salon.”
Not to be outdone by the abomination of the kitchen knife accident of last year, a pumpkin has been purchased. Head First on the High Street had a fine selection on sale on Saturday. Last minute Halloween hackers would do well to return once again this weekend.
I loved the ingenuity of the little folk doing the hard sell of autumnal squash. Pumpkin soup was being sipped throughout the day, with the little folk grinning with the same style of enthusiasm found from my pumpkin carving efforts of autumn’s past.
The plan perhaps for this year is to style my effort on the features of The Beatle with the most simplistic face. Yep – Ringo is going to be scaring away the ankle biters from around the bottom of the town come trick or treat time.
I can’t compete with the truly exceptional sausage dog pumpkin that was seen towards the foot of Park Road last year. If it all goes wrong with the blunt bread knife then Ringo may become a Yoko themed botch of avant garde art gone wrong.