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October 2010

Making a pumpkin lantern for Samhain

By PaganismNo Comments

Samhain or Halloween, is very important to us pagans. In a previous post Pagan Festivals, I said this about Samhain (Halloween to most people):

Samhain – 31st October
The last harvest. When the vails between the worlds are thin. Seen as the pagan ‘New Year’. Also known as Halloween.
The goddess is now the crone. With age coming wisdom.
Colours: Black, orange, purpose, violet, white.
Themes: Ancestors, death, rebirth, banishing & bindings, spirit & guide communication, guidance.
(From: Pagan Festivals @antonysimpson.com, Last Accessed: 26th October 2010)

Rather than the elaborate rituals with lots of people, costumes, dancing, chanting like the previous years, this year I will celebrate it alone quietly as a time of reflection. I decided to get creative and make my own pumpkin lantern. I googled on how to and got this video:

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The video’s good, but the music is somewhat unbearable so heres my written guide to Making a pumpkin latern for Samhain.

What you will need

  • x1 pumpkin
  • A sharp knife
  • A pen (with ink that will wipe off) or pencil
  • Step 1 – Choose a side and draw the outline
    Choose a side of your pumpkin that’s best for the face. Ideally one that’s not got any scuffs on it. Draw an outline like below:

    Step 2 – Cut off the top and scrape out the insides
    Using your guide lines you’ve drawn on, cut carefully around the top off the head and pull it off. You’ll see the pumpkin insides and seeds which you need to scrape out (see photo below). Some of the cooking experts around may choose to keep the insides to make a pumpkin pie, which you can google for a recipe if you want.

    Step 3 – Turn your attention to the face
    Now you’ve scrapped out the insides. Go back to the outline of the face you drew and carefully cut out the eyes, nose and mouth. Once these pieces have been removed, take a tea light candle and place it inside lit. (Please never leave a lit candle unattended.) Replace the lid of your pumkin and switch off the light to admire your handy work. It should look like this:

    I have named him Jacko, I know how original. Hope you found this guide useful. Write soon,

    Antony

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    The long fantastic weekend, that never happened

    By HealthNo Comments

    Hello all, I’m still alive!

    It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted and the last few blog posts have been about books I’ve read, rather than what I’ve been up to. So don’t worry, I know we are well overdue a catch up. Let’s start with the weekend. I was all set to have a fantastic weekend. I had booked Monday and Tuesday off work, making it a long and exciting weekend. Here was the plan:

  • Friday – Finishing work and not having to work the evening, a chill night in front of the box.
  • Saturday – Meeting my long lost half brothers kids in the evening (that one’s a long story, sure I’ll blog about it sometime in the future).
  • Sunday – Going to Manchester in the day to see my granddad and his wife, to celebrate his birthday.
  • Monday – A chilled day (with a lie in) and then going to see John Barrownman with my good friend Simon.
  • So where did I end up? At home in bed. I had a bug and felt at points like I was dying. I couldn’t even tolerate at food at one point, which I know dieters would love, but believe me it was horrible. I had stomach cramps, a banging head, sleeplessness, vomiting and temperatures. I’ve texted everyone and apologised for not making my plans, explaining that I was ill. But do you know what the worst thing about this nasty bug? It’s like it knew I had a busy long weekend, filled with good times, because it struck Friday night and I’ve only just started feeling better today. I go back to work tomorrow. So I have aptly named this the long weekend, that never happened.

    Now you know what they say (who ever they are), “You must have caught a bug?”
    Well if you see anyone coughing, sneezing or looking like they’ve got the bubonic plague, get out of there sharpish! And then repeatedly wash your hands until they’re red raw (only kidding, that would be self harm).

    Don’t risk catching this one, it’s really not worth the 4-5 days off work for the pain (stomach cramps & head ache), the I’ve-not-slept-in-five-years blood shot, dark bagged eyes, the sweating one moment shivering the next. So apart from feeling terrible the only good thing is that this bug will help you shift that stubborn pound if your dieting.

    Take Care and BE HEALTHY all,

    Antony

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    Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

    By Books & AuthorsNo Comments
    one-day-david-nicholls I bought One Day by David Nicholls after hearing about it on The TV Book Club. The book follows the lives of Dexter and Emma over twenty years, each chapter being a year in their lives. Dexter and Emma meet at a party on graduation night at University and spend the night together. Dexter a young man, good looking, with an air of confidence. Emma a social rebel who wants to go out and change the world, although she’s not sure how too.

    The book proceeds to go through their lives. Emma initially getting lost after leaving university, mean while Dexter becomes a TV presenter and gets in to the recreational drug scene. As the years go by Dex meets a woman and settles down having a child, whereas Emma finds her way becoming a Teacher, which eventually leads her to her dream of writing books. However along the way there are many twists and turns and you begin to think of the story as “will-they-wont-they” get together. Life seems to be drawing them together, yet there are several missed opportunities, a lot like real life. It’s so obvious to us reading the story that they are right for each other, yet how come they don’t see it?

    You begin to care for Dex and Em or Em and Dex (as Dexter describes them). This is because you see them grow as individuals, dealing with what life throws at them, recognising their vulnerabilities as ones we all have, along with their strengths that pull them through. David Nicholls describes the settings, scenes and what happens with a mix of realism and airy romance, which makes it a compelling read.

    Dubbed by many critics as a “modern classic love story”, I tend to agree. It is a story of love over two decades, describing how life can get in the way of love, but in the end love will win over life. The book made me laugh, reflect over times in my own life, and even cry. I do think this book will be a classic love story that will be around for many years to come and be just as relevant then as it is today.

    I would highly recommend One Day by David Nicholls which is available to buy on Amazon

    Write soon,

    Antony



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    Book Review: The Dead by Charlie Higson

    By Books & Authors6 Comments

    The Dead is a prequel to The Enemy and like most I desperately wanted to find out what would happen to Maxie, Blue and the others on the cliff hanger at the end of The Enemy. I wanted to find out if Little Sam would ever make it back to the group and expected to be disappointed by this book. But I wasn’t, indeed I actually thought The Dead was better than the first!

    In this book we meet Jack and Ed from Rowhurst all boys school. As the name suggests it’s a private school, with Jack and Ed being best friends. They fight night after night as the infected, disease ridden, zombie-like adults try to break in to get to them. They are running out of food and water and know that the school is not longer safe, so they decide to look for somewhere else that is safer and has more food and water on offer.

    Along the way they meet Mat and Archie who have followers of their new religion with “The Lamb” as their god. Then in crisis with diseased adults at all sides they are saved by a coach driven by an adult named Greg. Greg claims to be immune to the disease – but is he? They meet and join with other kids on the bus including Brooke (a verbally strong girl), Alisha (who only says nice things) and Courtney (that they describe as the “larger” one of their group). The two groups join together to become one, on the bus they are safe. But this new found safety doesn’t last long…

    After being forced to flee for their lives the group make it to The Imperial War Museum, finding another group of kids got their first. They make friends with this group, led by Jordan Hunter. Jordan allows them to stay, but they must find their own food. On a scavenge hunt they find a Tesco truck filled with food and after a struggle get it back to the museum. However by this point Jack and Ed’s friendship has been pushed to the limit with Jack calling Ed for being a coward. Jack has a deep longing to go home and decides as it’s close by that it’s now or never.

    On the way they find the Oval, which was being protected before the adults got ill. They decide that it must have something valuable inside so go inside to check. This leads to several explosions and a fire that will consume the whole of the east London, where they are. They must get across over to the other side of the Thames river. The only problem? Every other kid needs to get across as well, as it’s the only way to escape the raging fire that now lights up the entire sky helped by the direction of the wind. The diseased adults are behind the kids trying to escape the fire and there’s some blockage ahead on the bridge. What will they do? How will they escape? If the diseased adults don’t get them first, the fire surely will.

    Towards the end of the book this is were it starts to fascinate me, it links in with The Enemy and Little Sam’s quest.

    I’ve deliberately left out the details of what happens in the story as I don’t want to give spoilers away. Throughout the book what strikes me is the friendship between Jack and Ed as they try to adjust to this whole new world, each using their own way of coping with the stress and constant life threatening situations. From early on in the book you come to like Jack and then as Ed’s character develops turning from “Ed the coward” to “Ed the leader” you begin to like him as well. You gain an understanding of what Jack, Ed and the other characters are feeling and thinking as the book steps in to their thought processes from time to time.

    Charlie Higson’s use of excellent description enables you to imagine every scene and the characters perfectly. Indeed at one dark evening walking home, I had to remind myself that it was only a story and there were no shadows in the dark. Charlie’s writing is so easy to read that it makes the story flow along and before you know it, your hooked, desperate to read on and find out what happens. The book has the usual action scenes followed by slower reflective scenes, which add depth to the book.

    What I most loved about the book is how it gave me a new set of characters with their own stories but linked in to what had previously been written, adding more information to the over arching story. The Dead seemed to hint at links that will be picked up in the next book. And I do think that when the next book comes out you’ll be able to read The Dead again and see that those links were cleverly placed for the next book.

    I utterly enjoyed reading The Dead and The Enemy both of which are available to buy on Amazon.

    Another link you might like: Book Review: The Enemy by Charlie Higson.

    Write soon,

    Antony

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    I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


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