What? No smell?

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine

The beginning of November always means getting geared up for Bonfire Night on the 5th NovemberGuy Fawkes Night in the UK. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about Guy Fawkes before on this blog, who some say tried to blow up The Houses of Parliament in London, or if not the buildings then it was King James VI(Scotland) who was the target. This is the same man who was also referred to as King James I of the UK. I won’t do a repeat of the story, but if you need information these sites might help. Guy Fawkes (in the public domain)



For many years, the village I live in had a ‘proper’ large bonfire.

This was set up a couple of days before the night of the 5th November by our local fire department representatives. These were local men and women who were our volunteer fire crew who juggled their own work with shifts at the fire station in the village. These guys took on the job of ensuring the bonfire was properly constructed; they lit and monitored the fire having set out the boundary tape for viewers to stand behind. They were also the ones who let off the ‘village fireworks’ paid for by our Community Council.


For a time, my hairdresser was one of the ‘stand-by’ crew. I’m so pleased that she was never called out when she was doing my hair, because if her beeper had gone off she’d have been out the door of the salon and running down the twenty yards to the fire station before I would have been able to say goodbye.

Sadly, things change. The farmer’s field where the bonfire was held became unavailable for village use and, I think, the fire crews weren’t able to help anymore because of changes to Fire Department regulations.

So, for a few years we had no large bonfire at all in the village.

This year, I was delighted to see some advance publicity saying that the village ‘Rotary Club’ had released funding to resurrect the village bonfire and fireworks tradition. For reasons I don’t know, it was held on the 6th November. I toddled across to the new venue – with my son-in-law, daughter and their young family- to the public playing field behind our Primary School, the land owned by the local council.burger 12320883_s

The village Rotary committee had done a sterling job with minimal finances available. There was cheery music. There were stalls selling ‘fluorescent wands’ for kids to wave around quite dramatically in the dark, and other stalls with toys for kids. There was a stall selling burgers etc and soft drinks. These stalls were run by some adults I know in the village, and many of my ex-pupils were helping out. When we got there the queues were enormous so we only waited in the burger one – well, it was too much temptation to avoid it!


Someone cheered bang on the time set- the cry went up that the bonfire was lit!

Where was it? I could see a little wispy smoke, but over the rows of onlookers that was all I could see. Moving along the row a bit more, I realised why. Since our public park is used by the local school and many other user groups, the committee were given the permission to light ‘bonfires’ but only if they were in huge metal drums – to minimise the damage to the grass beneath.

The three drums roared away quite well in the dark night but it just wasn’t quite the same. The wind was strong but because the wood was so contained there was little smoke drift and no smell at all. I really felt the lack of wood smoke. That was silly in a way, because it is an infinitely safer way to burn fires but it just wasn’t the same and when I excused my way into the front row to have a word with someone I’ve not seen for ages, I realised there was no heat drift either. Weird!

That aside, what was most impressive was that the village Rotary funds stretched to a 10- 15 minute display of wonderful fireworks – amazing since they are so expensive now.

There were changes to the evening but I’m very glad that the event will go on in as close a form to the traditional as possible. The huge crowd who attended showed they appreciated the gesture. I hope the donations boxes which did the rounds of the crowds were stuffed full because that might mean an event is more likely next year.

Well done all of those volunteers.

I’d love to say I’ll just be dashing off a bonfire story this weekend, but I won’t becasue I’m attending a 2-day Christmas Craft Fair event where I’m selling my novels. As I write this on Friday evening I’ve had a long first day, but a very successful one. Roll on tomorrow and see what that brings.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Nancy Jardine writes Historical Adventures and Contemporary Mysteries – with different dashes of romance in them.

Amazon US author page
Novels are also available from B &N, Smashwords, Waterstones.com, Crooked Cat Bookstore, and many other ebook retailers.

New covers x 3



Nancy Jardine Award Finalist The People's Book Prize 2014Finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2014.


20 thoughts on “What? No smell?

  1. That hamburger photo made me drool. LOL Since I’ve found out I am diabetic, I’ve change my diet and red meat is mostly a thing of the past, but I think I’d have to have that burger. LOL Great info. I love bonfires. We have one at my house a couple of times a year. We may have one when we get home, which will be close to Thanksgiving, and very cold. Glad they added the fireworks. How did your grandbabies like them? Cher’ley


    1. they loved them, Cherley. Riley is only 7 months and was fascinated, a little startled but he didn’t even look close to crying at all. Annalise was jumping up and down on her dad’s shoulders nearly killing him underneath! Sorry you can’t have the burgers any more:-(


    1. Abbie- I totally agree. We have to move with the times and if it had been a ‘proper’ bonfire’ the high winds would have made us stand quite far back anyway.


  2. What a wonderful story. Traditions are so important. There was a small town of about 200 people who every year on July 4 had a huge fireworks display and people from all over the country would come to see what they devised for the show. I don’t think it continued much beyond the 1960’s by I could be wrong. Still those memories…

    I do hope a new tradition of the old one will continue. We need those roots to remember what we are. Doris


    1. Yes, Doris, the stories to pass on are important. My daughter’s experience is now different from my own, and so will those of my grandchildren as time passes. We also have the shared ones of going to the great big Bonfire Night and Fireworks in the city as well, which is a much bigger affair to attend and always at a weekend. The city of Aberdeen’s, closest city to where I stay, has the kind of event where the fireworks display is set to very stirring, deafening music and the fireworks are huge. I forgot to add that memory to the post! Last year that’s what Annalise watched.


  3. It is kinda sad how the new safety rules and regs have changed things. We used to have big leaf bonfires when I was a kid. Definitely not allowed in CA, probably not in Michigan any more either. I used to love the smell of the burning leaves.
    It’s nice that your town has been able to come up with a version of the old bonfire. I suspect the kids will like the fireworks even more. 🙂


    1. The fireworks were the definitely the main attaraction, Kate. The open spaces around my village that could have been used for public bonfires have all disappeared and houses have popped up in their place.


  4. That’s a great story, Nancy, and I can understand your disappointment at the lack of smell and heat drift. But, as you said, the tradition continues. Good luck with the fair!


    1. Thanks Stephanie. I was delighted with my sales at the fair. I didn’t sell hundreds but selling 29 over a couple of days is my best yet! Upwards and onwards… 😉


  5. I love bonfires. Just burning a pile of brush makes me feel good. However, with the drought, we don’t do much outdoor burning any more. I’m glad you got to have your fire, even though it wasn’t quite proper.


    1. Kathy – I’m a wuss when it comes to burning my own garden rubbish – the conditions have to be just right ie no wind and no rain but I love the smell once it’s going. My problem is getting a day when the brushwood is dry enough to burn in the early winter.


  6. Things change and not always for the better (just look at my waistline) but we do the best with what we have and enjoy the memories of what was. I’m glad they did the fires again, even if it wasn’t perfect. For some kids, this will be their memories and expectations. Great post.


    1. Thanks Erin – and I was pleased to see a lot of my ex pupils either helping with the organisation or milling around enjoying it- it will be memorable for them.


  7. What a lovely post, Nancy. It’s hard to lose traditions that have gone on for years. How wonderful that the bonfire was re-instated so the younger generation can enjoy, but I can certainly understand how it must have felt for those of you who remember the event from days gone by. There’s nothing better than the smell of woodsmoke outside in the crisp air. We so enjoy our campfires at the lake – they make memories! Thanks for sharing your memories and the links for Guy Fawke’s Day.


  8. Enjoyed the post, Nancy, and I learned something new from you once again! I’m glad you were able to go and sad it wasn’t exactly the same, but then, as Erin pointed out, change is always occurring, and at least the tradition was revived; I hope it will continue so for you, your family, and your community! Thanks for sharing!


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