Halloween, Outdoor Living, Scott

Bonfire night is very special to my family. We always skip the big show at the park in favour of our own display. It’s a chance for everyone to get together in the garden; wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves. There’ll be a large pot of chilli in the kitchen to keep everyone warm; why chilli I’m not sure, but it’s always there. Rockets and fountains are set off to variable oohs and ahhs. It’s a night of big thrills and traditions and a night when it’s very important to keep safety in mind. Fond memories of bonfire night can soon be tarnished when mistakes are made. Below are some important tips on staying safe alongside my family experience of bonfire night;  I hope they inspire you to try your own party and create some memories of your own.

The Bonfire 

bonfire night

The bonfire was always a central element of our family firework night. Earlier that day we’d stuff an old pair of pyjamas with newspaper; maybe even making a Papier-mache head to complete the Guy that would stand in the fire. Getting the kids involved with these elements is a fantastic way of engaging them with some English history. Though thrilling to watch and gather around, a bonfire has the potential to be very dangerous and needs to be set up correctly. To enjoy a safe bonfire follow these 8 simple tips:

  1. Keep an eye on the weather. The wind is the main cause for concern as sparks and embers can drift on the wind and start a fire.
  2. Position your bonfire somewhere central with room to move around the entire perimeter, away from wooden fences, foliage or garden furniture.
  3. If you do not have a dedicated fire bowl, pit or bin create a circle of bricks or stones to contain the flames and build within that circle.
  4. Build your fire up layer by layer in a teepee shape using twigs, kindling and logs. You can also make use of a firelog; a safer way to add some heat and structure.
  5. One person should be responsible for the bonfire so that it’s always being supervised. It’s fine to get kids involved helping out but never leave children to supervise a fire alone.  
  6. Never use lighter fluids to help the fire along. 
  7. Keep a bucket of water or sand handy in case of any accidents. 
  8. After your party pour a bucket of water over the fire. Do not leave it to go out by itself. 

Fireworks

bonfire night

Soon it’s time to move on to the fireworks. In my family, we would have boxes of fireworks open in the conservatory. All of the kids will pick a firework they want to be lit next and hand it over to the parents who would take it into the garden to set up. This is great for getting the kids involved in a safe way as they never need to come into the area where the fireworks are actually being lit. Just make sure there is someone there supervising the selection of the fireworks. The fireworks are bonfire night tradition but they’re also the most dangerous thing you’ll use. Remember that you are dealing with explosives and as such, they need to be treated with care and attention. To make sure everyone enjoys your firework display follow these 6 simple guidelines. 

  1. All fireworks are categorised from F1-F4. The higher the number the more hazardous a firework is. For the purposes of a garden firework display, you should purchase fireworks categorised as F1 or F2. Anything higher than this is for professional use only. 
  2. Plan your firework display with the items you would like to begin and end with, aiming to finish your display before 11 pm.
  3. Make sure you have a place to position and ignite your fireworks at least 8m from the nearest spectator. 
  4. Read the instructions of each firework before using. 
  5. Light each firework at arm’s length with a taper, standing well back. Never return to a firework once it’s been lit.  
  6. Do not allow children to light or carry fireworks and never leave fireworks unattended with children around.

Sparklers

bonfire night

Towards the end of our family display, everyone would be given a sparkler and the frantic waving would commence as people attempted to write their names in sparkles. Poor cousin Jennifer never made it past the second n. You can try capturing these moments on camera; you can get some fantastic effects with the streaks of light caught in a photo. To make sure everyone enjoys their sparklers fully, use our 4 simple guidelines below: 

  1. Make sure young children only use sparklers with full adult supervision
  2. Wear gloves when handling sparklers
  3. Hold sparklers at arm’s length and away from the face
  4. When a sparkler has finished put in a bucket of cold water

Don’t Forget The Pets

bonfire night

Let’s remember our furry friends this time of year. Though firework season is a great time for us humans, it can be a scary time for pets. We would often find our dog hiding under the bed as soon as the fireworks started going off. But then our cat seemed fascinated by them and would sit happily watching them on the windowsill. A few simple steps can help reduce some pet stress and even if your pet doesn’t seem to mind, it’s a good precaution. See our 4 tips below:

  1. Lots of pet stores will sell chemical plugins or collars that can help keep your pet calm.
  2. You can play prerecorded sound effects of fireworks and loud noises in the run-up to bonfire night. Playing them quietly can help get pets more used to the sound of fireworks. 
  3. Make sure your cats and dogs have an area within the house they can retreat to if they feel nervous or overwhelmed. A quiet bedroom with comfy bedding and some favourite treats and toys can take a pet’s mind off the loud bangs outside!
  4. If you have smaller pets in an outside hutch consider bringing them inside for the week around firework night. A quiet room will likely be appreciated. 

Share your bonfire night celebration with us on Instagram! Tag us with @primrose.co.uk and we might feature your photos on the Primrose feed. 

 

Scott at PrimroseScott is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Celebrations And Holidays, Halloween, Herbs, Lotti

samhain

There’s a frost on the ground this morning, and crisp autumn leaves crunch beneath my boots as I walk to work. For a few weeks the mornings will be light again, but the evenings have been plunged into darkness. Yesterday evening I stood outside and felt the chill in the air, smelt the telltale aroma of a bonfire burning somewhere far away. The moon has been bold and bright these past few days, and while it’s waning now it still manages to light up the sky.

Halloween is upon us.

This special time of year has been celebrated in one way or another for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It marks the halfway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice as communities prepare for the long, dark months ahead. During this time, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead is said to weaken, allowing spirits (both malevolent and benign) to slip into our world. Celebrated in one of its earliest forms as Samhain (pronounced “sa-win” or “sow-een”), this marrying of our world and the otherworld was an important part of Celtic calendar.

halloween ritual

Many modern Halloween celebrations originate from Samhain and other gaelic festivals, and it’s believed by some scholars that the festival was Christianized into Halloween by the early church. Samhain focused on remembering and honouring the dead while harmful or mischievous spirits were warded off. It involved lighting bonfires and preparing meals using the recent harvest, setting a place at the family table for the dead. Often, people would dress themselves and their children in disguises to confuse any evil spirits who may have crossed over during this liminal time. In Ireland, offerings would be left for the aos sí (spirits or fairies) in exchange for their careful watch and blessings during the winter.

Samhain is the time of year where people celebrate being at one with nature’s rhythms as part of the cycle of life and death. As the cold creeps in, plants and flowers in the garden begin to wither and die and the harvest is over, leaving the fields bare. In early cultures, cattle were brought back from summer pastures at this time and livestock was chosen and slaughtered ready for winter.

Early celtic people had to be in tune with nature all year round and pay close attention to the changing of the seasons so they could better prepare their homes, livestock and farms. Today, most of us have the luxury of central heating and a local supermarket, so the changing of the seasons can often pass us by. Farming has modernised to make overwintering animals easier, and produce which cannot be grown in the UK during the winter can be shipped in from overseas. Samhain, which once served to remind us of the encroaching winter and the impact the season has on the world around us, is now more widely celebrated as Halloween.

pentacle symbol

If you’re feeling a little traditional this year, why not take part in some Samhain celebrations as well as apple-bobbing and trick-or-treating?

Start by taking a nature walk somewhere near your home. A forest, wood or patch of wild land is a perfect place for a spot of natural contemplation. Observe the changing world around you, take note of the colours of the leaves and keep an eye out for wild birds and animals. When you place yourself in a wild space like this, you remind yourself that you’re a part of nature just as much as the trees growing around you or the animals scurrying through the brush. If it’s permitted, collect some objects to bring home with you.

autumn forest

If it’s safe to do so, you could light a bonfire in your garden or kindle flames in a fireplace. The bonfire mimics the sun and its power to hold back the darkness and death so closely associated with winter. In later traditions, bonfires were said to have protective powers. When your bonfire is lit, write a habit you want to break out of or rut that you’ve found yourself stuck in and throw it into the fire as you imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of life.

Because the boundaries between worlds is thought to be thinner at this time, many people hold séances or practice divination using runes or tarot cards to seek guidance for the year ahead. This is also a way people give thanks to and remember those who have passed on.

You can also prepare a celebratory meal. A Samhain meal should focus on fruits and vegetables, wild game (if available) and foraged foods. All the food should be served at the same time complete with candles and a centerpiece and a place should be set and food should be served for the memory of the dead. Get some traditional Samhain herbs and spices to add some flavour to your meal: Rosemary is said to be a herb of remembrance: perfect for observing the tradition of remembering loved ones who have passed away. It’s also often used as a smudge for protecting magic spaces. Mugwort is another herb used by different magic practitioners who believe it encourages lucid dreaming and healing.

If you’re not feeling convinced, it’s always helpful to remember that you don’t have to believe in magic to grow useful, practical plants in your home or garden. Here’s a list of things you can grow yourself which are thought to help with a variety of illnesses and ailments.

Aloe Vera

aloe vera

Aloe Vera has been grown in homes and gardens for years thanks to its healing properties. The clear, sticky gel found inside an aloe vera plant is believed to be a effective moisturiser and is thought to relieve pain and speed up healing time for minor burns. Ancient Greek physician Dioscorides wrote what is thought to be the first written account of the supposed healing properties of Aloe Vera around AD 41 and by the second century it was an important component of the physician’s pharmacy.

Aloe Vera is an easy, stylish plant which is great to grow indoors. To harvest the gel from the plant, you need to remove a mature leaf from the plant by cutting it as close to the base as possible. Let the yellow sap drain from the leaf, then give it a quick rinse. Using a sharp knife, remove the serrated edges of the aloe leaf then remove the top and bottom pieces of skin (similar to filleting a fish). You should be left with a leaf-shaped sliver of translucent gel, which can applied to the skin. The easiest way to store aloe gel is to cut it into small cubes, where you can keep it in the fridge for about a week or freeze it for a month.

Lavender

lavender

Lavender is famous for its relaxing aroma and has been used for thousands of years all around the world. Lavender oil is said to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can help bug bites and even minor burns and one study noted that wounds treated with lavender oil closed faster. Lavender is most popular, however, for its calming effect and the benefits it can have for those suffering from restlessness, insomnia or anxiety.

Lavender can be grown both inside and outdoors. Lavender should be harvested when the buds have formed but the flowers haven’t yet opened. Cut a good bundle of lavender, tie it together then hang the bunches upside down in a warm, dry spot. After 2-4 weeks, you can simply rub or shake the lavender buds off into a bowl or tray then store them however you like. Lavender is great for putting in mini drawstring bags to be tucked beneath pillows to aid sleep or even placed into a draw to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

Peppermint

peppermint

This popular garden herb has been used in alternative medicine for years to treat a wide range of illnesses and ailments. Peppermint is one of the most widely consumed herbal teas (also known as tisanes) and is said to ease the effects of nausea, cramps, diarrhea and even morning sickness or period pain. When applied as an oil, peppermint is said to help relieve headaches, muscle pain, toothache and itchiness. This versatile herb also contains menthol, which makes it a natural decongestant.

You can make your own mint tea at home with just a few ingredients. Rinse off your freshly harvested mint then give the leaves a gentle crush to release the flavour. Peppermint tea is best made with hot but not boiling water, so boil a kettle and leave it to cool for a few minutes. Place 7-10 leaves in your mug then pour the hot water over them, making sure they’re completely submerged. The tea then needs to steep – the longer you leave it, the stronger it will be! You can add extra flavour with honey or freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Chamomile

chamomile tea

Like peppermint, chamomile is an enduring medicinal herb which is most popularly consumed in tea. Chamomile is said to be great for tackling period pain, reducing inflammation and encouraging sleep, and the oil can assist healing and help relieve eczema.

You can also brew your own chamomile tisane at home by following just a few easy steps. An infuser teapot is ideal for this, but if you don’t have one you can make makeshift tea-bag from cheesecloth or pour the tea through a fine strainer when it’s ready. If you’re using freshly picked flowers, you should use them right after harvesting. Each cup requires around two heaped teaspoons of flowerheads (or more for a stronger infusion) which need to be steeped in boiling water for around ten minutes. You can add honey, mint or even apple slices to your tea to give it more flavour!

Lemon

lemon tree

Lemons have been a staple of cold and flu remedies for many years. These bitter fruits are a great way to ease the pain of a sore throat or a cough during the winter. Simply mix the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon with hot water and honey for a quick and easy homemade cough mixture.

While not the hardiest plant, lemons are one of the most popular citrus fruits to grow in the UK. They should be grown in a pot and can stay outside during the summer then brought in over the winter. You can also buy miniature lemon trees which are great for keeping on a windowsill.

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Halloween, Tyler

Pumpkin carving is a great activity to do in the lead up to Halloween and if pulled off correctly, you can get some amazing designs. As it is getting closer and closer to Halloween, we thought it would be a great idea to carve the Primrose flower into a pumpkin to create the Primrose Pumpkin to get into the spooky spirit!

The first thing we decided to do was head down to the shops and grab all the equipment we needed to carve. This included:

-A pumpkin
-Two knives, one big and one small
-A safety knife
-A spoon
-A pen
-A bowl

Then we drew out our logo onto the pumpkin. This is so we had an outline to follow when it was time to carve it.

Next step was the messiest part of all; cutting the top off the pumpkin and scooping out all of the seeds and fibres using the spoon (and hands!) and then discarding it into a bowl.

Empting Pumpkin

Emptying pumpkin

Now that is done and out of the way, it’s time to start carving our Primrose Pumpkin! Using the outline that we drew earlier, we carefully then cut through the pumpkin following the outline by using the knives we listed. This required a lot of concentration as you can tell…

Cutting the Pumpkin

Cutting Pumpkin outline

Removing part of Pumpkin

Final adjustments…

Final adjustments

And there you have it, the Primrose Pumpkin in all of its glory!

Candle in the Primrose Pumpkin

From all of us at Primrose, we hope you have a great and creepy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.

Amie, Halloween

Halloween is nearly upon us, and it’s time to get into the spirit. This blog post will combine all things Halloween-themed from food and games, to products and pumpkins.

halloween1

Are you planning anything special for Halloween? We’d love to see your ideas and photos so send them in:

  • Email photos@primrose.co.uk
  • Tweet us @PrimroseUK
  • Facebook us @ facebook.com/Primrose.co.uk

Party Games
Whether you’re throwing a Halloween party, or simply having a quiet night in with some friends, Halloween games provide hours of entertainment. The majority of Halloween games are really easy to carry out too, with little cost involved.

Apple bobbing – A timeless classic, this is played by filling a large tub or basin of water, and putting apples in the water. Because apples are less dense than water, they happily float on the surface. You then put your hands behind your back, and do what you can to grab the apples with your teeth. Fun for children and adults alike.

halloween2

Mummy wrap – Grab the toilet roll and get wrapping! From head to toe, cover yourself in white roll and you will end up looking like a glorified mummy. You can remain in the white roll for the rest of the night, and you have fancy dress sorted too. To add effect, put some fake blood on your roll to look scarier.

Pop the pumpkins – This is a real simple idea, whereby you blow up orange balloons (the pumpkins) and you have to pop them as quick as you can. The winner is the one who pops all the pumpkins first! It sounds easy, but that all depends on what you use to pop them.

Food and Drink
Halloween is a great opportunity to express your creativity with nibbles, with so many options to choose from. Whether it’s from the supermarket Halloween aisle, or you’ve put hard graft into making the food, there is something for everyone of all ages (and alcoholic options for adults).

Toffee apples – Hands up who fancies a sweet treat? Simply push a wooden stick or skewer into the stalk end of the apple and apply pre-mixed heated sugar, water and syrup. Make sure to use red apples. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try chocolate or caramel apples too, which equally make a great treat.

Ghoulish cookies – Perhaps one of the easiest treats to make, you can style your cookies to however you wish; skeletons, bats, witches, pumpkins. All you need is cookie mix, a cutter and some icing, and you can get creative with your cookies. They also make a great party snack being easy and cheap to make and eat.

halloween

Anything with pumpkins – Lattes, pie, cupcakes, pasta; the possibilities are endless. Supermarkets are breaming with pumpkins/Halloween ideas so there will be plenty to choose from. However, a personal favourite of mine is pumpkin pie. It’s simple to make at home, and tastes wonderful too.

Products
If you are throwing a party, then there are a few essentials which are guaranteed to improve the night such as patio heaters or outdoor lights.

Misters – Create an atmosphere indoors or out with a mister. The smoke effect produced from the misters helps to create a spooky, graveyard-like scene.

pond_misters_illustration

Candles – Light up the party with a candle, with our colour changing LED candles perfect for blending the colour theme together.

Outdoor heaters – If you’ve guests to keep warm, then look no further than an outdoor heater. Various styles to choose from, they will help banish any signs that winter is coming, and provide warmth long into the night.

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Heated clothing – For outdoor activities in the cold, such as ferrying young ones around whilst they trick or treat, check out our range of heated clothing. Keep your mitts warm and your toes toasty.

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Pumpkins
Perhaps the staple of any household this Halloween, carved pumpkins will grace dining room tables, patios and windowsills this October. As well as adding to the spooky set up, they make great lights too.

Here are some of our favourites;

halloween4The traditional

halloween5The sharpie

halloween6The hungry

Image result for easy pumpkin carvingsThe Jack

Image result for easy pumpkin carvings
The burger

If you want to mix it up, you could try the latest craze of carving pineapples!

Image result for carved pumpkin pineapples

We’ve more pumpkin inspiration for you, as well as tips on how to create a spooky Halloween-themed garden – plenty of Halloween reading (try not to get too scared!)

Happy Halloween from Primrose!

AmieAmie is a marketing enthusiast, having worked at Primrose since graduating from Reading University in 2014.

She enjoys all things sport. A keen football fan, Amie follows Tottenham Hotspur FC, and regularly plays for her local 5 a side football team.

Amie also writes restaurant reviews on  Barnard’s Burger Blog.