A chance conversation yesterday revealed that Fortnum & Mason, renowned London-based purveyors of luxury food hampers and other delightful goodies, are holding their first Pumpkin Carving competition on October 29th. It's a Friday so, presumably, you can take your pumpkin home to show off on All Hallows Eve. There are fabulous prizes (Fortnum's broomstick anyone? Even better: a £1000 hamper, which would nicely sort out Christmas) and themed food such as witch's hair (aka - of course - candyfloss).
I've just spoken to them and been told that places are limited due to pumpkin display space (as of today 50 spaces still up for grabs), booking is essential but it's free! Not that I'm competitive or anything ~ahem~ but I'm definitely going! (It is open to adults as well as 5-18 yrs…)
Now this may all sound jolly frustrating to anyone living out of reach but I know that you're a creative lot and hope you'll be inspired to rise to the spirit of the event in your own communities. Personally, I'm going to be referring to a book which I bought last year: Decorating Pumpkins and Gourds written by my York Rise neighbour and fellow gardener, Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell and photographed by her husband, Heini.
Debbie is a phenomenal artist and her ideas in this book veer right away from the usual fare of grinning face pumpkins; she not only shows us beginners (in my case) how to carve designs such as Birds in a Bush, Maids in a Row or the Hansel and Gretal house, but also tells us the correct tools to use. I absolutely lOvE the lantern pumpkins shown in the above photos. Her love of gardening shines through when we're taught how to make bird feeders out of squash (an easy project for children) and also which are the best - and easiest - varieties to grow. On a practical level, Debbie advises what to do with different squashes (acorn squashes, for example, are difficult to hollow out but can be carved and displayed before being roasted into a platter of patterned veg). Excellent illustrations and instructions throughout make this all very achievable and, although it's not mentioned, it's best to keep the children's involvement to scooping out the flesh rather than knife wielding!
Giveaway!Cico Books have very kindly offered to send me a copy of Decorating Pumpkins and Gourds as a !giveaway! for my readers. I'll also ask the author to sign it. Just leave a comment before 15th October (should then give you enough time to get carving before Hallowe'en) and I'll randomly pick a winner. (Please also say if you don't want the book.)
(All photos in this post are © Cico Books and taken by photographer Heini Schneebeli.)