1 Nov 2013

Happy Hallowe'en at Fortnum's

Was it just our area or did anyone else find last night particularly quiet?  In previous years, there have been hordes of children trick-or-treating and teenagers in fancy dress on their way to a party but not last night.  Thank goodness there was a Halloween event at Fortnum's to see October on its way.

I promise I'll get back on track with garden updates soon; meantime, I wanted to share my visit to the annual Fortnum & Mason pumpkin carving event.  After yesterday's marsupial excitement was over, and I'd written the blog post, and the man from ITN had gone, and I'd posted my photos to Flickr for him, finally I was able to slip away to Piccadilly in the West End. Normally I can take or leave the commercial side of London but the Midlands based part of my family make an expedition down to Fortnum's every year for the pumpkin carving event, so I do too.


We're a close-knit family brought up to believe that if you're going bother to do something, then give it your best shot.  It's a good ethic and one that has resulted in one or other member of the family carrying off some Fortnum's booty in previous years. The first year my niece Kate won the competition, dinner for two, a huge hamper and a bespoke besom broom; in subsequent years, the competition was split into two age groups and children in our family came away with a first prize hamper of sweets in both years.

This year, despite a terrific entry from our Eme (age 8), the first prize went elsewhere but she did win the fancy dress competition. I do wonder though because a judge was overheard commenting that my sister's family have won a pumpkin prize in all previous years ... as if that would make a difference to their final decision? Never mind; Eme's 8-eyed spider pumpkin ended up in pride of place in front of the royal crest in The Crypt as decor for a whisky tasting event. (It does have legs but they're a bit lost against the fire grate.)

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I do enjoy going to see what everyone else has come up with. It's always an inspiration - I'm amazed at the skill of some of the entries although last night I completely loved this 'Day of the Dead' carved pumpkin - so pretty, and I do like a bit of nice.

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I wasn't able to stay for the judging of the adult pumpkins last night (small children only last so long so my family had sensibly moved on to go and eat) so I have no idea who won but I'm hoping that this cleverly sculpted pumpkin was given an award. See the little key in the side? It's locking the creature in its pumpkin cage while at the front the cage bars are being pulled out.  I love the attention to detail!


While waiting for the adult pumpkins to be brought in, I got chatting to the PR staff who were doing a great job of organising the competitors and crowds and was given a pumpkin carving set to bring home with me! Now I have no excuses for not entering next year - and adult entry fees go to The Prince's Trust.

I've just discovered that Fortnum's have a Pinterest page so, if you want to see what the entries were like in previous years, take a look at the boards for 2011 and 2012 - some of them are awesomely mind-boggling!

20 comments:

  1. A pumpkin carving set - intriguing - do take a photo!

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    1. Will do, Sue! I wondered whether to put in a photo but decided there were enough already!

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  2. Pumpkin-carving has come on a lot in the last few years, evidently! An art-form in its own right, I would say. What a pity that in England pumpkins are used almost entirely for carving though, and not perceived as being a desirable food item!

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    1. It seems we're very influenced by American traditions - pumpkin carving is a fairly recent thing. But with the tide of pumpkins, comes a dearth of pumpkin recipes as well. I had some delicious pumpkin risotto recently although I can give pumpkin muffins a miss. Gotta love those roasted seeds though!

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  3. What a fantastic event. Everyone is so very creative. A shame there wasn't a first prize for your family this year. But no doubt you'll be back!

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    1. We will indeed, CJ! Interestingly the most intricate carving was done by an international artist which rather puts the pressure on other entrants!

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  4. Wow, I genuinely had no idea you could do so much with a pumkin! I suspect the combination of power tools and pumkin flesh would result in more mess than art if in my inept hands, but am impressed at your family's track record. I too love the Day of the Dead carving, spookily beautiful.

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    1. Have I inspired you Janet? I gave away a lovely book of pumpkin carving a couple of years ago, full of ideas for beautiful, graceful carved pumpkins - not just scary ones! It's easier than it looks - I carve the outside then scoop out the innards with an ice cream scoop. Job done in minutes, although I can't beat the current record: 29 seconds!

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  5. Lovely to see Emelia's spider pumpkin in pride of place in front of the royal crest! Although I must say I did love the big scary mouth on the winning pumpkin. I did actually roast and freeze the pumpkin flesh to add to soup!

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    1. It was worth the trip to Fortnum's just to see that and her pumpkin looked so much more appropriately placed than when it was on a shelf upstairs! Glad you didn't waste the pumpkin flesh; If it wasn't seasoned, then it could be used for pumpkin pie or cakes as well! (Hope you also roasted the seeds, they're delicious!)

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  6. Oh what fun Caro. Sorry that your niece was not a prize winner this year - no doubt she will return with a vengeance. The 'Day of The Dead' carving is brilliant. Would that I had some carving skills in my finger tips. If I had a go I think that there might well be some suitable for the occasion blood curdling screams.

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    1. Yes it was a very fun evening, Anna! Sometimes it's just the thing to step outside and see what the rest of the world is up to! I'm so impressed with the skill that goes into these carvings and, yes, maybe we'll all have another go next year! I think if you had a go, you might surprise yourself at how easy a simple carving is! Hmmm, perhaps a tutorial is needed.

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  7. Wonderful carving. Great. I have never seen before

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  8. What a fantastic family event. I'd love to take my young daughter one year.

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  9. Such wonderful carvings and now that you have your own carving set, we will see yours next year won't we?! Glad you had a good time!

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  10. I've enjoyed all your Halloween pumpkin posts over the years and thought about you in the run up to Halloween, I wondered if your family would be giving it another shot. What a shame that Eme didn't take first prize, but well done to her on the fancy dress. I think her pumpkin looks fab in front of the royal crest, and if that's not giving it the seal of approval showing it off like that I don't know what is. I enjoyed reading about your unexpected visitor in your last post, I bet you thought you were seeing things.

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  11. They are very impressive pumpkins. It does all make me smile. I had to make do with a swede as a child which my dad carved. Bless him, they aren't the easiest of veg to carve. Looking forward to seeing your entry next year. ;) It was quiet here too but then I don't think the weather helped.

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  12. Oh I did enjoy this, some inspirational carvings there....what a shame I read this after Halloween!xxxx

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  13. Your carved pumpkins are amazing, works of art.

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    1. Thanks, Charlie! These are not mine this year but, I agree, they are indeed amazing! Thanks for popping by!

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Caro x

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