Three years ago, I went to Winchester Bonfire Night with a group of friends. Bringing a DSLR camera felt like too much at that time, so I left with only my phone. I thought it was a good decision, until later that evening when I saw the bonfire and fireworks displays. I cursed myself for being too lazy, and was determined to bring a DSLR camera for the next time.
That ‘next time’ was yesterday, and save for a few mishaps at the beginning (like forgetting to charge the camera battery so having to do it on the 20-minute train ride to Winchester), I finally managed to take a few decent photos that I missed 3 years ago.
A quick story about this tradition: Celebrated on the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes Night is the anniversary of the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, a plan to blow up the British parliament. In 1605, a group of men, led by Catholic Robert Catesby, planned to kill King James I and the Lords at the opening of the parliament. The Catholics had suffered under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and when King James I took the throne, things weren’t much better. Guy Fawkes was only one of the plotters. As he was experienced with explosives, he was given the task to light the fuse in the cellar of the house, which was located beneath the parliament building. He was caught red-handed when he was guarding the barrels of gunpowder, and was tortured until he revealed the names of other plotters. The Brits, with their sense of humor, celebrate the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot by burning and blowing up things. This funny article sums up some of the weird things about the traditions.
Back to the event…
We arrived in Winchester early to collect our tickets, and waited at a local pub for the march to start.
We were among the first people who got to the field, so we managed to get a sweet spot at the front, for an uninterrupted view of the bonfire. The night was cold, and for some reason, the whole thing was delayed. With feet that had gone numb and cold that had started to inch its way to my bones, I was more relieved than happy when the fuse was lit. Soon, the fire got bigger, giving this impressive view and the much-needed warmth.
When the fire died down a bit, the fireworks started. This time, I knew I’d have at least a solid 20 minutes to get as many shots as I liked.
It was as amazing as I’d remembered. Still impressive, still beautiful, and still took my breath away. It brought so many memories of my time here as a student, and with that, a pang of sadness. My masters year is one of the most adventurous, amazing times of my life; a phase that ended too soon. It brought me a chance to meet some of the best people I’ve known, and despite the short time we had, we bonded pretty quickly. We don’t see each other as much as we’d like now that we live in different corners of the world, and going to Winchester yesterday reminded me of those good old times, and that I missed them heaps.
I guess bonfire and fireworks always make me feel a bit sentimental.