Our Family at Halloween

Since the children were born, Halloween has always been a fun event that the children really look forward to.  Once the boy’s birthday is over mid October we start visiting local Halloween attractions.  We particularly love the National Trust trails, with one of our favourite being at Saltram House, our nearest, although others nearby that we would recommend are at Buckland Abbey and Cotehele which also offers pumpkin carving and is set by a river estuary with beautiful gardens.  All of them though are stunning on a sunny day and never let you down with the amazing plants throughout the gardens and always provide a peaceful, calm experience that is enjoyed by all the family!

The view above is of our walk around Saltram House gardens whilst doing the pumpkin trail.  I love the colour of the Autumn leaves and seeing them fallen to the ground across the lawn, the house is the perfect backdrop for this.

The trails at Saltram always keep the kids occupied whether they are inside or out.  The pumpkin trail was through the gardens and consisted of looking for letters of the alphabet in areas where there were pumpkins and then solving the anagram of letters to find a word.  The newly 8yr old Mister B exceeded in his word knowledge as usual and came up with the answer a mere 5 letters into the 8 letter word!!

One thing I love about National Trust properties is the appeal to both young and old.  Although my children don’t notice certain elements, I really appreciate things like this gorgeous Autumn wreath abundant with golden colours upon one of their doors.

As it gets closer to Halloween the children are keen to carve pumpkins so we always go pumpkin shopping together.  This year we’ve been particularly busy so ended up at our local supermarket and picked out some large pumpkins (this did require Miss M climbing over several giant boxes of them to uncover the best looking/shaped ones!).

Here are Mister B’s, Mummy’s and Miss M’s designs:

And in the dark:

Waste not want not!

As we carve our pumpkins we firstly scoop out the pulp which is filled with the seeds.  If you run this under cold water over a colander you’ll find the seeds separate really easily away from the pulp which is great if you wish to toast them.  After discarding the pulp, give the seeds a shake, allow them to dry for a while then lay them out on a baking tray.  Give them a good slug of olive oil, a generous sprinkle of salt and roast in the oven for half an hour or so until golden brown.  These make a delicious snack or a great addition to a bowl of soup.

Once the pulp and seeds are gone, we use an ice cream scoop to scrape out some of the flesh from around the edge.  We find quite a lot comes out and by making the pumpkin wall a little thinner it is easier to carve.  I then add the flesh to some fried onions, garlic and a few vegetable stock cubes and boil up in my extra large cooking pot until softened.  Then I use my hand blender to smooth into a thick, easy to eat, hearty soup. Serve with a good grinding of black pepper and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.

Once our tummies are filled with a warming bowl of soup it’s time to get out in the neighbourhood trick or treating.  Mister B doesn’t like the scary look so opted for the cute skeleton dress up this year whilst Miss M preferred a Dracula style image.

Despite several heavy downpours, nothing deterred these two from their Trick or Treating.  With a bag in hand to carry any treats they received, I have to say they did pretty well.  As well as a mega haul of sweets, they came back with a chocolate doughnut, a plastic spider and a freshly made spider cake (although this got devoured on the way round!).

What did your family get up to for Halloween?  Did your kids go Trick or Treating?

Our Family Halloween Weekend 2014

This year the children were very excited about Halloween and couldn’t wait to celebrate.  Miss M was keen to dress up although Mister B just wanted to wear his scary hat.  Miss M wanted a new outfit so we set off to Tesco and she picked a sparkly black and silver dress and mask.  She also added some coloured hair clips with coloured strands hanging from them to spook her hair up a bit.

halloween 1We then headed home to carve our pumpkins that I’d bought a couple of weeks earlier (after previous years experience of not being able to buy within a few days of Halloween itself!).  Having left it a little late in the day to carve them, I decided to let the ever eager Miss M carve one and daddy do the other while I turned the insides into a delicious, warming soup!  Daddy carved a Spiderman face for Mister B and Miss M attempted her first pumpkin face.

halloween 2The evening was soon upon us and the children were eager to go trick or treating.  We met up with a few neighbours and followed the children up the road and around the block, only knocking on doors with a pumpkin in sight!  I have to say I was quite surprised by their haul, it’ll certainly keep them filled up with sweet treats for a few weeks, although Mister B, bless him, chose an orange from one house which he declared his favourite thing from his trick or treating haul and ate it straightaway!

halloween 8The next day we decided to continue the Halloween theme and visit our local National Trust property, Saltram House to do their pumpkin trail around the grounds.  The children love running around in the fresh air and with the added excitement of finding the pumpkins it kept them more than occupied.

halloween 3I love all the views from Saltram across the estuary, you are so close to the city centre yet feel so far away!

halloween 4Once the trail was complete and the children had handed in their clipboards we headed into the gardens of the wonderful Saltram House.  I just adore the exterior of the building and always have to stand and admire it each time I visit.

halloween 6The gardens still had a lot of the traditional garden games on the lawn which the children love and can play endlessly which is fabulous.  Such simple, classic games but so much fun, we played skittles, croquet, quoits and then they practising goal shooting in the football net.

halloween 5It was then time for some refreshments and instead of heading to the usual cafe we decided to try the new Edwardian cafe that opened this year to the side of the lawn for some tea and cake!  In vintage style with white linen table cloths, flowers and proper teapots, cups and saucers, it felt much more elegant and refined than the traditional cafe.  Miss M was loving it and so impressed that she got to pour her hot chocolate from a teapot and drink it from a proper little cup and saucer.  They also enjoyed a large shortbread biscuit each covered in chocolate toppings!

halloween 7All in all a fabulously pleasant and enjoyable Halloween weekend had by all the family!