Showing posts with label Fortnum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fortnum. Show all posts

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.)


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.


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 Sept 2010

Gourdness! Giveaway and pumpkin carving

Last year I recall resisting the onset of Autumn and savouring the last days of summer but, this morning, I'm positively excited about the forthcoming Pumpkin Season for I have learned of an exciting competition looming… 

Some of the carved pumpkins featured in the book

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…)

Pale carved squashes look like porcelain. Find out how in the book.

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!
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.)
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