Family-friendly Halloween has us under its spell

pumpkin picking, Sonny Jim
Pumpkin picking: My Sonny-Jim

Hands up if you’ve taken your child pumpkin picking this half-term?

I feel like everyone I know with a child under about 14 (and plenty without kids at all) has gone mad for this Halloween-themed past-time.

We certainly have. Sonny Jim had a blast with his little buddy Emily at Hurleys Farm Pumpkin Forest, in Battlesbridge.

We came home with three that are currently being pulled all over the house by tiny hands. And we’re likely to take another trip back before the big day on Wednesday.

But the arrival (and popularity) of pumpkin farms here (the Pumpkin Patch, in Wash Road, Basildon, is another) marks a real transition in attitudes to All Hallow’s Eve from just a generation ago.

I didn’t have my first jack o’-lantern till I was 21 (when my then-boyfriend made me one.) Admittedly, my mum is a priest, so Halloween was never really going to be a thing in our house. But I wasn’t alone in not having a childhood of carving pumpkins.For me this time of year was more focused on Fireworks Night. On making our Guy. On sipping scorching hot soup and scoffing boiled hotdogs around bonfires.

Halloween was just an odd knock at the door, by a teen or two, in a hood and maybe an afterthought of a mask.
As a mummy though, trying to keep a toddler amused, I’ve fallen totally under its spell. We’re currently decorating pumpkin-shaped cookies and he has no less than three different Halloween-themed outfits.

There’s ghost-shaped ice-creams in the freezer and I’m googling pumpkin soup recipes.
Last year my little ghoul sat on our front doorstep handing out sweets to the scores of children in ever more lavish fancy dress. It was one of my favourite nights of the year. And I’m sure I’m not alone on that?

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