With promises of all the fun of guys and fireworks plus a free “Hobo” meal it was sure to be an interesting weekend. Sixty assorted motor-homes and caravans arrived at Koputaroa School in rural Levin for the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association November Rally. A handful of youngsters, dogs and cats came along for the weekend too.
The very pleasant school grounds are shaded by many large trees. These two lovely specimens had plaques in the lawn stating that they are protected through the Horowhenua District Council’s Register of Notable Trees. We are not quite sure what they are, but wonder if perhaps the red one is a copper beech?
To help with weekend costs, the committee and helpers usually organise a “sausage sizzle” for lunch on Saturday, and these are always very well supported by the attendees. Robin joined the queue to get his sausage, meat patty, fried onions and bread, all smothered in tomatoe sauce, for a lunchtime treat.
The small band of children busily made their Guys in the afternoon. By some strange coincidence, the three Guys on the stage all seem to have a bottle of beer in their hands! One is an alien who dropped in from outer space, the next is Buzz, a star of a kid’s show, and the third just looks so happy to be here. And the large standing Guy in front has a definite rural look to him – he won “Best Guy”, and to keep the kids happy, all the others picked up prizes as well. The Guys all got a reprieve as there was to be no bonfire this time.
We all gathered in the hall for our evening meal, clutching cutlery and a dinner plate, but not quite knowing what to expect. After all, what exactly is a Hobo Meal? We soon found out. The tables were lined with newspaper, it stands to reason that Hobos wouldn’t possess such a thing as a tablecloth. We were served barbequed sausages, boiled potatoes, green peas and gravy, a tasty meal indeed and fit for all the Hobos amongst us. Joining us at our dinner table were Fred and Avis, and this was their first time at a NZMCA Rally. Robin and Fred were work mates many years ago, so it was great to rekindle the friendship again after so long.
The strong wind made us think that perhaps the fireworks wouldn’t be able to go ahead. but just like magic, the wind died right down by Saturday evening. The fireworks had been set out on an old table in a paddock adjacent to the school. There was a bit of a hiccup when the organisers discovered that the cattle in the paddock had taken exception to this and pushed the whole lot over. Perhaps they remembered just how noisy Guy Fawkes night had been last year! As the sky darkened, the show got underway. Kids and adults alike were oohing and aahing as one after another the rockets flew high, and fountains of sparks, flashes and colour erupted in front of us. It is certainly not easy to take photos of fireworks, we found.
So what is it all about? In 1605, thirteen young men planned to blow up the British Houses of Parliament. Among them was Guy Fawkes, Britain's most notorious traitor. He was in the cellar with 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, and was caught, tortured and executed. On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire. Why do we keep this tradition going, I often wonder, especially those who live in countries half a world away from “Mother England”? I’m sure the answer is, “just for the fun of it”.