So, first of all, I must confess that after that horrible illness that I got last week and then the results of the US elections, I have not been feeling that motivated to write. However, I started to go through my photos from the bonfire night of the 5th of November and I told myself that I needed to share this with you.
Saturday 5th of November, I left the flat heading to Brighton, where I would meet my friend Yumi (she is Japanese and I met her during my Masters) She is currently living in Brighton and we decided to go and see bonfire night together. She went last year but, because the commuting and all the homework, I rejected to go, BUT this year I wanted to go and see it. My main reason was pure curiosity, the first time that I heard about the fifth of November was thanks to the movie ‘V for Vendetta’ which has nothing to do with the real event and its meaning, so for the people who are reading me and are not from the UK, I will sum up some of the information that I found from some reliable resources (BBC, The Guardian, The Independent)
On November 5th of 1605, a group of Catholics planned to kill king James I, who just claimed the throne. The reason for such actions was to stop the persecution of the ones that suffered for over 45 years and to let them get their freedom to practice their religion (Yes, it was a religious movement). Although Guy Fawkes was the one who was in charge to blow up the parliament, he was not the leader of the movement (SURPRISE SURPRISE). It was indeed a man called Robert Catesby, a catholic leader who was against the crown. An anonymous letter was sent to one of the members of the parliament to warn them about the trap, so that day guards were sent to seek for the explosives and they found Fawkes. He was arrested and tortured to give the names the other participants. That is pretty much what happened in a short paragraph. Of course, you can find more information on internet, but just to clarify that it has nothing to do with the movie.
Now, I arrived to Brighton at 11 on the dot. Due to strikes on the Southern trains, we decided to go to Lewes early so we won’t struggle to get there after noon (the trains would stop running after 12 p.m.). We got on the train and… we missed the station. Yep, we ended up somewhere else but Lewes. To be fair, we were not the only ones, as another girl who was also going to Lewes ended up with us at the wrong station. We still do not know what has actually happened? Maybe we did not hear the voice announcing our stop or something. Anyways, it was almost 12 by that time and we were a bit worried that we must take a taxi, well, more worried about the price of that journey to be honest. Thankfully there was one more train (the last one, lucky girls) and, during our wait, we met this girl who was going to the bonfire too, a British girl who told us that apart from the bonfire of 2015, she has never missed one since she was 8 and that for her bonfire night was bigger and more exciting than Christmas and Halloween. By this point, I was very excited to see what it was all about. She was very kind and explained to us how it worked: there are six different bonfires around Lewes, you should go to the tourist office of the town and buy a ticket for any of these, you can choose it depending on where you are staying, or if you are going back choose the one who is closer to bus station. Then the train arrived and we finally got to Lewes!
When we arrived there, you could feel the atmosphere was very positive, everyone looked excited! Especially the locals. As I have been living in London for quite long, I usually see more tourists attending and being excited about any type of event and of course, IT IS LONDON, but there I was happily surprised seen all the British families dressed up, sharing lunch together, like being very open. Do not take me wrong, in my experience, the British that I have met tend to be quite restrained and serious. That day, it was quite the opposite. I was fascinated (Have I mentioned how much I like the UK?) so during the day we just hanged around, had lunch, went to the pub, but at around half past seven everyone started to take places along the main street, which is the place where the parade starts. We found a good place to watch and waited. IT WAS AMAZING! All the locals, from the older to the younger (even toddlers) were participating, all of them were dressed up, marching with torches and making lots of noise, then the different groups from the six bonfires started to march (each bonfire is organised by different associations) all of them were wearing different costumes, now I must show you some photos:
It was a very exciting parade to see, I must admit that I was very happy, they also shown the Guy Fawkes straw dummy in a cage (Representing what happened in 1605). Afterwards, we head to the bonfire, we were a little bit lost (well, completely lost) with all the noise and a LOT of people walking around us, it was a bit confusing get to the place where our bonfire will take place, but during that time we manage to see all the figures that will be set on fire by the different groups and who do you think was the main character to burn this year? It was Donald Trump, here are some photos of one of the figures:
When we arrived there, the bonfire had already started. I have to admit that I have never been in such an event before, so for me, it was very exciting. Also, I managed to get some cool photographs (or at least they look cool for me, you can judge) and here are some of them:
The atmosphere was incredible, very friendly, everyone was very happy even though it was bloody freezing (I think that by that time, 10 p.m. it was like 1 degree) we enjoyed the bonfire and then the most awesome part was about to start: the fireworks! Which represents the explosion that did not happen, not sure how that makes sense but it is worthy to watch! Here are some photos of it!
By the time the whole show finished, it was half past twelve, yep, it was a long firework show, but It was beautiful! I enjoyed it a lot! But after that, we needed to figure out how to get back, at least, to Brighton. We asked for some directions and when we got to the bus stop… It was closed due to the bonfire night and the strikes! Great! We were stuck in Lewes with little money and incredibly tired (at that time I had been going on for 17 hours). Angelo tried to get us a taxi (thank you! Angelo!) but none of them were picking up the phone, it was 0 degrees and we were freezing. A police officer told us that there were some buses going to Brighton, that were available especially for the event but when we got to this other bus stop…. The queue was MASSIVE, as we had no other option, we decided to wait, and we did for at least one hour (yep, it was that busy) but then, one of the coordinators with a speaker said that there will be TWO trains going from Lewes station to Brighton and it will depart in fifteen minutes. Our hearts raced, we checked the map and… twenty minutes walking from that point to the station. I am not a runner, Yumi is (yep, she is a lucky girl, definitely) but we raced to the station as quick as we could. Now that I am thinking about it, we might have looked so ridiculous, but hey what is life without these experiences? We got there like in ten minutes and when were about to get into the station… a police officer stopped us and said the train will arrive in forty minutes and we will have to queue outside. It was just too cold, but we had to wait there until the train arrived. By that time, we were incredibly exhausted, cold and hungry. We finally got to Brighton, but I had two options: stay at Yumi’s place or go back home straight away (there was this last train heading to my station) I decided to go home, mainly because my plan was: stay in bed until 5 p.m.
Yumi waited with me at the station (Thank you Yumi, you are so kind!
So, after all, that crazy experience, the only thing that I can tell you is, if you have the opportunity to go to Bonfire night, do not hesitate! DO IT! It is worthy! Thousand times that whole mad journey back home! It is a very British tradition and I strongly recommend it!! I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading it!