An Orange Halloween for Kids!

Photo taken by Grace
Photo taken by Grace

So it’s October and it’s almost Halloween. I can think of a few things related to October that are orange, like the bright orange leaves and amazing pumpkins. Though I would like to focus on orange in Halloween itself. It has been a tradition to carve pumpkins since Celtic times and I personally love carving pumpkins with my family. Jack ‘O’ lanterns are a very popular part of Halloween culture, with their spooky faces and their bright orange colours. If you celebrate Halloween I bet you’ll be carving a pumpkin very soon…

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington
Jack Skellington photo taken by Grace

A great Halloween classic by Tim Burton to get you in the Halloween spirit is The Nightmare Before Christmas (Collector’s Edition) [Blu-ray] [1993] This tells the story of the creatures of Halloween Town where Halloween is the only festival celebrated. Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king is bored of the same celebration year after year and so decides to hijack Christmas instead including planning the kidnap of Santa! Sally, the scary rag doll knows that this is a bad idea and tries to warm Jack off doing so but he doesn’t listen, so things get tricky!!! This is a great family-friendly Halloween movie (and one of my all-time favourites). My favourite character is Jack Skellington, I find him really scary! So snuggle up with a cup of warm cocoa and get into the Halloween spirit. Happy Halloween!

“Orange” in Gardening

Orange is a warming, fiery colour, shades of which adorn our leaves, fruits and vegetables at this majestic time of year. Chilly and shorter days persuade our plants and gardens that winter is coming. This is one of the reasons that orange stands out so well on a cloudy, cool autumn morning. Orange is also the colour of bonfires that are common at this time of year. One feels greatly comforted by warming colours on a cool day.

orange leaf
Cherry ‘Amanogawa’ leaf in the fade between yellow/orange

One fine example of Orange leaves are the autumn leaves of the Cherry ‘Amanogawa’, first fading from green, to yellow, then orange and finally bright red before falling to the ground.

The Amanogawa flowering cherry makes a fine garden plant, it forms a medium height tree but keeps a columnar form that doesn’t take as much horizontal space as other flowering cherries.

Better known for their pink, cherry scented spring blossom I would argue that they are equally beautiful in autumn.

Another beautiful shade of orange in the garden this autumn is the ripe fruit of the passion flower (Passiflora Caerulea).

The beautiful blue and white flowers have turned into orange fruits with a powdery white coating.

Ripe fruit of the Passion flower

This makes a rather fun and interesting fruit which is similar in shape to a plum but closer in colour to an apricot.

Additionally, I couldn’t mention orange in October without thinking about pumpkins and of course Halloween. Soon to be adorning doorsteps and front gardens up and down the country, the jack-o-lantern has now become a family favourite at this time of year.

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Jack-O-Lanterns of different sizes

Menacing faces cut into its tough orange flesh the jack-o-lantern has a kind of spooky presence when illuminated with the flickering flame of a candle.

So make the most of this month and don’t forget to look out for the colour orange.

More than just a fruit: Orange in History

When one thinks of the colour orange they may almost always immediately think of the fruit of the same name… and perhaps a roaring fireplace soon after, unsurprising perhaps, as we see these things in our day-to-day lives. Yet, Orange has a much greater significance throughout the world.

Orange, The City

There is a city in the south of France named Orange. The city is very old, so old it has its roots in the Roman empire. There are Roman ruins in the city, including an impressive triumphal arch, which was used as a fortress up until 1660! The arch is remarkably well preserved and is a must-see sight when visiting. During the Roman era, it was revered as a “miniature version of Rome”.

Triumphal Arch, Orange, France

Orange: The Royal Dynasty

‘Orange,’ is also the name of a Dutch Royal family. The House of Orange-Nassau founded in 1544 by William I, Prince of Orange. The prince was a key figure in a revolt against the Spanish King’s rule of the Low Countries and he was dedicated in his support of a united Holland. In many ways this king held some views ahead of his time, such as toleration of religion, which was at the time quite unusual.  Also, it was from this first king that many of the traditions of the Netherlands began. For a start the national colour is Orange, as represented on their national football strip. Further, the national anthem “Wilhelmus” was originally a propaganda song in support of William. Also the modern flag of the Netherlands is based on the prince’s flag as is the Netherlands coat of arms.

Interestingly, today, in Northern Ireland, the adoption of this colour by the “Orange Order” who supported William III (a descendent of William I) are strongly unionist and would not be representative of religious tolerance as William I would have. The orange family is still in existence and is led by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

William I, of Orange
Current King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander










So there we have it, Orange is more than just a tasty fruit! It is also a beautiful French City, as well as the basis for one of the most enduring legacies of a nation and controversial to some.

Do you have any other interesting examples or would just like to comment on this article, then please write in the comments below.

Light Night Leeds 2015

On Friday 9th October 2015, we experienced the Light Night Event in Leeds City Centre, part of the Lighting up the North series of events this Autumn and Winter. We had been looking forward to going to this after seeing the excellent brochure which promised a lot. We (myself and my husband Matt) started the evening at the Trinity Kitchen where we went had dinner at Pho the Vietnamese Street Food Bar. Trinity Kitchen is a very trendy eatery place with lots of independent street food style eateries.

St John the Evangelist Church and Spotlight!
St John the Evangelist Church and Spotlight!

Outside it was a nice mild evening with no rain or fog, so perfect conditions really for Light Night. The city centre was heaving with a mix of people including children which brought a safe, friendly atmosphere to the city at night. Light Night consisted of a series of different installations and performances across the city centre so was quite spread out, perhaps a little too thinly at times.

Street Scene on Night Light
Street Scene at Night Light

The first event we attended was 29th Leeds International Film Festival at the Town Hall which was enjoyable, an interesting and diverse programme of films was shown in trailer form. Some of the films were truly terrifying, (The Witch), some downright weird, (Crumbs) some quirky and funny (Liza, the Fox Fairy), (Assassination Classroom) and others very serious. We decided we would like to catch some of these in full when it begins in November.

Leeds International Film Festival Launch
Leeds International Film Festival Launch

On our wanderings we passed the ‘Light Night Lantern Parade’ with the puppet of the giant illuminated owl. It was enchanting to see people following the owl puppet and the children who wanted to join in however, we were surprised at how small this parade was considering the size of the city. Perhaps this was due to the fact that it was just one of many events and so was a bit diluted?

Light Night Lantern Parade
Light Night Lantern Parade

Next we originally planned to go to the launch of the British Art Show 8 but the square was so crowded in front of it that we decided not to, so we headed over to Mark Lane to St John the Evangelist Church, where we intended to see a performance but once again it was very crowded and with twenty minutes to spare we though there would be little chance of us getting seats. Instead, we took some arty photos in the churchyard and looked at the installation there called ‘To The Better Place We Dream Of’ by Debi Keable. This installation was a series of screen painted luminous art works which fitted in well in the churchyard setting. It would have made even more impact to have a few more of these artworks installed but of course we understand that those that were there took a lot of time and effort and were beautiful to look at.

To The Better Place We Dream Of by Debi Keable
To The Better Place We Dream Of by Debi Keable

We decided to head on down to the Trinity Shopping Centre where a huge installation called The Seventh Wave was taking place in the Central Atrium. For me, this was the highlight of the night and was really impressive. The whole of the glass roof of the Central Atrium in the Trinity was used as a light and sound projection of a day including a storm. All of the small lights fixed in the apex of the windows in the glass roof became at various times, stars and passing clouds complete with an immersive soundscape of birdsong, twinkling stars, thunder and rain. This definitely had the ‘wow factor’ and this would have been something that the rest of the evening would have benefited from.

I think it is beneficial to include smaller scale street performers who do not have the finds or expertise to match such spectacles as this but maybe it would be good to include them in a procession or as part of a larger stage show, see recommendations below. We did not see the Whale Song production as we were in the Film Festival launch in the Town Hall when tickets were being given out on Briggate, so maybe this would have been something else that had the ‘wow factor’ too.

Trinity Shopping Centre Atrium Roof
Trinity Shopping Centre Atrium Roof

Overall, I think that the marketing did not quite match the real experience of the event which is a shame as the expectations were very high from the marketing and in reality it felt a little timid, things could have been consistently bolder, and bigger and more spectacular. As Leeds is such a huge city, instead of lots of small events dispersed across the whole city maybe it would better to have a big parade followed by a show at the O2 arena, ‘A Celebration of Light in Leeds,’ styled as similar to the London 2012 Olympic Opening ceremony, albeit with a reduced budget of course! I think this would work well and solve the issue of being too dispersed and be able to really put on a huge spectacular show, maybe involving local schools, university students, Opera North, WYP and the Northern School of Dance in the performances. Smaller venues and eateries could still get trade by offering discounts etc. Leeds has an impressive artistic heritage and should be proud of this fact, if it could be a little braver and perhaps lean a bit to more of the above model then it could leave a real and lasting impact on culture and arts in the North.

Orange Peel Fiction

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Orange is a colour strongly associated with this time of year and in particular with the month of October. October brings Halloween, (a festival that is growing in popularity here in the UK) and Halloween, in turn, brings pumpkins! As children we didn’t really celebrate Halloween that much though, with an American grandmother we always had a jack o’lantern and used the inside of the pumpkin to make pumpkin pie which I used to love. Halloween is also our last ‘hurrah’ before Christmas and also brings chocolate apples to supermarkets which is never a bad thing! Also, in October we see the leaves turn beautiful russet colours of orange as they begin to fall off the trees in preparation for Winter. It is with this focus on the changing seasons and cosiness and comfort that Autumn brings that I chose my first novel set in the Autumn of 1541…

Sovereign by CJ Sansom

Sovereign: 3 (The Shardlake Series)is the third novel by CJ Sansom set in the ‘Shardlake’ series of Tudor mysteries. This book brings to my mind the colour orange because of its Autumn setting, most beautifully described as follows:

“It was dark under the trees, only a little moonlight penetrating the half-bare branches. The ground was thick with fallen leaves; the horses hooves made little sound and it was hard to tell whether we were still on the road.”

This is the beginning of the book and it is so evocatively described that it makes you curious and long to find out more. We immediately know that it is late Autumn from the multitude of leaves that blanket the road like a thick carpet. At once we feel like we are beside the characters as they undertake their journey by horseback from London to York.

Sovereign is set in the Autumn of 1541 and once again the lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak are sent on a mission by Archbishop Cranmer to make provision for Sir Edward Broderick, an imprisoned conspirator who is to be sent from York to London for questioning. They are officially in York though to undertake legal work and follow the great Progress to the North of King Henry VIII and scenes of his extravagant encampment at St Mary’s Abbey are rich with detail.

Shardlake and Barak complete a long and arduous journey and the stakes are raised for all once they reach York and then travel back to London by boat from Hull. In Sovereign, we also meet Tamasin for the first time who is a feisty and welcome addition to the series of stock characters. There is an issue with ‘trust’ in this story which heightens the paranoia and political atmosphere of the time, as Shardlake is frequently not sure who to trust and who he should be wary of. We want to find out if he is successful on his mission without incurring the wrath of others and is thus still able to keep his dignity and respectful manner and forbearance.

Thought this story is set more than five hundred years ago, the beauty of the prose and sensory detail provided make the past come to life and this brings the characters to life making them seem universal and timeless. Shardlake in particular is a very sympathetic character, he does get into dangerous situations but you don’t want him to suffer at all. Overall, Sovereign is the perfect read to curl up with on an October night!

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

October also brings the start of new terms at Universities and Colleges and thus brings to mind one of my favourite books, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Though not the first, this is seen as the seminal campus set novel that all subsequent campus set novels have been held up against for comparison. It tells the story narrated by Richard Papen, a Classics student at an elite private New England College and his experiences as part of an elite set of students studying Greek and worshipping the god Dionysus through a series of hedonistic rituals that ultimately spiral out of control and destroy all of the group’s members and lead to murder.

Papen is more of an outsider in the group in that he comes from a poor background, in this sense he is similar Charles Ryder the narrator of Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder who is comfortably off but his wealth is nothing in comparison to that of the Flyte’s. Papen’s outsider position allows some subjectivity though hindsight seems to be more of the motivator behind this objective stance. At the beginning of the book we learn of the death of Edmund “Bunny” Corcoran and the whole book is the narrative of how and why this happened and what happens as a consequence of this incident.

The characters in the novel have been described as being particularly unlikeable and I would agree with that on the whole, I think this is deliberate in that you do feel sympathy for Papen, but the other students and the Classics Professor Julian Morrow are incredibly elitist and it is only through Papen’s insecurity about his background and his loneliness we sense that drives him to seek out such a group. He is searching for something to belong to, but what he finds is ultimately his undoing. For the cloistered setting alone and the start of a new academic term and the plot that becomes addictive, this is a great book to dip into and read or re-read this October.

So here are a couple of my choices for our theme of Orange this October, if you have any others then get in touch…