Category Archives: Nourish

A New Year Means New Food

consultationSo it’s not the most original New year’s resolution… but in 2010 I told myself I would eat healthier. I generally don’t have a terrible diet. Compared to some of my acquaintances, who live on a staple of Burger King and Taco Bell, I am positively zen. However, I do have weaknesses that bring me down. Weaknesses like bread – I could easily eat a loaf a day – and white rice and Miller HighLife (it’s the champagne of beers) and British tea with milk and sugar and, well, anything that tastes remotely sweet and candy-like. It was with these weaknesses in mind, and a desire to improve my diet, that I went to see Jocelyn.

Slightly nervous, although everyone I spoke to who had seen Jocelyn assured me of her patience and brilliance, I sat down and shared what I had eaten for the last 24 hours. After talking to me about my eating preferences and habits, she then began to make some positive suggestions; taking into account my likes and dislikes. Suggestions such as yogurt and nuts with my cereal in the morning to provide me with protein to give me more energy throughout the day, or fish once a week to make sure I get those all important Omega 3’s!

All the changes she brought up sounded very do-able. I can often be picky about foods and stubborn, I’m sure my partner would be glad to testify to that, but Jocelyn’s smile and common sense approach prevented me from ever digging my heals in. She asked about my family history and any medical issues I had and looked for foods that could help me feel good and avoid any future health problems. I really valued this approach as it helped me to try things that perhaps I would ordinarily dismiss as “not for me”… such as hummus! After trying it once a few years ago I hated hummus and decided chickpeas were for hippies. After discussing what it was that I didn’t like about hummus, Jocelyn suggested I try a particular brand and low and behold now I eat hummus on all of my sandwiches… and listen to The Grateful Dead.

At the end of the consultation she handed me a a list of everything we had discussed; complete with a grocery list of where to buy the items. And on the list there were even sweet treats! A week into my new regime I do feel better. There have been lapses, I guess that comes with the territory when your friends like Taco Bell, but on the whole I’m on a march to good health… powered by flax seed, walnuts and spinach. While many who make the resolution to eat better quickly recoil into a familiar groove of carbs and Coors come February, I think I can stick to it. Why? Well, fortunately for me, I work at NOURISH and have access to the all-knowing nutrition queen… Jocelyn Dubin!

Anthony

A National Holiday For A King

martin-luther-king-jr-right

All week I have been creating music mixes for classes to honor the life of Dr. King. Today it culminates with the national holiday in his honor. Most of today’s exerpts come from the March on Washington speech, but some from the march to Birmingham and others from his later years in opposition to war in general and the U.S. participation in war specifically.

Monday 1/18/09
Beginning, 11:30-12:15 and 12:30-1:15
The Pleasure to Present Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Star Spangled Banner (Live) – Marvin Gaye Marvin Gaye NBA At 50: A Musical Celebration
Beginning of a Movement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come Sam Cooke Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
Now Is the Time Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom Now Tracy Chapman Crossroads
How Long Not Long Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sojourner’s Battle Hymn Sweet Honey In The Rock Still On The Journey
Happy to Join With You Today
America The Beautiful Ray Charles Ray Charles Anthology
Soul Force Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Soul Power James Brown Crooklyn, Vol. 2
Unearned Suffering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Redemption Song Bob Marley & The Wailers Uprising
My Country Tis of Thee Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
My Country Tis of Thee Mahalia Jackson I Wonder If I Will Ever Rest
Let Freedom Ring Through Free At Last Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Someday We’ll All Be Free Without Gospel Aretha Franklin Malcolm X Soundtracck
Free At Last Free At Last Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

5:45-7:00 Beginning
Free At Last Free At Last Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Star Spangled Banner (Live) – Marvin Gaye Marvin Gaye NBA At 50: A Musical Celebration
The Pleasure to Present Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Books & Spoken
Shed A Little LIght James Taylor New Moon Shine Music
Happy to Join With You Today
What’s Going On (Original Unreleased Detroit Mix, April 5, 1971) Marvin Gaye Unreleased: What’s Going On (Deluxe Edition)
Life Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Get Up, Stand Up Bob Marley & The Wailers Songs Of Freedom [Box Set]
Now is the Time to Dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom Now Tracy Chapman Crossroads
Soul Force Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Soul Power James Brown Crooklyn, Vol. 2
Unearned Suffering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Redemption Song Bob Marley & The Wailers Uprising
Even Though We Face The Difficulties Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dreaming On A World Tracy Chapman Matters Of The Heart
With This Faith Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
My Country Tis of Thee Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
My Country Tis of Thee Mahalia Jackson I Wonder If I Will Ever Rest
Let Freedom Ring Through Free At Last Dr. Martin Luther King
Someday We’ll All Be Free Aretha Franklin Malcolm X Soundtrack
Integration of Moral Concerns Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away Stevie Wonder Fulfillingness’ First Finale
Against the War with Love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
America The Beautiful Ray Charles Ray Charles Anthology
He Who is Greatest Shall Be Your Servant Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
All That You Have Is Your Soul Tracy Chapman Crossroads
Mountain Top Prophecy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

All Levels, 7:15-8:45
Free At Last Free At Last Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Star Spangled Banner (Live) – Marvin Gaye Marvin Gaye NBA At 50: A Musical Celebration
The Pleasure to Present Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Books & Spoken
Shed A Little LIght James Taylor New Moon Shine Music
Happy to Join With You Today
What’s Going On (Original Unreleased Detroit Mix, April 5, 1971) Marvin Gaye Unreleased: What’s Going On (Deluxe Edition)
Life Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Get Up, Stand Up Bob Marley & The Wailers Songs Of Freedom [Box Set]
Now is the Time to Dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom Now Tracy Chapman Crossroads
Soul Force Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Soul Power James Brown Crooklyn, Vol. 2
Unearned Suffering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Redemption Song Bob Marley & The Wailers Uprising
Even Though We Face The Difficulties Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dreaming On A World Tracy Chapman Matters Of The Heart
With This Faith Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
My Country Tis of Thee Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
My Country Tis of Thee Mahalia Jackson I Wonder If I Will Ever Rest
Let Freedom Ring Through Free At Last Dr. Martin Luther King
Someday We’ll All Be Free Aretha Franklin Malcolm X Soundtrack
Integration of Moral Concerns Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away Stevie Wonder Fulfillingness’ First Finale
Against the War with Love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
America The Beautiful Ray Charles Ray Charles Anthology
He Who is Greatest Shall Be Your Servant Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
All That You Have Is Your Soul Tracy Chapman Crossroads
King’s Self Eulogy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Peace Michael McDonald This Christmas
Mountain Top Prophecy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I hope this week has been as inspirational for you as for me. Let’s keep moving together toward freedom for all.

Victor

King on Thursday 1/14/09

Thursday’s Playlists
12:30-1:15 All Levels:
Shed A Little Light, James Taylor, New Moon Shine
He Who is Greatest Shall Be Your Servant, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Let Us Love, Bill Withers, Live At Carnegie Hall
It Tolls For Thee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Everybody Got Their Something, Nikk Costa
The Weapon of Love, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love That Will Never Grow Old, Emmylou Harris
Unearned Suffering, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Nina Simone, Anthology
I have a dream 1, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I Had A Dream Last Night, Joss Stone
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke, Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
King’s Self Eulogy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Peace, Michael McDonald, This Christmas

5:30-7:00 Intermediate:
Shed A Little Light James Taylor New Moon Shine
He Who is Greatest Shall Be Your Servant, Martin Luther King Jr.
Let Us Love Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall
It Tolls For Thee Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Everybody Got Their Something Nikk Costa
Integration of Moral Concerns Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
One U2 Achtung Baby
The Weapon of Love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love That Will Never Grow Old Emmylou Harris
On the Move Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Move On Up Curtis Mayfield The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield
Unearned Suffering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Peace Anyway The Black Crowes Band
Victory For Justice and Goodwill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We Are The Champions Queen Queen’s Greatest Hits
I have a dream 1 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I Had A Dream Last Night, Joss Stone
Free At Last Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free Nina Simone Anthology
Now Is the Time Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
If Not Now… Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman
March Ahead Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We Shall Overcome FreedomSingers
How Long Not Long Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Eventually Carole King The Carnegie Hall Concert June 18, 1971
Commitment To Non-Violence Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In Search Of Freeom
Love’ll Set Me Free Michael Franti Songs From The Front Porcc
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come Sam Cooke Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
King’s Self Eulogy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Peace Michael McDonald This Christmas

MLK Birthday Week Wednesday Playlist

As promised here is the playlist I used in classes this morning, Wed. 1/13/10, 11:30-12:15 and 12:30-1:15 Beginning Level classes:

Shed A Little LIght, James Taylor, New Moon Shine
Commitment To Non-Violence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., In Search Of Freedom
Freedom Richie Havens, Resume: The Best of Richie Havens
Victory For Justice and Goodwill, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Nina Simone, Anthology
The Weapon of Love, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love That Will Never Grow Old, Emmylou Harris
Unearned Suffering, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke, Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
Now Is the Time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom For My People, U2, Rattle And Hum
He Who is Greatest Shall Be Your Servant, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Someday We’ll All Be Free, Donny Hathaway, A Donny Hathaway Collection
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.
All That You Have Is Your Soul, Tracy Chapman, Crossroads
King’s Self Eulogy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Peace, Michael McDonald, This Christmas

Long Requested Playlists

After many years of putting together playlists for yoga classes and having numerous requests for the list of songs/tracks, I will now begin posting the special playlists on this blog. Most of the songs are readily available for purchase at your neighborhood disc shop, or of course online.

As I said tonight in the intermediate class, single days are not nearly enough to celebrate a birthday. Seems like at least a full week is required to do anyone’s celebration of life justice. This is particularly true as we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week. His birthday is Friday, January 15th and the national holiday to honor him is Monday, January 18th, but I’ve started celebrating today.

As promised here are the tracks from today’s classes. More tomorrow. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 1/12/09
12:30-1:15 p.m. All Levels
Shed A Little Light, James Taylor, New Moon Shine
Beginning of a Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom, Richie Havens, Resume: The Best of Richie Havens
Victory For Justice and Goodwill, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Peace Anyway, The Black Crowes, Band [unreleased LP]
Commitment To Non-Violence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., In Search Of Freedom
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Nina Simone, Anthology
The Weapon of Love, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love That Will Never Grow Old, Unknown
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke, Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
He Who is Greatest Shall Be Your Servant, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love’ll Set Me Free, Michael Franti, Songs From The Front Porch
A Preacher Leading His Flock, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., In Search Of Freedom
Peace, Michael McDonald, This Christmas
Mountain Top, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

5:30-7:15 p.m. Intermediate
Shed A Little Light, James Taylor, New Moon Shine
Beginning of a Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Peace Anyway, The Black Crowes, Band [unreleased LP]
Victory For Justice and Goodwill, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom Richie Havens, Resume: The Best of Richie Havens,
The Weapon of Love, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love’s In Need Of Love Today, Stevie Wonder, Songs In The Key Of Life
Commitment To Non-Violence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., In Search Of Freedom
Let Us Love, Bill Withers, Live At Carnegie Hall
Police Brutality Will Backfire, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., In Search Of Freedom
Bomb The World, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Everyone Deserves Music
Now Is the Time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Forgive Them Father, Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Unearned Suffering, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Nina Simone, Anthology
On the Move, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke, Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
How Long Not Long, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Someday We’ll All Be Free, Donny Hathaway, A Donny Hathaway Collection
March Ahead, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love That Will Never Grow Old, Unknown
I have a dream 1, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Star Spangled Banner (Live) – Marvin Gaye
He Who is Greatest Shall Be Your Servant, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom For My People, U2, Rattle And Hum
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
All That You Have Is Your Soul, Tracy Chapman, Crossroads
Peace On Earth, U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind
A Preacher Leading His Flock, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., In Search Of Freedom
Love’ll Set Me Free, Michael Franti, Songs From The Front Porch
Peace, Michael McDonald, This Christmas
Mountain Top, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

(Sources of King Speeches: In Search of Freedom; The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.; A Knock At Midnight)

We Just Call It Christmas

In England we don’t call it the “Holidays”… we call it Christmas. Depending on your stand point you could say this is a classic example of British traditionalism … or a lack of cultural sensitivity. Either way, it is something that has stuck out for me as the festive season picks up speed. You see, prior to moving here my understanding of the American Christmas was derived from movies like “Christmas Vacation” or “Home Alone” and television. On the flat screen the American Christmas did not seem so different to the English one. How wrong I was…

Having observed the different traditions and nuances of both countires I have to say in my humble opinion there are both positives and negatives. I like what America brings to the food and beverages department… Egg nog, Gingerbread Houses and Spiced Pumpkin Lattes. Delicious. I think it is also fair to say that you do not do decorations by half over here. Stores and homes go all out and it looks great!

That being said, I think there are is one area where you could learn from your cousins across the pond… Christmas music.

Now don’t get me wrong, Bing Crosby, Jingle Bell Rock and something about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer… they all put me in the festive mood. However, listening to the “holiday station” in the car, I have encountered for too many truly terrible songs. I don’t know the names of half of them, but there’s a Faith Hill Christmas song that almost brought me to tears… and not in a good way. I’ve heard countless versions of the drummer boy, although I’ve yet to make it through the whole song, and in between these horrendous tunes I’m forced to listen to the cheesiest DJ’s to grace a microphone.

Now, it wouldn’t be right of me to just bash your music without at least providing a British alternative so I give you The Pogues and Kirsty McCall – FairyTale of New York

Merry Christmas!

Time Magazine’s Year in Health: Yoga

Thank you to one of our clients for bringing an interesting article in today about yoga and eating disorders. This excerpt comes from Time’s annual The Year in Health article, which focuses on important medical topics and developments from 2009.

“A session of yoga for teens with anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders may provide more than a spiritual and physical boost; it could also help them get over their illness, according to a new study of 50 adolescents, mostly girls. The girls were seriously ill — nearly half had been hospitalized because of their eating disorder — and were being treated at an outpatient clinic at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The teens were randomized to receive either their usual treatment at the clinic or that treatment plus two hours a week of yoga classes.

The study lasted eight weeks. While the non-yoga teens showed improvement during treatment, they relapsed a month afterward. In the yoga group, improvement started slowly, but a month later, the teens were showing steady gains. The exertion required by some yoga poses had no negative effect on weight, which was reassuring — the last thing dangerously underweight subjects needed to do was shed more pounds. The researchers suspect that yoga may help by reducing the obsessive concern about weight associated with eating disorders. In their study, they wrote, “Food preoccupation may be reduced by focusing attention on yoga poses.” Some subjects even expressed this idea directly to the researchers. Said one: “This is the only hour in my week when I don’t think about my weight.” A larger study is planned to confirm the findings”

Kate P

My Top 4 Yoga Tips

I have only been practicing yoga regularly since I started working at NOURISH. Before that it was just MTV yoga dvd’s in the living room and an occasional free class if I could get a hold of a coupon. Since starting to do yoga more intensively at NOURISH, I have realized it is imperative to continue your practice on a regular basis. I feel more flexible, energized, relaxed and overall in better health if I do yoga at least once a week. In addition, keeping up with yoga helps me remember all the tips and adjustments I am supposed to be implementing!

Here are some things that I have learned at NOURISH which I like to keep in the front of my mind while I do yoga:

1. Keep your hands and feet active: Sometimes its easy to forget these extremities when you are concentrating on your back posture and the larger muscle groups involved in a pose. I felt and saw such and improvement in my practice after Victor gave me this little tip. Simply spreading your fingers or flexing your foot can activate more muscles and work them harder than letting your paws slack while you are in the pose. Flexing your foot makes the biggest difference for me in seated poses, where my legs can get lazy. It really helps stretch out my hamstrings and even gets into my back! As for your hands, Kate showed me that when you are in poses like  spreading your fingers wide without raising your wrist too much can help make your arms more active and involved.

2. Make it challenging, not painful: On Sunday, Kate said something very important for yogis of all levels: The difference between sharp pain and a slight challenge for your body. We are constantly trying to push ourselves further in yoga, both physically and spiritually. These changes should be incremental and positive in order to be most effective. If you feel a sharp pain in any pose, you went too far! Try to slowly fall deeper into the pose with each breath or ask for an adjustment from the instructor if you are just plain uncomfortable in a pose. Challenge is imperative for improvement in yoga, but the changes you make must be controlled and smooth in order to be beneficial.

3. Smile with your buttocks: Try it! Literally try to make your booty smile. I like this tip not only because of the physical effects, but also because it never fails to put a grin across my face! It’s hard to explain in a blog, but just try to uplift your butt with your back and core. Kate taught me this one as well, and it really helps to make poses engaging and comfortable. I think this technique is implemented mostly in standing poses, but I just try to do it in class whenever Kate mentions it. Mention it next time you are in class and I am sure she will be stoked to teach how and when it should be done.

4. Enjoy! Victor sometimes says this after students enter a pose and will be there for a while. I think this is one of the most important tips I have learned at NOURISH. If you are not having fun and feeling great, something needs to change! Yoga should be a positive experience that de-stresses you and brightens your day. Sometimes in the grind of things, people forget that they are at yoga and are supposed to be letting go. Don’t think about what you did that day or what you will do tomorrow, think about how you feel in the pose and just relax! Leave your stress at the door and enjoy some physical and spiritual release, that is what NOURISH is all about!

Keep in mind that I am not a yoga instructor, so these tips should be used with caution! These are just some things I like to remember when I do yoga that have helped me over the course of my practice. So….as Victor says: Enjoy!

Poppy Waiting for a Harvest Surprise

First of all, thank you so much for such a warm welcome. I feel blessed to be a part of the Nourish community and connected to all you wonderful people through this gem of a wellness center. Santa Cruz is living up to my every hope, and then some.

Teaching here for the first few weeks has been a sweet journey towards reconnecting to the part of me that exists out in the world, rather than home with the girls. Needless to say, I had been feeling a little restless. It’s nice to be reminded that the solitary nature of the practice is overshadowed by the opportunity so many of us are taking these days to be in dialogue with others about our process. To be out in the world, practicing together, sharing breath and space in the yoga room has been so much a part of the practice for me over the years. Coming to Nourish, I am reminded I am here, with others, seeking answers. And that though we are turning to look in, we are still connected, looking in together. I have missed this in the year I took off to birth my second baby.

I commented in Savasana one day something to the effect of our practice being an opportunity to let go of our expectations, because all we really have is what is happening right now and that ultimately we don’t know what will happen in the next moment. As yogis we sacrifice our musings about the future and the past for what is here before us, seeking truth in the present. A student came up after class to ask about the possibility of choosing our reality by working with our energies, and our beliefs as a way of manifesting what we believe possible and want to bring into our lives. If we visualize ourselves in abundance, wealth, or love (indeed whatever we are seeking) then we will have it.

Certainly we have to have an idea first, believe it can exist, and then bring it forward into reality. That’s how we say…get dinner on the table. And I do believe we must see more esoteric things into the realm of possibility too. Like love or abundance, or the fulfillment of a dream. But I was wondering if Maya, the illusion, is nothing less than the world of our wildest dreaming, our greatest wishes manifesting all over the place, and every other possibility too. And if that’s true, then it’s not the energy around us that we have to influence, but how we receive. Because we may or may not have control of the energies rushing us in the coming moments, but we do get to decide whether we perceive them as obstacles or opportunities. And what an opportunity it is to get to practice with you all. Finding my way into your beautiful space did not happen for me without effort, fear, or uncertainty. Yet here I am, grateful and full of delight.

Thanks for reading!

Valerie

Bonfire Night!

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,

I know of no reason,
Why the gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot.

Today I feel a little homesick as I think about the festivities that will occur in my home country tomorrow. November 5th is a holiday in England called Bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes night.

I won’t bore you with all the details but the gist of the history behind the holiday is that a band of dissenters led by a man called Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up King James I and his men with a large amount of gun powder in 1605 (he was Scottish – it’s a long story) .

Mr Fawkes was caught before he got the chance to light the fuse (his cousin betrayed him) and we celebrate the fact every year by setting off fireworks and lighting big bonfires. Some people even make a Guy Fawkes model out of hay and throw it on the bonfire too. It’s one of those twisted traditions that it is best not to really think about – needless to say it’s a lot of fun.

Although most towns organize a large bonfire and firework display for the public to attend, lots of people choose to hold their own bonfire night in the back garden. It’s certainly a fire risk (although England is mostly damp) and every year people blow off their fingers, but it’s also very exciting.

My family takes it pretty seriously. My mum and nana combine to cook soup, chili, baked potatoes and parkin (a kind of delicious gingerbread) while my dad and granddad are in charge of the fireworks. Like kids in a candy store, they pick out the biggest explosives we can safely ignite in our small back yard and then everyone drinks tea or beer and watches as their money goes up in colorful clouds of smoke!

It’s essentially an excuse for people to get together and have a fire and that’s why I think I like it so much. There’s something very pagan and honest about it… and who doesn’t like fireworks?

But this year I will miss out. California does not even allow me to let off a commemorative roman candle. Perhaps I’ll light a match and smell the smoke…

Anthony