This weekend was my first trip out of London since I arrived in September, and it was a welcome break!
I went out to High Wycombe to visit my boyfriend and his family for Bonfire Night, the famous British holiday celebrating Guy Fawkes…. failing to blow up Parliament. It’s a bit of a weird holiday, but nowadays it’s mostly just a chance to set off fireworks and burn some effigies. As you do! The actual event is 5 November, but many of the celebrations took place the weekend before.
After a long day at work, I was happy to arrive to a homemade vegan Victoria sponge as a belated birthday cake! I think my boyfriend is a Star Baker in the making. 😉
On Saturday, we made the best of the nice weather and walked along the Thames to Henley, famously known as the site of the Henley Regatta (y’know, this scene from The Social Network)
We walked over the Hambledon Locks to get to the river path:
Eventually arriving in the very picturesque Henley.
Henley-on-Thames is a very cute little town, with lots of independent stores (tucked in between chain pubs and restaurants, though). On the high street there’s a golden postbox to commemorate the success of Team GB in rowing in the 2012 Olympics. The golden postboxes were put up in hometowns of Olympians across the UK.
We had lunch at Zizzi’s, an Italian chain popular throughout the UK. Someday I have to do a full writeup on Zizzi’s as someone with a food allergy, because honestly, they are one of the best restaurants out there to handle this (though generally eating out with an allergy has been infinitely easier in the UK than in the US.)
I had the new vegan Olive and Red Pepper Ragu, and I even got some nifty ‘vegan’ and ‘dairy-free’ stickers:
That evening was the main event… Bonfire Night!
This fireworks display felt very much like the one I attended in my hometown for 4th of July over the summer–except of being held at a golf club, this one was at a cricket club, and there were lots of food trucks and vendors selling glowsticks. But instead of the local police band playing patriotic songs, there was a pre-fireworks performance from the local ‘panto’ cast advertising the upcoming Christmas show.
In the lower right-hand corner you can see the bonfire setup–although unfortunately, they didn’t light it this time due to weather restrictions. The traditional bonfires feature an effigy of Guy Fawkes, the unsuccessful perpetrator of the Gunpowder Plot, though some towns may burn effigies of unpopular politicians or public figures instead.
I also spent my weekend with two very important KITTIES!
Rio & Revel, that is. 😻
This little country break was just what I needed before Reading Week! I’m currently polishing up an essay and getting some reading done for my new special topic modules that start next week. It’s a little crazy to think that Christmas isn’t too far away–I’ll be heading home for the holidays and I’ll be sure to do some posts on my favourite NYC and NJ sights.
Until next time,