I adore Halloween - parties, sweets, dressing up, movies, hiding from local chavs as they bang on your door asking for money, and no obligation to buy anyone a present - best festival ever.
It bugs me a little when people complain that it's a purely American tradition and shouldn't be celebrated in Britain, as Halloween is actually descended from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, although these days jack o'lanterns are carved out of pumpkins rather than turnips.
Pumpkins are probably my favourite part of Halloween. I've been carving the blighters since my first year at uni - because when you're a student, you embrace every festival going, be it Diwali or Hanukkah - so that's more than 10 years of pumpkin joy.
My friends and I would try our best to out-do each other with ever more elaborate designs, and then line the lit-up pumpkins up in a ghoulish parade, turn out the lights and watch horror films all night (last year, we made our own movie).
Possibly even more fun than the competitive carving was the aftermath, when we'd ritually extinguish all the pumpkins and then drop-kick them into the communal garden.
The splat-squelch was the most satisfying thing ever, as they exploded one by one, peppering the grass with mulch and orange shrapnel. I was a horrible youth.
Anyway, this year, Waitrose invited me to take part in a pumpkin carving contest, and sent me their Pumpkin Carving Kit.
I have to admit, I haven't actually carved it yet and will be doing it this weekend - the picture right at the top (and at the end) is last year's effort, so I've probably disqualified myself. The rest of the photos are of ones carved by friends and family.
But the Waitrose kit is pretty damn cool, and a massive upgrade from my student days, when I'd hack away with a kitchen knife - although the risk of stabbing myself added to the thrill of Halloween in some ways.
It comes with a pumpkin (natch), a booklet of extremely funky templates which you can attach to the pumpkin to trace the pattern, and a set of nifty little tools, including drills and mini-saws, and even a wide scoop to get rid of the pumpkinny brains.
I am going to enjoy getting down and dirty with my pumpkin tomorrow. I'm considering carving the face of my least favourite chef ... the drop-kick finale will be even more fun than usual ...
The Waitrose Pumpkin Carving Kit is £6.99, though currently on special offer in-store and on Waitrose Deliver.
I really liked the tools in the kit, found them really easy to use. Thought it'd be much harder but was so pleased at how my first ever pumpkin turned out!
I too love your last year's design.
Happy carving and may the drop kick be very satisfying.
@Helen @Fuss Free Flavours - yeah, your alien pumpkin was cool - I will definitely try your pumpkin houmous too :)
@catty - Old-skool is fun :D
@liloo - Yeah, of course you can - am flattered :)