Braais, Bon Fires and Fire Engines

A few weeks ago I was at a ‘Community Bring and Braai’ put on by the Fusion Athlone team in a community they work in regularly. It was a beautiful day and the kids were out enjoying festival activities with the team. I stood with Derrick for a while as he worked the Braai (or Bar-B-Q if you are not South African!). It was an old metal drum with wood burning in the bottom and a grill balanced over the top, that was full of sausages. All was going well until the grill dismantled and a chunk of meat fell into the smouldering ashes below! A couple of the team who are particularly passionate about their food, came to the rescue and fished the meat out, coated in charcoal, and back it went into the grill after a little dusting. Later on we enjoyed all the meat, charred and all!
Derrick and I fell to reminiscing about childhood BBQ meals. Neither of us experienced a particularly affluent childhood, so life was simple, healthy, hard work and fun. I remembered how we used to have bon fires in our back garden where i used to live in Croydon, Surrey. The bon fires themselves were often huge, but once they had died down mum would bring out one of the shelves from the oven, place it over the smouldering coals and ashes, and we’d cook sausages on it. Potatoes in their jackets, would go straight into the red hot ashes to cook. An hour later we were enjoying flame grilled sausage and steaming hot potatoes baked in their jackets with butter and seasoned with salt. Our hands would be black from the outside of the potatoes! The sausages were crispy on the outside and succulent inside. Funnily enough i don’t recall ever doing this when we went camping, we always used a gas stove out in the wilderness of the Peak Districts or Lakes, where we would spend our summer holidays!

One particular bon fire was quite memorable, the church we were part of at the time held their ‘bon fire’ night at our place. (For those not familiar with ‘bon fire’ night, it happens round about Guy Fawks night on the 5th of November to commemorate his failed attempt at blowing up parliament house or his subsequent burning at the stake as punishment, depending how you want to look at it!) Two of the church elders came over the day before the event and constructed a MASSIVE fire that reached about 10 feet tall. When lit the next day, the flames went high above and singed the leaves on the nearby fir trees, 20 feet above the ground! It was awesome to stand around the fire, the heat was incredible!

We didn’t need the fire brigade’s services that time, but another year we did! This time it was mid to late November and winter was already biting hard, there was a bit of wood to be burnt and we decided to try our luck with lighting a fire even though there was a thick frost covering everything. We built this one at the end of the garden, there were more trees in the area but it was incredibly cold. Surprisingly the fire lit! Everything, though frozen was apparently very dry!!! A slight breeze sent a spark into some near by brush and another spark leapt into one of the trees. The fire began to look like it might take on a life of its own, we called the fire brigade and began beating the rogue flames with a spade! The engine arrived within a few minutes and our nice little bon fire was snuffed out within seconds. No flam grilled sausages or char skinned potato for us that time, sadly, but hey we made a memory!!

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