Autumn in and around Pant

Now that HAutumn leavesalloween has passed, it really does feel like autumn. Though the mild days are perhaps a little unseasonal, they are great for getting out and enjoying the countryside and the changing colours of the leaves on the trees.

Pant is a great base for exploring Shropshire and Powys. The Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve in the village is nice at any time of year, but it’s especially good in autumn with the leaves turning yellow, bronze and red. From the top of the rocks on a fine and crisp autumn day there are some wonderful views over the surrounding fields and villages.

Offa’s Dyke path runs through the reserve, so if you fancy heading further afield, this is a good place to start your walk and also has lots of spectacular views of the surrounding area.

The Breidden Hills, about eight miles south of the village, are another popular waking destination offering amazing 360 degree views of the surrounding Shropshire and Welsh countryside.

Looking a bit further afield, a visit to the Mere in Ellesmere is one of our favourite days out, suitable for just about anyone – either for a short walk, to feed the geese and ducks or just to have a coffee overlooking the Mere.

This week we heard that Attingham Park near Atcham was also looking spectacular in its autumn colours and we saw some lovely photos to prove it. There were stunning fungi to spot in the park and the fallow deer were looking majestic.

At this time of year, the days are getting shorter, and the shortest day is really not that far off, so any bright and dry spells offer a fantastic opportunity to get out and capture your own little bit of autumn magic before winter closes in.

Happy Halloween – but what does it all mean?

Pumpkin LanternWe’re looking forward to lots of spooky goings on in and around Pant in the next few days, but have you ever wondered how Halloween came about and why we celebrate all things ghostly and ghoulish on 31 October?

Sometimes it might seem that Halloween is just the latest American import, given how popular the festival is in the United States. But Halloween started in Europe long ago and developed as Christianity spread around the world.

In pagan times, the Celtic festival of Samhain was held on or around 1 November. Samhain marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark winter months and was a time when spirits were said to be most active and when the souls of the dead revisited their homes. People made offerings to keep the spirits on side and welcomed the dead by setting places at dinner for departed relatives.

Today’s Halloween customs are mainly Christian in origin. Halloween is the evening before All Hallows’ Day (also called All Saints’ Day) and was traditionally known as All Hallows’ Eve. All Hallows’ Day was originally held in the month of May, but in the 9th Century the Pope switched it to 1 November to coincide with Samhain, possibly because of Celtic influence. The word Halloween dates from around the middle of the 18th Century.

By the end of the 12th Century, bells were being rung for the souls of the dead and ‘soul’ cakes were being made and shared for all Christian souls on All Hallows’ Eve. Groups of children would go from door to door collecting soul cakes in return for offering prayers to the dead – said to be the origin of trick or treating.

It was traditionally thought that the souls of the dead wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, and All Hallows’ Eve provided the last chance for them to take revenge on their enemies before they moved on to the next world. So, people would dress up to hide their identities – as we do today at Halloween.

Many Christians in Europe also believed that once a year on All Hallows’ Eve the dead rose from their graves for a wild carnival known as the danse macabre. This was re-enacted by children from the 16th Century onwards and is seen as the reason why we have costume parties at Halloween.

The carved Halloween lantern is supposed to frighten away evil spirits and was traditionally made out of a turnip. The pumpkin was introduced from North America much more recently and has only been associated specifically with Halloween from the mid 19th Century.

Of course, many of the modern images we associate with Halloween are much more recent and are influenced by Gothic literature and horror films – this includes vampires, mummies, Dracula and Frankenstein.

So this year, when you’re out celebrating Halloween and helping to ward off those evil spirits, remember that you’re playing a part in a tradition going back thousands of years…

Hire Pant Memorial Hall

As well as hosting a number of regular events, Pant Memorial Hall is available for private hire. The village hall is a great facility for the village and has hosted birthday celebrations and anniversary parties, as well as a wide range of other events.

The hall is managed by a committee of local people with the aim of providing a first class venue that the whole village can use and be proud of. Facilities include a main hall suitable for meetings, functions and parties, a large kitchen and food preparation area, as well as a serving hatch for a bar. There is also a smaller meeting room.

If you are looking for a great venue in the village for a family get-together, or a meeting place for your charity or organisation, why not ask to have a look round? The hall costs £10 an hour to hire and enquiries should be made on 07913 565708.