Student blog: tar barrels of Ottery St Mary

England, land of health and safety regulations. Where in the name of health and safety knives get banned from kitchens. Where courses exist that teach people the proper way of lifting a box of printing paper. Where street parties can be banned because a fire truck might get stuck in low hanging bunting. Keeping the people safe seems as ingrained in the functioning of this country as their love of tea. Unless, of course, when it is time to run with flaming barrels of tar through completely packed streets!

On November 5th we went to the annual tar barrels festival in Ottery St Mary. This includes exactly what it sounds like: people lighting big, tarred, barrels on fire, lifting them on their shoulders and running through the streets until the barrel is completely burned out. The safety rules are as clear as they are simple: if you’re standing in the way of someone carrying a barrel of smoke and flame you’d better move. 

Additionally, the town builds a big bonfire on which an effigy of Guy Fawkes is burned. This is a pretty big bonfire that managed to keep us nice and warm on a couple of 100 meters’ distance. Definitely worth to go!