The rain on Sunday – Halloween – felt almost biblical in its relentlessness.
Just the ticket for outdoor trick or treating with kids covered in runny face paint.
Welcome to Scotland where we can import all the Americanisms of Halloween we like – but we can never export the chill, sleet, hail and rain that stands a good chance of being present on October 31.
A Google search for the best neighbourhoods to go trick or treating in Dundee brought unexpected results.
Who knew there were so many events? The list on my laptop went on and on.
It wasn’t until I clicked on one message board that I realised how few related to our Dundee.
Dundee Scotland Halloween was fun too
Our experience was somewhat more rustic, shall we say.
Driving as close as possible to a kid-friendly house (if there’s a lit pumpkin outside, you can ring the doorbell) we raced down the path in the driving rain.
Each of the boys delivered their jokes and were offered a sweetie from a bowl, often with the words “Och, just take a handful”.
Everyone was lovely. Granted, a good 80% of houses hadn’t marked the occasion but it’s the 20% you remember.
Some of the pumpkins on display in gardens had been carved with real artistic flair.
The residents of one cul-de-sac seemed to be having a Halloween-off – their garden and window decorations quite wonderful.
One had a giant cobweb stretching from roof to grass. There was no answer at the door but sweeties could be collected from a coffin made of black fabric in the garden.
Another had glowing spectres in the window and a home-made witch flying out of a tree.
It was like something out of..well, something out of a village called Dundee in America.
Dreams come true and precious memories
Sometimes it was teenagers dishing out the treats, their mums confiding they’d gown out of guising a few years ago.
And it struck me that this time is fleeting. When they’re young and full of giddy excitement at the simple pleasure of knocking a door and getting a swetchie in return.
I looked at the boys and saw the evening through their eyes. They didn’t need the trappings of Dundee, Michigan or New York.
With their bags full of treats, they’d be E-numbered out their little heads well past bedtime.
And in Dundee, Tayside, that’s more than enough to make their Halloween dreams come true.
Halloween chaos? No, year-round chaos
I know someone who’s bought all her Christmas presents by the start of summer and wrapped them before autumn.
Every time she tells me this, I ask if she’s telling the truth.
She says she’d get into a blind panic if she left it any later.
Other friends pick up things they like for family and friends as they spot them in shops throughout the year, so they’re half-way there by October.
Before marriage and kids, I started present shopping on December 23.
I liked the adrenaline rush.
Throughout the year, I was just as ramshackle, pretending to Scottish bosses I lived in Scotland – and to employers in London that I lived there, while kind of living between the two and jumping on a train if needed.
I thought I might transform into an organised type with kids.
Having three wee boys is chaotic enough for the most scheduled of diaries but pandemonium for a last-minute mum.
But chaos is underrated and this lepoard ain’t changing her spots now.
Costumes in the classroom
It was spooky dress-up day last Friday at school and we woke at 7am to a flurry of full face make-up and fangs.
Thankfully Amazon delivers costumes quickly.
I had half an hour to do all three, shower and dress myself, as well as pack for an overnight trip.
— Martel Maxwell (@MartelMaxwell) October 29, 2021
And I did it, leaving the house with Slappy from the movie Goosebumps, a toothy vampire and zombie.
No prizes were won but Chester told me that evening: “Don’t take this the wrong way mum, but I think I think you have to hand-make our costumes to get a prize. Some outfits took three weeks to make.”
We like to teach our kids that anything is possible, but I had to break it to him gently – that the chances of that ever happening were very, very slim.
V&A should be up in lights
Driving over the Tay Road Bridge the other night towards Dundee, I couldn’t help but think we’re missing a trick.
Granted the electricity bill would be eye-watering, but wouldn’t our V&A look stupendous if it was lit up against the inky black sky that sets in so early these days?
Instead, I saw a silhouette and lost opportunity.
With COP26 in full swing, the Old Course in St Andrews and many a Dundee hotel has seen a huge bounce in guests.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take their breath away with the majesty of our new museum?