Hannah Drake

The Pumpkin Patch at Essington Farm

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A couple of weekends before Halloween, on our way back from visiting Luke’s parents for the weekend, we took a detour home to stop at Essington Farm in Wolverhampton. We wanted to pick out some pumpkins from their pumpkin patch and I had even read about a maize maze (corn maze, for us Americans).

Unlike our experience picking apples, the pumpkin patch was packed. We waited about 20 minutes just to turn into the car park and then there were people everywhere. It wasn’t quite the relaxing weekend afternoon I had imagined, but we still came away with some good pumpkins.

We didn’t spend much time wandering around looking for our pumpkins. It’s hard with pumpkins, I think, because if you find a good one, you want to grab it. You’ll never remember where it was if you want to come back for it and you can’t risk someone else snatching it up when you’re seeing if there’s anything better!

The original plan was to find just two, one for each of us to carve, but we ended up with four, including one white one. Of course our carved pumpkins wouldn’t last until our Thanksgiving dinner, so I wanted to get two more that would keep.

It seemed like there was a lot more of the farm to explore, including an area you could take a hay ride to. We wandered around the store a bit, but that was about it. We never did find out if they actually had a maize maze.

There’s this really awesome farm near my hometown in Colorado called Anderson Farms and it’s one of my favourite places to visit in the autumn. They have epic corn mazes (plus a “Terror in the Corn” maze and a zombie paintball area), they have activities for kids, and sprawling pumpkin patch, camp fires, and more. I think I’ve been going every year since middle school or high school and it’s always so fun. That’s definitely one thing I miss about the States this time of year and I doubt anything will come close in the UK.

We ended up getting a few smaller pumpkins that are actually British Cooking Pumpkins at the grocery store a few days later. They’ll be great for our Thanksgiving table if they last that long. And of course we had to pick up some “munchkins” at the grocery store too. Last week, I found some gorgeous white mini pumpkins at a little green grocery in Hampstead in London and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a couple of them as well. So yeah, maybe I went a bit overboard with the pumpkins this year, but they bring me joy, so who cares?

And now to our contest!

It’s been years since either of us have carved pumpkins — we intended to last year but never got around to it. After the Great British Drake Off debacle, we decided we would do a theme so that one of us didn’t carve a classic jack-o-lantern face while the other got super creative. We narrowed it down to Game of Thrones, Marvel, or Harry Potter, ultimately choosing Harry Potter.

Neither of us had ever used the technique where you basically shave off the pumpkin flesh rather than cutting all the way through. I don’t know about Luke, but I was kind of nervous that I would puncture my pumpkin and end up ruining my design. In the end, it worked out quite well. We learned a few things about it:

  • If you’re not going to have any opening at all, like on the Hogwarts pumpkin, you need to cut a hole in the back to let in oxygen for the candle flame. If you’re super creative, you can carve a shape into it to project onto the wall behind the pumpkin. I saw one that had Harry Potter holding his wand on the front and his Patronus was projected behind it. So cool!

  • You can do it slowly and carefully, like the Patronus pumpkin, so the shaved flesh is still smooth and even. On the Hogwarts pumpkin, it was rougher and uneven, but it sort of works because it makes it look like clouds.

I posted both of our completed pumpkins in my Instagram Stories and let my followers vote on the winner.

It was hardly a competition, Luke’s Patronus won in a landslide, with 72% of the votes!