Thoughts on campfires...
When I was a child in Ireland, my mother usually struggled to cook on a temperamental little Primus burner, that had to be primed and pumped with determination before it would fire up - when it defeated her, my father would laugh and put it away and light a campfire. He'd let it form glowing ashes, then tuck potatoes in around the edge and cook some fish or bacon in a frypan. While we ate, he and his brothers would sing and play old Irish songs. These were the best meals I remember.
We moved to England in the 50s and my mum got a portable gas stove which did everything well, even cooked Christmas dinner. But we often joined the gypsies, who always made my father welcome, around their camfires and relived old times, frying fish in butter and hacking off thick slices of local bread.
When we first came to Australia we were delighted to find that the travelling showmen had a campfire tradition as well. The best campfires of all were those set up by the Maori Troubadors, a group of singers and dancers whose show attracted huge crowds during showtime. During the day, they would bury half a pig in a fire pit, and at night, they would light the fire and invite their friends to join them. They too would sing and play under the stars, not the country and western and romantic ballads they presented in the show, but beautiful stirring Moari music that soared into the night.
My dear brother in law Sonny Neville was a musician and a master guitar player. he loved our camp fires and we knew whenever he came to visit us after we settled down, that we would have to light the fire and bake the potatoes. Sonny would sing and play for us from his amazing pepertoire of rock, ballads and spanish love songs. When he died, the music ended for a while, but now our son Chris is learning to play the guitar, so we will have music again.
We continue with the campfires - they are mostly in the backyard now, but ocacasionally at the beach. I guess this is one tradition that will never be forgotten in our family.