BONFIRE night seared across Old St Ives on November 3 with the lighting of the traditional monster Hemingford Grey bonfire, next to the ancient water meadows and just across the River Great Ouse, where I observed from the safe shores of the town.

Flames quickly lashed into the shimmering night sky, projecting startled images of surrounding trees caught from behind by the sudden orange glow from the fire, people's faces alight with wide-eyed expectation of the coming pyrotechnic extravaganza.

With the first big bang of the night, the lower sky was illuminated with an array of incandescent white-diamond sparks rising to the first levels of encounter, interspersed with crimson red-devil darters flying between them. This was a fitting royal start to this eventful Olympic and Diamond Jubilee celebration year.

The show was on. Rapid-fire began and the calm, shimmering surface of the waters of the Great Ouse River arose from its reflections into an effulgence of sparkling stars, up through the darkness of the November sky. Mortars fired repeated vertical streams of gentle yellow comet trails, ascending through our horizons and exploding at great height into expanding balloons of star clusters, then fizzling down into oblivion over the wet meadow.

The tension mounted when Howitzers took over and turned the display into a galactic show that reached to the nether stars, launching myriads of sparkling lights that exploded into massive images of willow and oak trees, their branches distorting and cascading down to the meadow.

When it ended with a mighty bang, another startling show of fiery, fringe fireworks from Floods Bar commenced. We were at war with the Hemingfords and they had run out of ammunition.

Stunning displays ensued that broke the black sky into fragments before silence finally reigned and we could jabber on about the excitement of the wonderful night.

Many, many thanks to the organisers of the Hemingford Meadow bonfire and their excellent firework display on that Saturday night and also to Floods riverside bar, St Ives for the roaring riposte at the river's edge.

CHRIS MORGAN

Enderbys Wharf

St Ives