I have written often on this blog about my passion for Conkers. The word Conker refers either to the Horse Chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) itself or to the seeds of the tree, whereas the plural- conkers- can refer to the game played using them- a game involving finding the strongest conker- the "conqueror".
The tree was first introduced to the UK from the Balkans in the late 16th Century and the first recorded game was in the Isle of Wight in 1848. This once popular game among all country children is apparently today serious business. Health and Safety have crept in and children now have to wear goggles!
As a child I never actually played the game but used to collect the beautiful, glossy seeds to make into miniature chairs. They made perfect armchairs: forming the seats they looked like some wondrous mahogany- you then stuck pins in them to form the legs and the chair backs, weaving wool through these to complete the backs- a modern design in the late 1940's and early 1950's! The only sad fact was that- like so many things- they very soon lost their bloom...
I am still always happy to find them. Walking through Valentines Park (after checking on my Grebe family!) I was glad to see this tree holding a good crop of conkers:
I proceeded to search the ground for fallen ripe conkers. At first I rather despaired (as I am inclined to do prematurely!), as they had all been eaten by grey squirrels who frequent the park. Eventually I found this one, just beginning to ripen:
and then to my delight this perfect one: