I love autumn and there’s not many people I know who don’t enjoy the seasonal change. All the leaves changing colour, the natural foraging of blackberries and sloes, and the joys of collecting shiny conkers from their cases. Like most children N loves picking up conkers, and the threatening dying off of horse chestnut trees doesn’t seem to be happening around us. There’s still plentiful trees to scavenge from, and we’ve been out recently to Conker Alley. To a road we used to visit for conkers when I was a child.
Every year, N picks the conkers that fall from our 2 trees in the garden. One gives a lot of fruit, the other is much smaller and is intermittent. This year none, while last year had a few. Maybe next year they’ll be back again. But it reminds me of the long avenue of trees that my mum used to take us to. For us to park along, walk down and back with our bags, laden down with conkers for the journey back home.
N decided that this year he wanted to visit. He’d already removed the conkers from home. He’d done some (seasonably late) brambling for delicious blackberries in crumbles. And had helped his uncle pick some sloes (although I think they’re a bit early as the frost hasn’t arrived yet, so I hope they’ll freeze for a bit first to trick them into thinking it’s a frost).
We had a bit of time at the weekend, so a trip to Conker Alley it was.
I’m sure there are plenty of traditional local spots just like our Conker Alley. I couldn’t quite remember where it was, but knew the village and had a vague idea. If all else failed there was always the tree on the village green, although I expect after church last week, all the school children had decimated it. Luckily the village we were heading to is small, and it was easy to find, just driving straight out the back end of the village onto the road we were looking for.
Like many places and things that you rediscover as an adult, they’re not quite as spectacular as you remember. I remember an avenue of trees, with both sides of the road with trees overhanging as you drove or walked through. It maybe that the farmer one side has removed a lot of them, because while the trees were all there on one side, the other was more open.
Finding a layby to park, there were plenty of trees and a long road to walk down, looking for those shiny treasures. N was so excited once he started looking. A lot of the cases were still half closed on the ground, so there were plenty of fresh conkers as well as recent windfalls.
We walked a while we chose the best conkers to pop in his bucket.
There were a few blackberries still in the hedges, and we even spotted some mushrooms on the verges.
It’s felt like we’ve not been out for a long time, with bad weather. So it was lovely just to be outside enjoying the good weather. Sometimes you just need a breather out in nature to recharge.
N was buzzing on the journey home, talking about the conkers he’d collected. I don’t think he’ll do anything with them. The last batch he collected from the garden, he and his cousin smashed them in a competition to see if a cricket bat was the most effective!
Have you been out collecting conkers? Do you have a special place you find them?