Conkers, the symbol of autumn, and a great game for generations of children (and the not so young).
But what else can you do with the fruits of the horse chestnut tree? There’s plenty of them around this autumn, and right now they’re just starting to fall. It’s fun to collect them, to take the shiny brown nut from inside the spiky shell.
And they have been used for centuries, for many different purposes.
Here’s our top five.
DRILL a hole through the centre, but instead of threading string through and bashing your friends’ conkers, paint them with bright colours, use coloured wool to thread through, and use them – eventually – as decorations on the Christmas tree.
IF moths are a problem in your winter wardrobe, it helps to place a bowl of fresh conkers near your clothes. The horse chestnut seeds contain a chemical called triterpenoid saponin that wards off pests and they have been proved to be a moth-repellent as they dry out and emit the chemical.
MAKE jewellery, chunky bracelets or necklaces by threading them on to plaited, coloured wool. Use them naturally for a bold, modern effect, or spray silver or gold to add a bit of bling.
MAKE a decorative feature out of a tall glass vase filled with conkers, or a bowl of them surrounding a chunky candle.
PLAY table boules. Put down a long strip of lining paper marked out in boundary lines, and mark each player’s conkers with a different coloured paint. They’re not round, so they won’t roll in a straight line.
But actually, nothing beats the fun of the most basic game, bashing conkers against each other till one breaks…and an ultimate champion is revealed. We know for certain that soaking conkers in vinegar and then baking in a hot oven hardens them for competition. But is this cheating? The verdict is yours….