Bonkers about Conkers

Over at Fresh Eyes on London , Mo reminded me of something I haven't thought about in nearly 30 years.  The game of conkers!

Conkers is a game traditionally played by children in Britain, Ireland and some former British colonies using the seeds of horse-chestnut trees – the name conker is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself. The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns to strike each other's conker until one breaks.

  • A hole is drilled in a large, hard conker using a nail, gimlet, or small screwdriver. A piece of string is threaded through it about 25 cm (10 inches) long (often a shoelace is used). A large knot at one or both ends of the string secures the conker.
  • The game is played between two people, each with a conker.
  • They take turns hitting each other's conker using their own. Usually with loads of nasty hand and wrist bruises.
  • One player lets the conker dangle on the full length of the string while the other player swings their conker and hits.
When I was little, my dad used to take us down to the local Bellfield Park (below) where they had rows and rows of massive Chestnut Trees that lined the path.  We would collect our piles of conkers in a plastic bag and take them home.  We'd open them up, take out the seeds and dry them out in our oven.  Dad would help us put the strings through and then the games would begin.  Usually our strings out break before the conkers would though.

All that I can remember of these games is how much we giggled and laughed AND cried because of all the bruises on our hands and injuries that we got from whacking each other with the conkers.

Good memories...