When my husband was a kid, the thing he most looked forward to every autumn was conker season. Conkers is one of those games that fills Englishmen of a certain age with wistful nostalgia, and Henry is among them. While he was showing our boys how to string them up and play, he started reminiscing about the various methods he used to make his conkers stronger; things like soaking them in vinegar and baking them in the oven. He even remembered having made a clay sculpture at school of the inside of a horse chestnut seed, which I promptly ran to my in-laws' attic and found.
Now I'm using his conker sculpture to display the conkers my kids keep bringing into the house.
I keep finding them all over the floor, on the table, in the kitchen. Jake keeps his own bowl of them on his desk. They're so pretty, I don't really mind. But I know that soon some other interest will supercede this one, and the conkers will slowly disappear. Til next year, anyway.
To play conkers, you'll need at least one other player, and you'll each need the biggest and best looking horse chestnut you can find, and a shoelace. Ask your grownup to find a sharp something, like an awl or meat thermometer or similar, and poke a hole from top to bottom right through the middle of the nut.
Push a shoelace through the hole, using your awl or tool to guide it. Tie a knot or two to the bottom of the string as shown below.
Now you're ready to play. Each player takes a turn whacking the other person's conker, with the ultimate goal of whacking the opponents' conker off of his string. For each conker you succeed in dispatching, you get a point. If you've knocked off one conker, your own conker is now designated a "onesie", two and you've got a "twosie", and so on. Henry claims to have once had a "twentythreesie".
My boys have been on break from school this week, but I suspect next week they'll be sneaking their conkers into school so they can play with their friends.
If you played conkers as a kid, I'd love to hear about any tricks or tips you can share with my boys. Since they're half American, they have a bit of learning curve to overcome.