Welcome to Dandelion Songs!

"We are two mothers who want our children to know what childhood was like. Before Nintendos, before computers. Before fear of freedom. What it was like for us, and for our mothers, and their mothers. We want them to know adventure, to know play, to know the world. And not the controlled, organised world that modern mothers seem to think they are tied to, but the real, natural world that is here on our doorstep. Come and join us on an adventure in childhood."

Ciara & LĂ­osa


Autumn has come around again, and it's time for 'Conkers'! This is a game that has been around for generations and is very simple and satisfying to play. 

First of all, unless you are lucky enough to have a horse-chestnut tree in your garden, a walk in the woodlands is essential. So on a crisp morning off we go hunting in the woods.

You'll often find the biggest and best chestnuts are the ones still in the shells.

If you do find one, standing on it is usually enough to open it and you can peel it back to uncover the shiny treasure inside.

We usually fill a bag or basket as there are lots of other things you can do with them, as we will show you later.

When you get home, the first thing to do is to bore a hole through the fresh chestnut or conker. Please make sure an adult does this bit! It needs to be a fresh one as a seasoned one would be very difficult.

Then if you have an old shoe-lace, or if not, a piece of string, about half a metre long, on a darning needle, you can thread it through. Again, best if an adult does this bit.

Tie a knot at one end and wrap about half of the string around your hand, with the conker hanging at the end.

The idea of the game is to smash as many conkers as possible. Your opponent holds out his piece of string on which he has his conker. To get a good hard hit, hold the string in your strong hand and pull it out tight, holding the conker between two fingers. Take aim, then take a shot at hitting it off your opponents conker.

You can take turns, or allow three tries each before swapping over, playing until one of them is smashed or disintegrates. If you manage to smash his with your own then your chestnut is called a conker (conqueror). Although over the years, all chestnuts have become known as conkers!

Traditionally, there were little rhymes you would say, for example, if you want to get the first hit when you see your friend with his conker you would say,

"Hick, hack,first crack!"
"Obbly, obbly, onker, my first conker!"

You would also give your winning conker a name which depended on how many other conkers it had destroyed. For example a 'Twoer', or a 'Fiver' adding them up as you beat each one. And a real winner would often be held over until the following year, when it was well seasoned and would beat all, hands down!


Lorna said...

Hi,Just left a message on your milkmoon blog as to how to pierce the conkers and you've answered it here! We went picking conkers recently and the children use them as pretend bales/sugar beet/turnips/ silage (you name it) and load them up in their little tractors and trailers and move them from A to B.

Lisa said...

That sounds lovely Lorna! Thanks for stopping by!