Sunday, September 27, 2009


Have you ever noticed that the trees, of the tree lined streets of Paris are Chestnut trees? Come September all those beautiful trees drop their nuts all over the parks and boulevards in this beautiful city. Children and adults alike can't help but reach down and collect these beautiful brown nuggets. Each day we came home with thousands of them and they started to take over the apartment. That was until SJ said these magic words...Hey, do you guys know how to play conkers? The three of us looked blankly back at him and he got the picture that we had never even heard of conkers. After a quick explanation, I was instructed to go secure string and a tool to punch holes in the chestnuts. So one day while out on the town, we stop in at the hardware section of BHV - the everything store in the 1st - one day while SJ is at work. We get our goods and on this Sunday morning, SJ enlightens us on what is apparently a common British pastime. So common that there are hundreds of competitions all over England at this time of year. Some take it so seriously that they feel the need to create new rules to prevent cheating. However, it does seem by a few accounts, that it is a dwindling past time and that the youth of the UK is not as keen on the game as were the generations that came before them. Well, in an effort to buck that trend, SJ has educated at least two little Brits who were born in the US but now residing in Paris.

So, how to play the game? Each choose a conker - a chestnut. And choose wisely. You want a strong one that promises not crack under the pressure of this game. literally.

Use a thin nail to hammer a whole through the nut. Thread a string through the hole and tie a strong knot on the other side large enough to hold the chestnut on the string.

Then, my advice would be to encourage your players to take it outside!
Each player takes a turn trying to whack the other player's nut with their nut. So the person being hit holds their string upright and very still. The hitter then takes his best swing with the nut and tries to hit the opponent's nut hard enough to break.

If you are the one holding the string to be hit and you drop your conker, your opponent gets a second try. So hold tight!

Once a nut has been hit, inspections are made to see if it is still intact enough to continue.

The game is played until all but one person's conker has been broken to bits and can no longer remain on its string.

If the winner's conker is still in great shape they will realize this is a strong nut and will keep it for future competitions. As SJ said, some conkers have histories.

In this three-way game, Buddy was the first to be eliminated. Then it seemed that each time SJ thwacked Sweet Pea's conker it was his that cracked, not hers.

So in the end, Sweet Pea was victorious and we have kept her winning conker for future games.

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