We’re all conkers in this neck of the woods!

Anti-spider alien devices

I want to show you the treasures of our dogwalk from the other day,  but I’m sorry to report that I ate the foraged beech nuts, so you’ll have to wait until next time to see how great they roast, totally boosting the flavour of bulgur wheat and rice. The picture above is of horse chestnuts, not beech nuts.

I was looking for a cheap (read: free) alternative to the awe-inspiringly expensive pine nuts. Pretty good, if a bit labour intensive. Good with bacon, what more can I say? I’ll let you know if I get some more.

No, the real find was thousands of horse-chestnuts all along the way. I love conkers. They’re a connection to my childhood, but better still, there’s something alien and mysterious about them. They plummet earthwards in their little green spiky spaceships, and when you open up the pod, it’s like finding treasure.

The burnished horse chestnuts inside the white pith interior are shiny and bright and ripe. Treasure, see?!


I’m somehow compelled to fill my pockets with dozens of beauties; some quite large. This happens every time we walk that way. So what use can they be put to? They lose their gleam after a day or two, so probably no good for jewellery, but I don’t know if their non-dried-out youth can be preserved with varnish. Too late now, alas, most of them have already been on the ground for a few weeks.

I used to collect them to place in the corners of the house because they’re supposed to repel spiders. But while I was getting used to the presence of hundreds of spiders in my 160-year-old cottage, I observed one large Boris (the big ones with the googly eyes) making its way around the ground-level perimeter of my living room. Another, similar size, followed in pursuit, both travelling at the same speed in the same direction. Each time they passed the horse-chestnut, the spiders would rear up and embrace it, before shimmying past it and carrying on their journey.

I’m now cynical that the  anti-spider horse-chestnut spray sold by certain companies is any more effective than spraying water on them. Because I don’t think it works anyway, and I don’t particularly want to expel the spiders (I kinda like them these days, just not in the bedroom),  I’m out of excuses to collect handfuls of these beautiful tree eggs.