Play a game of conkers
SEEING A GLOSSY BROWN CONKER freshly emerged from its shell or feeling the empty husks crunch under foot during windswept autumn walks is a true October pleasure. Surprisingly, the horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum), on which the spiny-cased seeds grow, is a relative newcomer having been introduced from the Balkans about 400 years ago. Consequently these great trees are rarely found in woodland but are common in parks, gardens and on village greens. Their name may be explained by the fact they were once fed to horses as a form of medicine. Although non-native, the horse chestnut has long been synonymous with this season in Britain after the schoolground game of conkers became popular more than 150 years ago. The first-ever recorded game took place in 1848 on the Isle of Wight, and each year, on the second Sunday of October, thousands still flock to a beautiful corner of Northamptonshire for the World Conker Championships. For more details about horse chestnuts, visit wildlifetrusts.org.