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Conker season is upon us… we take a look back at some of the popular celebrations of the season

CRUNCHING leaves under our feet and seeking conkers as we stroll – some of the reminders that Autumn is here.

Seasonally, Autumn is a time full of hope and promise – harvest festivals are a celebration of the produce from the land and church services are abundant with donations of food parcels to be passed on to the charities helping those within need in the local community.

Conker collecting is perhaps one of the most pleasurable pastimes of the season. It is so refreshing to see parks full of families having fun as they scour the ground for the shiny brown treasures which have either been blown or displaced from the horse chestnut trees.

Sticks and twigs are foraged as missiles for bringing the conkers down and what a delight when a fair few are dislodged during the hunt.

Then it’s all eyes to the grassy floor to see who can find the spiky green cases – cracking them open to reveal the

gift inside is a real delight to young ones who are keen to expand their collection.

Often just strolling along the pavement you can find them – usually hidden, camouflaged by the leaves that have fallen from the trees – but somehow stumbling on them isn’t as satisfying as knowing you’ve put the effort in to find them and then gone to the trouble of bringing them down – and that’s no mean feat!

Of course, conkering can also become quite competitive as children are keen to see who can collect the most.

Many people may recall from their own childhood participating in conker games at school. Preparing the conker was complex – holes were drilled and shoelaces attached.

Two players take it in turns to strike each other’s conker. The aim of the game is to see whose lasts the longest.

However, health and safety put pay to some of life‘s simple pleasures with some schools banning this popular playground tradition.

Yet many young ones still follow in the footsteps of their older generations and, thankfully, are still benefitting from the enjoyment conkering brings.

Within the next few weeks we will be introduced to other Autumnal delights – the seasonal spooktacular – Halloween.

Fearsome costumes will be sported as children embark on the ‘trick or treat’ pilgrimage, knocking on doors around their local neighbourhoods seeking sweets and other treats as an alternative to playing a trick which was usually harmless fun such as knocking on house doors and hiding.

Windows will be hauntingly illuminated by plentiful pumpkins and cobwebs are destined to be draped around doorways. It is certainly more commercialised now than it ever was and people are taking advantage of that as they really get into the Halloween spirit.

And, once that’s all over, it sparks off again with bonfires and fireworks. I recalled only recently neighbours coming together bringing homemade pies and jacket spuds, parkin and toffee.

Back then there was more preparation to Plot Night; young ones would create a Guy to burn on the bonfire and ask folk ‘for a penny for the Guy’ as they paraded the effigy around the streets.

Folk built their own fires and let off fireworks – albeit adhering to the safety rules and regulations with fireworks – well, we’re all here to tell the tale!

It was, as I recall from my own childhood, a real community effort with neighbours coming together, sharing food and conversation.

These days families are more likely to attend organised bonfires – the benefits of that is that many donate their proceeds to charities so at least you are supporting a good cause.

For those who want to reminisce past times from the season, our photo gallery sourced by our nostalgia writer and researcher, Odele Ayres, is sure to evoke some happy memories…..

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