Surprises from the upstairs bus window this morning: conkers ripening on chestnuts; leaves withering; pears dripping from a tree.
Speaking of chestnuts, did you know there is a World Conker Championship? You don’t, however, have to travel all the way to Northamptonshire to play the game: any park with a horse chestnut tree nearby will do. Find a fallen conker, make a hole in it, then thread a shoelace or length of string through it. The objective is to hit your partner’s conker with your own until one of them breaks. The hardest conker wins.
Usefully, you can cheat at the game by using a conker you gathered the previous year and allowed to harden. Quite.
Horse chestnuts, incidentally, are not the trees from which those delicious roasted chestnuts originate, and which Bonne Maman sells as beurre de marron (chestnut butter). Those are more likely to be the fruit of sweet chestnut trees.
My favourite celeb chef, Nigel Slater, had this to say about chestnut butter in the Guardian recently:
My favourite is to use it in a dessert with meringues. Crumble the meringues into a bowl, fold in a little whipped cream, squeeze the chestnut purée from the tube over the top, then spoon over some melted dark chocolate.
I don’t expect horse chestnuts taste of anything much, really. Better just to beat the hell out of them on a playing field.