Autumn is here and it is underlined by the way activities have changed with my two eldest grandchildren, both aged 5 years old.

This summer has been an amazing summer. In fact a summer the type of which you think only exists in your over active imagination of when you were a child, and it was all due to the amazing sunny weather we experienced.

But once we got to mid-August it was like flicking a switch. The weather seemed to change and the darkness of the night began to linger longer and encroach on the highly valued daylight as it always does at this time of year.

When the children start back to school in September we start using terms like, “It’s very autumnal’ in our everyday language again, as we shiver a little.

This week we have experienced many windy days, too, winds that have brought about structural damage and the felling of centuries old trees that have come crashing to the ground.

We are now well and truly into autumn, with a whoosh, bang, crash and wallop! And activities with my grandchildren have also seasonally changed too.

One day a week we collect our granddaughter from school. We walk back home along a beautiful tree lined country road. Normally it takes us twenty minutes with extra time taken for adventures and riding the swings in the park and playing hide and seek in the trees and generally observing the ever changing abundance of nature around us.

But this week, because autumn has arrived the walk took over a hour and a quarter and without any of the added activities and the reason: “CONKERS”.

Although the leaves on the are tending to hang on in there whilst taking a battering from the wind the horse chestnuts on the many horse chestnut trees are not and are continually showering down and bouncing on the ground..

This means there are so many conkers for the children to collect. Most of the horse chestnuts are still in their protective green, prickly shells and are difficult to extract. But with some “Oh’s” and “Ouches” me and Granddaughter Freya managed to get them out. We ended up with school bags full and all our pockets were bulging with the rich, brown, shiny fruit of the horse chestnut tree.

In the late spring I realised we were going to have a major harvest of conkers in the autumn as all the horse chestnut trees everywhere were so fully laden with beautiful blossoms. It was obviously a perfect year weather wise for the trees.

The more we collected the more the more the wind blew and the more that fell off. That is what made the walk from school take so long.

All the school children worked so hard and excitedly gathering their harvests. The thing is to what avail. We now all have hundreds and hundreds of beautiful brown, shiny horse chestnuts that are useless. You certainly can’t eat them and you can’t even play conkers with them any more like we used to do in my younger days.

Why not? Health and safety of course. Yet as a child of the 50s & 60s I never ever saw anyone get killed or have any eye taken out due to playing conkers. And we had amazing fun every school break. I once had a Conker 236er. The bravest and toughest thing was not crying when someone’s conker smashed it to smithereens. Mind, it’s a different environment today. We never had Brexit and we found a half hour of news every day for TV and radio and still managed to fill all the newspapers. And it’s called progress. – Grumpy old man!

Last year when we collected a lesser harvest of conkers, Granddaughter Freya saw them as her treasures and stored them in her jewel box. They were found by Mum, all mouldy at around Christmas time.

So, what to do with all these conkers? I checked it out on Google and the best thing I came up with was using them in crafts and make things out of them. Go to:

for some ideas like these pencil tops, and various animals and insects.

Please bear in mind the horse chestnut is toxic, so, you must not put them in your mouth or eat them.

At the end of the day it was a brilliant Autumn-Grandad-and-Granddaughter-bonding-activity that created memories we both will cherish forever and ever.


Mr. Wonka: “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.”

Charlie Bucket: “What happened?”

Mr. Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”

-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different…” C S Lewis


Happiness is…collecting bright, polished chestnut brown conkers with your granddaughter on a windy Autumn afternoon.


Son: Dad, what is sex? (Father got tensed but still he explained everything)

Son: But Dad, how will I write all that in this small boxin the admissions form.


Love is…built brick by brick


Beleive – Cher

Highest Chart Position: No.1 31st October 1998 for 7 weeks

Did you know that Cher is the oldest female to score a Number 1 single?

52 is by no means old, but when Cher scored a Number 1 single at that age with Believe back in 1998, she became the oldest female chart-topper the Official Singles Chart has ever seen. Cher sang “cause I know that I am strong”, and she was right – Believe’s record has stood for nearly 20 years.

©2018 Phil M Robinson