Sunday, July 23

Wot no Conkers


As difficult as it is to imagine British school children may well have to go without conkers this autumn. As if that possibility is not bad enough the World Conker Championships at Ashton in Northampton may well have to be called off. The principle reason is the summer heatwave or to be more precise the lack of rain water and the effects of the lava of the horse chestnut leaf miner - a moth that first emerged in the UK four years ago.
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So it may come to pass that the very British game of conkers will be seriously hampered this year by a lack of quality conkers as the horse chestnut trees struggle to produce their seasonal fruit after battling to obtain water in the current dry conditions.

The warning signs are already evident. The huge horse chestnut trees are starting to appear under stress their leaves are prematurely starting to change colour and fall
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Those conkers that do appear will be smaller because of the effects of the immigrant moth that is attacking the leaves of the great trees.
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If all this was not bad enough, an estimated 40,000 horse chestnut trees ( first introduced to the British Isles in the late 16th century from Eastern Europe) have been infected with a disease called bleeding canke, which causes black gum to ooze from the bark and eventually kills them. Some 3,000 trees have already been felled across the realm.

So there it is, the very British school play-ground game of conkers (the first recorded game was in 1848) which is derived from the 14th Century village game played with hazelnuts (called cobnuts in some parts of England) may well be, for this year at least, be under threat.

5 comments:

Stewed Cabbage said...

Conkers - a very British tradition. I had a sixteen-er once when I was at school !

Peter Troy said...

So what Stewed - I had a twentyone-er, so there !

Stewed Cabbage said...

Well I bet my conkers were bigger than yours - ergh !

Sahra Hoppity said...

Now now boys I bet you both have very nice conckers!

lady of middlesex said...

what can l say but boys and there conkers and at the end of the day its who knows how to play fairly which counts, so lets hope we get loads of rain and there will again be conkers for the next generation to play with