“You are like a chestnut burr, prickly outside, but silky-soft within, and a sweet kernel, if one can only get at it. Love will make you show your heart some day, and then the rough burr will fall off.” ~ Louisa May Alcott
Of course these are Horse Chestnuts not their edible distant relations, Chestnuts. Horse Chestnuts are not good for much, apart from growing new Horse Chestnut trees and the old-fashioned playground game of Conkers. Now it appears that most Americans have no idea what Conkers is so I will do my best to explain. A hole is drilled through one of the seeds and string, often a shoe lace, is pushed through and a large knot is tied on both ends of the string to stop the conker from sliding off.
Your opponent then hold the string so the conker dangles down and you have to use your conker to try to hit it. You take turns at hitting each others conker until one of your conkers falls apart. The winner is obviously the person whose conker manages to bash the life out of their opponents. Those with a competitive and maybe not very sportsmanship attitude might be tempted to try to harden their conker by doing things like baking them in the oven, painting them with clear nail varnish or soaking them in vinegar but as a general rule these are all regarded as cheating.
Over the years this game has ebbed and flowed in popularity and some school have banned them being played due to fears over health and safety but despite that you still see primary aged kids in the park collecting handfuls of conkers as if they were treasure.
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