Conkers and Spiders

Riches. For a few moments I was 10 years old again …. I nearly didn’t come across them, because I had been lazily tempted to turn home after visiting the bridge over the willow brook, mentioned here recently. (There is always very little water in the stream;  I suppose the trees take it all –  and they are lush and dense, just beginning to turn in their colour.)

But I took the long way home and, in the road and on the verge beneath a majestic horse chestnut tree at the entrance to the town, hundreds of conkers glistened. How I would have loved such a discovery when I was a boy in London. We used to hurl sticks vainly into the tattered branches of a tree in a pub car park, hoping to gather a few, with very little success.

But today I had an excuse appropriate to my age and station in life to stop and collect a few handfuls of these jewels. Mrs Llew likes to place them in odd corners about the house because there is a theory that they ward off spiders.

As I pedalled home with my trophies I recalled my grandfather who, in his retirement in the 1940s would walk miles every  morning – he had been a postman and lived until he was 88 – until the pubs opened at 11.30, and would sometimes come across similar treasure trove. And bring them home to me. I still have his walking stick.

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