September and October are prime conker time and a great reason to go on an awesome autumn walk. Conker collecting is a fantastic after school activity and I for one have very fond memories of scouring my local park for a perfectly ripe (and preferably huge) conker. If you’re new to your area and aren’t aware of any nearby conker trees, do a quick Google search; local papers often have an article letting you know the best spots. Conkers can also be a wonderful way of making memories and setting records. Whether keeping track of how many you could collect in total that year, or by helping your child to carve the date or their name into your best find, Conkers can be great keepsakes.
If your children are a little bit older, why not try playing the classic game of conkers? The game is sadly (though understandably) banned from most schools these days but can be a lot of fun if played at home under supervision. If you don’t know them all ready, the rules are as follows:
- Select a conker and a make a hole through the middle
- Thread a 25cm long piece of strong string through the hole and tie a good knot
- Repeat for however many conkers you need
- As shown in the illustration, Player 1 holds the end of their string letting their conker hang perfectly still. Player 2 wraps the string round their hand and attempts to strike their opponents conker.
- If Player 2 misses, they are allowed up to 2 further goes before play is switched round and it is Player 1’s turn to strike.
- The winner is the player who successfully destroys their opponent’s conker, and the winning gains the title of a ‘one-er’ due to it having destroyed 1 conker. Further successes would make it a ‘two-er’ and so on. If a fresh conker destroyed a conker that had previously been successful, all of that conkers victories would be added to the fresh conker. Thus, a fresh conker defeating a ‘five-er’ would become a ‘six-er’.
Baking with Pumpkins
Baking is always a great activity to do with the kids when you’ve got a little more time on your hands. Why not take the opportunity of October half-term to have a go at some festive pumpkin bakes? If you’re a fan of carrot cake, how about trying this easy pumpkin cake recipe for an autumn twist and a great treat for the Halloween period.
For the cake
- 300g self-raising flour
- 300g light muscovado sugar
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 150g walnuts, shelled and chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 200g butter, melted
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp of orange juice
- 500g (peeled weight) pumpkin
- 200g pack soft cheese
- 85g butter, softened
- 100g icing sugar, sifted
- Zest of 1 orange and juice of half
- Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm tin with baking parchment. Put first 5 ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine. Beat eggs into melted butter, stir in orange zest and juice. Stir in the dry ingredients and pumpkin. Pour into the tin and bake for 30 mins, or until golden.
- For frosting, beat together the cheese, butter, icing sugar, orange zest and juice till smooth. Keep in the fridge till the cake is ready
- When the cake is done, take it out and let it cool completely. Loosen the frosting and spread on top.
As the leaves change colour, autumn can be one of the most vibrant times of the year and there are plenty of fun ways to enjoy the outdoors. How about a bike ride in your local park or doing some tree art with dried leaves and twigs? This can be a great way to help your kids get creative if they aren’t naturally able or interested.
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He's passionate about theology and politics, both of which he is currently studying at Durham University.
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