The most magical time of year is when the spiked seed shells of the horse chestnut tree start hanging amongst the leaves.
Inside lies one of natures most magical hidden gems: the not-so majestically named conkers.
I’ve loved collecting conkers for as long as I can remember. From making my Dad pull over in the car on the drive home from school to raid a particularly large tree, to getting various belongings stuck in the branches as a teenager, after hurling my wallet, keys or whatever else I could throw up into the air to knock down a particularly big one.
Even as an adult (allegedly!), I can’t resist a shiny, round and golden brown conker glistening through the leaves.
My grandmother always said they keep away spiders, so naturally we had to stock up on a few on a recent wander.
They lie in soft white beds coated with sharp, hard spikes, keeping them safe and hidden until their shining shells glint in the sunlight, giving away their hiding place to eagled eyed collectors who can’t resist leaving the woods with pockets full.
There’s something extra special about the fact that the horse chestnut trees are always the first to turn too. The first crispy, orange leaves on the ground in September will have no doubt fallen along with the conkers.
It may be a fairly childish pursuit to some, but nothing makes me happier on a cool September afternoon than gathering a basket full of the jewels of autumn.