We’ve got a raging debate going on in the office – what’s the best way to make conkers rock-hard? Our MD is a fan of soaking his conkers in vinegar; his wife prefers to cover them with a thin coat of clear nail varnish (although she admits that this is probably slightly underhand); the marketing department is taking the long-term view and swears that storing them in the dark for a year is the best way. However, someone naughty in the sales team has suggested that it is much easier just to inject them with glue…
The World Conker Championships are being held this coming Sunday, 9th October, just outside Oundle. The canny organisers by-pass all the dubious tactics mentioned above by supplying competitors with ready-strung conkers so everyone starts on a level playing field. Fair, but rather boring for those of us of a devious nature. And let’s be honest, conkers bring out the deviousness in the best of us. Charlie Bray, a former two-times World Conker Champion, admits that: “There are many underhand ways of making your conker harder. The best is to pass it through a pig. The conker will harden by soaking in its stomach juices.” Hmmm. We’re not sure having to fish about trying to find said conker after it’s been through the pig sounds much fun.
Whatever you decide to do with your – or your kids’ – conkers, the most important thing is the stringing. A clean, straight hole through the conker is essential; any cracks or bevelling around the hole will mean the conker disintegrates quickly under the pressure of a few blows. Skewers or thin screwdrivers are probably the best tools, but it is fiendishly easy to stab your hand at the same time, so be very careful.
But what an easy way to entertain the family. A few conkers, some string, a bottle of Belvoir’s Blackcurrant & Cox’s Apple cordial for the children and some Spiced Winter Berries cordial for the adults, and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for hours and hours of fun!
P.s. any other tips for hardening conkers would be much appreciated