Thursday, 8 May 2014

The start of an edible forest and conkers (non-edible)

I really do worry about teenagers these days. Especially the girls. This one in particular is prone to the odd bout of 'crazy teenage' behaviour, being an ex-cellist, often, I hear they are the worst. So I tottle (given my new age, tottling is definitely in order, I'm very old, I'm assured) downstairs last week after my 'birthday lie in' and come across a veritable forest in my living room on the stove (the stove obviously is off, otherwise this is not a good place for a veritable forest to start really is it?) but fear not she's a sensible sort. The mystery deepens with a note, whilst these are famed for ransoms, this note appears to be more of a confession of apparent teenage debauchery and skullduggery. Then again this particular teenager is known for leaving ransom notes, often on ransom banana's

So as you can imagine, I'm more than a bit cautious when I see a note on anything here.
And, dear reader I'm in no confusion, this note is clearly for me. No other 'Mum's' habit these here lands.
So, the first word is 'fecking tree' not any expletives other than those used in that famous Irish TV show where Mrs Doyle frequently proffers cups of tea to unsuspecting clergy.  She continues -  'Do you know how hard it is to hide a tree?'  The sub-text here is 'in my TINY bedroom'. 

The cellist being of a slim and willowy stature has a slim and willowy compact bedroom to suit. Hiding a veritable forest in there by means of a horse chestnut and a forest of raspberries is no mean feat. And she continued to tell me the joys of moving such beasts home on the bus, seemingly not fun. Ah, teenagers, you see they are still borne of resilient stock I'd say, trees on public transport - that's quite a feat in itself, never mind playing a game of hide and seek with them once home.

If you're ever in doubt, you hide them behind the door as folks often don't come in to your room they just stick their head around the door. Clever girl eh? Just in case you're of a mind to hide a couple trees for a while. A nice thoughtful present I'd say. Mind you I am wondering what else is BEHIND the door now and probably has been for years unnoticed.

I'm going to be creating a 'productive' garden when we flit (flitting is moving house) - so the bounty there is welcomed.

I did however query the horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) - we like a good conker in this house, and the kids have played many a conker game. In fact for a while they both had a 2 ltr ice cream box of 'feral conkers' which happily travelled back and forth to 'dads' until they accidentally fell down the stairs a time to many and the 'pet conkers' were sadly set free in their fathers garden. Sad times, but packing boxes of conkers in childrens 'overnight' bags for a trip to dads was a lot of fun we all thought. I do fear however, their dear father never really found it such a joy, being conker-under-footed-often-on-the-stairs-often. Sadly limited sense of humour over in those lands.

Back to the veritable almost-edible forest then, the rasps are now wrapped up and both these and the chestnut sits nobly waiting to flit with the rest of the stuff. Its 'edible' remit I was unsure of, so I asked the dear ex-cellist, her thoughts on the subject. I know you like eating chestnuts she said, she's clever like that, she notices the ample scoffing I do in this house. However, horse chestnuts of which conkers are, are inedible to both humans and horses. And, in fact make you a bit poorly. Conkers are supposed to ward away spiders although there's a lot of chat and not a lot of science to back that up. They also attract mice, so depending on how you feel if you keep conkers in your drawers to ward away spiders, best put the kettle on for the mice who'll gladly join in too.

Dear reader, I am beside myself with glee at my newly emerging forest and its components. With regard to Monsieur Conker, I'm going to be planting him it at the back of our new garden as it reaches a goodly lovely height and hope that its prolific and grows into a noble tree and perhaps in my lifetime produces conkers. 
So I think I'll stick to playing conkers in the future, perhaps with the ex-cellist and her offspring, one day eh? Roast (inedible) horse chestnuts doesn't really appeal as much as a decent game of conkers.

Which reminds me, the largest and most beautiful conker tree on the island, in Kirkwall, is in full leaf now and about to flower - I must pop by and get a photo or two of it. Whilst it doesn't reach the heady heights of those 'doon sooth' its a corker (or conker?) and beautiful in flower. And, truth be told its quite nice to eyegoggle and stalk a tree in these lands which isn't the noble Sycamore. I like a good sycamore, don't get me wrong, but its nice to have a change.

Why don't you head off and find one to goggle yourself? The flowers are magnificent and the tree itself quite statuesque. In my best Mrs Doyle voice, I beseech you - Go'an, go'an, go'an, you know you want to, go find a tree and have a wee neb at its awesomeness. Then mind it on for autumn and get conkering. Nothing quite bruises the knuckles in quite the same way.


  1. What a lovely gift, and glad it wasn't a ransom note... ransoming raspberries may have been a first though.
    We have a few grand horsechestnut trees close to us. My two are still at the collect as many as possible stage. Which is fun but those things get everywhere!
    Hope you had a lovely birthday...

    1. That child will ransom anything, she even took a duckie bathmat hostage once and left a note. She's despicable. I love conker trees and they are a bit feral aren't they the mini-conkers.

      My birthday itself was a tad dull, (aside the plantation on the wood stove) so I'm having another. Only seems fair.

  2. What and enjoyable post and what a lovely gift to receive. I'm not sure I'd be any good at growing raspberries, but I am an expert at eating them! We have one of the noble Sycamore's growing in our garden ... and it is looking particularly lovely right now. And with the bonus of having a wee blackbird sitting on one of it's branches singing it's heart out. Happily, there's a horse chestnut growing a stone's throw away - covered in flower 'candles' - with the promise of plenty conkers to come. Thanks for sharing and I wish you a very happy birthday. Elizabeth

    1. Thank you for the lovely birthday wishes and the kind words Elizabeth, how lovely of you. Raspberries pretty much grow themselves aside the picking, so being able to eat them is a good idea. Love blackbird song. Enjoy your horsechestnut - ours are just starting to flower. When I say 'ours' I mean 'the only tree I know that DOES flower here, is beginning to flower' - but there may be more I've missed I may go and find some later.

  3. Fab gifts - and clever hiding too!
    The Horse Chestnuts down here are absolutely COVERED in flower this year - candles enough for millions of birthdays, I should think!

    1. I first wondered if someone HERE was supposed to require a million candles then I read again :) Just starting here, but then you'd expect that wouldn't you. The primroses are still flowering and some daffies too, cuckooo flower is just starting, although the dandelions are romping away as per usual. They seem to just burst into life.
      Thanks for popping by :)

    2. PS you know the cellist she's a bit of a sneaky beaky isn't she. Just as well she got me a fabulous rhubarb card which made me giggle too.