Friday, 9 October 2009
This photograph is taken right in the heart of Saltaire, opposite the parade of shops and just above Salts Mill. To the right of the railings is Victoria Road, to the left some allotment gardens that were established by Titus Salt for the benefit of his tenants and continue to thrive today. You can glimpse the Victoria Hall through the trees. The trees - presumably planted in Victorian times and probably at least 150 years old - are enormous now.
As I walked past, there were some children poking sticks though the railings into the gardens. At first I couldn't see what they were doing, but then I realised they were trying to reach conkers that had fallen into the gardens. One of the big trees is a horse chestnut, and the high winds over the weekend had blown all the conkers (chestnuts) down. I don't know if it's an exclusively British pastime or not, but since time immemorial children have strung the hard, shiny, brown conkers onto strings and had contests where they try to hit each other's conker so hard that the conker smashes. The one whose conker remains intact the longest wins. Great fun! But even if you don't play games with them, there is something so beautiful about the round, polished, velvety-smooth nut. One of the simple pleasures of autumn.