Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Urban Sunset

I've been walking the last couple of nights, in nights that are arriving sooner and sooner despite the great heat in the air. It makes it pleasant to stroll in just shorts and a T-shirt, with the wind having dropped away from the bluster of the weekend.

The river is beautiful if now surrounded by footballers in the park. But it's still the cricket season!!!

Near to home is the locally famous - if for a lot of wrong reasons - Pokestop and mural of a nice fellow who is the town's hip hop performer. It's suddenly become utterly overgrown with buddleia and hairy willow herb, and now the bees buzz around in the obscurement of Mr Lyricist's face.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.08.16

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Young Willy Wagtails Everywhere

At work, in the park, in the markey square, along the streets.

Juvenile pied wagtails are everywhere at the moment.

I caught these birds down by the posh houses near the marina; fluttering and scrapping, tails bobbing, picking at the grass on the communal lawn. The pictures are a bit dark - fast shutter speed and 400ISO has made them a bit grainy; the birds were a ways off as well.

But it's a while since I snapped a bird, so, I'll take it!


Monday, 22 August 2016

A Few Bumbles for 100,000 Views

I've now got through the 100,000 reads barrier, which may not seem a lot to some of my fellow bloggers here, but feels a lot to me, especially as once upon a time I thought I'd never get to that kind of number of views.

No money made out of blogging for me then!

So, after a very stiff and sore weekend of playing cricket, I've just managed to fit in very slow runs and a few walks, seeing what was about on a dull, mizzley day but with a strong, warm wind blowing. You can feel the heatwave building for later in the week.

Because the weather has been dull, not many butterflies about; they've not done well this year have they? But lots of bees of various species have been around on the various flowers I encounter, with common carder bumbles being very numerous.

The local urban farm on Clay Lane seems to be getting busier and busier; not sure what the deal is here, but there are more and more calves, horses, ponies and donkey / mules down there...quite the menagerie now.

Here's to the next 100,000 readers!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.08.16

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Joy of Farce

Today's cricket adventure took us out to Ellerslie, a rather more charming locale than yesterday's grim fight club at Stapleford as it was in West Bridgeford, near the Trent Bridge cricket ground.

The "Little Bounds" ground - cute name! - was a green oasis surrounded by large Victorian terraced housing, protected from having their windows smashed by a very large fence. It was also very small - even I could reach the keeper from the boundary with my feeble throws - and so a run fest was always on the cards.

Again we bowled first, and as with last Sunday, the skipper let me open up the bowling with his far more able than me brother, who was running in practically from the boundary. We both bowled a good first over, but then the gulf in ability opened up like a Grand Canyon on amyl nitrate - he carried on bowling well, while I lost my head a bit and got thrashed by a first team batsman who plays in division A of our league structure; I have played mainly in division J and frankly division Z would probably be too good for me.

Banished to the field, I then made a horrible, ground-please-swallow-me-up misfield and felt the familiar rising panic that I was indeed totally rubbish and an utter embarassment and should probably impale myself on a stump while pleading with the skipper for forgiveness.

Then the sound of steel drums and carnival music started up from the Victoria Embankment, the sun came out, and I resolved to stop being rubbish and get my head together. Cricket is supposed to be enjoyable, and I decided that even with my renowned mental fragility I would do so.

After that I was fine. I fielded well despite having so many muscle strains I feel like an enormous blood clot, and was able to enjoy watching our youngsters and older hands bring us back into the game against superior opposition, although my suggestion that one our less athletic players should get into the festival mood by putting on a head-dress and nipple tassles didn't go down so well.

I was even allowed to bowl again at the death, and this time did far better with the star batsman, by now 130 not out, unable to hit me into the Trent as he wanted to. I bowled straight and full, and all was well.

The real fund occured in the last over, when one of our "less heralded" players responded to suggestions that we should put fielders in the surrounding boroughs, got the big batter out, nearly had another one, then finally off the last ball a quick single resulted in our diving wicket keeper sending a batsman flying as he ran in, only for his partner to call for another single, realise all of a sudden that the guy at the other end was trapped under 13 stone of keeper, enabling us to run him out as he stood stranded at the wrong end.

We were still laughing as we ate our very hearty teas. Hot potato wedges for the win!

Sadly the carnival was too far away for me to explore when we went out to bat, but a sparrow-hawk flap flap glided over the ground in that characteristic fashion of theirs. WHen I say "we went out to bat" I mean of course our proper batsmen. I wandered off to see what I might see, ending up talking to an Ellerslie bowler who like me is interested in photography but rather than nature compiles books of photographs of graffiti from all over the place. I then explained the importance of our youth policy to another friendly chap, who no doubt understood that I was subtly making excuses for us losing.

All the while it was getting darker and darker as wickets fell, until as an echelon of geese flew overhead to roost, this number 11 batsman realised that I was going to need a searchlight to bat with, having already explained to various team-mates that the red marks on my bat were from killing moles rather than hitting the bat. Indeed when I did go out to bat, I asked the umpire for a headlamp, before making the usual dreadful shot and getting out second ball again, just before the rain started to fall that might have got us off with a draw.

So we lost, but it wasn't cataclysmic against a much stronger team, and I had a great day out there against a nice bunch of lads.

Last game of Sunday cricket this season. I shall miss it.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.08.16

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Where the Fighting is more Entertaining than the Cricket

Today we were out at Stapleford, a team that plays in the South Notts league despite being practically in Derbyshire, and a hell of a long trek out from Newark for our plucky band of ever hopeful, always doomed second eleven cricketers.

I had a feeling it would be a grim ground, and boy was I ever so right. The pavilion roof was edged with anti vandal spikes, the changing rooms had no windows and barred gates were everywhere, giving everything a bit of a "Porridge" feel, and there was a skate park upon which sullen youths sat not actually doing skating or anything, but just looking "a bit rough."

With the weather being wild and grey, the non human wildlife was in short supply, but a short wander away from the park was a bit of heritage lurking, and the famous sandstone cliff that gives "Sandicliffe Motors" its name.

Opposite this, was a chapel that Wesley himself had apparently preached at, and up the hill, a spire dominated the view, peaking out from some trees. This turned out to be the chapel and folly of Stapleford Cemetery, a graveyard rather similar to Newark's with its Commonwealth War Graves, and a chapel straddling the main path. Splendid views back over the cricket ground were obtained up here, and if you needed a gravestone in a hurry, there were two masons based on the road outside.

Certainly our team could have done with one, as we were already 4 wickets down on a green wicket by the time I got back, and I had to get my pads on virtually straightaway as our batsman were wiped out by the rustic looking two big chaps that opened the bowling.

I could have been angry with our batting efforts, but as I expected to last no more than one ball myself it would have been rather hypocritical.

As it happened, I lasted two. I just cannot bat at all.

So, were shot out for 28, so hopeless that our opponents decided they wanted to forego tea to wipe us out even quicker. But before we could get out there to have a bowl at them, our attention was taken by a bunch of drunken underclassers winding up for a fight a backward square leg.

I didn't know what it was about, I would have needed a Star Trek style "Universal Translator" to understand them - oooh, patronise patronise! - but cans of Kestrel Super were being brandished, threats were being made - the women sounded worse than the men - and a hairly drunken gentlemen was being told that if he was seen again "he was a dead man".

Lovely place!

Anyway, having worked very hard on bowling quicker, I surprised myself by telling the skipper that I was going to open the bowling for us, me, myself, I, and actually nearly knocked over both their opening batsman in between bowling the usual full tosses and stuff. So it wasn't a bad idea.

We only had to bowl four overs before they got the runs. Tea was now offered, but a few of our lads just didn't want to hang around, and took doggy bags of egg rolls away with them.

Me, I was happy to stuff myself.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.08.16

Friday, 19 August 2016

The Darter at the Park

I had my first day of trying to play with my *ahem* exposure settings on Monday, and it all ended up being a bit of a mess. Shortening the exposure means you are limited to a minimum ISO of 400, which even on a fast shutter speed means the pictures are overexposed in bright sunlight.

There is the other issue that when it comes to nature, I'm just a terrible, unsteady photographer.

Hence these pictures of this common darter - along with the migrant hawker the most common dragonfly species around here - are not great. But the wings have a nice look about them, I think!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.08.16