Friday, 30 December 2016

Slug Tracks on the Bottle Bank

I've been suffering from a total lethargy today, seemingly unable to do anything after waking at 9 other than just lying around in a daze in various places. Must be Christmas digestion catching up with me or something; I've felt as weak as a kitten all day.

So, a wasted day, or so you would think. Well, perhaps not. On delivering my empties to the bottle bank, I noticed an astonishing series of patterns in the dirt on the otherwise unappealing big metal bunkers.

I can only assume that these are the trails left by slugs making their way over the bottle banks for god knows whatever reason. I think they are incredible, to me seeming to show the grips in the undersurface of the invertebrate that they use for grip and propulsion.

I might of course be completely wrong and it is some other kind of natural phenomenon. But I'd guess at slugs.

Or maybe snails. Maybe.

In any event, wasn't expecting to find such beauty on a bottle bank.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.12.16

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Fire on the Ice

My leg has been rather sore today, so I thought that with my sister and her fiance now gone back to London, I would take advantage of the time to try and do another purge of my kitchen - partially successful - and have a nice long walk on a bright but punishingly cold day - temperatures of -5 at dawn.

I did the tour of the two lakes, albeit at a much slower pace than usual, expecting that the freezing weather might have brought some more interesting ducks onto the water, but alas no goosander, pochard or shoveller, although a cormorant was taking advtange of the kerfuffle caused by a large flock of black headed gulls to fish.

Nature on the water was thus not too interesting, but the sun shining off the ice that had formed on the surface was stunning.

There were lots of birds out in the trees along the cycle path, a bullfinch yesterday but today we had a lot of blue and great tits and also a fair few chaffinch.

The golden low sun has been beautiful this last couple of days, gilding the town in precious metals.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.12.16

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Bright the Berries are

Across the road on the little local park, the contoneaster trees looked stunning in the sun.

I always find it strange the berries don't seem to attract the birds as holly and rowan does. Presumably they are poisonous, or perhaps not very nutritious. 

I've had a great three days of running, 10km plus a day since Christmas day. They are needed to, as I am fat as a barrel, today being the first day I haven't overeaten to hell and back. More tomorrow, never mind the cold. The sunset I saw today was entirely worth it.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.12.16

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

There are Primroses Too

Feeling as heavy as lead and as bloated as the average darts professional, I figured it would be a good idea to get in a second 10km run in a row - not the 10 miles I'd envisaged this morning but my bed just ended up far too warm to leave in time.

Especially as I'd been up late observing open star clusters in my 10x50 binoculars. So much to see up there and it barely costs you anything.

Today's run took me out on my old route to Coddington and back, and I was pleased to spot a flock of about 80 fieldfare in the field next to the windmill. As ever, despite their robust size, they are spooky birds and hard to get close to.

Getting home and visiting the elders, I found that indeed primroses are out now as well, just a pair of shy ones under the bramley tree. It was bright today, but hardly that springlike.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.12.16

Monday, 26 December 2016

Well I was Wrong

Do you remember when I posted the shoots in the cemetery and said I expected to see snowdrops after about a week in January...well, like it says in the title, I was wrong.

I went running today, feeling very fat and hefty after the usual chronic overindulgence yesterday, and keeping my eyes in the cemetery verges as I ran through, sopped two little clumps of snowdrops in bloom. Not even January yet, same as last year. Looks like the mild weather  - which I thought wasn't as mild as last year - has sped up nature a little bit again. Mum tells me she has primroses under the apple tree in their garden.

Crazy times! The snowdrops have beaten the aconite again.

It was a nice run, spoiled only by idiots on illegal motorbikes tearing up the open ground - oh what a grumpy old man I am. To be fair it was only crappy brown field they were on, rather than the cycle path or in the nature reserve where I sometime see, and curse, them.

Venus really is blazing in the early evening now.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.12.16

Friday, 23 December 2016

The Domestic Jungle

Christmas is coming.

This means that at my parents' house every twig with leaves on it in the garden has been hauled inside to make wreathes and things. Hence the kitchen looks like it's been the location of a recent fight between angry triffids.

I am trying to stave off xmas fatty syndrome by running this week. Did a fast 5km tonight, got back in pouring with sweat to watch Elkie Brooks on BBC4 doing the same thing.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.12.16

Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Shoots of Hope

Well, this is the time of the year when the solstice has turned, the nights begin to shorten imperceptibly, and I get excited because soon the colour will begin to return the wildflower margins, especially in the cemetery where as you know I enjoy watching the progress of the various species throughout the year.

Last year, I had the feeling we might have had snowdrops in flower by now, or very shortly afterwards. Well, when I ran through a couple of days ago I was excited to notice the first of the 2017 brood just starting to pierce the surface of the wet ground.

I think compared to last year, where all the first spring flowers are very early, I'd say we are on a more normal timeframe this year. I'm guessing these little fellows won't be in flower till the first or second week of January.

I wish them the best!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.12.16

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Animal Bench of Sconce Park

You remember a few weeks ago in this blog I included a shot of a chainsaw art park bench that was under construction at the South West end of Sconce Park.

It is now complete, and has been relocated to its permanent home in the Old Oak Wood, and very beautiful it is too. Far too nice for my mortal behind to be parked on, I'm sure.

I hope it isn't vandalised.


Monday, 19 December 2016

Sketching the River Devon

Ive been rottenly ill with the cold, and it has hampered me a bit this weekend, feeling as I do rather full of cold, occasional fever flushes and a cough fit to wake the deadest of the dead.

I didn't run yesterday, and spent the afternoon trying to declutter and making even more of a mess than my flat was in in the first place, but today I did manage to get out and walked one of my usual running routes for about 5 miles. Took me two hours, but that's fine.

Long tailed tits, without the cover of greenery, are very apparent in the trees, zeeeping about in little flocks of about 20 cuter than cute birds. Everywhere robins are patrolling their territories, watching from low branches for any invaders of their space.

I ended up at the River DEvon on Sconce Park, trying to look for the best vantage point to sketch the river and finding it where the drainage channel from the park flows into the river.

I worked quickly and impressionistically - he says getting his excuses in early - not wishing to stay out with my hands ungloved.

There's still a talent deficit, but I suppose I have a style all my own...


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.12.16

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Apprentice Fame Shines on Newark

I've not watched a whole lot of "The Apprentice" this year, same as last year, the year before, the year before that, and indeed in the last ten years because it features a clown car of cretins every year.

However, one of the candidates was interviewed and it turns out that she owns a business in the town. An outlet for baby clothes, supposedly high quality end of line stuff.

This is the shop.

The contestant in question is Frances, the little slightly pixie-ish one. Her store is located in the rather horrendous St Mark's Place shopping precint, which even after a major redevelopment is still an utterly hideous place full of low status shoe shops and a Bright House outlet that kept getting ramraided until they put metal shutters up that gave an authentic feel of the LA riots to the place.

Her shop itself doesn't feel mega high end to me - everything in it seems to be marked "70% Off" and the who place looks a bit tatty. She was originally in a better quality unit behind where I took this shot from, so why she's now across here I've no idea.

This town is a doom zone for small retailers.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.12.16

Friday, 16 December 2016