Thursday 30 April 2015

The Whitethroat on the Cycle Path

Despite my aching back and a lot of umming an ahhing, I did manage a 10km run this afternoon on The Owl Road route, wearing my rucksack like a real pro rail runner despite the fact all I had in it were my 10x50s.

No skylarks did I see today, but the cemetery was in a beautifully wild state, with probably the highest variety of flowers it will have all year although I think many of the bluebells are of the Spanish persuasion. I wasn't expecting to see the wild garlic in a ditch though, evidently a flower that likes damp shady spots.

Best thing I saw today was on the cycle path on the way to the Owl Road at Hawton Works. A small bird was flying into the wind, singing like a mad thing before settling back into the top of the edge. I thought it might have been another lark, but when it perched I got a clear look at it, and saw the slate blue head and, er, white throat, of a whitethroat! First time I've ever seen one on the cycle path.

A very handsome little bird, much given to flying out of trees singing, before going back to the same perch. A member of the warbler family, like the blackcap and chiff chaff.


All text and images are copyright CReamCrackeredNature 2015

Bluebells in the cemetery

Flowers point all ways, hence my belief these are Spanish non-natives


Wild Garlic

Forget me nots

Chaffinch bottom

It's a female

Getting very overgrown now

Wood sorrel

Butercups are now out!

Cherry blossom

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Fantastic Mrs Fox

With a couple of days to go before I have to return to work after my time off, I was leaving an establishment of doubtful virtue long after pumpkin time, when I was confronted by a pair of eyes glowing in the dark near HSBC, attached to a curious yet fearless head, russet body and a bushy tail.

It was of course a fox, and evidently one used to presence of humans. She sat perfectly still, looking up at me, as I took picture after picture of her. Only for me to realise that for some reason related to seer idiocy, I'd have the cameraphone on "film" setting, and had produced noting but a series of short films of dark paving slabs.

As soon as I had got the phone onto the right setting, the fox trotted up towards Bridge Street and disappeared. I stood there cursing myself to the skies for not being able to record such a close vulpine encounter - the fox was barely three metres away from me.

I decided to follow the fox to Bridge Street thinking it would be long gone. But as I turned the corner, there it was, sat munching away on what looked like a Babybel wrapper with an audible crunching sound.

It being a quiet Tuesday, there were fewer people around, but likewise there was a corresponding lack of fast food goodies overflowing from bins for hungry foxes. Barely able to breathe, I crept closer, taking a few pictures with the flash on, and the fox again took itself off. I decided from the state of the brush that it was a vixen, slightly on the thin side but otherwise in good condition.

She was also very peckish, as rather than heading to the churchyard where I presume her den was, she trotted back along the bollards before sidling up alongside the chemists shop before investigating a plastic drinking straw next to another bin.

By this time, she was barely a metre and a half away. Done with crunching on the straw, she found some other litter to nibble at, before slouching off round the corner onto Cartergate. I followed her round, and she decided to trot back into the market square again. I left her at that point to carry on her feeding activities.

In all, I think I must have watched her for around 10 minutes, and felt very privileged to have had the fates grant me this encounter.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Hawton Solar Farm

No running today as I had important cricket nets this evening, which I survived without having my thighs battered black, blue, and now green. So just to keep my legs moving, I had a gentle cycle in rather a cold wind out to Cotham and back, to take in what I might see in the paddocks.

Well, there was nothing of note, the birds were presumably wary of the people who were doing horse type work in the southern paddock, and the northern one was empty. Luckily, there were some artificial sights worthy of note.

Hawton Solar Farm came online in 2011, before the government slashed the subsidy available for renewable solar energy projects, and at the time was the largest solar energy station in the country. I could drone on about its vital statistics, luckily a sign I photographed will do that for me.

What I will say, having cycled past it many many times, is that I consider it a wonderful, futuristic sight and not at all a blot on the landscape as renewable projects are usually regarded; I feel the same about wind farms. On a sunny day, I often mistake it for the pond at Cotham Flash, as it glows mirage like in the distance. Yet at close range it is pretty discretely hidden behind roadside hedges.

Of course, I am a writer, a man with imagination, and I find it easy to think of Scaramanga's solar powered weapon in "The Man with the Golden Gun", or that it could be transported to the moon or Mercury for a futuristic base, or its reflected rays used to defeat a rampaging Godzilla.

I like the future, and futurism. There is no reason why they can't go hand in hand with green space, or in residential development.

Given the dismal low quality shoebox housing being crammed into every nook and cranny in town, the future cannot come quickly enough.


The dry facts of the place

Not a bad day for solar generation

Panels stretch into the far distance

This horse generates no electricity, but then, neither do I

Keeping the wagtails away!

Monday 27 April 2015

Even Kelham Village has its Ghost Signs

I was in a very peculiar mood about my running today. First of all I was going to ave a day off, then I thought I'd leave that for cricket day tomorrow, then I thought "Well, I'll go to Kelham and see if there are any bluebells a the church", and then when I actually started running I felt so stiff and grumpy I just wanted to stop and buy an ice cream.

Then, I thought I'd just run 5km. I ended up dillying and dallying along the Great North Road, before finally opting to be a man, and run the back way to Kelham.

Frankly I felt like a prize chump.

Kelham is another pretty little village, overlooked by the huge 19th century Victorian gothic Hall the local council has used rather overkillingly for years, and will do until there new home in town is complete in 2017. King Charles I was held by the Scots here after he ordered the surrender of Newark in 1646 and after his own personal surrender in Southwell.

Every so often, someone drives through the bridge and ends up in the river, causing this major road route to close for ages while the bridge is rebuilt and resulting in tailbacks the length of the Nile.

Sadly there were no bluebells to be had, but I did find some more ghost signs, and on the way home navigated on more virgin running territory for me that looked promising, but ended up with an impromptu crossing of a stony ploughed field in which more lapwing were calling and displaying.

Their wings folded up, they tumbled from the sky, which is how my legs felt after hauling myself across that farmland.


Tired common carder bee that I had no means of helping

As I left town, another Newark ghost sign

The back way to Kelham

Gatehouse at Kelham Hall

Kelham map. But who is in the river?

I think it's an early mining bee

Legs yellow with pollen

Kelham hall stable range. Now repurposed as cottages

Kelham ghost sign 1

Kelham ghost sign 2

Loads of this 4 petal white flower now out. I can't remember what it is.

Kelham Hall

Kelham Church

Nice selection of flowers in the churchyard

A new route home?

Ummm, no

Sunday 26 April 2015

Springtime in Willow Holt

Last Sunday I was giving myself a day off after my 20km run the day before, but not this weekend! With the weather still good if rather chillier, I figured a Trent-side run was in order, and ran to Hawton and across to Willow Holt in Farndon before coming home along the river.

Farndon is a schizophrenic sort of village, with the southern end being very quaint and chocolate boxy, dominated by the manor house and church of St Peter, while some horrendous 60s estates are bolted on in the centre and the north of the settlement. The nature reserve at Willow Holt starts at the south end of the village and the path crosses water meadows that in high summer will be full of chimney sweeper moths and ringlet butterflies, before entering the Willow wood proper which is a favourite spot for common darter dragonflies in warmer months.

The path then leads along the river back to the Ferry area, where the bars and restaurants would tempt a far weaker willed runner than myself to stop for refreshments. Ahem. I often wish that an old style ferry crossed the river here, a really creaky hand drawn one with a stooped old boatman, Charon made flesh.

It would certainly add scope to my running routes.

The holt has been heavily pollarded, but the wild garlic is in flower which is really what I came to see. Alas I was a bit early, in a week or two parts of the wood will be carpeted in their spiky white flowers.

I wonder if anything can be done with them from a culinary point of view?


All words and images are copyright

Pre run inspection of red wasp stings

Looking south from the A46 flyover

Farndon village

Cottage in Farndon

Forget me nots have taken over from celandine at St Peter's church

Entrace to Wilow Holt proper

Wild garlic


Out on the river

Plenty of kayakers about today

I love these "natural bridges"

Yes, I love the windmill too

Plenty of this stuff about as the river path comes back into Newark