Saturday 30 April 2016

LBW Bowled Red Kite

Today was the first day of the new cricket season for me, an away game at a lovely ground behind Belvoir Castle. I was full of nerves last night, sitting in the pub unable to read my book on quantum mechanics for the whole terrible fear of it.

What if I was called upon to try and score the winning run, or take a steepling catch to ensure victory? Would my bowling be hostile?

As it happened, none of these issues would arrive.

The first thing I noticed at the ground, apart from the fact that unlike our main ground it wasn't a bog, thrilled me to the proverbial marrow. Above, a red kite was soaring in the strong wings, great long wings extended, steering with its forked tail.

"We get a lot of those" said an opposing player as we watched it.

You tend not to realise how big these birds are. You imagine their falcon-ish wingform, and think they will be the size of a peregrine, or something similar. They are not, they are huge, larger than a buzzard - of which there were also plenty keening around the ground - with a mastery of the air even their ragged brown cousins don't seem to have.

One of them got me out. I think.

We had done well to restrict the opposition to just under 200, with my bowling sadly not required due to our need to blood youngsters. I did hurl myself around the field, making only a thousand or so misfields, and the thermal vest kept the cold out if not the rain.

The problem was with our very inexperienced batting line up. We just didn't have an answer to two young quick bowlers who went through us like sabres. Nose bleeding at 8 in the line up, I was trapped at one end against a 14 year old kid I was making look like Wasim Akram. I just about fended him off for a few overs, glancing a nice 4 in the process, when the sight of another red kite low above the ground took my attention.

"I love your red kites" I said to the crouching pack of slip fielders, and prepared to face the next delivery. Big inswinger, couldn't get my feet moving, and my skipper gave me out LBW.

All out for 40. Oh dear oh dear.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.04.16

Friday 29 April 2016

Flowers in the Ditch

The drainage ditch that runs through the cemetery seems to replicate the habitat of a damp woodland dell, and thus always seems to attract great carpets of flowers as mid-spring progresses.

Today, even on a wild and mainly dull day, it deserved a little photographic record. I know these flowers may be familiar to you, but this is probably the site at its peak.

In addition, elsewhere graves are sprouting buttercups, and a huge floppy triffid flower has appeared for the first time ever. If anyone knows what it is, let me know. The flower was larger than a saucer.

I kept walking round, until I reached the Blue Lake where I set my camera on multishot and tried to capture the swallows that were skimming the water with such powerful elegance. No chance of getting any decent shots at all - we will see when I process them - but merely to watch them was an experience. There was one male who's tale streamers seemed to go on forever, helping him make effortless sharp turns a millimetre above the water.

I've also been trying to take some really nice shots to see if I can get in the Nottingham culture magazine "Left Lion" - doubt I'll make it but I'll try. Grebe on the nest, or bluebells and graves? I will have to see.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.04.16

Wednesday 27 April 2016

A Snowy Walk to Southwell

Well, one of my ambitions for my time off has been chalked off; walking to Southwell and not getting lost like happened when I tried to run there in 2014. I figured I'd walk it today rather than run it, as my legs were a little bit stiff, and I figured it would give me a chance to listen to some Radio 4, followed by the brilliant Radclife and Maconie show on 6 Music in its entirety.

The sky was blue when I started off, but you could see various heavy grey downpour veils on the western horizon. One of them was bound to catch up with me sooner or later, but I had my yellow cagoule of sexiness with me, and in my walking trousers I thought I'd be OK.

First landmark on route was the Wednesday auction on the old cattle market, where a crowd of excited punters were bidding over such valuable goods as broken lawnmowers, filthy children's toys and empty plastic buckets. Better selection today than some days; I've seen endless boxes of coathangers or stacks of dirty jam jars for sale on previous occasions.

From here it was a slog across the rugby club and farmer's fields to Kelham village. Plenty of bird song in the hedgerows, but there weren't the flocks of lapwing I've seen around here on other occasions, and no kestrels were on hovering duties looking for prey.

After crossing the river at Kelham, you then head past the underground reservoir and follow a cross country path that skirts a couple of woods, before ascending sharply through some farmer's fields. Lots of peacocks were flushed up by my footsteps, and the sun was bright and warm.

You reach the highest part of the route here, and there are wide, if not massively amazing, views of the surrounding countryside.

After this section, the ground descends towards the main Mansfield road, reaching a lane that crosses the Kelham Hills towards Caunton. The hedgerows on this lane were lively with birds, and at ground level flowers like ground ivy and dandelion provided food for some species or other of solitary bee, and red and white campion added extra colour.

There then followed a hairy crossing of the A617, a dangerous road at any time, before ascending a sharp climb as the fearsome looking clouds began to close in. A herd of calves proved to be the more immediate concern, as they decided I must have food for them, and decided to chase me en masse down a slope. I only just reached a kissing gate before I was crushed to death, or eaten, by thirty tons of Fresians.

When I reached safety, I taunted them with the news that none of them were good looking enough to make a Pink Floyd album cover. Atom Heart Mother??? You wish.

By now I reached Upton Village, home of the famous Horological institute. There's probably millions of pounds worth of history timepieces in the building, but I was on a hike, not Bargain Hunt.

It was just after Upton that it began to snow for about 20 minutes. Luckily, I was prepared.

By the time I reached the edge of Southwell, the sun had come back out and orange tips were fluttering along the hedgerows. I've already seen more this year than last, where the cold spring seemed to wipe them out. Not that this one is any better I suppose. I passed the Workhouse, one of the affluent town's major attractions.

I then turned onto Church Street, where I used to go to school. The school itself is now gone, flattened to make way for housing, before the re-excavation of a Roman villa on the site revealed that it was a far more important site than previously realised and everything was put on hold. It just sat there as various heaps of ugly rubble until a local benefactor bought the site for its future preservation. What happens now, no-one knows.

The main objective had been to visit Potwell Meadows nature reserve, but it was only a small site and other than lots of rabbits and cowslips, not a lot to see today however, and I had a bus to catch. It will be pretty later in spring I think, when the yellow rattle comes out.

Finally, a trip through the Minster grounds. In the Bishop's Palace, it appeared they were getting ready to burn a witch, and in the gift shop "Ruby Sweet" bottles of communion wine were available, much better value, I'd say, than the rubbish alcohol free ones.

You need something warming after those endlessly long services in there that I remember from childhood.

Have a great one!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.04.16