Thursday 30 June 2016

Tonight my Bowlin' was Smokin'

Cricket nets tonight, on a greasy, spongy astroturf that prompted more mis-steps than Strictly Come Dancing on Acid. I was pleased. I didn't get hit into the car park at all, although I still bat like Penfold with my helmet on.

Some school playing fields are a vision out of JK Rowling. Newark Academy isn't. Birds and wildlife stay far away as we go through our expansive strokeplay on the ground beneath, trying to smack the ball over the fence and onto the hot hatches of the posh souls playing tennis at the club next door.

They can afford the repairs.

A bonfire at the south end of the field began to slowly spread its smoke over us, making us look like we were playing cricket in a World War One mustard gas attack, sepia ghosts in a toxic mist.

I badly need a good game. I fielded badly last week, lumbering about in the outfield and feeling much more unathletic than normal. I didn't bowl. I batted like the living dead. I think the bad weather affected my game physically and mentally.

Hopefully, on this double header weekend, the weather will be better, the sun will smile down, and I will play like Viv Richards with the artistry of Vivaldi and Van Gogh. Chances are however, my time out in the middle will be limited, and so I will wander the ground looking for things of beauty; birds, butterflies, and the decent tea we aren't going to be given for reasons Ramadanical.

No bad thing really. You've never seen a man who can inhale mini scotch eggs the moment he sees them, until you see me.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.06.16

Tuesday 28 June 2016

The House at Valerian Corner

Like the poppy field now sadly fading, I'm sure the house at Valerian Corner was brighter last year.

Where is Valerian Corner? It's on my running routes that go through Farndon Village, a modern house with an old outbuilding with a cat weathervane upon it. In summer, the verge outside it burns with red valerian, attracting bees and on one memorable day, a hummingbird hawk moth.

Normally when I pass it, it means I'm on the way back into town after a long country run, so it is a welcome sight. A beautiful one at this time of year.

Usually when I pass it, Rumbles Cafe and a cup of tea is about 15 minutes away!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.06.16

Monday 27 June 2016

Life in my Dandelions

Having a chuckle about what has happened in the football, and the fans chanting "We're out of Europe!" before the match.

Really wasn't wise. was it chaps?

Today was a running day, 10km out and about through the poppy field - over much sooner than last year alas - and across to Hawton village. Lots of small tortoiseshells in the Grange Road fields, all of them sparling fresh out of the packet.

But oddly enough, it was my garden where most of the life was today. A new crop of dandelions has flowered, and this morning as I left the house to go for tea at the park, and the insects were very interested!

There were these solitary bees, a species I don't recognise.

A hoverfly was also enjoying a feed off these flowers, which in close up are reminiscent of the surface of the sun.

And finally, loitering on the ground feeding off the clover, was a queen tree bumblebee - perhaps from the nest in my flat - slowly making her way from flower to flower. This was a bee of considerable size.

Now, I go back on shift, to communicate of bad backs and bicycles.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.06.16

Sunday 26 June 2016

Skylarking Around

By heaven I've had a busy outside day again, sore back and all. 30km on the bike were followed - after a short snooze - by a 7km run.

I noticed today, as I cycled along the Sustrans 64, that among the ox-eye daises lining the path, that ringlets and meadow browns were up today, and indeed as I cycled along through Sheldon, Sibthorpe and Thorpe villages I think I saw second flight small tortoiseshells about.

Summer is moving on far too fast for my liking.

My run took me through the Beacon Hill reserve looking to get photos of these butterflies and moths, but none around. Plenty of bees on the scabious though.

My picture today is actually from my Owl Land run a few days ago. A lovely skylark, pity its crest wasn't up though.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.06.16

Saturday 25 June 2016

I Think "Abject" is the Word

Another cricket day today, off to what turned out to be the very affluent looking village of Oxton, a place I've never visited before despite it being close to Southwell, where I went to school.

The ground was in a promising looking location, high up in the village, and with a flock of curious, constantly baa-ing mixed flock of black, and white, sheep, and with a quirkily charming old pavilion where tea was made by pouring twenty bottles of water into a cauldron kept on the go by a scary gas flame. As is the way with any proper olde worlde sports ground, there must be some broken down equipment on display, and in this case it was a rusting yellow heavy roller that looked like it hadn't moved for a very long time.

Like my feet when I'm batting. More of that later.

Like all cricket grounds I've played at this year, the Oxton ground was a playground for swallows and house martins to swoop around, one swallow in particular passing a metre from my face when I was fielding. Pied wagtails were also plentiful, and there seemed to be a constant piping call, reminiscent of a lapwing or oystercatcher, that I couldn't identify the source of.

A kestrel flew overhead. I found an old bird's nest in an outside toilet. More sheep came up to the fence and "baaa-d" at me. But what struck me the most was a mistle thrush, tall and elegant, visiting the ground during a rain break to grab a worm of two.

For rain it did, hard. Once before the match and twice during it, at which point the drawbacks of a charming old quirky pavilion became very apparent; it seemed to be raining harder in the dressing room than outside. Still it did mean we got to have an early tea, always a highlight for me.

In between showers and the odd crack of thunder - one batsman decided his helmet was a bad idea as the lightning got closer - we actually knocked over the Oxton batsman for a mere 44 on a day were the catches stuck and the wicket proved rather a tricky one.

At 20-1 in our reply, hopes were high. Unfortunately the local giant fast bowler had other ideas, and after our skipper fell first ball to the spinner at the other end, he destroyed us with extreme prejudice.

He was simply miles too fast and straight.

I went in at number 8, survived the first ball by some miracle, and then sightless in my helmet and the poor conditions, aimed a panic stricken drive at my second ball and had a lot of my stumps knocked over. Sounded like it anyway, I was too despondent to look.

He took 7-10, and we went down for 25, the lowest score I've ever been involved in. No-one knew what was going on at all, and our spirits sank before we began to smile at ourselves again as the familiar collapse went on. Yet yet bloody yet again.

At least I got to wear my new spikes, they looked good even though they had half the ground attached to them by the end. And my helmet is currently costing £15 per ball I face.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.06.16

Friday 24 June 2016

Metallic Brilliance

Well it's not been the greatest day or night, but the sun still rose, and after a sharp shower even came out for a good long burst in the afternoon. The horrific humidity has eased a little, and when I got home from work I was able to have a pleasant walk as the dark grey receded and a blue weather front swept over the town.

And then, just up the road, I spotted a big bush of flowering lavender. Assuming it would be alive with bees, I gave it a close inspection, but of buzzers there were none.

Instead there was this beautiful metallic, shiny beetle. I'm not sure what species it is, it may be a rosemary beetle, but is certainly very beautiful.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Exercising my Sweaty Democratic Right

Well today was the big Referendum day, and I'll wager many of you are as sick of the whole thing as I am. But, believing what I do, not voting was never an option.

My preparation for voting was to take part in a two hour cricket session on a very low bouncing artificial surface with a prominent dog turd at short fine leg. The coach was feeling rather sadistic, making yours truly run the sweat right out of him when I batted, and exhorting me to hurl my bowling down like mediocre missiles.

My problems were exacerbated by the fact I was wearing a helmet for the very first time. It was like batting inside a Cyberman's helmet, inside a post box, and about as hot too. I bat like I'm blind anyway, and I was as blind as a bat out there.

Shares in stump making companies rise through the roof when I stumble to the wicket.

At least I bowled OK, and wonder if there is a future for me in "death bowling" - not as bloody as it sounds.

From there to vote. Wonder how many other folk turned up to vote with a cricket bat.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.06.16

Wednesday 22 June 2016

From Creative Studio at Work

Day 6 of my new role at work, and I've been engaging in a bit of design work.

Don't get me wrong. I can't design anything. I can't draw. I can't paint. But, I found myself needing to do a bit of design work today, as opposed to the wordsmithery that is normally expected out of me, and so I began working on what I remember in my University days where called "Creative Executions".

Posters, in other words.

As I went around my new office, scrounging highlighter pens, magic markers and other stationary and giving a moderate display of Tourettisms to the unitiated - Latvians aren't going to know what my constant bowling of imaginary cricket balls signifies - I set to work scrawling, and had a chuckle as I remembered that I'd finally found myself doing the same thing as my father had.

My father could genuinely draw, and worked in advertising for many years until he realised it was a young mans game. Very occasionally as a very small boy, I would meet him as his work day ended at his agency, and I would be given these to play with.

They smelled like Russian petrol and were as toxic as a dip in a Chernobyl stream . They dried up if you left the top off for more than 12 seconds. But they were so vivid, the colour just poured out of them, onto the paper and whatever was beneath it, on to your hands, and thence to your face and mouth.

But they were pure art, for proper artists. They are also a design classic.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.06.16

Tuesday 21 June 2016

50 Shades of Poppies

It has come to my attention during my runs and walks over the past few days, through the poppy field and the Owl Land, that poppies come in all shapes, sizes, varieties and colours.

I had no idea!

I wanted to get away from all the referendum debates and have thus been watching a very quiet man from New Zealand hauling giant brown trout out of tiny streams. It reminds me I've never fished for trout, let alone caught one.

I don't think the trout would be in any danger if I tried, actually.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.06.16

Monday 20 June 2016

Lots of Buzzers About Today

Well, it's been a footballing evening tonight - not that I've been all that interested - and like the sport, today has been a match of two halves. The morning and some of the afternoon was saturatingly wet and muggy, which meant my morning walk to the park took place in that sexy kag of mine again, while the late afternoon and evening saw blue skies and sun and thus me on a run.

Bees had been around even during the wet morning, as it was still pretty warm, and in the park they had feeding off the herbs in the cafe garden. But when the sun came out they were everywhere as I ran across the Owl Lands; on poppies, cow parsley, comfrey and all manner of wildflowers. For some reason, today was a day for the white tailed bumbles, they were the dominant species on view along with many early bumblebees, and a few red tailed and an occasional carder.

There were some very heavy pollen sacs to be seen!

Hoverflies were about too, and I saw my first chimneysweeper moths of the year. They love the north meadow at Devon Pastures and are never seen anywhere else on the park.

The ground was damp and quaggy, and the Owl Lands were looking wilder than I've ever seen them before. What could have been meadow pipits were singing in the long grass; and as I ran I flushed up a couple of partridges and a snipe. I was delighted to see another hare, but this time it didn't pose for photographs.

A big raptor flew very slowly overhead; a marsh harrier passing through? They've been seen here before. It was too far away to identify however.

Back on shift tomorrow, to be a communications champion.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.06.16

Tree bumbles nesting in my home!

Love this shot!

Comfrey bee

White tail on the cow parsely

And another!

Neat wings

Tree bumblebee in the park

Chimneysweeper moth

On the geraniums

Early bumblebee as the sun came out

Red tailed bumblebee