Sunday 31 July 2016

Nature at the Festival

I've been working today...on a sunday, taken away from my regular cricket fixture to do a charity summer party at work. A brutally early start at 9am led to a day of working on a stall inviting visitors to "Bat the Rat".

A task that was at times ok, and at times a bit of a drudge. I'd been settled next to the large barbecue, which meant that I was tortured by both the smell of food, and clouds of billowing smoke all day. It also meant that I was stuck behind a very long queue and as such no-one could see me.

But, I did make some money, and most of the time it was at the hands of charming well brought up young children. Apart from one.

The nature of the game was basically to drop the "rat" - a stuffed pair of socks with a tail attached - down a bit of drainpipe, for the kids to hit with a cricket stump when it dropped out the bottom and win a prize. Although I gave a prize to any kid who entered and paid their 20p.

But this one plump ginger boy, about 6 or so, gave me £2.50  - 12 goes worth - and whether the rat was batted or not said "I got it" and immediately reached into the plastic bucket for a packet of Haribo to stuff in his pocket despite me saying "Come on, you missed it!". He came back later with more money and did the same thing. He ended up with about 15 packets.

Folk watching were just shaking their heads.

I noticed his father sat drinking in the bar behind me, a fat man with rolls of fat on the back of his bristle cut head, and the lowest forehead I've ever seen in my life. You could tell he was a scumbag, and you could tell his progeny was going to be a classic school bully, if he wasn't already, before going on to become a criminal.

I felt like calling the game "Bat the brat" after that. I more or less closed up so he couldn't come back. Ugh. Horrible little boy.

But I still managed to explore the field behind the venue though, and found some nice things to show you instead of beastly brats.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.07.16

Saturday 30 July 2016

Out at the Working Men's Club

Today saw us take a cricketing trip to Cotgrave on the outskirts at Nottingham today, at a real old school Miner's Welfare type place, against a real old school bunch of lads with a great team spirit, and a bit too much talent for us.

The ground was a rough one, used primarily for football with towering floodlights and a grassy outfield that could have stopped tanks. The wicket looked  slow, spongy and grassy, with an alarming hole in it, but it turned out to be quite lively. I didn't fancy batting on it, and was pretty relieved when I found out we were bowling first.

No nature spotting for a bit, but it did mean I was going to get to eat a really good tea and not have to worry about fielding like Jockey Wilson afterwards.

Early on their big openers got really stuck into us, and the ball was flying to all parts at great height - didn't need to worry about the long grass then - and I feared we'd be chasing 350.  Luckily we have new mystery spinner straight out of Asia, or rather the well known grocer shop in town on Beacon Hill, and he slowed up the scoring a bit while taking three wickets.

We had a real scratch side today in the seconds, with only about 4 regular players in all the Newark sides let alone the 2s, so our young lads did well not to let their heads drop and really kept on it. Muggins here ended up bowling his first 12 over spell in his life, and managed to take 3 wickets thanks to great catching. While getting battered as usual.

Unfortunately in my overexcitement I celebrated these wickets by losing control of my body and mind in general, and ran around like a Pikachu on methamphetamine while standing on a hotplate. This degree of mania resulted in me being given the man of the match awards by my team mates.

They still managed 284-7 though, and I figured I wasn't going to get much time for nature spotting so I got on with it straight away, zeroing in on a buddleia growing at one end of the rather unprepossessing ground.

It smelled sweet, and it was alive with bees; bees, bumblebees and butterflies, the three Bs of the summer. Red admirals, peacocks, small tortoiseshells and commas, the species I always associate with this plant at this time of year. There was a rodent crashing about as well,  but I never saw it.

There was an opportunity to look at the outside of the club as well. You could really imagine the Jim Bowens and Mike Reads performing here in the 70s.

I soon had to get padded up though, as wickets fell, and being the strongest batsman I have to be at bottom of the order supporting the others - that's how I look at it anyway and nothing at all to do with being rubbish - and yet another 0 not out proved this.

A loss again indeed, but a rather more productive one than normal.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.07.16


And action!

The pressure in on us

3 layers of watchers

Small tort in the grass


Doing its thing while the sun shines

Comma with bee friends

White tailed bumble

Size contrast between worker and female


Not sure about the luxury level of this "Ken Batey Suite"

"There were these three Irishmen..."

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Colour in the Owl Land

Running in the owl land is still an irritation. The Sustrans 64 bridge over the relief road is now around 7-8 months over schedule, and the run through Balderton and then up the rather grim Staple Lane past the end of the works, and the less-attractive-than-it-sounds Bantycock open cast gypsum mine, is a pain.

But at the moment, when you finally make your way round to the 64 where the road heads off to Staunton-in-the-Vale and clamber over the bank into the Hawton Works field, it is worth it.

I had written before how it was more wild and overgrown out there than I had ever known it, well now, it is waist deep in ragwort at one end, and neck deep in lady's bedstraw at the other. Lower down beneath the surface of this yellow sea are blue thistles and pink field bindweed.

The birds are loving it, looks like there are meadow pipits and / or skylarks making merry among the undergrowthy, flashing up now and again to reveal flashes of white along their tail feathers. As I made my way along, a female pheasant ran away from me in that usual scatterbrained manner of theirs, not realising that the greater threat probably came from two buzzards above.

I've never seen it so colourful in there. Enjoyed it greatly.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.07.16

The ragwort end

Small skipper on clover

This butterfly gave me some really good unusual views


Whatever it is, there's loads of it

Field bindweed

Pink and yellow

Thistle in a hula hoop

Ladies bedstraw

Red tailed bumble drops in on the action

Spot the buzzard

Again need help. Purple loosestrife?

Monday 25 July 2016

A Late Night Companion

Arrived home late last night for a gentle rum and coke and a stargaze, as I love to do in the dead of night, when I heard a tremendous commotion in the hedge down the side of the drive.

At first I thought it was one of next door's dogs, but the absence of endless barking ruled that out. The scuffling sound continued, so I turned on my mobile phone light to reveal a hedgehog on a slug hunt - or perhaps Pokemon - in the leaf litter.

I let it be for a bit, then when walking down the drive for a last look around, I found it out in the open.

After a long absence, suddenly hedgehogs are everywhere. Someone I know has a family of four living in the back garden, and has made sure they have access in and out through the fences, as this hedgehog does round our way. But in general they are struggling, and hopefully folk are letting them have little holes in the fencing so they can get around.

Was very happy to see this large and vigorous specimen!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.07.16

Sunday 24 July 2016

Victory at Last!

...if not on a personal level.

Today we were at Kelham Road again, on a warm but rather cloudier day than yesterday. We batted first again, giving me plenty of time to explore. Having covered the ground itself yesterday, I decided to venture further afield today, haring off into the fields around the ground, where small skippers and meadow browns were fluttering up from the red clover, birds foot trefoil and other low level flora.

Pity the rumbling traffic of the Newark bypass ruined the tranquility of the scene, but then I suppose it is hard to have Laurie Lee type rustic idylls in the UK of 2016.

I then found a country lane protected by a broken gate I could step over. Another part of town I've never set foot on before, even after 35 years in this town I can still find them! It led to an empty field, a pasture with no crops growing. As I turned around, a shrew streaked across the ground in front of me, and a meadow brown patrolled its patch its thistles.

Meanwhile we were getting off to a good start, a start that turned into a good middle and a fantastic finish. 201 for 8 off 40 overs, including a brilliant 80 not out from one of our first team players. I was busy being shown frogs by an ex teacher of mine. I wasn't required to bat, I just strapped my pads on and thankfully I wasn't needed. I'd have been given out lbw even if the ball hit me on the head the way things are going for me.

Then into the field, and we went at it brilliantly despite wrongly booting out their opening batsman for hitting the ball twice. Ouch. Luckily it didn't really matter in the end. Even I fielded like a demon early on, swooping on the ball and being referred to as a "gazelle".

As it turned out, I did indeed have hooves instead of hands, as later on the ball started slipping through them seemingly every time it came, and I then fell over while attempting to field another ball. Luckily I was able to try and divert my colleagues' attention away from this by pointing out two wildly piping oystercatchers fighting in the air as they flew over the ground.

But my head had gone, and when called upon to bowl I was terrible, my run up gone to pieces having been perfect in the morning nets. I wished the batting crease could have swallowed me up.

Luckily everyone else was superb, and closed out a 70 run victory on a match played with great humour in the field. My first victory for over a year. Thank god.


All text images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.07.16