Monday 31 July 2017

A Monstrous Beastie

Well, it's actually been a reasonable day today by the standards of recent weather, and I've had a fair old potter about. I always like to spy out the local clumps of buddleia, as I'm sure all amateur nature lovers do, because there is so much insect life you can potentially find feeding of it.

Hit the jackpot today!

I'd been initially disappointed, scanning through the purple clumps of flowers growing on the plants sticking through the fencing at Derry's, but then a big yellow behind caught my eye.

I've seen this colour before, once you do you really don't mistake it for anything else. It belongs to the hornet mimic hoverfly, our largest hoverfly species and a truly magnificent insect. The yellow-white abdomen glows, the eyes are huge, and the wings are like those of a pterodactyl.

They were once rare, but are another species creeping north with global warming. All the others I've seen have been very skittish, but this one let me take a shot or two, and I'm very grateful for it!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.07.17

Sunday 30 July 2017

A Natural Vignette

I've not been cricketing today, as I've had a works festival to work at, at a Social / Football club with swallows skimming around the stalls all day, while house martins twittered above, their white rumps plain in the occasionally blue skies.

We were lucky with the weather today, we avoided a major soaking until 6pm when the event finished. Not been a healthy day; lunch was a burger and chips, dinner was a burger and chips. THat'll be a 10km plus run for me tomorrow, that's for sure.

Had a great view of a natural encounter on the way home, literally as I was leaving the car park. A woodpigeon was flying along, just minding its own business past a stand of trees, when suddenly, with three sharp screeches, a sparrowhawk - identified by the three dark bars under the tail - shot out of the treetops and set off in pursuit, causing the pigeon to do a handbrake turn in mid-air and head off in the opposite direction at high speed.

Wonder if it was an inexeperienced young raptor, as its timing was miles off! It set off in pursuit, but it was never going to catch the woodpigeon unless it had a jetpack strapped on. It made me smile though.

Here's a hoverfly on the sun to make you smile too.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.07.17

Saturday 29 July 2017

Back to our Losing Ways, Sadly

Today was a home game against Gedling and Sherwood 3s, a team we only played half a match against last time thanks to the rain. Today, although other teams had suffered thanks to the rains of previous days, we had a lovely wicket at Collingham Dale Field and a dry outfield.

What we didn't have was any sun most of the time, we sat under grey clouds and a strong breeze. Sweaters re-appeared on a few bodies for the first time since May. Determined to field, bowl and bat better than last weekend, I warmed up strongly, powerfully, got really loose, fired up, ready to charge in...

...only for the Wordsworth of Newark skipper to lose the toss and find us inserted into bat by a team who knew our strength was in bowling and wanted to negate it.

This meant I got to go on my nature walk earlier than expected, as our openers strode out to bat and I knew I wouldn't be required for a while. There seems to have been a sort of second spring, with speedwell and poppies and corncockle emerging in a little margin that borders the tennis court, and various species of white butterfly were being attracted to flowering nettles in the hedgerow though not to my camera. Buzzards keeing, but not seen, swallows swooping low over the ground, twittering like mad.

The trees in the orchard are now starting to get heavy with apples, even the baby trees. Oh summer where the hell have you gone?

As I walked, wickets fell rather too regularly however, and it required determined batting by previously unheralded lower order players to get us any kind of score at all...although I wasn't one of them. I got 1 not out. Went in very late and couldn't get going. I'm not good enough to be able to score freely straightaway. At least I'm good at running between the wickets though, although the running out of my partner off the last ball wouldn't make you think so.

After a good start, my batting has really depressed me this season. Grrrrr arrrghhh. Least I fielded ok.

Anyway, 120 never felt like it was enough, but at least it gave us a chance. We castled one of their openers early, but it brought in a rather powerfully built chap, who it rapidly transpired was a batsman of a far higher standard than we're used to, but who doesn't get to play a lot and so likes to make the most of it. He was a nice chap, but a merciless one.

He warmed up by having a little go at our opening bowlers as they came to the end of their spells, but he was more up for putting me over the ropes. I don't have the pace of our quickest bowler, and good bats can hit decent deliveries of mine as he did.

I bowled well. I ran in really hard, bowled as quick as I could and only bowled two bad deliveries. But he was too good. Luckily someone else wasn't, and I had them caught at backward point. He'd already been a bit naughty for not walking earlier on and upsetting the skipper...

Alas, we could only take three wickets. Not one of our better days, but this team was too good in the end.


All text copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.07.17

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Flutters at Work

Managed to get out for a short trot across the campus today - I am the work version of a Securicor van - and managed to check out our various meadows and verges.

It's been a bright day, which means a healthy population of bees and butterflies has been about. They love the flowering teasel, and the rosebay willowherb keeps them occupied as well.

A small skipper also nectared long enough off one for me to get a shot of it.

Then over in the herb garden, a huge and shiny peacock was sat upon a buddleia but I never got a chance to get a shot. A red admiral was far more amenable, indeed it kept fluttering around my shoulders and back onto a different flower every time it as disturbed.

It wouldn't show me its wings however. Little scaly sod.

Speaking of scales, the line of blue markings along the bottom edge of each forewing were rather interesting!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.07.17

Monday 24 July 2017

Banging and Stabbing

Before the cricket yesterday, I took myself off to the park where a Civil War re-enactment was gearing up for the day's fight...Friday night the entire park was full of tents, and folk going round in very large boots carrying water butts or rolls of toilet paper.

Must be hard work to go to the lavatory while dressed as General Poyntz!

There was an early parade with a single small cannon shot, while folk in kilts trotted around the car park - the presence of the Scots was pivotal in the third siege of Newark in 1646 - but most of the activity was centred around the tents where various cookings, smithings and sewings were going on.

Of particular interest was a demonstration of how to stab a child.

A gentle sort of warm up to the day.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.07.17

Sunday 23 July 2017

Our Narrowest Defeat Yet

Off to Lowdham today, to play those pleasant chaps again.

The ground is a lot smaller than I remember it, which is why when we played here a couple of years ago my bowling was hit into the road beside the ground as I struggled to decide whether to bowl left or right handed.

Hopefully that wouldn't happen today.

The weather forecast had been dreadful, but it was slightly better today, and we managed to get the whole game in by reducing it to  a 25 overs a side, the right choice as it turned out because the "Thunder-Rain"  - this new term you find in weather forecasts - arrived 5 minutes after we finished.

We bowled first, and although I was very average, some first team quick bowlers did some damage up front and Lowdham never really got away from us, and we dealt with their big hitting opening bat - whom I referred to as Porkins after the chubby X wing pilot in Star Wars - fairly early on. But our supporting seam attack was a little less sharp, and this enabled them to get to 125.

Pretty gettable, we thought.

We were supposed to turn around quickly, but we ended up having tea after their innings and I have to say they really went to town on the salad level in the cheese sandwiches. Big plus for this. Tea was too milky though. Boo.

Anyway, our skip went out to open the batting with a powerful partner, and I chatted with my team-mates before taking in a walk around the ground.

It is surrounded by big horse chestnut trees, but a quick inspection of their leaves indicates that they aren't very well. Leaf miner moths have had their merry sport with these trees, and a lot of them don't seem to be producing conkers.

The other main feature of the ground is the beck that runs along one edge - Lowdham CC keep a specially adapted shrimping net for rescuing drowning balls - that is now well aflower with everyone's favourite invasive, himalayan balsam. Bees like it though, as they did the plentiful thistles and knapweed that grew along the bank. There were butterflies too, orange commas floated across the ground, eyecatching against the increasingly grey skies.

Swifts were about too, taking in their last matches before heading south after their summer stay.

Our batting had now began to flow, after a slightly slow start, indeed the skipper was in great form. Porkins bowled and went for a boundary or two. But we could never quite get up with the rate, and we went down by 22 runs in the end. Disappointing to get close to a win after the tough season we've had. And to not bat. I haven't batted in a match for weeks!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.07.17

Saturday 22 July 2017

The Obliterators of the Unexpected Journey

So, it was the long drive out to Goosedale Lane today, to take on Notts and Arnold Amateurs Vs. I know. It's a big club, with a big quotient of juniors.

The ground itself, a huge, wide open and slightly sterile facility  is the scene of some awful hammerings for the Sunday side, against the NAA top players. But today it was their development side, up against our one, on a pitch like plasticine.

We bowled first, and ripped through them. Bowled them out for 26 as their batsman committed hari-kiri on a pitch which like a few recently, has done some very odd things for slower paced bowlers. Our skipper hit the stumps, while our even older than me keeper threw himself around like a 16 year old catching them out as they played colossal heaves against me that would have been suicide on the surface like a billiard table.

One of their naughtier batsmen failed to walk after nicking the cover off the ball for the keeper. The umpire (and his coach) ordered him off the field and after the game was seen being told he was dropped for the next match.

To be honest, I took 3 wickets and two of those were off my two worst balls, including the heroic 12 year old Hobbit batting who ended up their best batsman. Roughly about the size of the stumps in high heels, he seemed a very long way away to bowl to, and you had to pitch the ball on his toes to avoid the ball bouncing head high for him to hook.

However, I got him in the end. One does not simply walk out to bat against me!

We did our best to torpedo ourselves when we were batting, but managed to see it home three down.

We've been defeated like this a few times, it is horrible, and it seemed odd to be doing it to someone else. It's inspired the skipper to write more poetry that he wants me to put in this blog, but I don't want to break the Geneva Convention.

Always like watching the remote control aircraft flying club next to this ground!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.07.17