Tuesday 31 October 2017

The Reluctant Skeleton

Halloween at work found me sat surrounded my team-mates who had really made an effort...

....while I hadn't bothered as usual. Problem is, I just don't have the hands to be able to make a costume, and don't have the money to buy one.

I also have a famously grumpy demeanour too, if my brain chemistry is that way inclined. Which first thing in the morning it usually is, although I've tried to change my morning routine to improve things. My team-mates are very understanding, and had actually sorted out a skeleton costume for me to wear to the various Halloween costume parades and photo-opps we were having today.

Sadly, it was a skeleton made for a rather smaller puddle of putrescent flesh than myself. About an 8 year old one, judging by the fact that as soon as I tried to clamber into the darn thing, it began to stretch and rip along the seams. I was fastened into it as if I was wearing a corset, at which point it popped open at the back like a flaying victim. It was also extremely tight and painful in rather intimate areas.

As for the mask it was so small I could only see a tiny tunnel of the world out of my right eye, and thus spent most of my time bumping into people and things as we went to our first parade.

We actually had a fun day, but I regret not making better efforts! No parties for me tonight! Or indeed, any night. I must be old.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.10.17

Monday 30 October 2017

An Evening's Cycling

Well, I thought I'd really messed today up.

I was up and about like a flash this morning, checking in at the library, checking in with work, getting my shopping done, and lunching like a boss.

On granola.

Well, I was lazy and needed to use the milke.

Yes, I thought. I've got the whole afternoon ahead of me, I shall not waste it!

I then was stricken with one of those times where the energy just seems to drain out of me. I ended up lying on the sofa dozing for two hours in dreamless sleep, occasionally waking up and being unable to move.

It was after 3pm when I was able to get going again. The sun was dropping in the sky like the lead weight my head had been that afternoon. Was I going to walk? Was I going to cycle?

Despite the cold and approaching sunset, I decided to load myself up with lights, and go for a cycle.

I'm really glad I did! I got 25km in in about an hour, on a beautiful crisp evening with the sun looking beautiful low over the land. The Hawton guinea fowl were on the rampage again, the Cotham donkeys were taking in the sun, and various buzzards flew up from their hiding holes as I trundled noisily by, including one really enormous specimen.

It's going to be a cold winter, the newspapers tell us. I shall not waste it.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.10.17

Sunday 29 October 2017

Polish Commemorations

Was it going to be a walking or cycling day today? Well, it ended up being two walks, the Northerly wind put me off cycling today. At least it has been very bright, with blue skies all day, but I think we might be done for buzzers and flutterers now, we've got a possible frost coming tonight. Brrrr.

So this morning I took the sights in around the park - mainly football  - before taking a break in my garden listening to a very strident wren somewhere unseen in the leaf cluttered undergrowth while I digested my lunch.

In the afternoon, I headed out in the opposite direction, at what I was kidding myself was a powerwalk kind of pace. The reasons I was trying to be quick was I wanted to cover a reasonable distance and get to Halffords and Millets in time, as I'd spotted some cycling jackets and fleeces I wanted to grab.

I had been in Millets earlier but wasn't able to get anything due to a distraction burglary by two Russians I walked into the aftermath of.

Meanwhile in the cemetery, a major event was taking place for the local - and not so local - Polish community. I can't remember what it was commemorating, but folk seemed to being bussed in, including some characters in blown up scout uniforms.

There was even a bit of bagpiping!

They had a lovely day, as did I, who got my long walks in and did manage to buy my fleeces.


All text and images copyright CreamCrakceredNature 29.10.17

Saturday 28 October 2017

Tour De Rubbish Tip

I had a very gentle run last night, 6km, and although it went ok at the time, it was a bit sore afterwards so I decided to stay off it today and go for a bike ride.

It ended up being a very short bike ride, a mere ten miles, because during them time it took me to eat my lunch, and get out there and pump the tires up, the wind suddenly got up and veered around to the north west. As soon as I was out of the protection of buildings, it turned out that my preferred route was going to have the wind hindering me virtually all the way.

So I decided to just make it short, rather than a 25 mile job.

Still it was good exercise, I was able to ride safely on the cycle track, and a wind from that direction meant I wasn't exposed to the full vomity miasma of Cotham rubbish tip.

Bizarrely, this is a popular spot for birdwatchers due to the huge numbers of gulls it attracts over the winter months - amidst the thousand plus herring and black headed gulls there's occasionally a glaucous or iceland gull, rare visitors from the arctic circle.

Somehow these "gullers" are able to pick out these different birds at a range of 400 metres through a spotting scope, something I'd never be able to do.

The official graffiti artists have also made it out this far. Virtually all the bridges along the cycle track are now colourfully decorated. Rather cheerful.

See what tomorrow brings!


Thursday 26 October 2017

A Poppy Red Night

Our old hospital is now the HQ of a massive building company, the former patriarch of which was a much decorated war hero who ran the infamous "Rome Escape Line" out of the Vatican.

The story of this operation to spirit Allied servicemen out of Italy via the Pope's ancestral home was made into a Hollywood film in the early 80s with Christopher Reeve and Gregory Peck, and typically wrote out all traces of British involvement to have the heroes being American.

This military connection probably explains why as of last night or perhaps earlier, this Victorian building was clad in blood red lighting and sported an enormous poppy above the door. You could see it from a long way off, and close up it looks extremely atmospheric. As well as highlighting the charity and remembrance event it wishes to commemorate.

It is so striking.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.10.17

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Ladybird Ladybird and all that

So, while I was engaging in all that geocaching fun, I was keeping an eye for other things too, you wouldn't want me to forget nature while looking for magnetic boxes stuck to armco barriers would you?

So, I kept looking to see what I might see...and it turned out that the creatures most noticeable to me yesterday were ladybirds. The weather was warm and mild, and it seemed to semi wake up our red and black spotty friends, who one would have thought might have been hunkered down in their sleepy holes after a few chilly nights.

Instead, a mild day brought them up to rather lethargically trundle about on the flowers that are still kicking around. I say trundle, they were barely moving.

Like me on a Saturday morning after my shift has finished.

I hope they didn't become easy targets for passing birds.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.10.17

Monday 23 October 2017

My First Geocache Hunt

My new slightly more whistles and bells than the old phone, phone, has been feeling a bit underused to me and I wanted some interest stimulating apps on it to do stuff with.

So I was just going through the options in the Android app store, when a geocaching one came up last night. I shrugged my shoulders, installed it and decided to see what I might find on my walk to Coddington village and back today.

I know geocaching has been around for a while - in the original days folk had to use their own dedicated GPS locators to find the caches from lists on the internet. Too much hassle for the likes of me. But now, with GPS on everyone's phones and apps listing every cache on this planet and probably a few hours too, formerly useless people like me can have a go.

It certainly opened my eyes to new little things I've never known about places I pass all the time. I hunted for 4 caches of the 35 or so in the vicinity. The first one was a plastic bottle in a tree trunk, the next a magnetic box stuck under a crash barrier, and the final one, most ingeniously, was in an empty snail shell with a magnet in.

I was quite pleased with myself when I found the first one and signed the logbook (rather, log-till roll) within. It's a fun way to find myself some new nooks and crannies to explore, I suspect!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.10.17

Sunday 22 October 2017

Just the Small Sorts of Things

Better day really, I had a lot more enrgy and was able to get up and about, helped by a blody great (and ultimately rather bloating) bowl of granola, the first time I have eaten cereal for breakfast in about 20 years...I have paid for it though.

I've been walking for about 4 hours today, as unable to run still while I rest up my dodgy calf and ankle. It's great, I trot about, listening to Radio 4, trying to make myself clever, and see if I can find anything for you, my dear readers.

Really, we are all about birds and flowers today, as I walked past London Road Pond and along the railway line, where toadflax, dog daisies and red clover are still in bloom.

There's also been a sort of mini spring in some places, as alklet, herb robert and the odd patch of forget-me-not has made a late season comeback.

It has been cold today though, with a biting wind prompting me to don an unsexy black hat. It protected my ears from Brian's breeze as I had my cup of tea at the park


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.10.17

Saturday 21 October 2017

A Late Season Darter

I had no energy today, yesterday at work sorting out events for the Against Breast Cancer day left me exhausted. However I did manage to get down to the River Devon on a bright but very windy morning.

While the ivy flowers, there are still insects around to feed off it, honeybees and red admirals, still flying strong deep into late October. And down by the river, there are still a few common darters about; I found this rather weakly coloured male (I think) soaking up the sun on a leaf.

The migrant hawkers have gone now, and I don't think it's been a good year for them.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature

Friday 20 October 2017

The World of Ceramic Butterflies

I don't know how big a world it is, but the local women's wellness centre at the hospital has some lovely ceramic butterflies on the entrance. They are actually species accurate, and rather less vandalised than you would expect.

I can imagine them falling off the wall, and hitting the ground and shattering with a gentle tinkling sound. Which reminds me of something I've been working on while cycling this week, the gentle and expressive use of the bell.

We have a lot of shared cycle and pedestrian spaces around my workplace, and as the mornings and nights get darker it gets harder and harder to not have wee contretemps with them, especially as a lot of them are listening to Polish Rap-Rave at a loud volume.

Shouting at people is very undignified and rude, especially given the endless DAily Mail driven bad press cyclists get. So I've fitted a bell, just a cheap supermarket one, but it is very responsive to the force you tinkle it with. It can be strident, it can be quiet. It can be a punch in the chops, or a kiss on the lips.

I will keep practicing.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.10.17

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Common Carders still Active

When the sun isn't looking like it's about to turn red giant and devour the earth as a cloud of dust threatens to clog the lungs out of bodies, insect life is still around.

Thanks to the late blooming lavender on the library gardens, a few honeybees but particularly common carder bumbles are still feeding off the flowers. They move fast and don't settle much, so are hard to photograph, but I managed to snap a couple of them yesterday and it was most gratifying.

They must enjoy having their golden furry coats, because they are among the earliest bumbles you see in the spring, and definitely the latest still active in autumn. The colours of the carders has been glorious this year, some of them are so orange as to actually look like little furry oranges.

Oranges that fly.

Red admirals are still on the wing, but not seeing any hoverflies now. The dark times of the year are now upon us, where things go to sleep one by one rather than wake up.

January, and the cycle will repeat, and I can't wait.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 17.10.17

Monday 16 October 2017

The Ophelia Sun

Well, did we ever have such an odd sort of day today.

I noticed as soon as I was out of the house mid morning that there was something not right with the sky, but initially I thought it was just a weirdly hazy morning, with perhaps some sugar factory or power station smog just giving it a bit of an orange tinge.

After that, I wasn't too surprised to see that the sun was a very sunset colour even at 1130am, so striking I took pictures of it above the market place and Asda. But it was only when I looked online on my phone to see that my Instagram feed was full of pictures of what looked like a bloody peach hanging in the sky that I caught on that there was something going on more than a bit of local smog.

Apparently it was Saharan dust dragged up by Hurricane Ophelia causing these strange skies - ironically a chapter in the Arthur C. Clarke "Mysterious World" book I had just been reading - although as the day went on and the number of pictures EVERYWHERE increased, Portugese wildfire ash had been added into the mix.

The sky went really dark at about 230pm, a sickly salmon pink colour, and the sun was obscured. But as I went running at 3pm I noticed that the sun had come back out, and you could see a blue band in the south west where the dust cloud ended.

Gradually, the apocalypse cloud passed over, and I recorded it on my phone, to be replaced by cloudless blue skies.

Radio 6 listeners too had been tracking it across the country; Radcliffe and Maconie were even more entertaining than usual!

How glad I was to have been part of a such a phenomenon!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 17.10.17