Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Sit and Drink Pennyroyal Tea

Been doing a spot of "Herballing"  today, in the manner of a Greek or Arabic physician of days gone by, or rather an overheated man with no idea what he's talking about.

We have a couple of plants well known for their medical qualities growing at work at the moment. There's plenty of feverfew around, a plant still used for treating migraine and headaches. But more dramatically, there's a lot of pennyroyal around at the moment too, with its distinctive circles of blue blowers impaled on a stem looking like the smoke rings roadrunner leaves when he shoots off.

It is growing in thickish patches on dry scrubland and mud at the moment, and the powerful peppermint smell its leaves give off when crushed is unmistakable when you walk amongst it. Red tailed bumbles love it.

It is a plant with a dark history. It's ability to induce abortions was known about  in Classical times - Aristophanes jokes about it in one of his plays. Cleopatra knew what it was for. Women have died taking it.

And Kurt Cobain of Nirvana famously sang about it.


All text and  images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.07.18

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Common Blues Mating

Was wandering around this evening when I spotted a few common blues  flying about in the long virtually dead grass. There were male and female specimens, there was flitty flirting and love in the air.

I tracked a male specimen, a noticeably brighter and less pastel colour than a holly blue, as it danced about the vegetation. It stopped occasionally,but never for very long. I followed it and followed...

...And then lost sight of the sodding thing.

But wait. Serendipity slammed down its 4 Aces on the card table, and I caught sight of a mating pair on a burnt out looking grass head, with a bonus voyeur in play as well.

Made my day, I thought I'd have nothing to show you today. Instead, there is love...


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.07.18

Monday, 16 July 2018

An Archaeological Revelation

I noticed during my trip through Sconce Park yesterday that in dip between Rumbles and the Earthwork itself, a serious of what looked like 10 metre long scorch marks had appeared on the grass.

Now I know that all manner of hidden archaeological treasures have turned up during this hot spell, but I assumed that these brown, burnt looking streaks were probably exactly that; the results of the local idiot vandals burning things. But no, the park sent a drone up yesterday to take photographs, and historical features is indeed what they are.

Sconce Park has had so many uses over the years - Civil War fort, industrial site complete with  mineral railway, prisoner of war camp - that these lines could be absolutely anything. Drainage related  the most obvious function, but who knows.

It is nice having our own version of the Nazca Lines in town. My pics don't show them as well as a drone shot, but I hope you can get an idea.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.07.18

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Butterfly Hunting

No cricket match today - too many people wanted to watch the World Cup final although I can't say I was all that  interested in it. Such a lovely day too, would have loved another game this  weekend.

To make up for it, I have had a couple of walks today, a shorter one around the very arid looking Sconce Park before stopping at Rumbles for a cup of tea. The second one took me to Beacon Hill park to look for butterflies on the incredibly rampant buddleiah that has made the "butterfly park" inaccessible.

Good to see a second flight brimstone today, I have missed their citrine flutterings.

Not many peacocks these days, a few years ago you'd see every purple flower covered in them, only a couple today. Not many in Spring either. Chris  Packham is right.

Nature is buggered.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 15.07.18

Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Ruined Church Overlooked me Ruining Wickets

Well that's a hyperhubristic title, but allow me to induldge myself for a change.

The week prior to today's match had not gone well. My knee tendons were sore from overstretching, and my back muscles were tight too. The Saturday skipper, who considers himself portrayed as a Moriarty like figure in this blog, was wondering if I was ok, and I said I was fine.

I don't like missing matches, especially on the attractive ground at Colston Basset where we played Colston Basset today. But I was worried I'd break down, especially on the concrete grounds we are playing on this hot summer.

Luckily as soon as we got going, I was ok. Or more likely, I forgot about it. Certainly the  ground looked like it was in central Spain rather than Nottinghamshire, and the wicket was as hard as a glacier.

I didn't open up, as has been the case this year, but rather fielded rather well by my creaking standards as the skipper bowled a great opening spell (satisfied skip?) and our junior opener both took wickets while I fielded at slip in various inelegant positions for a while. Another bowler chipped in, as bees tried to feed on brittle dry clover at my feet and a squadron of Typhoons went by overhead in salute.

Time  for me to bowl, at their skipper, who can hit. And hit he did, straight down the throat of long off. Wicket first ball. Last ball off first over, yorked one of their youngsters. Double wicket maiden! Take that, ye doubters!

Nothing happened for a couple of overs, then a hack resulted in an experienced bat whacking the ball vertically upwards, and despite father and son trying to collide with each other, the catch was taken.

Next over, I bowled a quickish (ha! by my milk float standards) delivery that resulted in the wicketkeeper having to dodge a ball and two bails flying towards his face after I clipped the top of middle stump. 4 wickets, best of the season by miles, but could I get 5, which I've never done before due to being not very good.

I had to wait a bit, and dreaded being taken off. I couldn't find a straight one all of a sudden, having bowled straight all day before tailing the ball in late. I was getting mad with myself.

BUT it did happen, I yorked their young number 10's off stump, and then celebrated by lying flat on the ground, a celebration later deemed "excessive". Didn't care. Hadn't bowled this well before.

Led the team off for the first time in my life, having taken 5-20 as we bowled them out for 110. Our fielding had been brilliant, and I'd been lucky for a change.

We got the runs while I went off to explore the ruined church, beautiful and gothic as the sun began to lower on a blistery day. Bees looked for trefoil, large whites flitted by whispering congratulations. Young and old, everyone had a good day.

Seemingly, me most of all.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 14.07.18

Friday, 13 July 2018

Small Skippers Everywhere!

Work has been invaded by small skippers! They are everywhere, on the thistles, the ornamental garden, loitering in the grass, loving the teasels and generally just flitting about.

They are  having a great summer!


All text and images  copyright CreamCrackeredNature 13.07.18

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Apparently they Stink

Checking out the lavender today in the workplace garden - the sun wasn't out at the time so the small skippers were absent for a change - I noticed a very well camouflaged little shield bug, possibly some sort of later instar stage, sitting quietly in the blooms.

A friend later told me that these characters are known as stink bugs. "Why?" I asked. "I never knew they had a reputation!"

"Have you ever picked one up then smelled your fingers?" was the reply.

Well I haven't, but a quick google reveals that in the USA they are known as stink bugs rather than shield  bugs, and can be regarded as an agricultural pest.

And this one looked so innocent!

There were some other goodies  out today, and I tried to capture them as well as I could.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 12.07.18

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Flowering Teasel Attracts the Flutterers

Our unmowed verges at work have now sprung forth flowering teasel and pennyroyal - the leaves give off a heck of a whiff of peppermint when you crush them  - to go with the hairy and rosemary willow herb.

Rosemary willow herb  is not a big  hit with the insects, but the other species plus the obligatory ragwort that gives the badlands a yellow glow, all have their fans.

The flowering teasel in particular is proving to be a magnet for various bumblebee species, and also small tortoiseshells and the inevitable small skippers. I've never seen so many small skippers on our campus, so there's at least  one species that has had a good summer. Not so many meadow browns as I've seen previously, but still numerous enough.

There must be an issue of timing going on - I remember about three years ago photographing the teasels covered in huge clumps of burnet moths. But now the 5 spot burnets have disappeared, and the teasels have only just come into flower.

Nature does not  keep a fixed calendar!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.07.18

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

I Bought the Guy a Drink

I, like many people, have been  worried about our wildlife i this hot weather, and I was walking home last night thinking that I hadn't seen a hedgehog for a while.

The South Parade Park is looking very brown and scorched at the moment, and not exactly looking like it is alive with juicy slugs and worms. In my own garden area I've heard a lot  of snuffling and rustling in the undergrowth  lately, but not actually seen anything prickly until last night.

This young character was scuttling alongthe drive.

I immediately got a bowl of water and left it out for him, hoping he'd find some solid food as well.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 10.07.18

Monday, 9 July 2018

Nothing But Flowers

Just realised that is the title of a very good Talking Heads song from their last album. Which I have just listened to. So there.

Nothing is what I've done  today. Regular readers  will know I often get very very tired and listless onMondays, and so it was today. I had no energy,  not even enough to change the DVD which just burbled away on the menu screen for ever and ever.

I listlessly tidied up and did  one or two things, and the shopping in a busy Asda was a nightmare. Too many people for my taste.

So I spent a fair chunk of the day in the garden, watering my pets again after the sun storms - ironically a rather cooler day today - watching the large whites and second  flight holly blues go about their business, and admiring the Polish flowers next door, which are stunning.

But alas she grows no pollinator friendly plants!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.08.17