Saturday 31 August 2019

Headlice Worries while Umpiring

Second last second team match of the season, and only a miracle could save the second team from relegation. Now I know I'm not capable of producing any miracles, but we had a very strong side today, and hopes were high.

On a day that started brightly, but with heavy clouds gathering, we batted first, and with me down the order as ever it was my job to umpire.

We batted very well, and because of this I ended up umpiring for 31 overs at both ends, while we batted powerfully against a moderate bowling attack. Our opener, up from the thirds where he scored stacks of runs got 64, and we had significant other scores of 54 and 36 too.

Got to signal 6 a couple of times, which is always fun, and our Keyworth opponents were nice chaps apart from a wicket keeper who complained about our bats running down the wicket every five minutes. Well, I was busy watching the ball and the running between the wickets, I barely have eyes in the front of my head, let alone in the back.

Of more, but weirder concern, was headwear. Now, as umpire, I normally get handed a variety of caps, hats, sweaters and glasses by the various bowlers, and only having two arms it is tricky to sort them out. Normally I wear the caps with the shades on top of my own shades and cap, so I end up with double decker hat arrangements of various daft looking kinds.

Today, I wasn't wearing my own cap to umpire, so had to put their player's hats on top of my own bare head. This was fine early on, but after about 15 overs I suddenly had a bit of an OCD attack and got worried about catching nits from these caps. This is no reflection of the standards of hygiene in Keyworth, might I add, it's just my contamination fixations that I have been getting on and off for 30 years.

Consequence of Tourettes.

I ended up sticking the caps in my pockets and they did end up getting rather crushed.

We had a rain interruption of about an hour, so we had an early tea, but the sun appeared again, and we were able to bat our overs to a competitive looking 181 for 3, our best score of the year.

We had to make a quick turnaround, and after my umpiring stint in the mizzle and wind I was already rather stiff and tight muscled, and sciatica setting into my left buttock, and I had no time to do a full set of stretches. Thus when I opened the bowling from my least favourite end, into a strong breeze, my left calf gave out second ball in with a nasty teary sort of pull - which has now bruised up to go with all the rest of my body of woes.

Bowling was a real struggle, but I managed to get through 8 luckless overs for 27 to contribute to a really strong start for us - I was nicked through slips a couple of times to go with the usual beaten outside edges, and I have to say I was disappointed in myself despite the scoreline. They were 50-2 after 20 overs, and it was looking so good for us.

It was a day for injuries - an opening bat got walloped on the head by a throw, and our wicket keeper got hit in the unmentionables by another return. Believe me, I was well placed to sympathise.

Alas their gun bat, who made 99 last week, then got in, and as soon as he got his eye in, he began scoring more or less a couple of boundaries an over for the next 8 after the halfway drinks break and the game got right away from us and we just couldn't get it back.

We ended up losing by 6 wickets in the 38th over, and we are relegated. Damn.

I still enjoyed it though, and tomorrow is a more relaxed game. It had better be anyway.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 

Friday 30 August 2019

A Solitary Bee of Some Kind

There's not much left around our campus for pollinators now, a choice of verbena or st John's wort.

The former attracted a solitary bee of some kind, perhaps a mason bee, perhaps a leaf cutter although I'm leaning slightly towards the former. The auburn hairs on the thorax were not very honey bee like, for sure, nor the shape of the abdomen.

Over on the st johns wort, a hoveryfly was feeding. And for buzzers and flutterers, that was about the sum of it I saw today despite it being quite bright out.

The barren months loom.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.08.19

Thursday 29 August 2019

Blaise Castle Walk

Last week I wrote of my walk to Canford Park and WEstbury on Trym from my sister's  house in Southmead in Bristol. Well, I didn't stop there.

I carried on walking, along a main road and a sharp did, and found myself on what I hoped would be a walk up to Blaise Castle, a feature I'd seen on a map but had no idea what was there.

As it turned out, it was a long, sticky walk along a path along the Hollow Beck, where children damned the stream and the occasional algae filled pond opened up beneath stone bridges.

The stream was at the bottom of a gorge, and high above rock walls stood vertical, lit by late afternoon sun. If there was a castle it was well hidden for sure.

I kept going, passing families out on bicycles and on foot; the path began to spiral.

I'd more or less given up finding anything when abruptly the route opened up onto an open field filled with people enjoying themselves, a cafe, playground and museum.

A crenellated tower was just visible above a stand of very tall trees, but when I tried to walk up to the castle I could find no route. Bugger that, I thought, and had a cup of tea amongst everyone enjoying the warm sun.

It isn't even a real castle - it's a folly!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.08.19

Monday 26 August 2019

Taylor Forbes Memorial Match 2019

The Taylor Forbes game is a reasonably recent addition to our club calendar - I think today was the 4th edition - where a couple of stalwarts of our club, both no longer with us, are commemorated in a festival game with players from our club and other local club players who knew them.

I wasn't playing, but went down anyway, and found myself umpiring as the Taylor side chased down the 177 for 6 set by the Forbes team. I ended up umpiring all 30 overs in what ended up a very exciting game that went right to the last over, helped by an odd reluctance by the Forbes team to appeal for LBWs and caught behinds that were actually out.

There was some very big hitting, which I got to raise my arms excitedly for in the approved manner, and I also got to give three guys out lbw, two of whom were rather unhappy about it, but they were out. Well, one of them was middle stump plumb anyway.

It was very hot, and the cricket was hot too, with some big hitting by the Taylor team in their chase, until they needed 9 off their final over. This was certainly pretty exciting stuff to be umpiring over, the nearest we would get to a Ben Stokes scenario on our ground.

Sadly, there was a caught and bowled off the 4th ball of the over, so it ended up as a 7 run defeat. But that didn't matter, everyone had a good day, including myself, and there was lots of excellent food I didn't eat due to dietary reasons - what willpower!!! Compared to last year, which was a drizzly day with a plasticine wicket, it was a glorious day with numerous spectators too.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.08.19

Sunday 25 August 2019

England did a bit Better than Us

An absolutely blistering hot day today, and we went off to Caythorpe for the top of the table clash against a side with several premier league players to call upon, while we had the same Sunday team we have been more or less putting out there for the last two years, which is a credit to our skipper.

Being a premier club, Caythorpe have one of the better appointed and attractive grounds I have come across this season, and indeed many other seasons as I have never played at a premier league venue before. The test cricket was on in the bar on a large screen, the digital scoreboard was as big as a house and the wicket was a belter.

Thank god we won the toss and were able to bat first, or else it would have been a very long afternoon in the field. As it happened, I had to do a long stint of umpiring, resisting yelled lbw appeals with studied impassivity. Good pitch or not, runs were very hard to come by due to excellence of the bowling of even the youngest kids, and no-one really kicked on and made the big score we needed after several got starts.

We had plenty of encouragement, with many player's families coming down to cheer us on - I too did the same after my umpiring stint and while doing my shirtless and horrifying semi-yoga stretching preparations that it turned out I didn't really need to do.

I did get to go into bat late on at number 10, against the quickest bowling (again!) I've faced this year, this time with added bounce. The first ball smashed into my thigh and left a nasty bruise that will be massive and purple tomorrow, and the second caught my edge after I failed to get into line and played away from my body. Much too quick for me.

I still felt useless though.

So, 135 on the board, probably not enough but we would give it a good go. But against prem bats, even our best bowlers (not me!) struggled to break through, and we only took one wicket despite flogging ourselves into the ground. Me, I started well and nearly had their captain caught behind, but it all went to shit when I tried to bowl a slower ball and it was smashed out of the park. Serve me right for trying anything different. Felt gutted.

As it turned out, our younger bowlers kept them out there long enough to make sure that we are still in the promotion hunt on net run rate. And their skipper said they'd try and beat our rivals for us - they are now up for definite.

Gosh I am glad to be out of the sun, so glad!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.08.19

Saturday 24 August 2019

Close but no Cigar at the Barracks

Today the second team played Attenborough 4ths at a ground that turned out to be Chetwynd Barracks in Chilwell on the other side of Notts. I travelled with our skipper, and we immediately found the rather foreboding barbed wire fence around the ground, but with no actual entrance.

After being directed, we still got it wrong, but we made it on the third go to find ourselves going through a proper military checkpoint, with a uniformed guard and presumably hidden missile batteries pointing at us if we out a foot wrong. Luckily, we didn't look too well dodge or anything like that, and were directed past various military things to the sports ground, which was immaculate apart from the wicket that looked like it had been rolled by a Chieftain tank whose driver had a grudge against grass.

We knew it would be hard to score on, despite the short boundaries, and so it proved. The ball either scuttled along the ground, or stopped and spat, and runs had to be worked hard for. Our opener made 27, and our young-ish middle order bat scored a fine 41, but it was tough for the others.

I managed to spank 10 without any clear idea of what I was doing, until I tried to heave a short ball that didn't bounce into the Chilwell de-militarised zone. It did help us to 117, which we hoped would be a competitive score.

It was too, although their bats used to their own wicket probably found it a bit easier. Our third team captain, having re-appeared after batting in about 6 greyish layers, bowled very well, taking a couple of wickets, and I bowled ok for a bit, getting their opener caught behind without him actually really hitting it I think, until their one confident bat walked across the stumps to my inswingers and flicked me to the boundary for a couple of boundaries resulting in me being taken off.

We still tries to keep it tight, and took them right to the 40th over, but we couldn't get their left hander out and that cost us.

Relegation is now almost certain alas, but not for want of trying.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.08.19

Friday 23 August 2019

Barrows of the Dead in Bristol

I've just had a few days in Bristol with my sister, which was very nice even if the getting to and getting back were two similar, but totally different nightmares, with public transport. 16 plus hours travelling in total.

But, the company was worth it! My sister has a nice little house, two beautiful cats, and Bristol is a very green minded city where it is actually council policy to remove roses and such flowers from public parks and replace them with pollinator friendly species.

Two such parks / reserves were within decent walking distance of my sister's place. Badock's Wood, which I visited on Wednesday, is a nature reserve with an added extra - a bronze age burial tumulus, the sort of thing I've never been able to get close to before.

It's hardly Silbury Hill, but the fact that there is a 3500 year old tomb in suburban Bristol is quite mindblowing to me! There's a short horror film begging to me made about this I reckon, and I might well write it.

Thursday I took myself on a much longer walk to Westbury on Trym, there to visit  Canford Park, a Victorian era public space with an antique water fountain, a pond that looks like it's empty but put bread in and goldfish go on the rampage. Here were also dragonflies and butterflies on those pollinator friendly plants, but I didn't stop here, I went further...


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.08.19