Friday 31 July 2020

First Week Back in Work - Achievement Unlocked

Well, there we go then. A week that started very nervously, but improved as I got used to things and rather perversely felt more interested in things than I had been for a couple of weeks.

It was lucky that I was alone in my office for a fair bit over the past two days.

I'm very paranoid of course. I carry around paper towels to touch all the metal door handles that you have to pull to move around the building, sanitise my keyboard and mouse two or three times a day, sanitise my hands when ever I touch anything that isn't on my desk.

That sort of thing is tough. OCD is such fun during a pandemic.

And being around people in a confined space is a very "new" experience as well. I was washing my hands in the bathroom when another guy walked in while I was walking out, I nearly lost it.

So getting out at break times are important to me, even on a blazing day like today. I like to do a circuit of campus, exploring the planted and wild areas. Yesterday, for instance, I traipsed across the wasteland towards the drainage ditch, where a big clump of hairy willow herb was buzzing with bees. There's some whopping big blackberries growing too, but right next to  a busy road.

Mmmmm, toxic berries.


All text and images copyright CreamCRackeredNature 31.07.20

Wednesday 29 July 2020

The Return of Workplace Wildlife

Having been on furlough for so long, I've missed many of the sights I enjoy on my lunchtime walks; the bee orchids, the pyramidal orchids, the flowering of my little meadows, the 5 spot burnet moth red breasted linnets nesting in the bushes.

But still, there was a little to see when I toured campus today, most notably how the pennyroyal is really running rampant in its little corner of the field.

It's been a bit less stressful, mainly because I've been more or less on my own for large chunks of it which suits me fine. Starting to find a bit more of a rhythm, starting to feel a bit more lively and useful.


All text and  copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.07.20

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Returned to Work

I needed psyching up for it. I even had a run last night to prepare, 7km to get shot of some of the nervous adrenaline.

It didn't help. I barely slept, my circadian rhythms totally out of whack. But I was out the flat in plenty of time, ready to undergo temperature scanning, and have to find my new desk, and sort my computer out, and find my stuff after 4 months out of the office.

Then there was being an enclosed space with people for a prolonged length of time - all day - to contend with. And the constant hand washing, but there's not much point in washing hands when you then have to pull three sets of doors open after visiting the bathroom.

Massive OCD triggers. I had to carry around sheets of kitchen roll to hold the door handles with like the neurotic Finch character from the American Pie movies.

Then there's the sanitising, which will turn my hands to raw meat in a few days.

But you can't hide from the world forever, living like a bat.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.07.20

Sunday 26 July 2020

More Snap More Pop More Crackle

I wasn't supposed to be playing today, on a much nicer day than yesterday, but we had a very late drop out and the Chairman out the call out after the match has started.

Typically, selflessly, I answered the call. Even though I was only just awake at 2pm.

It was a 15 minute job to get ready then cycle down to the ground to find us batting at 63 for 2 with the aforementioned chairman out second ball. Thus I was just in time to witness a pretty awful collapse down to 79-9 against a good young Balderton side. To be fair, we had a very young and inexperienced side today.

This meant, at the dizzy heights of number 11, I had to bat for the first time all year.

I thought I'd have no chance, but managed to hit the 4 deliveries I faced no problem. But before I could get a run, my partner missed a straight one and that was that. If only he hadn't got out, I might have scored a century.

Onto fielding, and we started ok, taking an early wicket, but we weren't getting them quickly enough. I stodd at mid on, hoping I wouldn't have one smashed at me after getting a whack on the ankle yesterday.

I am still nervous about various bits of my body when bowling, but although sore, I was able to charge in a bit harder and bowl with a lot more purpose today. First ball I was edged between keeper and slip, something that would happen to me again.

It was exciting to be bowling with a bit more snap, and I must to admit when I castled their opener, who was batting in a sort of tweed floppy hat for some reason, I gave a bit of an overenthusiastic salute and was accused of giving the batsman "a send-off".

As if I would do that! I am a perfect sports and gentleman. Lol.

Anyway, despite feeling like I was bowling well, I'd drift one ball per over onto leg stump and get whacked. And that helped us lose, alas.

But it still feels good to be playing again.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.07.20

Saturday 25 July 2020

Cricket in Between the Downpours

It never looked like it was going to be a great day for a game of cricket today, and indeed as I set off on my bicycle to our ground to play for the second team against Southwell, it started bucketing down.

Stupidly, I wore my white cap to keep the rain off, and as I cycled over Trent Bridge, it was blown off my head and promptly run over by several cars, as a small child delighted in telling me when I got stuck at the level crossing.

The match was due to start at 1230, and when I arrived everyone was huddled in their cars out of the rain. Me, lacking a car, had to make do with a tree which I stomped disconsolately around.

We did manage to get going at 115pm, and ended up deciding to play a 20:20 game as more bad weather was scheduled to turn up at about 5pm.

We batted first, and I posted myself on ball patrol at the fence that marks to end of the ground and the beginning of the nettly badlands and trees next to the bypass. And it was here that I watched our opening bat hit one of the biggest sixes I've seen in my life - an easy 100 yard carry that sailed far over my head and into a tree.

"Don't even bother looking for it" I shouted to the players. It was far from being the only ball we lost today, as our batters launched an unusually savage assault on the Southwell bowlers to score 159 for 3. The Sunday captain went completely mad at the end, taking 20 off the last over to chalk up a second consecutive league 50.

Of course, my batting wasn't required and after ball patrol, I just shouted and clapped as the ball flew to all parts. To be honest, without any batting practice I'm not sure I could even hit the thing.

So, to fielding and bowling, which is big concern for me with all the niggles I've got. Luckily our bowling attack is a lot stronger than last year and we restricted Southwell to a very slow start. Very technically correct young batsmen, but without the power of our lads.

Me, I was discovering that I'd forgotten how to field and was about as steady as a giraffe. Luckily I stopped the ball when required, although I got whacked on the hand and the ankle in the process. Bending down seemed to be very tricky as well.

We took a couple of wickets, and the new bats were Southwell's gun bats and started scoring runs much more quickly. This is when yours truly came onto bowl, and had a horror start when I got hit for 4 first ball. But third ball I got one guy when he had a huge ugly hack across the line and was caught, and then last ball of the over I yorked the other good bat middle stump.

A great result, but to be honest my bowling feels awful. I can't follow through properly, my pace is way down to the extent the keeper now stands up to me and everything hurts grrrrr.

Still, we won the game, helped a little bit by me, but I wish I was in better form.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.07.20

Friday 24 July 2020

An Unexpected Habitat

I was walking this evening, a fine evening indeed until the clouds rolled in, when I noticed a little nature bonus as I descended the Jubilee Bridge behind Aldi.

In a normally un-preposessing spot behind one of town's newer estate, I could see some clumps of scabious growing in a patch of wasteland. It looked like a nice little photo opp, so I went round for a closer look and found a lovely little micro habitat.

The scabious was attracting common carder, red tailed and buff tailed bumblebees, while a patch of what I think was meadow cranesbill was bringing in the honey bees to dine.

It goes to show what not cutting the grass has done for nature this year.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.07.20

Wednesday 22 July 2020

The Blue Meadow

I've had a more productive day today, thank the stars, getting my bike repaired this afternoon at the local bike shop, and then heading out on a long early evening walk out to Farndon and back.

The himalayan balsam is now in rampant flower along the river in the Willow Holt reserve. This invasive plant, that out competes native species thanks to its voracious seeding habits, provides attractive colour - it is the UK's largest annually flowering plant - but at a cost.

I think they look rather like triffids, personally, although without the blinding stinger and habit of feeding off corpses.

A good view of a fox running across a ploughed field was a bonus.

I went to Cottage Lane reserve in search of dragonflies, but found none. What I did find was a meadow that was absolutely blue with tufted vetch. I've never seen so much in flower in one place.

It made it very much worth the visit. And a two hour walk at times like this is very beneficial to mental health.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 22.07.20

Tuesday 21 July 2020

The Narrow Way

I've often wondered if it would be a good idea to try to buy a narrowboat to live on.

Today, when you see a pair of them cruising serenely down to the lock, happy groups of people at the wheel of them, it seems like the most idyllic thing in the world. Your home is also a mode of transport. You get to see some of the prettiest sights in the country.

Then on the flip side, there is the maintenance, the fact you still have to pay for mooring, the cold in winter, and all the fun of having to use a Thetford type toilet, or the rather terrifying sounding "mactator" lavatory.

I'm hopeless with my hands, would probably crash the thing if I sailed anywhere, and the idea of having to empty toilets is so gross to me I could probably never do it.

But still, the dream is there.


Monday 20 July 2020


I don't know whether it was the "excitement" of yesterday but I have felt horribly flat today. Muscles are aching, body and brain are tired, and it took me until 8pm to get out of the house for a short walk.

It feels like a return to the lethargy I had during the early part of lockdown. I now face the issue of reversing my nocturnal lifestyle in time to return to work next week. I'm anxious about that, so perhaps that is adding to the tiredness.

This has been an appalling old time for the many of us with existing mental health issues, and for the "new recruits" that have joined us during this period.

It was a pleasant little walk I had tonight in the sunset though. That's as good as the day has got.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.07.20

Sunday 19 July 2020

20,000 Steps of Cricket


Today was my first cricket match of the year, and while I was out there, on this perfect day for a match, I kept thinking how it was so surreal to be a part of such an idyllic scene in the middle of this global tragedy.

I also was amazed at how relaxed I felt once I started playing, despite being in rather closer proximity to other people than I have been in a while. The only difference was all the ball wiping and hand sanitising, and no hi fives when we took a wicket.

It all began when our new young Sunday captain lost the toss, and we had to field first against a side we knew would be a fair bit stronger than us.

Now we have better bowlers than me, either new players or younger players coming through, I had no expectation of opening the bowling like I normally do on a Sunday. Which suited me fine, as I have a pulled calf muscle and am as rusty as anything.

However, our senior opening bowler had the sort of nightmarish start I am well used to, bless him, and so I ended up bowling after just one over. And lo and behold, my first over was just as bad as his was, the first ball a wide that didn't hit the cut strip, the second a full toss that sailed over the batsman's head.

I got clobbered for two fours as well. I was awful. And in such jip from my leg I couldn't run in properly, and couldn't pull through my action. My bowling was so damn slow!

My second over was a bit better - in the mean time our young star who got 5 yesterday removed Fiskerton's first team opener without thousands of runs under his belt - and then forst ball of my third, the discomfort eased slghtly, let one go a bit quicker, and the batsman had a huge flash at it, edging off the wicket keepers gloves and over the head of our captain, who took it easily at slip.

A bizarre old way to get a wicket, and I've taken one in the past in similar circumstances.

I bowled OK after that, and even had a catch dropped, but it was a struggle; my knee was hurting as well.

We bowled pretty well actually, they never really got away from us, regular wickets fell, and we kept them to 222.

Well, that was always going to be 50 too many however, but we batted well to end up on about 150 for 7. I never batted and wasn't unhappy about this. The result was irrelvant really, we just needed to get out there and play on a lovely ground where the swallows flew amongst us as we played, and people cheered. I happily explored the long grass with my camera, acted on ball patrol when our skipper started flogging it into the deep bushes, and listened to the keening family of buzzards who live on the ground.

Our young players had a very good day. What I do doesn't really matter.

Interesting fact - today I wore my fitness tracker while I was fielding for the first time. It had recorded 20,000 steps by the time we came off.

That means I covered 10 miles while in the field.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.07.20