Monday 28 June 2021

Bike Riding Funs

 Now that good weather and lighter nights are here I've been able to get some decent 20 mile bike rides in on my new - ok new-ish now - Raleigh Cadent One hybrid bike.

It's a much racier ride than my mountain bike which I still use as a hack bike for going to work, and also a much bumpier one as it lacks suspension. It also gives me numb hands for some reason, so last night I tried out some fingerless padded gloves, which helped a bit but weren't completely successful.

I'm enjoying the rides though, you burn through a lot of calories while riding this bike with its bigger gears, and it goes pretty quickly on its skinnier hybrid tyres. 

I mainly ride the country lanes to the south of town, with last nights ride taking me through Cotham, Shelton, Hakwsworth and onto Screveton, where there is a memorial to the victims of a wartime air collision over looked by a giant sculpture of a woman farm worker. 

You then get the pleasure of going through Flintham and then mainly riding downhill on the old A46 back home. This would have been suicidal before they built the new A46 duel carriageway, if ever I found myself on the old road back then I was always terrified. 

I've been able to average over 30kmh on this stretch of road before, but last night there was a strong headwind and I was rather tired. 32km covered in the end.

Or in old money, 20 miles.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.06.21

Sunday 27 June 2021

OK, So now we Fielded our own International Player

 Found myself playing for third team this weekend, in a match I wasn't actually supposed to be playing in and hadn't indicated my availability for, as my ankle flared up again after last weekend's match and may back has been sore.

Too bad. Lots of players missing, so I was drafted in. I bought an ankle brace specially, which was very quickly needed as I found myself opening the bowling against our opponents from Claypole.

Opening the bowling really badly. 

Couldn't find a length at all, slipped in a couple wides which means my action has splayed open again, and just got battered. Well, I haven't practiced in a couple of weeks, but it's more than that. Simple fact it, without regular match bowling, my ability falls away. The pandemic has basically ruined my cricket.

My ankle, and the skipper, gave up after three overs.

Luckily there were other good bowlers around, including the skipper himself, plus a mysterious player none of us had met before.

Initially I just assumed that this was one of the skipper's baseball contacts - we had an American with us as well - who would probably be a decent fielder with a strong arm, but that was to understate things massively. 

He produced a dazzling aerial one handed catch initially, before producing some quickly bowled, sharply turning off spin of a standard way too high for the third team - god knows how he didn't take a wicket - then to round things off took the last Claypole wicket with a 70 yard run out from the boundary, that clattered into middle stump on the full. 

The rumour is he has played international cricket for Luxembourg, which I suppose made our complaints about last week's opponents playing a Barbadian overseas pro slightly hypocritical.

I was laughing with both disbelief, and envy at this fielding prowess. I had fielded with great enthusiasm and as much movement as my ankle would allow, but the captain had been careful to put me where the ball tended not to go, knowing well that I am clumsy talented oaf who fields like a baby giraffe. 

Claypole got to 132, far below their usual scores this season, and after a decent start we had a mini collapse. Luckily our captain and our opening bat then took control to steer us to a 7 wicket victory. Knowing I was never going to get a bat as usual, I walked around the ground enjoying all the insects feasting off bramble flowers while watching the game. 

Plenty to see and enjoy during this game, the third team's first victory of the season. As for me, always next week to be rubbish again.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.06.21

Friday 25 June 2021

The Week in Pictures

 Today has been a pretty grim day, but there has been some been some ok weather this week, and I've been able to have lunchtime walks at work to see what I might see. 

The long grass by the cycle path is now getting on for waist high in places, and among it there are trefoil and hedge woundwort, with some thistles and knapweed in flower too. Ragwort is dominant, and these rough and ready yellow flowers and attracting 5 spot burnet moths and skipper butterflies. 

There are ringlet and meadow browns too, and even a brown argus here and there.

Small tortoiseshells, in that way of theirs, like sunning themselves upon the footpaths and on banks of earth. Judging by the vivid colour and condition, these are second flight specimens now. 

The colours have faded in my wildflowers meadows, but new species are emerging for the first time - ladies and hedge bedstraw, fluffy white and fluffy yellow between them. 

Linnets sit on the chicken wire fence, the red breasted males occasionally letting out a fluting whistle to let you know they've seen you.


All text and images copyright CreamCrakeredNature 25.06.21

Sunday 20 June 2021

Simon 1, Overseas Professional Nil

Today, I put my creaking body back in the firing line to join our Sunday legends side as we took on Bothamstall exiles, a friendly, not to say fiendly, Sunday outfit from the Retford area.

We bowled first, on a day we thought would be wrecked by rain but actually turned out to be quite pleasant, and indeed warm enough for me to discard my sweater for a bit, although when I put it back on I ended up wearing it inside out for 20 overs without noticing. 

Events started slowly, with decent opening spells from our openers, one of whom should have had a wicket when the ball was hit up in the air while two fielders watched it without moving to catch it to any degree, and an actual wicket for the other opener when the Bothamstall opening bat played onto his stumps the first time he actually managed to hit the ball. 

A comedy run out then followed, and then an LBW of a batsman with a long purple beard. Another batsman had appeared however, who looked suspiciously way too good for Sunday friendly level and had already clouted a few boundaries thanks to his rapid foot movement and power.

Having been asked if my dodgy ankle and back were ok by the stand in captain, I was then brought into bowl at him. He promptly banjaxxed my first fall through extra covers hands for 4, was dropped by the captain off the next, beaten outside off stump by my third, and then drilled a half volley very hard, but straight into the hands of the captain at mid-off, who held on to it this time. 

I later learned that this player was Retford's overseas professional on Saturdays playing in Division 1 of the Bassetlaw league, which is a standard way higher than any of us, and was from Barbados. This therefore makes him the highest standard player I've ever got out, a man paid for the privilege of getting out to middle aged no-hopes like me. He's even played county cricket for Nottinghamshire second eleven. 

There now followed a few overs where I bowled at two players who became known to us as green hat and red hat. I could handle green hat ok, indeed I bowled one over where he edged the first ball through the slips and then played and missed at the next five. 

Red hat however liked my full length bowling and walloped them for boundaries. He went on to score 115 before retiring, taking heavy toll on our later bowlers although he complemented me on my ability to swing the ball both ways. Both he and green hat also play for Retford firsts, so I'm not sure why green hat had so much trouble against my very gentle swing bowling - even junior keepers stand up to the stumps for me now, which is rather dispiriting. 

Still, 6 overs, 1 for 31 was pretty good in context. I had to stop because my ankle got too sore again. 

Bothamstall scored 207 for 6 off their 40 overs in the end, which was a strong total but not an un-gettable one given that it was a very good wicket, and indeed we started strongly. However, the pro players then turned out to be an off spinner who could turn the ball square, and he went through our middle and lower order to take five wickets. 

Apparently it was his first game for Bothamstall, and had been only asked to play because they were one short. Now normally in this situation, what tends to happen that is you end up with a guy who is utterly hopeless, is just doing it as a favour to a mate and has to borrow a load of ill-fitting kit to play in, and will wear black trainers throughout the game, which he will often trip up over. 

You don't normally get a West Indian professional player to wipe out a load of 13 year olds in these circumstances!

I never got to face him however, as marooned as usual at number 11, I went in, faced one ball which went for a leg-bye, and then had to watch as my partner then got cleaned up as we were bowled out for 92.

So, that takes my total batting stats this year of having been in for 6 balls, for the score of 1 run, two not outs and thus an average of one. 

I do so want to score some runs this year! Oh well, at least I know have a scorching total of five wickets.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.06.21

Saturday 19 June 2021

Harebells are out on the Sconce

 I'm sure harebells used to appear far later than June, but, here we are. They have started to emerge in their usual spots on the slopes of the Civil War era Queens Sconce, the iconic Royalist fort that was designed to protect Newark from the Parliament forces of General Poyntz across the River Trent.

It is easy to take this wonderful historical artefact for granted, having walked around it and on it so many times. It is also a lovely little nature habitat, I know of nowhere else in urban Newark where harbells and greater stitchwort grow. 

Around 380 years ago, this site would have reverberated with cannon fire from the 4 bastions at each corner, while being hit by shot from the Roundhead positions over the river. Men ate and slept up here, hoping not to cop a musket ball in the head if they stuck their head over the parapet. 

Me, I'm glad all I have to do is just walk around it. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.06.21

Thursday 17 June 2021

Admirals and Gypsies

 Finally the weather has broken, and some refreshing light rain has emerged from the sky to refresh the plants a little. Suddenly knapweed and thistles of all kids have appeared, including stonking great purple musk thistles.

Gypsy cuckoo bumblebees seem to love these big thistles, most of them seemed to have one or in some cases two of the parasitic bumbles feeding away on top, drowning themselves in fresh pollen on a day thick with humidity as the thunderstorms approach. 

The butterflies of high summer, meadow browns and ringlets, have also made their appearance in the long grass of campus, but they are proving hard to photograph. But a red admiral put on a nice show for me today, albeit not wanting to show its gaudy wings to me. 

My hybrid bike has been taken for a few rides, collapsing seat tube and all - now fixed! - but I haven't got many exciting photos from these trips.

Bike goes like a bomb though


All text and images copyright CreamCRackeredNature 17.06.21

Wednesday 9 June 2021

The Workplace Wildflower Meadow

 This year, the mini wildflower meadows we dug out at work have been absolutely stunning. 

I remember 4 - or was it 5? -  years ago when we laboriously excavated the turf to expose the soil beneath, it was so backbreaking. We bought huge bags of wildflower seed from a farm near here, sowed them, watered them..

...and watched as nothing happened other than a few green shoots emerged.

The year after that a few birds foot trefoil appeared, but nothing more than that. 

Last year, we had really good emergences of trefoil, but I didn't see much of it because of furlough.

This year though, wow. We have got thick carpets of trefoil, buttercup and ox eye dasiy, with plenty of vetch, plantain and now some red clover thrown in. The bees, especially common carder and red tailed bumbles, are loving it. 

I feel very proud of what I instigated and helped make.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.06.21