Monday 30 August 2021

Charity Fun Day at the Cricket

 Sunday saw our first charity fun day at the cricket club, where 8 teams in varying degrees of "stylish" fancy dress took to outfield to take part in a fun tournament designed to raise money for the local hospise.

I wasn't playing, my ankle being so ropey the only thing I want to do is rest it, and wait for next season now. Still, even not playing there was plenty to do on the day, such as buy raffle tickets I knew I had no chance to win with because I never do, and also to take part in the Hospice's highly effective "Booze Tombola".

This was a highly popular stall, where every ticket you pulled out with a 0 or 5 got you anything from a small bottle of beer right up to some weird triangular bottles of Pfirsch, whatever that is, Pimms and whisky. 

There were also bottles of water from Spa as a kind of booby prize, virtually all of which I won which made me incredibly popular with folk having a go later on as they waltzed off with bottles of prosecco and the like.

I did eventually win a few bottles of Heineken and then, excitingly, a bottle of Dewar's malt whisky. This however was as much use to me as a bottle of horse bile as even the smell of scotch gives me a thunderous headache. I was able to swap it at the club bar for wine though.

Frankly it was impossible not to win, as the hospice were so desperate not to lug the booze home with them they were giving you about a hundred tickets for a pound at the end of the day. For which I was very grateful.

Out on the field, teams dressed as doctors, Tom Selleck Hawaiian shirt wearers, random Santas and inflatable aliens did battle with plastic bats and squidgy soft balls in a sort of Kwik Krikit format. Despite the fun nature of the tournament, won by "The Hula Guys", a few first team players couldn't help themselves, slamming sixes off 10 year old girls or making athletic diving stops to stop 8 year old boys scoring singles. 

Shameful I tell you, shameful!

It was an excellent day though; lots of money was raised for the hospice and no drunken adults tried to go on the bouncy castle. The organisers deserve many many heaps of praise.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.08.21

Thursday 26 August 2021

How Vivid do you want it?

 Took myself off on a nice trip to Farndon, to have a good walk around and see what I might find at Cottage Lane Reserve.

The answer was, not very much. 

The tufted vetch that gives the reserve a feel of a bushy ocean in late summer was largely over, and red clover was the dominant plant in the meadow area, while purple and yellow loosestrife fringed the ponds in, er, purple and yellow. 

More yellow was supplied by a lovely second flight male brimstone that was feeding off clover. It's rare to see them settle for long, but this one took its time. Too far away to photograph however. 

Migrant hawker dragonflies were on patrol too, flying in those sinister zig zag patterns, always looking for hapless prey. 

OK, so, there was quite a lot to see really. I just didn't get to photograph any of it...

However, there were other beautiful things I found to show you. On the way out, I'd noticed that the red valerian outside the front of a sheltered housing complex was a bit of a butterfly magnet, and sure enough when I came back there were small tortoiseshells feeding off it, one of them pristine, the other so raggedy I was amazed it could fly. 

A marigold also provided the colourful backdrop for a bumblebee. 

Yeah! Let's turn that photo saturation up baby!!!


All text and images copyright 26.08.21

Saturday 21 August 2021

A Dragonfly at Work!

 Our workplace has never been a particularly good place to photograph dragonflies, although you do the occasional brown hawker on the hunt over the wildlands that border campus.

Thus, in a week of relentlessly grey weather, to find one in the tended garden area at work was rather a surprise. A female common darter investigating the planters, and being pretty co-operative - indeed I find this species the easiest to photograph. 

The buddleia is still in flower, and usually when I walk past it, there is a small tortoiseshell having a feed.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.08.21

Tuesday 17 August 2021

A Deluge of Runs

 Final home Sunday game of the season, I think, and this saw us taking on our friends from Travellers CC, who we beat in a nailbiter last time out, but have won their last 5 matches on the trot. 

As we always seem to, we ended up bowling first on what was an overcast, slightly breezy but mild day, on a wicket we just knew was going to be slow as anything, even by Kelham Road standards. 

Travellers opened up at a rare old rate of knots, with sixes being spanked into hedges and fours being walloped into the sight screens. However, a spot of spin from our mystery left handed wristie in his best bowling form for a while, soon found the wickets starting to fall, apart from one guy who had to retire - temporarily - on 50.

We had a very sharp pair of fielders on the boundary, one of whom took a catch when a full toss was absolutely banjaxxed at him, and the other executed a fine run out. This was down to our new young captain, who was enjoying his chance to take charge. 

Me I was fielding at square leg, waiting for my turn to bowl, knowing I would be doing so when the slog was on towards the end of the innings but hopeful of taking a few wickets. 

Of course, that didn't happen. I bowled better than I have done all season, 6 overs for 14 and beating the bat numerous times both on the outside and inside edge, getting a bit of swing. BUT NO BLOODY WICKETS! AGAIN! 

They were all falling at the other end again, like when we played Travellers before. But for a rather larger score this time, 198. Although, as the captain said, we did win the second half of that innings after the start they had. Too bad my ankle was now utterly fragged again. 

The wicket was getting slower and slower, and when we batted with our slightly weakened batting line up, it proved to be a struggle as wickets fell at regular intervals with no-one really able to form any kind of partnership.

This led to us attempting different tactics, by sending our junior batsman's dad's two poodles onto the field to attach the opposition opening bowler. He batted very well too, so he did his best for us with both bat and dog. 

So, I did get to bat today, against some very gentle bowlers but I still felt utterly hopeless for the first three balls I faced, smashing the ball into my already wrecked ankle and nearly onto the stumps. 

But off another bowler, a gentle tap through the covers got me a run, and I was even able to double my total before my batting partner got out. 

5 wickets and 3 runs. What a season. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 17.08.21

Saturday 14 August 2021

On the Buddleia

 If you want a plant that attracts pollinators and requires very little maintenance indeed, then buddleia is the one. A lot of the time it will grow whether you want one or not, and can be cut back to stumps each year and still come back bigger and stronger in no time.

Its sweet smelling flowers are a magnet for insects, and if you come across one on your travels, be sure to look at the flower heads to see who is visiting. It could be anything. 

Our small one at work seems to have some butterfly or other on it every time I walked past it. On this occasion it was a beautiful peacock, in A1 condition, that I somehow managed to get decent photos of despite the breeze. 

A small tortoiseshell proved more problematic, and sadly these photos aren't as good. But, they'll do. They are colourful, at any rate!

There's even a first shot for the year of a common blue on pennyroyal as a bonus.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 14.08.21

Thursday 12 August 2021

New Spots for the Year

 Up on the Sconce Fort, it seems to be small copper season, flittering around amongst the harebells that are up there. They seem to like drier, sandier soil areas, and are surprisingly numerous up there where in 1646 Royalist soldiers defended the town from General Poyntz and his Scottish allies. 

My stepfather's garden is not a Royalist stronghold, but I did manage to find a holly blue skulking around when I went around for a cup of tea. 

Maybe holly blues are Roundheads?


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 12.08.21

Sunday 8 August 2021

Look at this Super Chonker!

 Cricket got rained off today after only three overs, so nothing of note to report there, other than the player's laughter laughing at my emergency poncho I rode home in. So instead, let us take a look at the walk to the park I had on Saturday, and what I found on the way.

At the island in the river, I went to have a look at a raggedy buddleia that was growing through a fence. And upon one of the flower heads, I found the mightiest beast in the hoverfly world, the hornet mimic hoverly. 

Normally these big beasties are, like most of their kin, very twitchy about being photographed, but it was a cool day and this one was obviously getting stuck into the nectar to make sure it had enough energy to flit about. Thus, it was co-operative about having its picture taken although the breezy conditions made it rather tricky and I only got two usable photos. 

Still, two was enough.

Later on, I was walking to the cricket ground to watch the first team, and in a garden came across what I can only describe as a giant thistle tree, and the bumblebees were really loving it. 

Pleased to have had some decent nature encounters this weekend. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 08.08.21

Friday 6 August 2021

The Bees of Winthorpe Village

 On one of the nicer days earlier in the week I was able to walk into Winthorpe for a look around, it's not far and there are various nice ways of getting there from here. 

As it happened, pleasant stroll though it was, there wasn't a massive amount to see - it feels like life is already starting to ebb away as we enter the last month of summer. 

However, the rudenkia are out in one garden, rather a lot of them, and here the bees were making merry, making the day feel more alive as the dread dead months of October and November begin to loom large in my mind.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 06.08.21

Tuesday 3 August 2021

I Think that was the Nadir

 We played Sneinton at the weekend, top of the league against us, nailed to the bottom despite our good bowling attack, and even though I was full of hope after a decent net on Thursday, it all turned to a steaming pile of crap in the match as usual.

As the opposition gleefully told us, no team had made more than 95 against them this season, so they should bat first to make more of a game of it. However, we soon felt we were making them eat their cocky words as our captain, who has been taking wickets for fun this year, soon got stuck into their batting order despite our father and son combo dropping five catches between them, a couple of which I think I might have held on a good day.

Which this wasn't. Luckily we had one of our lads having a great day in the field and he took two great catches. 

They were already 5 or 6 down when I came on to bowl my spell of left arm swingers, and things started pretty well to be honest - I beat the outside edge, was getting good carry through to the keeper despite the soggy pitch, and felt decent.

Things started to go wrong in my second over, when I had the batsman stone dead lbw, the ball hitting him on his shins in front of middle stump. According to the opposition umpire however, the ball was going over the stumps, which was interesting as this would have meant the stumps were about 12 inches high. 

It only got worse, as next over I bowled the batsman with a slower ball, only to hear a call of no ball go out very late, after the ball had hit the stumps. It's the first time this has happened to me and I wanted a big eagle to soar out of the sky and put its talons through my head.

Now, I don't bowl many front foot no balls these days, I think I've only bowled about 3 or 4 in the last 3 seasons. We won't mention the wides. However, this umpire decided that I was going to bowl 4 no-balls today, all of which were very late calls on balls that either beat the bat or looked like they were going close to the stumps. 

The spike marks from my foot were also in a completely different place from where he was indicating, and when I put my run up back a foot or two, I now found I was straining to reach the batting crease, and my balance and rhythm had gone completely, I was nearly falling over in delivery.

I won't say I wasn't bowling no balls, but something very strange was happening out there. I only went for four an over so it was hardly disastrous, but I felt terrible, 

We bowled them out for 138, which looked very like game on. However, their bowling attack was comfortably the best we've come across this year, better even than Eastwood's, and they went through us like the proverbial dose of salts. At number 11, and desperate to bat, I went out there thinking I could score a few runs against the spinner, but as soon as the first ball was bowled at me, which I kept out ok, I realised I had no idea of what I was doing out there at all; my balance was so bad I felt like I was going to fall over all the time. 

Second ball I couldn't even see and I sort of fell over while swiping across the line. This moment was the utter nadir of the season so far, I've never felt so ghastly on a cricket field as at that moment. 

Why do so many players make it look so bloody easy?


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 03.08.21