Thursday 30 December 2021

Christmas Miscellania

 Well this year I was able to actually spend Christmas with my family and as a bonus my sister's very lively bengal cross cats. In practical terms, this means I've had a lot less time to myself and have spent an awful lot of time eating, and a lot less time walking.

However, I have been able to get out and take in the sights a few times, with today's walk providing me with a extra special treat - a kingfisher at the town lock, sitting on the footbridge railings before heading off to perch on a capstan opposite the Swan and Salmon pub. Seeing one of these birds always gives me a thrill, the colours even on a dull day are so vivid, and the neon blue back a glorious sight when the bird is in flight.

The other news is that snowdrops have now come into bloom in the cemetery, a little later than the last couple of years I'd say. No aconite yet, but I think these flowers like to keep to a strict January timeline.

Exciting news too in my garden, where all five of my planters and two pots now have green shoots of crocus and allium coming through, while my sonetti continues in strong flower, and even my jasmine has produced some yellow flowers already! 

I can't wait to my new flowers, the first I've ever grown from blubs, in full bloom!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.12.21

Sunday 19 December 2021

A Celestial Event

 We have had a period of unbelievably gloomy weather the last few days - continual fog and mist, the air full of moisture that made the rim brakes on my bicycle scarily useless at times, and a sun that may not exist anymore for all I've seen of it. 

Earlier in the week however, I accidentally saw a wonderful sight in the night sky as I was cycling home from work, and stopped to take photographs. The moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus were all in a line across the night sky just after sunset, with Venus just hovering above the lights of the industrial estate of food factories and chicken hatcheries. 

Sadly Saturn was a mite too faint for my camera to pick up. The next mobile phone I get better have a night photography mode on it!

This weekend, I've managed to get some decent walking done, although there hasn't been an awful lot to see apart from bare trees in a clinging damp fog. However, my attempts to find the first flowering plant of the new season in the cemetery have succeeded, and it was not what I expected. 

Was it a snowdrop or a winter aconite? 

No. It was a red dead nettle, which come March will form a vital source of nourishment for early pollinators. 

Of course, at the moment there is nothing flowering. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.12.21

Saturday 11 December 2021

Winter Skies

 I've seen some incredible sunrises this week, the vaults painted stunning reds and oranges but of course I've been riding to work at the time so I wasn't able to get any photographs. 

However I did manage to get some sunset photos of golden skies, as I seem to spam my Instagram with every winter. I nip outside during the golden hour as the seagulls fly to their roosts in raggedy echelons overhead, and the campus kestrel gives up its struggle against Arwen or Barra, and perches atop a lamp-post. 

I'm writing this on a Saturday. Recently Saturdays have become my do nothing days, days where I don't have to exercise and can eat treats like Port Salou cheese. 

It's worked out well really, because the last three Saturdays have had terrible weather!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.12.21

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Chasing Rainbows

 OK, not so much chasing them as walking in their general direction before having a cup of tea under them.

Walking is my main pleasure at the moment, taking care not to mess my ankle up too much however. Saturday was a foul write off of a day, constant heavy rain, and so I just spent it indoors keeping warm. I do feel guilty about doing this, but you have to realise that enjoying a day watching videos about board-gaming or indeed anything else you enjoy, is a perfectly valid way to spend the day. 

Yes, board-gaming. It's something I've been fascinated by for quite a while, and spend time in a local gaming cafe, but I don't get to do an awful lot of it or indeed any of it, as I spend the vast majority of time on my own these days.

However, I've investigated solo gaming, and there are a fair few options for this and I was able to pick a game up called "Tiny Epic Zombies" (!!!) at a sale at the cafe. I've been working out how to play this over the last couple of days. It's very daunting.

Modern board games are a long way from Snakes and Ladders.

After that, I was able to take a trip to the park and enjoy the aforementioned cup of tea, rather relishing the gentle rain that was falling, allowing the sun to paint a rainbow at the opposite end of the sky. 

I even got to take an evening walk too, happily listening to Stuart Maconie's "Freak Zone" on 6 Music.

That was a different sort of perfectly valid day!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 07.12.21

Thursday 2 December 2021

Vivid Art on the Cycle Track

 I'm managed to get in another two hour walk without my ankle giving out, brought on largely by guilt as I had a very lazy weekend avoiding the freezing gales of Storm Arwen, although we did not have any of the snow that fell so plentifully not too far away. 

I took myself through the cemetery and round the lakes, complete with my new cheap monocular, looking for early snowdrops - they've sprouted but nowhere near flowering - and also early goosander which were very much present; 15 of them on the Blue Lake, drakes and ducks earlier than I've ever seen them here and in greater numbers too.

As ever, they were far too far out to be able to photograph them, even if I'd had my bridge camera. 

The good stuff on this walk was actually along the N64 cycle track, and was safely immobile, easy to get close to, and made of brick and paint.

After a few years during which the previous artwork had become faded and graffiti'd over, artists were again commissioned to team up with local schoolchildren to create new environmental and socially conscious designs to be painted on the bridges, which have been tidied up in an attempt to reduce crime levels in the area.

Well good luck with that one, but the designs themselves are absolutely stunning, vivid paint bringing all sorts of animals to life. Hopefully the odd passing family may be inspired to become more aware of what they can see around them, and become more inclined to protect it. 

That would be a result.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 02.12.21