Thursday 28 July 2022

A Spot of Deadheading

 On my sister's advice, I had a bit of a garden tidy up tonight, deadheading the coreopsis, hacking back the brown and dry phlox, and removing all the past it allium from the planters.

When doing the latter, I found that the soil in the planters were covered in the seed heads from the allium, so I spread them out a bit, gathered a few to put in the planter I'd just removed the dead poppies from that never flowered, and covered them thinly with soil. 

I will eave themm out a bit longer, then transfer them to the mini greenhouse for autumn and winter and see what happens. The bulbs will still be in these planters too. 

Felt rather pleased with myself for doing this, it seemed a very proper gardener thing to do!

I've enjoyed this rather insignificant standard of gardening in the great scheme of things, I find it wonderfully constructive and therapeutic. 

And middle aged, but hey, who cares.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.07.22

Monday 25 July 2022

Professional Standards

 Went to play cricket at Collingham today, a ground I have played at many times for our third team on the back pitch, but never as we did today, on the main ground with the posh lighty-up scoreboard, old dressing rooms and - YES! - a bar.

This match was a late substitution for a trip to Car Colston cancelled due to a wedding and covid infecting their side, so Collingham stepped in with a side mainly consisting of young kids, three senior players and, most intriguingly, Collingham's Premier League overeas professional from Sri Lanka.

I had looked up his stats before the game. He averages 44 with the bat in first class one day cricket, and 22 with the ball. Back in Sri Lanka, he plays with Sri Lankan test players in the 20:20 league. He also plays in Australia in first grade cricket, again probably with a few test players around. 

Up against this we had a few of our own very good junior players, three good adult ones, and me, past it in the cricket sense and unable to play a single game with pulling at least three muscles in each game. I never go to practice any more; practice means not playing at the weekend.

Practice never makes me any better anyway. I am peak rubbish.

Anyway, at last we won the toss so I didn't have to do anything at all for a couple of hours, which suited me just fine. Let the kids get on with it, and so they did for the best part of 30 overs while I wandered around, or shouted (vacuous) supportive comments. 

Actually, I tell a lie. I umpired for a little while and found myself having to work out who to give out in a tricky run out situation, leaving a rather unhappy junior player. Ouch. But one has to be neutral and obey the laws of the game, says the umpire who said "Top shot" if anyone hit a 4. 

I retired myself at drinks. Acting as co-captain, one can do this. Besides, the wind was pretty strong and was nearly blowing my hat off. 

Our innings progressed, the young, and slightly older, lads going very nicely apart from one lad making his senior debut who got rather over-excited and tried to destroy the ball every shot, until getting bowled for a duck.

His time would come later. 

Our best bat got 50 and retired after a nice innings, and then muggins here went out to bat at number 10. Immediately Collingham must have been scared of my reputation, because the professional was immediately brought on to bowl to me. 

He was bowling leg spin, and I've never faced anything like it in my life. Not only was he making the ball spin about two feet off the wicket, he was bowling at the pace of a second team opening bowler. I watched the first ball just blow past my off stump having pitched on leg; if I'd tried to play a shot at it I would have got nowhere near it. The second ball bounced chest high and I somehow managed to turn it to deep square leg for a single, god only knows how. 

When I got to face him again a couple of balls later, I managed to hit him for 2 to long on. Facing a bowler like this was fascinating.

I was facing the last ball of the innings next over, have a massive swipe at the ball and missed it, and somehow we ended up scoring 6 byes, in a farcical bit io piggy in the middle fielding that ended up with the ball being thrown for 4 over the scorched outfield. 

It's a beautiful ground Collingham, but on the day it looked more like it was in Spain rather than Nottinghamshire. 

So 183-9, 184 to win for Colllingham. It became clear very early on that we were going to have a bit of a problem, as the Collingham batters were in some cases very very young and playing their first senior game, so after reducing them to about 40-3 after excellent opening bowling spells from our young opening bowlers, we had to alternate between bowling full tilt and bowling off a single pace run. Some coped better than others with this, the fact I was hit over the main road into a garden indicated that I didn't.

I'd not bowled in a match in a month, and it showed.

Retiring at 50 meant the first gun bat Collingham had was retired, but then we had another one to deal with, a player from their second team who beasted me a couple of times, and battered our spin bowlers before falling to an excellent delivery that cramped him for room that he could only spoon to mid wicket.

Two overs left. 10 runs needed. Our captain was hit for 4, a catch was dropped and our otherwise excellent young keeper missed a stumping, before managing to get the stumping a couple of balls later.

Last over. Three runs needed by Colligham. Pro waiting to come into bat. Young bowler in his first game having to do the business. Wide. Bye. 

Scores level. Last ball.

It went through to the keeper. No wide signalled. Match a tie!

There may have been a bit of umpires discretion in that one, maybe a lot, but it didn't matter. THe object of the day was to get young kids a good game, and with inly 8 adults on the pitch out of 22, we had delivered in spades.

Many thanks to Collingham for getting such a good game on.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.07.22

Saturday 23 July 2022

Echinacea and Rudbeckia

 I haven't written about last week's cricket match; it was so staggeringly turgid and inept by me and ultimately all the rest of us the thought of writing about it brings me out in hives.

Instead, let me take you to the cafe at Sconce Park, and the beds of pollinator friendly flowers looked after by the ranger there. The echinacea and rudbeckia are loved by bees; on a sunny day virtually every flower head while have at least one bumble feeding away, which is why I've planted echinacea, albeit a bit late, and got a pot of rudbeckia for my own garden. 

I'm rather enjoying this new hobby of gardening, although I've got various failed pots out there. My poppies have just died off, and the antirhynus just never sprouted at all. On the flip side my sunflowers are coming along, and my various seed bomb and wildflower mix planters have got all sorts of pretty little flowers growing, so I'm rather proud of that. 

The joys of being nearly 50.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.07.22

Friday 15 July 2022

Life Among the Teasels

 At work, the scrubby land that is bisected by the cycle path, fiefdom of rabbit and goldfinch, now also has its version of the Saguro Cactus of the Wild West - the teasel. 

Looking like a plant grown by Sauron in Mordor, these spiny plants are now in flower, with their almost Jupiter like bands of papery looking purple flowers, and to these the bumblebees swarm, along with the occasional and very flighty small skipper. 

When the wind blows, it makes photography a slightly hit and miss affair, and as you can see if you look, my camera does some slightly odd things to compensate, but here we go!

Wondering where all the burnet moths are this year...there's normally hundreds of them!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 15.07.22

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Death by Tattooes

 SAturday's cricket match saw us "entertain" the lads from Lambley, a club well known for having a hellish ground with a wicket like a potato patch, and facilities consisting of a lavatory-shed apt to act as a sauna in hot weather and thus render any pre-prepared tea treats like sandwiches a veritable petri dish of salmonella and other stomach viruses.

Handy then that their recently added portaloo was apparently completely unusuable when the second team visited in the spring. 

No such fears at Kelham Road, and on a sweltering day we ended up fielding first to avoid the game lasting ten minutes and giving us the chance to score a couple of bonus points.

A team of reasonably muscley looking lads virtually all sporting beards and sleeve tattooes to rank them up there with any Ben Stokes or Jade Dernbach, they were entirely happy to get their chests out and umpire shirtless at square leg to improve their tans and "make a day of it" as one them told me. 

Certainly they batted with some considerable power against a bowling attack lacking several key members, and despite our skipper taking an absolute worldie of a one handed diving catch that shook the earth, and another fielder having a brilliant day in the deep including a charming act of sportsmanship admitting he'd touched the rope while making a catch - much applauded by the opposition - they racked up an intimidating 238-6 from 40 overs. 

Derek Acorah was not needed to tell us that this task would likely prove beyond u, and so it proved from the get go when we batted. Lambley's league leading opening bowlers, a fair bit above the normal standard for this division, blasted through our top order for virtually nothing at all, leaving me as the number 7 batsman no time at all to try and get some colour onto my own uncooked chicken coloured summer body. 

Indeed, I went out there at about 30 for 5 after my pre-decessor was castled first ball. Up against the rampant left handed bowler, I somehow managed to get two off the first ball, before sumptuously lofting him for 4 through mid-off from the second. 

This caused a lot of anger in the opponents, who yelled at each other not to let standards slip, although I must stress that they directed no chirp at our batters. They want to win the league, and they feel they need to play hard to do it, which is fair enough. 

This was demostrated when he nearly cleaned me up next ball, which resulted in me getting a hard stare from the bowler, to which I nodded my head and said "well bowled" in a style I hoped was reminiscent of Derek Randall. 

He didn't have to wait long to see me off, as he swung the ball out to have me nicking off. Pleased to report I walked without looking at the umpire. 

It took our last two bats to make us respectable, indeed they took us onto 90 all aout from 39-9. But it wasn't our greatest day's cricket, to be sure.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 

Sunday 10 July 2022

Cricketers not Doing their Usual Things

 After a lot of scrambling around, we were very grateful to Wellow Cricket Club for agreeing to get a game on with us today, albeit a rather short handed one.

Wellow is a charming village, famous locally and perhaps further afield for its maypole, and the cricket ground was in a wonderfully bucolic setting, on a big slope below a field full of very noisy sheep who were probably used to being used as target practice by big hitters during games, and knew what was coming next. 

No-body wanted to play a full format game with only 8 and 9 players a side in brain frazzling 31C heat, so we agreed to play an odd sort of 20 20 format game where some lads could bat twice if required. The serious nature of the match was underlined by the fact that a couple of the Wellow players had cracked open the beers before the game had event started. 

At least we were all wearing our whites. 

I kept up our proud record on Sunday of losing every toss, and so ended up bowling first on a day where no-one sane wanted to be fielding. Hence we agreed on restful drinks breaks every five overs. 

So, for these twenty overs we have three wicket keepers who all bowled, two seam bowlers bowling spin, and me, the captain, who didn't bowl at all. Our own regular second team player, who plays for WEllow as a sideline, was busy scoring a 50, and I hobbled about the field - everyone fielding on the boundary - barely able to move after playing on the Saturday, of which more anon. 

The third team captain, bowling filthy spin, got a wicket and our third team wicket keeper who has never bowled in a match before, took two. The first team captain got bored of bowling filthy spin, and decided to try and bounce out the Wellow opener with limited success. But drinks - and cigarettes - every five overs was very welcome. 

Upton rattled up 135 for 8 off their twenty overs, I think, and then it was time for us to bat, or rather it would have been if we weren't missing a quarter of our players who'd buggered off to Macdonalds. 

Because I hadn't bowled, one of our senior players insisted that I should open the batting, and having initially thought the idea was crazy, decided "Sod it, I hardly ever get to bat, I always have to bat last so can't get changed early, and I alwas have to go and umpire. I'll open"

Picking to open with me another player, and having told the Wellow skipper I was opening, taking strike and was also rubbish, he kindly put their gun fast bowler on to bowl at me, who I scrambed to block out for three balls before putting a tentative single through md-wickets.

My opening partner meanwhile, was getting stuck into hitting fours, something I joined him in a couple of overs later, belting a couple down the hill and into the long grass. I then lost my timing after that, and decided to just knock the ball around for ones and twos while my partner started hitting sixes, and rather bizarrely, a four off the back of his bat. 

We made it to one drinks break, then a second. Just as well, becuase batting and runnin up and down the wicket is bloody hard work on a day like this. 

I was just thinking I could go on and make a fifty, but off the last ball of the fast bowlers spell, he castled me with one that kept a little low. 

I'd ended up making 29, my hughest ever score. We won't talk about the nature of the game though.

Whoops, I just did. 

My opening partner meanwhile did get his 50, and retired in tiumph to watch the rest of the game, which we went on to win by eight wickets (or seven? or six?) after the first tteam opening bat went out there and blasted 45 off about 20 balls. 

It had been a fun game for everyone apart from the third team captain, who was slightly put out by not getting to bat, which actually from my point of view gave him more time to eat his Macdonalds and doughnuts. We celebrated by going to the pub next to the maypole, and talking about more cricket stuff.

As if we hadn't been all afternoon. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.07.22

Friday 8 July 2022

Garden Update

 After a slow period, where nothing much seemed to be happening, we now seem to have had a bit of mini flowering of various bits and pieces.

The last couple of allium appear to be developing clusters of red flowers, not yet open. Flower heads area appearing in the poppy tub, there's a feeble blue showing from the very few cornflowers in the tin bucket that have survived.

The wildflower seeded tubs have got things going on, with pink and red spiny poppies, sweet allison and what appears to be honesty, with other plants appearing to be just about ready to bloom too.

The clematis type shrub on the back wall has gone mad, and lots of white flowers have emerged there, which the bees love, and it also provides cover for the sparrow families nesting round and about, including in a hole in a fire escape stair rod. 

Nasturtiums have sprouted in the mini greenhouse, as have the antirhynus. 

I did feel there was rather a lot of green however, so I caved in and bought some marigolds and geranium, which are brightening the place up and offering pollinators feeding opportunities; tiny bees like the french marigolds by the look of things. 

Most of it planted by me in the end though, a first time gardener.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 08.07.22

Tuesday 5 July 2022

A Butterfly Kind of Day

 Late afternoon on Monday ended up being a pretty glorious kind of day, and with the buddleia now out in flower around the town, I thought it might be a nice sort of day to go out and look for butterflies. 

It's an odd sort of thing to do in many folk's eyes, but it gets me out of the house, gets me exercising and is of course a boon to my mental health. 

My greatest fear during lockdown was that we wouldn't be allowed out of our houses at all. 

As it happens, I didn't have to go very far to find my first butterfly, as right outside my door in my little yard, a male gatekeeper was feeding very placidly off the ragwort I have allowed to grow (read - can't be bothered to dig up) and is actually a more attractive source of pollen than the flowers I've tried to grow myself in various pots and planters. 

So, after managing to get a photo or two of this unusually co-operative gatekeeper, it was off for a walk to Cottage Lane Nature Reserve, taking in the various big buddleias I could remember on the way. Nothing on the one by Mill Lane Bridge, but the one down the side of the secure mental health unit was covered in butterflies.

There was even a rather tired looking brimstone feeding, and to catch one of those motionless is a real event, let alone get a photo of one. There was a really nice comma too, kindly showing off its, er, comma.

The cherry on the cake - mating ringlets in Cottage Lane reserve itself!

A very worthwhile walk indeed!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 05.07.22