Wednesday 31 August 2022

Latest Garden Funs

 Well, I'm determined to do more posting again, now that the cricket season is coming to an end and I won't be too sore and battered to go walking and cycling. 

It has taken a long time for some of my pots and planters to get going, but there's a fair bit of, er, action going on now if plants growing very slowly counts as action.

After an eternity, the alysia has come in to flower, after a period during which I thought I'd killed them all and had to thin them. They are great for pollinators apparently, but the flowers look very teeny tiny for that. 

Also after a long old time, there's flowers blooming in one of my seed bomb planters, various little pink, white and purpley things. Not a clue what they are of course.

I have a second, and rather more impressive sunflower in flower, pretty much the sole survivor in its planter. It looks beautiful. And in front of that, I have two planters of nasturtiums on the go, hopefully I'll see flower heads soon, else I might have to thin them. 

I've had a second flush from my coreopsis. and that looks rather nice. Most of the rest of my pots I got earlier in the summer have gone to seed more or less, apart from the geraniums. 

My first season as an incompetent gardener and I've enjoyed it. Some things haven't worked, others have. It's a very middle aged thing to be doing, it feels like, but hey I'm nearly 50. 

The sense of reward when something grows and blooms in the way it should is very gratifiying, and also very helpful from the old mental health point of view. 

Let's see what happens in September.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.08.22

Monday 29 August 2022

The Charitable Chairman on The Charity Fun Day

 Being too injured, old and useless to play, I found myself agreeing to umpire the grandiosely named "Kelham Road Cup" match between our First XI and a special Chairman's XI that formed part of our chairty fun day.

We had women's games, kids games, try out sessions with coaches and various stalls and bouncy castles, augmented by a soundsystem designed to pump out cricket themed music at ear crushing decibel levels during the match.

Organised by our first team opening bowler, who like me is too injured to play at the moment, the match was a 20:20 game with a few Hundred rules thrown in, which meant a few extra arm wavey things I needed to learn pre-game and explain to our actual on mic commentator we had brought in specially. 

The Chairman won the toss, and elected to field first having the younger side with a bit less batting firepower. Almost immediately he fell foul of the fielding restrictions rule by having three fielders outside the circle in the powerplay so I got to call "no ball" very loudly indeed and wave my hands in a horizontal circle like a rubbish helicopter trying to take off to signal the free hit.

Annoyed at having had his inability to count to two shown up, the Chairman protested a little at first, but soon quitened down in the face of my supreme umpiring authority. 

Despite being theoretically the weaker side, after a few early lusty blows the first team opening batters were soon deceived by a young off spinner who has bowled trememdously well all through his first season. Both of them were utterly spatchcocked by the flight and were bowled, before another first team players was deceived by a "doosra" and was stumped. 

All through this I got to signal fours, and more excitingly sixes - delivered in my "Mexican Wave" style. Even umpires have to entertain these days. My umpiring colleague got most of the "Free hit" fun though. 

Meanwhile the first team wicket keeper was busy racking up his 6th Sunday 50 of the year, and their Captain promised us some massive 6 hitting which didn't actually happen, giving the DJ fewer opportunities to blast "Fire" by Kasabian across the outfield, although he did make liberal use of some IPL style sound effects. 

They closed on 139 for 7 or so off their twenty overs.

A quick turnaround followed a spot of village raffling, and then it was time for the Chairman's XI to bat. Opening up with two renowned massive straight hitters, one of them an England dodgeball international at that, meant that I was acutely aware that there was a fair chance of being smashed in the face with the ball so I was standing way back from the stumps, so far in fact that I missed a nick again. Batter was kind enough to walk however, no doubt wishing he'd had a digeball game instead of being done for a duck in a charity game.

The other opener did launch a few big sixes however before being castled, which brought the chairman to the middle. This meant only one thing - the unleashing of the fastest bowler in the club upon him, primed no doubt with instructions to "FINISH HIM!!!". 

THe chairman actually coped with this barrage pretty well, although the edges of his bat scored rather more runs than the middle. What he did a few overs later, on 40 and with the game almost won, was a bit sillier.

He decided to try and play a reverse ramp shot off our regular Sunday opening bowler, with predictably disastrously stump-spreading results. Next ball, young third team opener unlucky to be bowled off his bat. 

Sunday opening bowler on a hat trick! And he got it too, as the next batsman's bat missed the ball while he was looking at the sky. And that more or less sealed the game in favour of the First XI.

Very charitable of the chairman, I thought, to give his wicket away like that.

All in all though, the result didn't matter, it had been a great match. And I'd got to do some decent arm waving too. Added a few extra steps on my fitness watch.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.09.22

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Ah yes, the "Art of Captaincy"

 With a few players missing, it was left to me to organise and captain a side to travel out to play Cropwell, a very very village team in the pretty village of Cropwell Butler, home both of stilton cheese and legendary Notts and England player Derek Randall.

"Rags", as he was always known, does occasionally trundle down to the ground to watch the odd game, but he didn't on Sunday. I don't think he would have been very impressed if he had done.

The ground itself was in a lovely rural setting with sheep bleating around the ground and various country byways criss crossed the site, which had an admittedly rather algae filled pond and was also designated as a nature reserve. The fantastic little scorebox would you make you think cricket had been played here for hundreds of years, but in fact they used to play at a colliery ground and have only been here for about 12 years. 

Seeing as we had arrived early for the game, and apparently looked like first team players - yes, me included - we were invited to bat first, at last, and so our somewhat makeshift side ranging in age from 12 to mid 70s had to suffer me inflicting a batting order on it. 

So, our 75 year old give or take first team umpire went out to bat with our 17 year old first team opening batter, with strict instructions about running between the wickets. The fact it was a 30 over game meant we would be retiring batters at 50, which doesn't go down well in all quarters apparently, but we do want to try and get everyone into the game.

The bowling was a lot friendlier than I was expecting it to be, making re slightly regret changing my mind about opening the batting myself. But it was reasonably accurate and not that easy to get away, although our young opener made a good first of it. Our umpire was stumped after 8 overs and 4 runs, raising his eyebrows a little at the decision, which I felt to be slightly ironic, and then our young keeper joined in, and runs began to come very quickly. 

We were 65 for 1 at drinks, and I gave the instruction to push on a bit as I knew Cropwell batted better than they bowled, and I wanted at least 160 on the scoreboard.

This they proceeded to do, until the keeper got out for 29, heavily annoyed as he was hoping for a 50 himself. The opener retired on 50, but we had some more young middle order firepower, helped by our star second team bowler, fresh off 9 wickets in two matches, who also knows how to wield the willow. 

Things went smoothly until about two overs to go, where my organisational ability fell aprt somewhat. I retired our number 5 on 35 to get a new bat in, but alas he fell first ball meaning I had to go out there with about ten balls left. 

I somehow managed to hack a run, but then the other batsman was bowled, and no-one was ready to come in, the chairman who had arrived late seemingly had no intention of putting any cricket kit at this moment in time, so we had to wait until we could get the 12 year old ready. In the meantime, our number 5 was unretired; he played an outrageous reverse ramp for 4 then got out.

I was trying some desperate hacks to try and get the young lad on strike for the last two balls, which I manaaged. He missed the first, but hit the second straight to the bowler.

I told him to run anyway, hping the bowler wouldn't run him ut, and he chose not to, for which I thanked him.

A bit chaotic, but we had indeed got to exactly 160. 

Now for the real test of captaincy. The fielding. 

I'd removed one difficulty, i.e. when to bowl myself, because I had hurt my already injured back the first time I had tried to wave the bat. The opening bowlers were easy, firstly it was the two players who hadn't batted, and secondly because the chairman would banish me from the club if I didn't let him bowl first.

It did not take long for me to realise that my hunch that Cropwell batted better than they bowled was entirely correct. They knew their wicket, they just put their hands through everything and smashed through extra cover. 

I was fielding at extra cover, and was fielding so badly I was banished to slip and replaced the the senior player we were hiding there. I just couldn't get near the ball, my co-ordination was hideous. Everything went straight through me while I got my legs in a tangle. 


Without any actual idea of what to do out there to stem the runs, or even if there was anything anyone could do, I had to bring our gun bowler on but he went exactly the same way. The chairman was nearly getting wickets when he switched to his googly bowling but was still getting taken for boundaries. 

He insisted he was not to be taken off until he'd bowled out though. 

We did get the gun bats though, through superb outfield catching involving very loud shouting of names. And it turned out the other bats weren't as good, no sirree and we managed to drag ourselves back into the game after they had racked up 100 after just 12 overs. Our number 5 was bowing an excellent spell to go with his batting; wickets were falling, but the runs were creeping up. Our 12 year old got a good little bowl, and took a wicket too so that was a bonus. 

I wish I could say I knew what I was doing out there, but I didn't, not really. However with 6 wickets down, two overs to go and 4 runs needed, I did do something reasonably captain like, by bringing everyone in and trying to make the batsman hit over the top to win the game. And it worked too! Two batters got themsevles out trying to hit the winning boundary, and the next two were very nervous.

However it was not to be, Cropwell managed to pierce the infield and that was it.

However, it had been an excellent and very friendly game, entirely worthwhile to take part in and at 30 overs it hadn't taken an eternity like last week's match had. This meant we were able to retire to the pub around the corner, where the opposition players took part in strange rituals involving drinking pints with batting gloves on.

Hell's teeth, I'm clumsy enough as it is without doing that.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.08.22

Saturday 20 August 2022

A Post of Mystery and Wonder

 I'm well aware I haven't been posting quite as much as usual lately; the insane heat has taken care of that as I've had no real desire to walk anywhere or do anything most of the time. It's just been far too hot. 

That's not to say there hasn't been things to see or listen to; at work swallows and house martins twitter over the car park margins drawn in by the insects attracted to the drainage ditch at the bottom. Flocks of juvenile long tits work their way through the driveway trees with fummy little "zup" calls, while less cutely carrion crows are tearing apart the bodies of roadkill rabbits, long since dessicated and little more than piles of fur.

I've got additional plants in the garden, a scabious gifted me by my sister which really does bring in the pollinators; big hoverflies in particular seem to love it. 

I've also taken joy from buying a new Amazon Kindle. I have an outdoors kit I keep in my small orange rucksack comprising of suncream, a microfibre camping towel and the aforementioned e-reader, an. d I can take it to the cafe at the park, or to cricket matches I seem to spend hours watching these days even when I'm not playing. 

I sit and watch the bees patrolling the rudbeckia in the park and envy them; not the bees but the flowers - my rudbeckia hasn't done very well. They are a last blast of colour in the park, bright yellow suns that will fade as autumn begins.

I don't know what photographs I'm going to post; writing this blog has been a mystery, I've never known where my words will take me.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.08.22

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Wafting Around in the Heat

 Sunday saw us back at home on a Sunday, taking on our good friends from Travellers whom we have now played 4 times in the last three years.

It was a blistering hot day when the sun was out, and the captain losing the toss and having us going in to field first in 33 degree heat was not exactly the start we wanted. We know how these guys play, they go to hit big from the first ball, and if luck is against you, this can lead to a very long afternoon chasing leather to all corners of our enormous outfield on the back ground.

Not to mention time spent digging the ball out of hedges and bushes. 

As it happened however, we made a decent start, thanks to the opening blower we had borrowed from Travellers who put on an excellent spell, alongside our own well seasoned opener, who sadly (for us) is going off to teach PE in Abu Dhabi. 

It was probably cooler in Abu Dhabi that day, to be honest, it felt very hot to me out there, and I just couldn't get into the idea of fielding and my sense of body preservation seemed to over-rule my brain after taking a few whacks with the ball the week before. 

I tried to flog myself into the game, really trying to charge in, trying to get myself going. Nah, not today. I don't think I was alone either. Not in that heat. 

Meanwhile, a young 12 year old bat for Travellers was having a great time seeing off our bowlers with good technique, and stealing the occasional run while the chairman had a go with his "Sunday off spin" which is actually wrist spin. 

We were doing pretty well with Travellers 120-5, but they had backloaded their batting order with big hitters, and despite one of your young bowlers taking two wickets, the score fairly rattled along during what seemed like an endless last ten overs. 

I even got to bowl myself, and it was ok, only two bad balls and the edge beaten a few times. But nothing in the wickets column.

Might have helped if I'd got my hands on the caught and bowled chance that came my way. Oh well. My season has long since gone to the dogs with injury causing lack of practice causing being rubbish.

They ended up on 240 for 9. Way way too many.

So we just told everyone to go out there and bat long and bat for themselves, not that this was very easy as the pitch now started to misbehave and some nasty flyers started taking off from Traveller's rather quicker bowlers. 

Still, everyone fought hard, especially our young left hander and the chairman, who put an excellent stand of 50 on. Travellers' youngest player, barely the size of the stumps, also turned out to be a very good little off spinner as well as bat, and he caused problem, while another bowler bowled huge leg breaks.

There was another bowled off a no ball scenario, two in two weeks for me. But unlike last week I didn't get derided for it. 

Having finally escaped from umpiring after a 90 minute stint, I had to go and bat at 9 and went in skittish as anything, flapping a couple of runs before being hopelessly early, yet again, on a full toss and lobbing it to mid wicket like an idiot. 

But we saw the game out, with a young lad making a fine 17 not out, and our number 11 having a day of days to get 7 not out despite batting almost in twilight at nearly 8pm. 

It had been a very long hot day, and a beer at the bar was then most welcome.

We will see Travellers again next year. Lovely fellows. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.08.22

Thursday 11 August 2022


 Sunday afternoon in the sun took me to the castle grounds, where glittering gleaming instruments and parping sounds indicated that a brass band concert was taking place, surrounded by a generally if not exclusively mature audience stuffing themselves with ice cream.

Enjoying the retro vibe, I got a can of old fashioned bitter shandy and parked my backside on scorched grass more akin to the Serengeti than the East Midlands. 

The band hailed from Shirebrook Miners Welfare, Bassetlaw country rather than the world of Brassed Off, but the stories are pretty much the same. These bands are one of the few things that remain of our mining industry, an industry that lasted a little longer in Nottinghamshire because of the infamous split from Arthur Scargill and the NUM that didn't do them any good in the long run. 

They still bring in the big crowds, so it is something that obviously still means a lot to a lot of people, and I have to say there is something rather soothing about the warm burbling of tubas and euphoniums, although things became a little sharper when the theme from "The Great Escape" was played. 

I really wanted an ice cream afterwards, sadly my way to the rum and raisin was blocked a long queue of musicians in pale blue shirts wishing to cool their lips down after all that heavy blowing. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.08.22

Monday 8 August 2022

The Cheating Umpire???

 SAturday saw our third team and myself make the short journey to Winthorpe, a very pretty ground and the home of Coddington and Winthorpe cricket club, to play their second team.

Indeed, the trip was so short I elected to go by bike, which only took 15 minutes via various cycle paths and was probably a quicker journey than those who drove.

It was a rather odd team the captain had assembled, comprising 5 fully fit actual cricketers, a couple of walking wounded (myself being one of them), the mum and sister of one of the younger players, and a member of our ladies side. There were only 10 of us, and I have to say I didn't hold up much hope for our chances...

So we fielded first on a very bumpy outfield - not what you need when you have some inexperienced players - and because of the shortage of players, I found myself fielding at mid on. Not the best position for me as the ball often gets hit very hard in that direction, and I'm a bit more nervous than I used to be about getting hit. 

Which was already very nervous.

We did pretty well early doors, and we kept the young Coddington lads generally pretty quiet, with our irregular players really stepping up in the field and generally stopping most things. As I was doing too, although very clumsily and I got a hell of a whack on the wrist when I stopped a big hit. I made sure to try and help out as much as possible, and never stopped running around to cover other fielders if I could; having one player missing makes it so hard.

Rather amazed my muscles held up, for a change, but I was knackered afterwards.

We were short of regular bowling, and most of our side ended up having a go - apart from me  - and although our ladies side player did incredibly well and took a wicket, the grown ups had come out to bat by this time and the ball was being smacked everywhere. 

We never stopped working and helping each other out, however, and I certainly never stopped being encouraging although the skipper seemed to disagree. They got 198-6, and no-one really cared as no-one thought we had a cat in hells chance of winning the match anyway with the team we had. 

Oh I forgot, I did get to bowl one over, and nothing bad happened. 

Of course, yours truly doesn't seem to get picked for anything other than umpiring these days, and being the only lower order bat that knows how to do it, this generally means that there is no rest for the wicked and despite being knackered after fielding I was ordered to go out to the middle and get busy with my garden stone counters and wavy arms. 

I was hoping someone who knew what they were doing would get out so I could go and have a sit down. I figured I'd be needed to bat before too long in any case. 

Early events tended to support my hypothesis, as we were soon reduced to 13 for 2 with my lbw finger being required quite early on to remove one of our openers while the other was bowled playing back when perhaps he should have been forward. This brought the skipper in to join our young bat who having started the season in great form had had a bit of a trot of low scores.

Almost immediately the skipper had a waft at one, and virtually everyone on the Coddington team went up for the catch behind. I heard nothing, and the skipper did not walk, so I couldn't give it. 

This, to say the least, did not go down well. There was a lot of swearing, a lot of "Effing hell", dirty looks from captain and bowler and every fielder, and I was made to feel like a cheat, worthy of ground swallowing up status. 

I just wanted to walk off the field. But, it is all part of being an umpire, an honest umpire, at any rate. Most of us get accused of cheating, it just hadn't happened to me before. Folk refereeing kids football games get it far far worse. 

What didn't help was during the next over, the young bat was bowled. Off a no ball. Thank god I called it early. 

And why was this important? It was because after this, not another wicket fell as thew two of them put on an unbeaten stand of 188 to win the game. The batting at times was unbelievable, as was the attitude of the grown ups on the Coddington team who were straight down the throat of their young kids every time they made a mistake, yelling the full width of the cricket ground at times.

We had supported each other, backed each other up, brushed the cock ups aside, and enjoyed ourselves. Within ten overs the Coddington fielders were silent as the grave when they weren't barking at each other, and the adult bowlers when they brought themselves on were awful. 

It made me forget what had happened earlier. 

The mad thing was until we got within 20 runs of their total, I had no confidence we would win the game. We were so light in batting that one wicket could have led to seven in a very short space of time, especially with me yet to don the pads and gloves. 

The skipper hit a massive 6. The young bat just blasted anything off line all along the ground for four, 16 of them in total. With about 6 needed, he brought up his century. 

I abandoned neutrality at this point and got a photo of him in the middle - skipper thought this was a bit village, but so what! It was amazing his mum and sister were playing in the same game, you couldn't make it up.

Skipper sealed the deal next over. A team that shouldn't have won had gone and done a massacre. And I was on the field for every minute of it!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 08.08.22

Tuesday 2 August 2022

Echinacea Bees

 How beautiful Echinacea is, and very un-British it appears. It seems to be far too tropical to be popping up in an East Midlands public park, with its pink petals and vivid orange centre that looks like the first transmitted photographs of an alien planet.

And on the surface of this planet, the bees tread, giant, feeding, buzzing. All manner of species; gypsy cuckoos, white tailed bumblebees, honey bees. 

I always make a point of going for a look whenever I visit the park for a cup of tea. They do a wonderful job at Sconce Park, there's always something to see. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 02.08.22