Friday 19 July 2024

Excitement in the Rain

 Saturday saw the third team,  now captained by The Man from Blidworth, head out to the lovely ground at Colston Basset to face Keyworth 3rds again. 

As ever early, I headed off into the gloom up the hill to photograph the ruins of St Mary's Church that overlook the venue and help make it so scenic. 

Well it would be scenic on a normal day, but the entirety of this match was played in what ranged from a misty drizzle to full on heavy rain; that we played the whole thing was remarkable.

We were surprised at being asked to bat first, as we had what on paper was a weak team and we thought this meant we were going to be skittled and the match be over in an hour. 

This was not the case, no sirree. Things started very slowly, with one of the Keyworth opening bowlers bowling seven overs for two runs, until one our first batter, having done an admirable job in seeing off these very good Keyworth bowlers, fell right at the end of the 14th over, at which point we had 15 runs on the board.

A remarkable partnership then developed between the other opening bat, the Owmby coach of our women's team, and the grandfather of our young opening bowler who was out there using my bat and in the process that it is me, not my bat, that is talentless.

The two of them out about 90, starting cautiously before unleashing an array of powerful shots around the wicket despite a very tricky pitch and the awful weather. After they were out, we did subside a bit when the opening bowlers came back on. 

But ask us before the game, we'd have taken 125 for 6, in fact we'd have bitten your hand off to the shoulder. 

The weather worsened. We went out to bowl. Could we do it? Could we pull off an improbable win?

Things started well. The aforementioned young opening bowler found his range very quickly and castled one of the openers, while others fell to the Keele captain LBW. There was a deflection run out - gosh luck really was running with us! 

Before too long, they were about 65 for 6. 

This is where our problems started. These lads did not panic; they knew what they were doing. They played straight. Meanwhile, we were running out of bowling - you could tell this as I was brought onto bowl.

50 runs needed, 45, 40. There was a brilliant run out before a young bat came on and started smoking us everywhere, including a mighty blow off me. The ball was like a bar of soap, it was hard to bowl, but the young opener snagged the big hitter to claim his fourth wicket! 30 runs, 25, 20. I was bowling as well as I could but one bad ball an over was costly, as was a batsman nicking one past the keeper's gloves. 

15 runs, 10. THe number ten bat managed to hit a coulpe of fours while looking like he didn't know what he was doing. Four runs to win, I floated one outside off stump, and got walloped for four. Scores level. 

I then agonisingly beat the bat with a beauty. 

However, he cross bat swatted the next ball for a single, and that was it. We lost. Winning runs scored off me. 

"Well that one was my fault" I said in the dressing room, hoping that the others would tell me it wasn't. 

They did.

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.07.24









Tuesday 16 July 2024

Terrible Weather but Still things to See

 Well, this summer is an absolute stunner, isn't it? The last few days we've had occasional sightings of a hazy looking round yellow thing up in the sky, only for a wave of heavy cloud to immediately cover it over and deposit a large amount of water on the saturated ground. 

I've been cycling to work most days in a very fetching bright yellow disposable poncho, which I'm finding to be indisposable. Despite the odd tear it now sports. 

Still, when there isn't rain, there have been some very pretty creatures on the wing, most notably the patchwork leaf cutter fee that visited my just about open gazanias I bought from the market. 

Down in the library gardens I've come across yellow legged mining bees and large numbers of vestal cuckoo bumblebees, while at work, there are small skipper butterflies on the thistles and endless ragwort that covers the badlands next to the cycle path. 

Even saw a muntjac deer down there the other day. 

In short, there are still things to see, but I would imagine they are as fed up as we all are.

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 16.07.24









Friday 12 July 2024

Red Kites at Ropsley

 An unusual game on Sunday, as it was for Upton rather than Newark. No-one was interested in playing for us, so our game was cancelled and the third team captain and myself were able to snare a game with the good burghers of Upton, a club which we call our second home this year after the flooding. 

The last two games I had played in, including a horrible defeat to Keyworth the day before, had been so horrendous that I couldn't bear to write about them. I didn't bowl, and I can't remember the last time I hit the ball with my bat. 

Having toyed with the idea of forgetting cricket and moving to a Tibetan monastery, I did turn out for this game over in the very pretty village of Ropsley, the other side of Grantham. My sister and I were delighted to see it was red kite country, and before and during the game a couple of these magnificent raptors flew low over the ground. .

The Ropsley Baboons, for t'was their name, were rather less majestic as it turned out. Like the Upton lads a very nice bunch of chaps, they found dealing with our bowling very tricky, aided by a similarly tricky wicket. Our early bowlers, a couple of whom turn out for us on a Saturday, soon started cutting through the top order, followed up by the third team captain who took two wickets before being taken off for being too good. 

I even got a bowl myself, castling one of their younger bats second  ball, before bowling a gentle spell of tight control against rather more "mature" batters. Even let my old quicker ball go, and it was even straight. 

Sadly, it was my partner at the other end who grabbed the last couple of wickets, so I ended up with four overs 1 for 2. 

It was then time for me not to worry about batting, as we coasted to victory, overhauling Ropsley's 55 all out in about 16 overs before retiring to a lovely pub in the village for a few beers!

Made me feel good about playing cricket again, which will probably last until I play Keyworth again on Saturday. 

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 12.07.24









Tuesday 9 July 2024

A Magnificent Beast

 I was just walking along next to this coral berry hedge, when I was alerted to this fluttering commotion low down among the leaves. 

What on earth was it? I swear I thought it was a bat initially, although what a bat would be doing crashing about in a shrubbery in daylight was beyond me. But, I do have half a brain, and was able to work out reasonably quickly that what I was looking at was some kind of hawk moth. 

I watched it carefully, taking hold of my cameraphone, and praying it would settle where I could get a photograph. 

It did. 

It wasn't ideal, being somewhat tucked away, but slow as a sloth and holding my breath, I got as close to it as I could. It was a poplar hawk moth, one of the commoner hawk moth species, but not one I've ever seen in glorious reality. 

It was a magnificent beast, probably disturbed by something from its sleeping place and looking for another one. It let me take a couple of shots, peaceful and still, and then I left it to its rest. 

What a thrill it was to see it! Totally made my day. Seeing something you've never seen before is always exciting, but somehow to see this creature was more than that. 

Hope you like it.

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.07.24




Wednesday 3 July 2024

Under a Collingham Cosh

 Saturday saw our third team playing at Upton once again, this time against Collingham's third team complete with the familiar figure of my stepfather's next door neighbour who it has taken me several years to get to play against.

Against expectation the weather was good, and the ground looked immaculate. I was thrilled to see not just one red kite, but a pair, who appeared before the game and graced us with their presence at various times throughout the afternoon.

"Can you eat them?" asked our resident geographer, unimpressed. 

There were kestrels and loudly keening buzzards around too, although the question of their culinary status never arose. I'm glad other players did turn out to share my interest in nature. Well, one did, anyway.

As is customary it seems, we bowled first in a 36 over game, and Collingham's senior bats, one of whom was the first profoundly deaf player I have played in a match with, made a fast start and it took a while for our captain and the Keele captain to find their rhythm and start taking a few wickets, at which point we dragged ourselves back into the game. Our young opening bowler, after having been clattered a bit in his opening spell, came back well later to take three wickets.

The captain noted "If I don't give you a bowl you will be moaning about me in your blog", so I did get three overs at the end. It went ok-ish, as I tried to bowl of a straight approach to avoid dragging the ball down, but for some reason I bowled my first no ball in ages and so a catch off me didn't count. One bad ball got flogged for four by a young bat, who in truth we hadn't bowled well at, and Collingham closed on 159-9. 

We had a bit of a makeshift side, so that looked probably a few too many forus to get, and it quickly became clear that Collingham's bowlers were going to be far more accurate than us on a wicket where it was hard to score. We lost the geographer and his son early as the aforementioned next door neighbour nabbed a couple of wickets with his left hand medium pace loopy stuff. The other opener stood form, but scoring was very difficult, especially when a young speedster came on and ripped through our middle order.

The captain was the only bat who could really handle him, and he used the extra pace to show us some classical front foot driving, but alas he couldn't stay in.

Back in my usual number 11 spot, or rather 10 as we only had 10 players, I went in with the game well and truly gone, nervous as hell after four consecutive ducks - they should call me Audi, like they did Alan Mullaly back in the day - but reasured by the Upton captain, who just told me to relax and do what I could.

I managed to score one run, but that was it, as my partner was out shortly after. 

All in all, a pretty heavy thrashing, but it was a really enjoyable game and I didn't mind too much. I thought, stupidly, that Sunday would go better...

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 03.07.24

All flattering references to the captain are there to ensure he might let me bowl again one day






Tuesday 2 July 2024

The Golden Small Skipper

 Areas of our verges at work look like alpine meadows at the moment. Who'd have though such run of the mill plants as self heal, hawkbit and white clover could create such an arresting sight. 

The bees and bumbles are, of course, loving it. 

Various species of thistle are also in flower, and it was upon one of those that I came across my first close view of a small skipper this summer. It was cool this morning, and grey as my cooking, hence the little butterfly, a little golden paper dart, was still enough to allow me to get some good photographs. 

After a bad start to the year for flutterers, it is good to see a fair few of them around now. Fairy tale burnet moths are also up now, but keeping their distance.

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 02.07.24










Friday 28 June 2024

Those which Buzz and Flutter

 We've had a week of better weather, days where the heat has even been causing the Great British Public (TM) to moan. 

It usually takes two or three days for that to happen. 

This means there has been a lot of pollinators and other beasties on the wing, and I've been trundling about poking my camera into occasionally sharp and stingy things to try and find some beautiful things to show you. 

We are just coming out of the June gap, where the first flight butterflies of early spring are done, with the appearance of meadow browns and ringlets in decent numbers, far greater numbers than the early season flutterers. Among bees, a lot of the mining bee species no longer seem to be about, but there are plenty of honeybees and differing bumble types. 

Swifts scream above my flat daily, and in rural areas juvenile swallows are being fed on telegraph wires. House martins twitter too, with their stubby bodies and white rumps. A third of the Summer has gone.

And it has gone so fast.

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 28.06.24










Tuesday 25 June 2024

Feeling the Heat at Wellow Dam

 Sunday saw us take ourselves - an hour and half early in some cases which must be some kind of club record - to Wellow for a game of proper village cricket at their very rustic ground with its portaloo that not even the insanely brave would dare use. 

It's a lovely setting, a wicket barely distinguishable from the rest of the ground that slopes down a hill to a dam that separates the ground from a fishing lake, where bored men waving sticks at the water were taunted by effortlessly skimming swallows feeding their young of the telegraph wires. 

By the time arrived, our team, somehow an eleven, was more or less there, but the opposition weren't. The suspicion was that they were at the pub, and indeed some of them may have been until fifteen minutes before the game began, Their selection policy seemed to involve asking anyone to play who happened to be at the ground, including the grandfather of one of our juniors, but it worked as they managed to get eleven too.

Eleven v eleven games are a rarity on Sundays these days.

Sent in by my co-captain to contest the toss because he keeps losing it, I indeed won and announced we would bat without hesitation. On a very hot day, this is always a no-brainer, but after fifteen minutes, we all wished we hadn't.

The Keele captain was wiped out by a nasty swinging delivery by Wellow's guest Australian player from Sherwood in the Bassetlaw league 3 and thus better than any of us. Our young left hander was then torpedoed by a ball that rolled along the ground. Batting at four, I then survived one ball, before what seemed like a perfectly safe defensive shot was scooped off the ground by the bowler, a 6 foot 6 beanpole who somehow launched himself forward, downwards and sideways to make the catch.

I stood there absolutely stunned. Defeated by a giant ginger salmon, I pronounced myself cursed. Four ducks in a row. 

Luckily, our batting was heavily backloaded, and our big hitters, combined with wiser batting by our resident geographer, took us to what seemed like a highly competitive total of 157 in a thirty over game. I felt somewhat relieved, but not for long. 

Wellow always seem to turn out a couple of very good players among the young lads and beer enjoying social players, and it was the aforementioned affable Australian who put us to the sword straightaway with some mighty hitting, although he was dropped early on. We were playing "retire at 50" in this match, so when he was hooked off when he raised his half century after what seemed to be about fifteen minutes, we felt we were perhaps back in the game.

No. The new batsman at three was just as powerful. 

We did keep nicking wickets at the other end, I myself took two for 23, but we couldn't get the gun batter out, indeed he too got to 50 before retiring. Could this be another chance??? 

No, for two reasons. One, the Wellow captain who had got me out was equally capable of hitting a very long bowl, and two, the venerable geographer had hatched a plan to replace me with himself in order to bowl gentle lollipops for the Wellow captain to hit into the pond in order to get the game over and get us to what was admittedly a very nice pub all the quicker on what was by now a very hot afternoon. 

He was hit for twenty, and the job was done. So we had lost, but it was still an enjoyable afternoon. 

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.06.24








Tuesday 18 June 2024

More Critter Hunting


 After the dismal cricket destroying weather of last week, we have had a few nicer days this week, enabling me to hunt for pretty little things in the library nature reserve and on the badlands of our work campus. 

It has been fruitful, finding new species like the tiny common furrow bee, five spotted club horned wasp and a thick legged hover fly. I found my first cinnabar moth of the year today, which led me on a merry dance as I tried to photograph the recalcitrant little insect, and have picked up some nice action shots of bees. 

The library gardens, rich with scabious, seems to be a favourite haunt of both vestal and bohemian cuckoo bumblebees. no doubt on the look out for a buff tailed bumblebee nest to parasitise. It seems to be a terrible year for butterflies however, there's been so few on the wing even on bright days.

I hope you are finding pretty things to look at. 

Si

All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.06.24