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.


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. 


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. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.06.24

Friday 7 June 2024

Poppies at Starbucks

 We have a little pay day ritual at work where a few of us take ourselves around, braving rather unpleasant road crossings, to the local Starbucks drive-thru for a sort of decompress thing.

Once over-priced drinks have been obtained, ensuring everyone is in their overdraft before the next pay day, most of us head outside for sun and cigarettes, while I go rummaging around in the wastelands around the car park. 

It is poppy season. 

Long time readers of this blog might remember the incredible field of poppies we had one year just outside of town, a field that has now been turned into a housing estate. Now poppy fields are in short supply around here, so to see even a clump of them is worthy of exploration. 

Of course, where there is sun and bloom, there are little buzzy and fluttery things. Let's see what I found!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 07.06.24

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Finally Defeated

 Sunday's game saw us at home to Chillwell, AKA the self proclaimed "Chilly Boyz", a Nottingham based team who we played over at their council run ground a couple of years ago in a dramatic game that was my first victory as captain. Ever. 

We had struggled to get a side out, but our third team captain used his connections with the university baseball club "The Thieves" to bring in four of the guys who had played us a few years ago. Including all the really good ones. 

Finally, it was a warm day again, a day to reach for the spray on sunscreen and have extra drinks bottles and watch the insects feed off the bramble flowers. The buzzards were on the wing, but we never seem to have swallows visiting the ground any more, which is sad. 

My co-captain went out with strict instructions to bat first, which of course meant he lost the toss and had us fielding in the heat in this  - mercifully - 35 over game. 

The Chilwell lads, who were a nice bunch, went into bat and we quickly had them in trouble, with our guest opening bowler getting in the wickets along with our own resident swing specialist. There was a messy run out too, before the Luxembourg international came on with his rapid and unhittable off spin to pick up a wicket for himself, while our own left handed youngster had another batter caught at slip. 

At 60 odd for 5 they in a spot of bother, so, as ever in these situations, the decision was made to bring myself on, the old "open up the game" tactic. I found myself bowling to the Chilwell captain and their wicket keeper, a well known figure in local critic due to his resemblance to Donald Trump and the Hannibal Lector mask he keeps wicket it, as well as his Alan Patridge like calls of "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS" when he goes for a run. 

He is not a very good batsman, and I was trying everything to get him out. And failing. His partner, who ended up with 67, hit me for four but I had him stone dead LBW, which their umpire turned down. Grrrrrr.

He was also dropped by one of our younger players, who fearlessly went for the catch off a hard hit, and ended up not only cutting his finger but dislocating it, removing the poor chap from the match. 

Chilwell closed on 169 for 7, which seemed daunting but gettable on what was a very flat deck. 

Indeed, we started well. With myself umpiring, I got to see why the Luxembourg international is, ahem, an international. He made batting look ridiculously easy, always seemed to have so much time to play the ball, and nearly wiped me out when hitting a straight four that went like a rocket. 

"Thanks" as I said drily, as I picked myself and my straw hat off the floor. 

I was amazed when he got out for 40. 

After that, we started to struggle a bit. Chilwell are a bit stronger than the teams we normally play on a Sunday, with a mix of first and second teamers, and bowlers skilled in moving the ball around. Alas, I had to give a couple of LBWs - they were indeed out - which upset the third team captain before he was surprised by a bouncer that came out of nowhere. 

A spot of gentle pad hitting and bat throwing then followed. 

Batting at ten, I went out there with 50 or so needed, determined to make a better first of it than yesterday. I took guard, and then had a total sense of panic as the bowler gently ambled in. 

Middle stump wiped out. First ball. Again. I am so utterly hopeless I can scarcely believe it. 

Three balls later the match was over, and I had a King Pair for my weekends work. Our first Sunday defeat of the season. 



All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 04.06.24

Monday 3 June 2024

What is "The Skibadi Toilet"?

 I'm still needed to play Saturday league cricket, so it was off to West Park, again, to face West Bridgford Legion's second eleven on a dull, cold day. 

With the previous Sunday game being marked by us setting fire to the cigarette bin before the game and a senior player having to put it out with a half bottle of Fanta, I was wondering what wonders there would be to behold at this rather empty sort of ground this time.

It wasn't nature or accidental arson that caught my attention, but rather some graffiti chalked on a fence saying "Skibadi Toilet". I had, and have, utterly no idea what one of these is, and why it should be mentioned at a cricket ground. There were normal toilets, but nothing I could discern was a Skibadi one. 

The mind boggles. 

As is the custom with the third team captain, we soon found ourselves bowling first, on a day that I needed to be wearing three layers and no sunnies. It has to be a very dull day to keep me from wearing my shades out on the field, even if only perched uselessly above my forehead. 

It was the sort of day where we bowled well, and took regular wickets without ever really getting our boots on The Legion's throats. Keele Captain put in an excellent spell, as did the other young opening bowler. There was good fielding, even by myself on occasion and so avoiding the sarcastic remarks I usually get when trundling about like a drunken giraffe. 

The Legion kept on trucking, slowly accumulating runs while losing the odd wicket. It was after thirty overs, in a thirty six over game, that the captain turned to a bit of spin. One of them is a very good bowler. The other one was myself.

On the day, the captain predicted what I'd write when it came to this report, and he was indeed correct in stating that I'd write "I wasn't expecting to bowl after being so crap last Sunday". Well, nothing could be more obvious as I had been awful and my confidence shot to bits. 

As it turned out, I did ok, having realised that bowling from a yard nearer the batter helps with length and line somewhat. A big unit did pump me for six, but I had him caught soon after by our passing guest actor from Farndon. After then dropping a catch, I castled a left hander before then breaking the stumps of their resident cow corner slogger.

There we go. Three for eighteen, just by sowling slow and straight. All out for 135. 

This was always going to be a tough chase for us, with what felt like a somewhat unsteady batting line up, and The Legion's opening bowlers were good, moving the ball around under the leaden skies. This I knew well, as the Captain, having told me to "put my feet up" after my decent bowling spell, decided that this "rest" should consist of umpiring for a large chunk of the innings. 

So I was watching at close hand as we struggled, with regular wickets falling. But after the openers were taken off, batting seemed to become easier, led by the young chap who had opened the bowling and was now opening the batting with some style, although the captain said he should be charged double subs for this. 

At one point he formed a good partnership with our keeper, and we really looked like we were going to bring it home. But when the opening bowlers returned, it became a different game, and he fell for a brilliant 64. And after that, I'm afraid, it became a bit of a procession. 

I went out there, then, with thurteen needed to win, and the opening bowler to face. I thought I'd be able to handle him, but a jaggy off-cutter first ball ripped my off stump out of the ground, and that was that. 

My co-ordination is hilariously bad.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 03.06.24