Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Someone Like You*

I love thee - I love thee,
'Tis all that I can say
It is my vision in the night,
My dreaming in the day.
~Thomas Hood~

Last week Valentine’s Day fell on Monday. Students clutching red roses and heart-shaped balloons walked past my window. Hmm…it was that time of the year again. Babe gave me the Ghost perfume which I wanted and he got a True Blood dvd which he chose. Ha…how romantic was that!!! The main thing is that we love each other, unconditionally.

At work, we’d our first departmental meeting for this year. A lot of things were discussed and our manager laid out his plans for the next 12 months. It was going to be a very busy year which will keep us on our toes. My colleagues and I have made a resolution for the department ie to be VISIBLE and HEARD. Somehow we have been invisible in the library. Plans have been made without informing us or we were the last to know. Eg Book donations accepted without asking us whether we could process them. We will also need extra staff for weeding, funds for binding/lyfguarding, barcodes, security tags etc

We also planned to join in every committee in the library. So far, I’m a member of the International Students Group, the Enquiry Referral Services, the Check it out sessions and I was thinking of joining the Marketing Group. We need to be out there and not hidden away. Unfortunately, our office was in the ground floor  and at the furthest end of the building. We also made sure that there was something on the weekly staff e-bulletin about our department. We must be seen as contributing something. So far we’d highlighted about our co-operation with the Graduate School regarding thesis, highlighted JG’s Marandet plays and CC’s article.  We were no longer sitting quietly in the basement. That aside, the Welsh Cakes that I brought helped to calm things down.

We’d the meeting when the library system, Millennium, was down. We did expect this because the server was replaced over the weekend. It was hoped that the new server will be up and running by 10am on Monday morning. We finished our meeting at about 12pm and it was still down. So another mug of coffee was in order. My colleagues started working on their appraisals but moi had already submitted ages ago. That’s what you get for being too competent. But not to worry? Instead of tweedling my thumbs, I spring cleaned my desk. Spring has come early for me.

Then I went out for my usual lunch walk, when I met JW who was also on his way out.  He told me he was going to check out some WAXWINGS at Meriden. WAXWINGS…did I hear that right??? I asked him if I could tag along and he said YES. Yes…I was hyperventilating. I just couldn’t wait. JW was there on the weekend but it was too windy and foggy to see them. Warwickshire Roadside  D50   14-02-2011 13-59-27

We drove on the A45 to Meriden and parked at a lay-by. We walked towards the Maxstoke Bridge and there they were. A flock of about 40 birds on the trees in the middle of the reservation. Traffic was whizzing by and they were there twittering away. They keep on flying from one end of the road to another and a few times they flew right to where we were standing. I was so excited that at times I forgot to use my camera, which was a first for me. Unfortunately, the sun was right in front of us. But who cares huh!!!Warwickshire Roadside  D50   14-02-2011 14-04-21

These waxwings with its buff-red crest on top of their heads were a real beauty. It was reddish-brown in colour with a black throat, a small black mask round its eye, yellow and white in the wings and a yellow-tipped tail. It does not breed in the UK, but was a winter visitor. It looked quite fierce and regal perching high on the branches, watching the world go by. I’m soo thankful that I was able to see them this close. They were truly amazing. What a pity we’d to leave them because we got to go back to work. :-(

Luckily, Babe wanted to see them too. So on Wednesday and Thursday, he came over during my lunch break and then drove to Meriden. Unfortunately, they were not there. We met a few twitchers who were also there and they told us that there were sightings of them early in the morning. At first we thought of driving here before going to the office. But we changed our minds because this stretch of road had one of the worst morning rush hour traffic. We will come again before these beauties fly back to Scandinavia. Babe was in Brandon Marsh when he got this stunning shot of a Great Crested Grebe. I couldn’t wait to see them too.Brandon Marsh D300s  16-02-2011 15-11-41

Last week was was Maulidur Rasul. It was the birthday celebration of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It falls on the 12th or 17th day of the Islamic month of Rabi' al-awwal. It was a day for Muslims around the world to learn more about and reflect on the Prophet’s life.

“And peace on him on the day he was born, and on the day he dies, and on the day he is raised to life"

Holy Quran 19:15

Allahuma salli ala Muhammadin wa Aal-e Muhammad
O God! Shower thy blessings on Muhammad and the descendents of Muhammad

Then there was the football matches on tv. I thoroughly enjoyed the heavyweight clash between Arsenal and Barcelona. Wilshere was selected as the Man of the Match in the match that ended 2-1 in the Gunners’ favour at the Emirates Stadium in the UEFA Champions League.  There was firework all around in the Champions League last-16 first round match .Later, Liverpool travel to the Czech capital to face Sparta Prague at the Generali Arena in the first leg of their Round of 32 clash. Liverpool lacked attacking threat after drawing 0-0 at Sparta Prague in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie. They didn’t sparkle in Dalglish's first European match in charge of the club but remain well placed for the last 16.

On Friday, I’d to take the bus to work cos Babe wasn’t feeling good. Hmm…how much is the bus fare this time? It was £3.40 for a day’s pass. It seemed that everytime I use the bus, the fare increased. How can you encourage the people to use public transport when it was soo damned expensive!!! Thankfully, the school half-term had started and there were no school children swinging their huge rucksacks about or clogging the entrance. But I spoke too soon.

We got down in town and as I walked past Sainsbury’s, the smell of baking waft past the entrance. My tummy growled and I realised that I didn’t have time for breakfast. So I rushed in and join the queue for the freshly baked Danish Cinnamon rolls, 3 for the price of 2. Yummy…I just had to have one in the bus and devoured the rest at my table.

I took the bus home with my colleague AM. We dropped at the Linden Tree and walked into town. I wanted to enquire about a top-loading washing machine from one of the electrical appliances store. I was told that only Hotpoint made them and the price was £425. Expensive huh…Then we walked into Poundland where I bought toilet rolls and bird-food. AM went to Debenham while I headed straight to the bus-stop. A bus was already there and it looked quite full cos a lot of people were standing by the entrance. When I got in and walked to the back, there were plenty of seats. Why do people like to crowd by the entrance???

On Saturday, I received the news that my grandmother had passed away. Inna lilla wa inna lilla hirajiun. (From Allah we came, To Allah we returned). I said a prayer for a wonderful woman and may she rest in peace. Amin.

I’d already made arrangements to meet CC, KC and KW in town. KC had made the plans a month ago. I took the bus and since I was early, decided to check the latest exhibition in town. While the fate of Modern Egypt hangs In the balance and in the midst of the turmoil, the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum opened a new exhibition: "Secret Egypt - Unravelling Truth from Myth". This brand new blockbuster opened on the 11th of February, and allowed visitors to investigate the truth behind some of the popular myths about ancient Egypt amongst the displays that brought together over 200 objects from some of the most important Egyptian collections in the country.

They included an amazing colossus statue of Ramesses II from the British Museum, a rare sculpture of Queen Nefertiti from the Ashmolean, crocodile mummies from Bolton Museum, a gold pendant from Manchester Museum discovered by archaeologists in the hands of an ancient robber trapped in a collapsed tomb and a well preserved mummy of a woman called Perenbast. Also on display were many treasures previously unseen including objects from Manchester University Museum, the Birmingham Museum collections and Bolton Museum.

Moving through six themes, it began by asking what is real and what is fake via an examination of funerary objects that helped Ancient Egyptians into the sacred world of death before debunking some of the more spurious myths that have grown up around the Ancient Egyptians. There was also an interactive quiz which I took part. I got only one wrong and I did find the interactive host a bit annoying.

The only part I was a bit iffy about was when I was in the tomb chamber which contained the remains of Perenbast, a chantress of Amen who died nearly 3000 years ago. The well-preserved mummy in its beautiful decorated coffin  from the 22nd dynasty was discovered in 1909 in Qurna and on loan from the Manchester Museum. Shouldn’t she being buried? When Perenbast died and was prepared for the after world, she didn’t expect to be on display…

The Museum was quite busy because the ground floor was used as the focal point for the Coventry University Open Day. I think they had to bring it indoors because the weather was quite bad. There were lots of interesting things on display to promote the University but it was getting crowded and I’ve got other things to do. As I walked past the Cathedral graveyard, I spotted clumps of snowdrops. I was itching to get a photograph but changed my mind cos they were growing alongside the grave stones.

I did checkout Primark which was buzzing as usual. I fell in love with a Channelesque cardigan and at £14 it was reasonable. But the queue at the changing room was way too long. I think I might come again another time. I had my eyebrows threaded and then I was ready to face the world.

I went to Cosmo and sat in the lobby while waiting for the girls who were 15 minutes late. After the obligatory hugs and air kisses we went to our table. The Pan-Asian restaurant was buzzing and quite full. We ordered a big pot of steaming cha and they used proper loose Chinese tea leaves. We took turns to get our food. First was the starter. I’d the king prawns in batter, fried calamari, sesame prawn toasts, crispy seaweeds and spicy prawn crackers.

Then cleanse the palette with a bowl of hot. steaming crab and corn soup. What you need on a cold day. KC was looking well. She was also doing an Open University degree in Art. She told me she was bored which was a bit surprising for a newly-wed. But hey-ho. Then it was to the main course. I’d crispy noodles with king prawns with ginger and spring onions, broccoli in chilli sauce, stir fried pak choy in oyster sauce, tofu in black bean sauce and Szechuan fish fillets. Oooh my poor tummy. We ate and ate and talked and talked. It was a lovely day out with the girls. Then it was time for desserts. We waddled slowly to the counter and I went for the fresh fruit. Just couldn’t eat anymore.

About 2 hours later, it was time to leave. The girls had errands to run and I wanted to check out a long-sleeved camouflaged  t-shirt that I’d seen last year in one of the stalls in the Coventry Market. I wanted to get it for Babe. Aren’t I a lovely wife :-). And on cue, Babe called. He was meeting me in 30 minutes. I bought a newspaper and a drink and sat in the Bullyard, waiting for him. We then checked a new webcam/camera which we wanted ages ago. Still thinking whether we were going to buy it. Then a quick browse around town before we headed home.

Sunday was spent chilling and doing the laundry. The weather was a bit soggy and all I want to do is just chill out with Babe. I hoped that you too are spending time with someone you love.

*Adele's stunning performance at the Brit Awards singing this song helped her claimed this week’s Official Singles Chart's UK number one. It was a lovely song and I think I’m going to purchase the CD. The songs were amazing.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


I called my parents every Saturday without fail. And this morning, Abah told me that my Grandmother, Emak’s birth mother, died about 2 hours before I called

.Malaysia D50  18-12-2010 16-28-57_cr

 Innalilla wa inna lilla hirajiun

( From Allah we come, To Allah we return).

She was nearly 90 and died of a very severe asthma attack in the hospital surrounded by her loved ones. She’d a wonderful, long life. I was very fortunate to have spent time with her when I was in Malaysia last year. Although she was in her early stages of dementia, we’d some wonderful conversations which I will always cherish.

I’m going to miss my wonderful Uwan. Rest in peace and may Allah be with you always.


In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds:
The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful:
Owner of the Day of Judgement.
Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) was ask for help.
Show us the straight path:
The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.

(1 : 1-7)


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Not a Wild, Wet, Windy, Welsh Weekend

When we woke up last Saturday, the sun was shining beautifully and we decided to make full use of it. We checked the weather forecast for Aberystwyth, and it was alternating sunshine and clouds. Yes…a day trip to our favourite haunt was on the card. There wasn’t much traffic on the road not even on the usual gridlock at Wednesbury. We sang our hearts out to the American Anthems CD and as usual made a quick stop at Telford services. The last time we were here they had dug up the place to make way for a bigger car-park.  This large 1917 built Nasmyth steam hammer at the picnic area seemed to be a permanent exhibition piece, advertising the nearby Ironbridge Gorge museum complex. We have been to Ironbridge before and I think another visit was in order.Telford D200  12-02-2011 11-00-54

We continued our journey through the lovely rural Shropshire countryside. The weather was a bit disappointing. It was getting cloudier and darker and at times, we drove through cloud bursts. But it didn’t dampened my spirit. I spotted carpets of snowdrops under the forest canopy and on the embankments.  I was soo excited and was itching to get some photographs. But there was no place to stop. Grr…

As we entered the Welsh borders, the sun came out. We saw dozens of pheasants enjoying the warmth on the hillside. Look at this stunning view of the countryside. You don’t know what to expect around the corner, or over the valleys. No matter how many times we have driven through Wales, I can never have enough of these wonderful views.Road Trip Wales D50  12-02-2011 11-46-36

We arrived at a cloudy Bwlch Nant yr Arian at about 1.30pm. Just enough time to get our cameras out and rush to find the best seat in the house. The forest was in full swing. Birds were twittering and tweeting everywhere but we kept on walking towards the lake. There were already lots of people and we could see at least a dozen kites circling the sky above us. The warden spread the meat on the ground and everyone had their cameras ready and waited and waited and waited…Nothing happened. More kites were circling but none was swooping down.  What happened? Something must have spooked them. What a let-down.Nant yr Arian D300s  12-02-2011 15-10-60

Then the heavens opened. There was a rush to find shelter but the hardy ones, including us, stood our ground. Still nothing happened. Half an hour later, we gave up. We were cold, wet and hungry. Babe spotted this goosander swimming lazily in the lake and he became the focus of our cameras.Nant yr Arian D300s  12-02-2011 14-20-26

We’d our lunch with the Red Kites soaring and gliding over our heads as a dark silhouette.  It was amazing to see them this close and their piercing cries echoing around us. We were still curious as to why they weren’t feeding. We later checked out the bird-feeder outside the visitor centre and it didn’t disappoint us. Dozens of chaffinches, great tits, blue tits, greenfinches, bramblings, robins, siskins and tree sparrows were squabbling and shreeking for attention. The noise was deafening.Nant yr Arian D300s  12-02-2011 13-40-08

I called CEK but couldn’t get any signal. I only managed as we got nearer to Aberystwyth. I wanted to meet her in town but unfortunately she has friends over to help her move her overgrown hedges. Never mind, next time. We parked at Rheidol Retail Park and started taking photographs of the beautiful buildings. Suddenly, we were confronted by a woman who wanted to know why we were taking photographs of MY Building!!!WTF…what happened to the friendly people of Aber??? We told her that we were former students and were here as tourists. And then she left us alone and stormed back to HER building. Apart from the students, tourism was this town main source of income. With this attitude, I wonder…Aberystwyth D200  12-02-2011 15-51-50

She really dampened our mood and we decided to get back to the car. But first, a peak into our favourite shop, Charlie. Nothing’s changed, still cramped with everything you need and we came out with a camouflaged tee each for only £6. When we reached the car-park, we met May. She didn’t recognise us at first until Babe mentioned our names. May was from Malaysia, small world huh, and she was one of the wonderful nurses who looked after me when I was in Bronglais. The last time we met was about 6 years ago before we left for Scotland. We had a long natter and she gave us her number with a promise to have tea at her house the next time we were in town. Diolch* May.Aberystwyth D200  12-02-2011 16-08-50

We drove towards the promenade and managed to get a parking space near the pier. It was a very lovely balmy evening. The tide was coming in and it was very, very windy. We saw herring gulls searching for food, a wagtail flirting among the parked cars and a very nice surprise, a Great Crested Grebe swimming near the pier. We strolled along the promenade towards the Old College. Gulls were already roosting along the sea shore.

Then the moment we were waiting for, one of the most amazing wildlife exhibition. Early evening, just before dusk, when the light was unreal, starlings appeared in masses from everywhere. Everyone stood still mesmerized, watching the flock grow and grow, coming together in huge clouds, wheeling and swooping in unison. As they got lower and lower they filled the Welsh sky and we were literally hypnotized. Aberystwyth D200  12-02-2011 16-59-46

This jaw-dropping display was known as a ‘murmuration’, when thousands of starlings come together and swarm as if they were one organism. As they fly, the flock changes shape, one minute a colossal wisp of smoke, the next a tornado, then a thundercloud blocking the evening light. Unfortunately we didn’t see them performing any of these breathtaking aerial ballets.

Then, just as quick as it began, suddenly they began to drop out the air as if they'd been shot. A constant stream followed as they swooped down and went under the Pier to roost. The noise was incredible as chattering cacophany rose from their resting place as they communicated and gossiped with their fellow bed mates. Some perched outside the pier structure and we watched them jostling for positions and continued their gossiping.Aberystwyth D300s  12-02-2011 16-55-18 Suddenly there was a loud bang by the roadside. A few flocks of ‘startled’ starlings flew from under the pier in unison like a shoal of fish and we were able to observe some beautiful air displays just above the sea-water. You can hear the oohs and aahs from the crowd. When they feel it was safe, whoosh they flew back in. I just felt like giving them a thunderous clap of appreciation. In the meantime, above us still more clouds of birds were flying in from everywhere and after a quick wheeling and swooping, they joined the rest under the pier.Aberystwyth D50  12-02-2011 17-00-2

To me, this starling roost was one of the most incredible natural spectacles that we enjoy. It was so easy to see and it was free  The Aberystwyth folk should be honoured that these birds choose the pier for their night-time shelter. Just one final warning…thousands of birds flying above you meant you’ll be in close contact with s—t. Make sure your head is covered and don’t park too close to the pier or you will need a quick trip to the car-wash!!!

We left at about 5pm and still more birds were flying in, but in small numbers. Bonn nuit my feathered friends. We went to Morisson cos I wanted to get some packs of Welsh cakes for my colleagues. We freshened up a bit before driving back to Coventry. It was going to be a long night but at least it wasn’t raining. We stopped at a layby near the mountains and switched off the car lights. It was spookily dark and all we could see were thousands of twinkling stars and the Orion. It was beautiful. No artificial light in sight except from the lights of the cars that drove past. They must think we were a bit loco :-).

Reluctantly, we’d to continue our journey. I was feeling sleepy and so was Babe. So we put on the CD and sang our hearts out. But as soon as we left Shrewsbury and was on the M54 I closed my eyes. We were near the Corley services when I woke up. Hmm…I’d slept for about an hour.

We arrived home at about  8.30pm. Very tired but very happy. We’d the leftovers for dinner, had a quick wash and then ZZZ. When I last looked, Babe was still busy uploading the photographs. Good night.

"So, fall asleep love, loved by me...
For I know love, I am loved by thee."

~Robert Browning~

*Thank you in Welsh

Monday, 14 February 2011

Winds of Change

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”,

(Act 4, scene 3, 218–224)

says Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as he urges his comrades to seize the moment to overthrow the ruler they see as a tyrant. The changing winds that started in Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution and had blown into Egypt. Ordinary citizens were revolting against authoritarian governments and the associated political corruption as they suffered soaring unemployment and a rising cost of living. Smaller protests have also spread to Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. Will they succeed? The world will have to wait and see.

What happened in Egypt had unsettled past notions about what it meant to be an Arab and a Muslim. For the first time, Tunisians and Egyptians were destroying the alleged link between tyranny, corruption, terrorism and human rights violations with Islam. The Muslim world should welcome this change, having suffered from stereotypes for decades

Militant Islam's greatest ally had always been the West's hypocrisy. The Western world had denied its own values in the Middle East, giving autocracy precedence over democracy. But people can be strongly influenced by the very things they are fighting against. Was autocracy in the Arab states meant to be a barrier against Islamism?

Democracy was now definitely seen to be an ally of Islamism. Hamas was triumphant in the 2006 Gaza elections. The Muslim Brotherhood had pledged to support a secular Egypt, but will that promise hold if they comes to power?  We must remember that the Egyptians were not fighting for Sharia law or for an Islamic state. Warwick University D50  09-02-2011 08-52-51

This was a revolt against rulers who had implemented policies that had seen their citizens dehumanized, victimized and marginalized.  It could also be seen as a revolt against the Western powers that created these modern Arab states and maintained them as security states after the 1970s.

What had happened now in Tunisia and Egypt will surely ripple throughout the Arab world, as ordinary citizens realize that they must seize and protect their freedom and dignity. The world are now witnessing a historic moment that have long been denied to these ordinary people that is the right to define themselves and their governments, to shape their governance systems, and to engage with each other and the world as free human beings, with rights that will not be denied aka DEMOCRACY. Warwick University D50  09-02-2011 13-05-44

In the university too, the winds of change were about to take place.  It was the SU elections fever. Following December’s vote on the rise in tuition fees, this year elections were going to be more important than ever as you can read from these posters (above). Every spare wall around the library was plastered with posters. I was just waiting for someone to taped one on my window!!! To me, the most impressive voting scenario was when this group of Jane supporters sang an improvised classical version of Hallelujah outside the library. They did attract a lot of attention especially when they sang it on the walkway joining the library and the chemistry department. It was hilarious and a lot of people joined in the fun. Moi was too busy taking photographs. 

I was supposed to conduct a library tour for the students from the Ritsumeikan University, a private university from Kyoto, Japan. There were about 30 of them who were here on an Intercultural Exchange Program. Unfortunately, I still had my coughing fits and I really don’t want to spread my joy to anyone. One of my colleagues from the International Student Group took over on a very short notice. Thank you. But I did came up to the Seminar room and tried to sit quietly at the back, which Coventry D50  12-02-2011 09-03-15I failed miseably. To the young Japanese students, I wished them youkoso*.

It was also time for the much anticipated/dreaded Annual Review. It was a chore to do because you need to think what you had planned last year, whether you’d achieved it, reasons why you have not achieved, plans for the future etc, etc. You really need a clear head with no disturbances whatsoever. I took a whole day to do it and frankly, I was quite surprised to see the long list of things that I’d achieved  in 2010. It was there to see in black and white. I guess the review was not a futile exercise after all.

This week was a reflective week for my 23 Things project. Hmm…actually I haven’t had the time to reflect. Busy catching up as usual with Twitter and Facebook. We have accounts with both because as librarians we need to keep abreast with what was out there. But I am not a fan at all especially Facebook. I don’t tweet but I can see its usefulness especially when some very important news was tweeted as soon as someone received it which otherwise I would not have known so soon.

I also watched the televised international friendly between England and Denmark from Copenhagen. Chelsea midfielder. Lampard, captained for the first time and earned his 83 caps. Quite a boring game and the Three Lions had to come from behind to beat Denmark 2-1 in the football exhibition. They still have a long way to go. Coventry D50  12-02-2011 09-04-35

The casa was now enveloped with intoxicating perfume from these beautiful flowering indoor hyacinths (above). Although I planted them all at the same time, the blue bloomed earlier, and then the white. But the pink seemed to be a bit stunted. They bring joy and colour indoor compared to the bleak landscape outside. Although this Hellebores had flowered beautifully outside the window sill and lots of tiny buds were clinging on the Forsythia in the garden. I couldn’t wait. The yellow flowers of the winter jasmine were also blooming but the plant was in tatters due to the strong winds. I’ve also spotted the Hippeastrum, commonly called Amaryllis, forming a bud. It was suppose to be flowering during Xmas, but hey, who’s complaining. 

The beautiful vocal goldfinches were back  and feeding on the flowering alders outside our casa. I could hear their delightful liquid twittering song and call as I got ready for work. It was always a joy to see them with their striking red faces and the bright yellow flashes on their wings waving you goodbye as you get into the car. They always made me smile.

Coventry D300s  08-02-2011 09-23-24

"The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within."
~  William C. Bryant~

*welcome in Japanese

Monday, 7 February 2011

In With a Bang

Last week, my colleagues and I decided to celebrate the year of the Rabbit a few days earlier. Actually it was just an excuse to meet up over  lovely food and even lovelier company. We felt that we needed to blow away this dragging long winter blues by bringing a bit of laughter and inject a bit of colour into our lives. 15 of us met at the Noodle Bar after office and following the dress code, red. Some were wearing red for the first time in their life. HH said red made her look pale and so she wore red socks. DE wore a red basque. Oo la la…

It was chaotic ordering the food. I’d the usual udon with seafood special and Chinese vegetables.Coventry D50  01-02-2011 20-00-27 It was interesting to see the different and very strange combinations that arrived. HH had the satay prawns and I swapped a piece of calamari with her. It was delicious but surprisingly spicy. We chatted, joked and basically just relaxed. We would have stayed longer but there was a football match that night and we don’t want to get caught in the exodus. The Sky Blues was playing against Nottingham Forest and they lost, again. The boys were sliding down the ranking very, very quickly.

Chinese New Year was the most important festival of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. It was always celebrated on the second new Moon after the winter solstice. It was a time for renewal, homes brightly decorated, families gathered for a yamseng and children and singletons given red angpows (envelopes containing £££). I think next year I might go to Chinatown either in London or Birmingham because the festival was often celebrated with a bang, marked by firework displays and traditional lion/dragon dances.

On Monday, it was AM’s 50th birthday and, off course, another excuse to have a party. Her work station was decorated to death and posters and banners were strewn all over the staff lounge. She’d a fit when she arrived for work but I’m sure she thoroughly enjoyed it. The table was groaning with delicious spread and I contributed my usual vegetable spring rolls and prawn crackers. I took out my Pentax to take a few photographs of the birthday girl but my battery went dead!!!Not a happy bunny at all.

I had a training session with a 16 year old work placement student. It was hard work. You just don’t know how much information you want to give on such a short time to someone who hasn’t a clue about cataloguing and classification. But you don’t want to scare a potential cataloguer away, do you? So I gave him the very basic of why we catalogue and classify books and the different classification systems that we used. The only question he asked was why did we throw away the covers which surprised the hell out of me. Why??? Because they become tatty after constant use. Paperbacks will be lyfguarded.

It was also the One World Week, a student-run international extravanga.Warwick Univiversity D50  01-02-2011 13-30-30 It was an annual celebration of the world’s mosaic of cultures and diversity, now in its 16th year.  I only managed to attend the Indo Asia Day with a folk dance from the Kazakhstan society. I was quite surprised to see a large presence from this country. These beautiful dancers in a vision of blue left the audience mesmerised with their slick performance. They received a standing ovation from the very appreciative crowd.

Wednesday was Candlemas, the day that is the midpoint between winter and spring. According to the saying,

If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.

Hmmm, it was a white cloud day that day. So I guess, we still don’t know what the weather will be like.

I’d a very sore throat at the beginning of the week. And then I started sneezing and sneezing and sneezing… By Wednesday, I lost my voice and started coughing and coughing and coughing… On Thursday, I’d to go home by lunch time and on Friday, called in sick. I was wheezing and had to sleep sitting upright. I bet I kept the whole neighbourhood up with my coughing fits. It was awful.

They asked if the sneezles come after the wheezles or if the first sneezle came first

~A.A. Milne, Sneezles~

To make matters worst, we’d new neighbours moving in on both sides of the casa. The drillings and banging didn’t help at all. My poor head!!! But I guess, I was soo tired and sick that somehow I managed to fall asleep on Babe’s reclining  chair downstairs with the front door into the garden open to let some fresh air in. The drilling doesn’t sound that loud with the door open.

The sun came out that Friday. Grr…Babe went out to BMNR to get away from the noise and also some fresh air. Brandon Marsh D300s  03-02-2011 13-35-09 He got some lovely photographs of the Greylags flying around the reserve, Shelducks, moulting cormorants and a New Zealand Scaup or Black teal. I haven’t seen that before. Lots of fungi too were popping up in the damp forest.

On Saturday, I managed to do the laundry but the machine died halfway :-(. What a lousy week this had been. I shouldn’t complain cos it had served us for more than 10 years. So I guess it was time to get a new one. The problem is that I prefer the top loader washing machine because of space and it doesn’t involved any plumbing etc. So far none of the major retailers stock it in-store. You can only order them on-line and they are much more expensive than the usual one. But I think I’d seen one in one of the electrical shops in town. We will have to check that out next week. In the mean time, I guess we have to make do with the launderette.

After all that chaos, I cleared my head my checking out the shops at Arena Park. First stop was M&S. They still have the sale on and all the clothes were on the rails. I was very surprised to find a beautiful jersey dress in my size of 2 different colours, red and purple. Choices, choices??? I tried them both and off course, the red one wins big time. It was only £19 down from £35. Teamed with black pants (or leggings if I’m brave enough), it will look smashing. I also bought fabric conditioner which was buy one, get one free for £1.75. Another bargain.

At Boots, I tested 2 perfumes which was on sale for Valentine’s Day. One was CK Eternity Moment (£25.65/50ml) and Ghost The Fragrance (£31.66/100ml). I always love CK but I’m thinking of trying a new one. I sprayed them on the litmus paper and asked Babe which one he liked cos he’s paying :-). Guess what? He liked Ghost. Yippee… I will get that one ASAP cos it was for a short period only before the price goes up. I quickly browsed in New Look and Next. I saw something I liked in Next and will check it out next time. In Tesco, bought a few bits and bobs before borrowing a few books from the library.

The library was very busy today. I truly love this library. Always buzzing, full of people of different ages and races, each doing their own thing. Warwickshire City Council had published a hit-list of 16 libraries earmarked for closure. They were described as “unsustainable” under a £2m savings plan. Do you think these Councillors visit these libraries? And to the communities who are facing the closure, if you don’t use your library, you are going to loose it. Once lost, you are going to have a hard time, having it back. Once its gone, its gone.Save Our Libraries Day

This image was from CILIP ( Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) which supported Save Our Libraries Day, a day of action to bring greater attention to the cuts and closures facing many public libraries. The day of action comes after a study by the National Literacy Trust revealed children who used their local library were twice as likely to be above-average readers. CILIP have a great sliding scale of actions, suggesting how you can use whatever spare time you have to get involved. I’m keeping a very keen eye on what’s going on and I hoped you will too.

By the time, I came out of the library, it was raining. Gee…my laundry was soaked. As I was bringing the clothes in, my new neighbour came over to say hello. Guess what? Her parents were from Malaysia. What a very, very small world. Her grandparents were from India who came to Malaysia in search of a better life. Her mother came to the UK to search for a better life and became a nurse. SK was born here. We just couldn’t help laughing.

I’d another bad night last night. At about 5am, I went downstairs and managed to fall asleep on Babe’s reclining chair armed with a hot water bottle and Vicks vapour rub. I was awakened at about  10am with the drilling from next door. Oh no…wasn’t Sunday supposed to be a day of rest. I opened the door and startled a robin who was feeding on the feeder. He watched me watching him. He flew to the nearby bush and waited while I top up the bird feeder with food.. He trained me well.

After brunch, we went to the Outdoors store to see if they stock table top washing machines which were often used in caravans. None, nada, zilch. They’d a sale on but we only came out with a discounted Warwickshire calendar which I bought for the scenic photographs. We also checked out Currys and PC World. Then a bit of shopping in Morisson before we head back to the casa to hibernate.

We’d a very easy lunch of brioche, cherries and biscuits. And then a short siesta. The week started with a bang and went out with a whimper. I hoped your weekend wasn’t as dramatic as mine. I love this photograph by Babe. I felt like this pigeon, balancing with one leg on the wire and trying to scratch my head…:-)Brandon Marsh D300s  03-02-2011 14-08-57

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Big Garden Bird Watch

It was the Big Garden Bird Watch on the weekend. So I thought why not come along andCoventry D50  29-01-2011 13-21-01 help support the RSPB in this great event which was held at the nearby Longford Park.  According to the flyer, the Park Rangers will be around to guide and assist and we could also help contribute to local Coventry records with the variety of birds living within the park. Volunteer surveys like the Big Garden Birdwatch was the first to alert the RSPB to the decline in much-loved birds like house sparrows, song thrushes and starlings.These results can help shape the work they do, and to the species and habitats to focus on.

I dressed up exactly like the Michelin man, armed with a notebook, a pair of binoculars and, off course, a camera. I was raring to go and couldn’t wait to do my bit. But there was nobody there. I mean the park was empty. I checked the entrance gate, the car park and the information board. Non, zilch, nada. WTF!!! I didn’t dare to venture far cos this park was new to me. I sat on a bench and checked out the surroundings. A flash of blue flew whizzing past along the canal. It was my first sighting of a kingfisher.

There were a huge flock of redwings feeding on the ground.  There was soo many of Brandon Marsh D50  30-01-2011 13-19-07them that it looked like the ground was moving. But they were quite jittery and flew away as I got closer. A mixed flock of tits and chaffinches were flying from tree to tree. I sent an e-mail to the organiser for an explanation. I’ve  received a reply back. The event did went ahead and 25 people took part. The only problem was the location. There were a few entrances to the park and it was held at the Windmill Road entrance whilst I was at the main entrance, as indicated on the flyer. I did receive an apology. One question? How did the others know where to go???

Anyway, the birds on this posting was taken at Brandon Marsh. We went there on a frozen, bright Sunday afternoon. But first, I was up early to watch the Australian Open tennis finals between Murray and Djokovic. I’m not a tennis fan but I really questioned the Scot's lack of big-match temperament after his third defeat in a Major final. He was again unable to raise his game and showed terrible body language as the match slipped away. Brandon Marsh D300s  30-01-2011 13-32-55He was outclassed and outplayed by the Serbian Superman. I’m sure every one desperately wanted Murray to win. But watching Djokovic's scintillating form throughout the entire tournament, it was really a foregone conclusion. Better luck next time.

The parking lot was quite full when we arrived at the nature reserve. We met Andy and he told us that he’d spotted 2 waxwings but we didn’t see any. :-( I took the photograph of this handsome bullfinch through the window of the visitor centre. The bright orange colour really brighten up the day.

We walked through the sensory garden and a pair of robins were being territorial.  I managed to hand feed one for a short while but he was too busy checking out his territory. We spotted a flock of siskins busy feeding from the fir cones. As we continued walking towards the hide, this handsome buzzard flew right above us. He was flying so low that we could see what an amazing bird it was. Although he wasn’t an eagle, he was still a magnificent bird of prey.

“Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them. You’re eagles! Stretch your wings and fly to the sky “

~Ronald McNair of the ill-fated Challenger~

Brandon Marsh D300s  30-01-2011 13-35-30

We checked out Baldwin Hide and saw the natives gathering at the opposite end of the lake where Brandon Marsh D300s  28-01-2011 14-36-53the water wasn’t frozen. A twitcher nearly dropped his camera because he thought he’d seen a Bittern flying into the reeds opposite East Marsh hide. I’ve not seen any yet but Babe had seen a few. times. Could you spot the Bittern?  We then decided to walk to the Wright Hide. We walked past the frozen Central Marsh pool and I just couldn’t help throwing a few rocks across them and watching it bounce and skidding away. I just love the grating sound of the stones as it slide across the ice. I know… I’ve still not grown up yet :-).

At the Wright Hide, we spotted a female pheasant, a snipe, a few Shelducks, wigeons, lapwings, swans, gulls, geese, teals, mallards, heron, cormorants., gadwalls, tufted ducks and shovellers  All busy feeding and doing their own thing. We then walked towards the golf course and across the New Hare Covert. We spotted a lot of redwings feeding on the forest floor. It was amazing to watch them feeding and I like the way they suddenly stood erect watching for predators.  We left early cos we need to do some shopping.

Apart from that, I’d a very busy working week. I’d a lot of catching up to do with my 23 Things project. At the moment I’m up to date with what’s going on. Then there was the electronic-book cataloguing training session with GLW using the MyiLibrary platform. The library were purchasing more and more electronic books and journals and I want to make sure that I’m well equipped to do so. It was pretty interesting with a lot of more fields needed to be added to the bibliographic records. 

This week, we’d seen the Coalition government slashing the libraries, the forests, the NHS and even the BBC world service. We were told that there were no other alternatives to cut the deficit. Hmmm, Cameron should remember a quote from an earlier Conservative PM, Churchill. When he was told in 1940 that the budget was to be slashed to finance the war against Hitler, he asked “Then what are we fighting for?” Please remember that Cameron and Clegg.

Condolences to Kay and Andy on the death of Kay’s mother last weekend. Our thought and prayers are with you both.