Sunday, 20 March 2011

Ides of March

The Ides of March was the first day of the Roman New Year. It also marked the first day of spring and the day of the full moon in the Roman calendar. Now used as a metaphor for impending doom, the “Ides of March” was originally simply a name for March 15th. In the ancient Roman calendar, the term “ides” referred to the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October and the 13th of all other months. It was a festive day dedicated to Mars, the Roman god of Wars, and marked with a military parade. However, when Caesar was assassinated on that day in 44 BCE, the phrase took on an entirely new meaning. In Shakespeare's play,Julius Caesar,  the death was foretold by a soothsayer with the quote 'Beware the Ides of March.'

And it was also moi’s birthday. Yaay…I took the day off to celebrate. We planned for a drive through the Cotswold countryside and checking out a few towns like Chipping Camden, Broadway and Moreton-in-Marsh. I wanted to have an English tea in a tearoom with scones, jam and clotted creams and tea poured from a tea-pot, served from a china set.But alas, the weather was against us. We woke up to a very grey, gloomy and chilly morning. Low clouds and dense fog enveloped the whole of the UK. Hmm…not a good day for a drive.

But not too worry. I’d a wonderful day. Babe gave me a lovely card, a beautiful pot of orchids in full bloom and another piece of gold bling to be added to my collection. Thank you darling. Then we went to my favourite shop, TK Maxx and it was spend, spend, spend. Babe’s wallet took a very serious workout -). I got a very sexy pair of 3 cm. red Caravalle T-bar heels and loads and lots of smellies. Thank you again darling, mwah…mwah.  Coventry D200 F  15-03-2011 11-52-58

After a quick lunch, we popped over to Coombe Abbey to check out the bird-hide and heronry. Since it was a working week, we literally had the whole park to ourselves. I fed the ducks and we spotted our favourite pair, the black indies and his white partner. They were always together.Coombe Abbey D300s  15-03-2011 16-43-39

We’d walked halfway when Babe suddenly remembered the closing time. OOps…we had to turn back but the sight of a buzzard landing on a nearby tree stopped us. We just had to check it out. It flew off when it spotted us and then we continued walking back to the car. The park had already closed but at least they were considerate enough to leave a space just enough for us to drive through. We really appreciate it. Thank you so very much.

Then we stopped at Morisson for a huge double-sponge cake with fresh cream for my birthday treat. Please ignore the calories!!!. It was a lovely end to a wonderful day. When I returned to work the next day, my colleagues had left cards and pressies on my desk. Thanks a million guys.

We turn not older with years, but newer every day.
~Emily Dickinson~

On Monday, while I was having lunch beside the lake, I heard the plaintive croaking of frogs. I walked to the edge and this jelly-like mass greeted me. It was frog-spawn. The air was alive with croaking of frogs that haven't found a mate yet. But there were already lots of pairs as the water looked like a jacuzzi churning with huge balls of frogs mating. When I first went over to the lake, they swam away but if I just stood there they seemed to get used to me and came back. It was amazing.Warwick University D300s  17-03-2011 12-48-36

This was a familiar sight during Spring as frogs hook up for the first time to spawn after their long winter hibernation.The eggs sank to the bottom of the lake as a clump surrounded by a type of jelly material. This material protected the developing baby frogs as they grew. The jelly swelled up in water and then floated on top of the water to catch the sunlight to keep them warm. Some of the spawn must have been here a little while as it had started to develop. If the warm weather stays I should see them hatching pretty soon. I couldn’t wait. I must check this site daily as it would have taken just over 3 weeks from laying to proper tadpoles.

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Babe joined me during one of my lunch break when he spotted a dead frog. Female frogs found dead in the breeding season may have been clasped by too many over-amorous males. While male frogs may die due to the exhaustion of mating. They laid huge numbers of eggs, but their high mortality rate meant that usually fewer than 10 in 1,000 developed into adult frogs. A pity that tadpoles occupy the undesirable position of being at the bottom of the food chain. While we were busy checking out the frogs, these Siskins were feeding above our heads. Warwick University D300s  17-03-2011 12-47-34

Also during one of my lunch walks, I came across a large group of students crowding over something. Hmm…what was going on. As I got closer and managed to squeeze through, they were admiring this racing car, taking photographs and posing beside it. 2 burly bodyguards were standing close, watching like a hawk. It was very hard to get a good photograph cos there was always somebody walking in front of me. When I showed it to Babe, he told me that it was a Red Bull Formula One car which was worth millions!!! Oh my, I thought it was just a go-cart…Warwick University D50  16-03-2011 13-09-19

Finally, I managed to complete my 23 Things Project. It started on the 10th. January and we were given 10 weeks to finish it. It was hard work juggling my daily work commitments and this project. But it was worth it. My final thoughts was that to really make a full impact and to participate well, I either have to have a lot of time on my hands and/or be a full-time social media participant. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the awards ceremony aka a party next Friday to commemorate our accomplishments. Any excuse for a party eh :-0

On Thursday, the saying that everyone was a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day rang true. Everywhere the colour green was sprouting and it really felt that spring was finally here. I joined the fun by wearing a green cardigan with a brown skirt that has green flowers embroidered on it and finished with a pair of green heels. We checked out the Restaurant and they were serving colcannon, soda bread, Irish stew and bram brack. Guinness optional…:-)

For each petal on the shamrock

This brings a wish your way

Good health, good luck and happiness

For today and everyday

~Irish Blessing~

On Friday, a few of my colleagues, who were members of the Warwick University and College Union (UCU), joined the lecturers  in a day of industrial action as part of a national dispute over proposals to cut their pensions. They gathered on the picket line outside the gatehouse in the freezing, wet morning, armed with banners saying “Hands off our pensions”. Another major strike will be staged next week. Good luck to all of them.

Then it was the time of the year to wear the red noses for Comic Relief. I’d totally forgotten about it until I arrived at work and found the office corridor decorated with red balloons and the table full of delicious goodies for sale. A tombola was also held to support the charity. I took this photograph of KM checking out the goodies. Congratulations to her too cos she just did a Tandem Skydive for the Aplastic Anaemia Trust. Warwick University D50  18-03-2011 09-05-46

In Coventry, 699 eager knitters gathered in the Cathedral to break a world record and raised thousands for Comic Relief. But the numbers fell short of the 937 needed to break the Guinness World Record set in the USA. But they still managed to break a world record when the Registry of World Records informed the organisers that they could set a new record for the number of people taking part if they knitted for 20 minutes instead of the planned 15.

So with needles and wool at the ready, at exactly 6.48pm a huge cheer went up as the Coventry Knitathon officially started. By the end almost £4,000 was raised through collection buckets on the night to add to money donated in advance. Everything from scarves, hats, toys and even pants were knitted by eager fundraisers. Well done to all who participated.

It was incredible that during this economic recession, Comic Relief smashed its 23-year fund-raising total by raising more than £74million at the end of the show. It was the highest figure ever to be reached on the night in Red Nose Day’s history. It will be more as thousands of fundraisers are yet to hand over their takings. I really enjoyed the Smithy hysterical spoof. It was a strange night. I sobbed my heart out watching the documentaries and laughed my head off watching some of the sketches.  

The Ides of March was also the day of the full moon and it happened last night. The March full moon was closest to the Earth and was the largest full moon for 2011. The moon was at its perigee which meant that it reaches a point in the cycle where it appeared big and very bright in the night sky.

Stargazers and moon-lovers was treated to an amazing vision when the moon approached the Earth at a distance of only 356,577km. I was outside in the freezing cold with my camera. Unfortunately, there was cloud cover. I hoped no one listened to the disaster hype from the doomsayers and grabbed their cameras, cell phones or telescopes to snap the big, bright, beautiful orbit. This shot of the moon was taken on Friday. I wanted to compare it with the Super Moon but wasn’t able to :-(Coventry D50  18-03-2011 18-18-29

I hoped I’m not alone in thinking, oh no, not again!!! When do we ever learn??? Why does the UK have to be present in these military adventures? What good was this really doing for us here, except putting more lives as risk, and setting ourselves for long term military commitments and an expensive exercise with unknown outcomes? Iraq and Afghanistan was still on-going. Why does this ONCE great, near bankrupt, off shore European island, still think it can run the world and meddles in other country's affairs ? Much as I hated Gadaffi, he was not invading another country. It was a matter to be resolved by the Libyans themselves. Bahrain called in troops from Saudi Arabia and nothing was done. Mugabe is a dictator every bit as crazy as Gadaffi, but I don't see all and sundry rushing to defend democracy in Zimbabwe. But, then Mugabe isn't sitting on a sea of oil, is he???

Was there a vote in Parliament? Where the people of this country consulted? Can we afford it? Millions of people already lost their jobs, their houses, their lifestyle and then the taxpayers had to pay for this!!!

This Coalition government (not voted in by the people) scaled back our military capability and at the same time increasing our military obligations. We are assisting with regime change in a country that poses no immediate threat to us. Is Cameron doing a Blair, wanting to be a "world leader". He insisted it was ‘right’ to join international operations to stop the ‘inhumanity’ by helping to oust a murderous despot. Please don't give me this 'humanitarian' rubbish. Does he think we are blind and stupid? It wasn't true last time and it still wasn't true now. The truth is that we only take an interest when it suits our purpose. No wonder rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea have taken the nuclear option. It seemed to be the only way to stop the West from interfering in their affairs. My heart goes to the soldiers who got no choice and the Libyan civilians caught in the middle.

We live in a dangerous world let no one doubt it. Some disasters are natural but many others are of our own makings but throughout we must live the law of love.

~Alan Smith~

It was also the week when Sky Blues manager, Boothroyd, was sacked after just 10 months in charge at the Ricoh Arena. The club were fourth in the Championship in early November but have won just one of their past 16 games and slid down the table to 19th, seven points from the relegation zone. Last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Hull City – their 10th during that poor period – proved to be the final straw for the board. And yesterday’s away defeat 2:1 to Preston, meant that the club was now in the 20th position.For me the Club’s hire-and-fire approach to managers had hardly been a recipe for stability. To anyone out there willing to fill the vacancy, good luck.

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing Under the sky's gray arch; Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing It is the wind of March.

~William Wordsworth~

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I know I should have quoted Wordsworth 'Daffodils' but it had had been mentioned everywhere. I’m still waiting for my daffodils to bloom. The Tete-a-tete ones have started flowering already. I hoped that daffodils too are blooming in your garden.

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