Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Keep right on to the end of the road

The Bluenoses anthem must be echoing all the way home to Birmingham. Well done to the Blues for claiming a very dramatic late 2:1 victory over The Gunners. It was a titanic performance. Nobody gave Birmingham City a prayer against the might of Arsenal in the Carling Cup final played at the new Wembley stadium. They were the underdogs being 16th in the league while Arsenal was 2nd, behind Man. United.

The Serbian giant Zigic scored the first goal. And Martins pounced on a calamitous Arsenal defensive mix-up two minutes from time as Birmingham City claimed their first major silverware since 1963. This was also first piece of silverware of the season. The Club must be indebted to their keeper, the very fit-it Foster for a magnificent display that rightly earned him the man-of-the match award. The game was a fantastic spectacle, end to end, with full commitment from both sides as they fought fiercely in front of their passionate fans who created a brilliant atmosphere at the packed stadium.

I watched the game while making some birthday cards. I always think of the recipient while making these cards. The colours, the ribbons, the trimmings and the embellishments. Card-making as a hobby can be quite expensive but it was very therapeutic for me. I make about 100 cards a year mostly birthdays, congratulations and Christmas cards. I do hope the recipients appreciate the effort and love that I’d put on them with my own bare hands:-).

Later, Babe set up the Bushnell Trophy Cam in the garden. We bought our latest gadget on Thursday. This cam was made famous by BBC One's 'Lost Land of the Tiger', a documentary series following a dramatic expedition searching for tigers hidden in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. We’d always wanted one because we think it would be amazing to see what was happening for example, in Brandon Marsh, when we weren’t there. There were no need for tripods or remote to use during programming.  All the programming is done by simply opening the camera and punching a few buttons. It should run up to one year on a single set of AA batteries and the PIR sensor has a large coverage area and a trigger time consistently less than one second.

I am soo looking forward to what we might see tomorrow. It might be nothing or we might catch the mysterious big cat that was spotted roaming around Warwickshire. The only problem was security. How safe is it to leave a £200 equipment in the middle of a nature reserve? We bought some strong chains and a padlock and we did check a few places that we think was safe enough to leave the cam. Wish us luck….

Yesterday, like today, the weather was very depressing. It rained off and on, cloudy and windy. But we still went out to check the natives at Brandon Marsh. From the visitor centre, we could see a flurry of activities on the bird-feeder. Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Great and Blue Tits were taking turns to feed and at times, chasing each other off. But this shot of the Reed Bunting hanging onto the thistle, waiting patiently for his turn, made my day.

As we continued walking, the robins were high up in the trees, singing their hearts out. We stopped at the Wright Hide where I spotted an Oyster Catcher, a Snipe and a Little Ringed Plover. All a bit too far and so there was no decent shots. I was so engrossed watching these beauties that I missed a Great Crested Grebe swimming past me with his dinner in his mouth!!! 

As we continued walking, we spotted our first daffodils and it was blooming. Brandon Marsh D300s  24-02-2011 16-35-51 What a nice surprise. I have a few pots in the garden and only a few were budding. The grape hyacinths were beginning to flower and so were the Forsythia. The leaves of the rock roses were beginning to form too. And I’ve spotted the Lily of the Valleys beginning to  wake up from hibernation. Spring is slowly springing to life.

We stopped at B&Q to check out some clothes tidy-rail. Mine had snapped because it was laden with clothes. OOpps…But they didn’t have any and I came out with a tray of 24 Spanish fire pansies. That should brighten up all the nooks and crannies of our garden before I started my gardening/planting session. I’ve replanted all of them this morning in the freezing rain accompanied by the twitterings of the goldfinches, busy feeding on the catkins. I would have taken their photographs but my hand was covered with compost. I’ve put all of the pansies in the tiny greenhouse because the weatherman predicted a cold night.

My colleagues and I had a big surprise at work when we found out that our major database, Classweb, had been upgraded without informing their users. They’d been testing them in secret and just let it loose to the subscribers. It was the same but different. Quite difficult to explain if you’re not a regular user. I spent the whole morning familiarising with it and thank goodness managed to get a hang on it.

On Tuesday, Christchurch was hit with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. To date, nearly 200 people were confirmed dead and hundreds more still missing. GLW, who is going for a holiday there, was trying to get in touch with friends with whom he will be staying. Fingers-crossed they will be safe. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected.

I took a half-day leave on Thursday because the weatherman said that it was going to feel like spring has sprung. Coventry D200  19-02-2011 15-22-19It had such a different feel, like we’d fast forwarded a couple of months. It was time to ditch the heavy winter coat and woolly scarf. We went into the city-centre and parked at our favourite parking spot. Then a brisk walk in the lovely sunshine to Primark where I bought the lovely Channelesque cardigan that I checked out last week. At the local camera shop, we bought the Bushnell Trophy Cam.

After a quick lunch and a drink, we went to Brandon Marsh. We wanted to take advantage of every speck of the lovely sunshine. The reserve car park was full. It was the half-term break and also the Conservation team were out and about. We went to the East Marsh Hide and played spot the snipe.  Brandon Marsh D300s  24-02-2011 15-43-52It was feeding right in front of us but was so well camouflaged. I then heard the distinctive whistlings ‘whee-oo’ before I spotted them. A couple of widgeons were grazing on the far end of the lake.

Then we walked towards the Grebe Pool. A couple had told Babe that they had spotted a weird looking goose and wonder what it was. We checked it out and it was this handsome hybrid.  Brandon Marsh D300s  24-02-2011 16-18-47He’d been a regular at the reserve for the past 7 years. We just stood there on the platform watching him when he came over to check us out. What an inquisitive bird.

When we were about to drive out of the reserve, I spotted a flock of birds perching on the tree tops. As usual, Babe had to find a safe spot (thanks Darling) before moi dashed out to take a few pics. Unfortunately, they were high up the tree and this was the best I could take (below). They appear to be a mixed flock of some kind of finches (from the beaks) and perhaps Redpolls (the colourings). As we drove past Brandon Lane, I spotted carpets of snowdrops along the banks. Unfortunately, there was no place to stop and some one had put a barrier to stop people parking along the banks. This wasn’t there before because I’d taken some photographs last year. Not a happy bunny:-(Brandon Marsh D50  24-02-2011 16-48-11

On Friday, I had a meeting with the International Student Group. We discussed ways to promote our group to the foreign students within the context of the library. Apart from that we also learnt the difficulties that they faced. For example, a few students from China had problems using the keyboard because they were used to the Chinese keypads which were different from ours. Even I wasn’t aware of that!!! We were going to do a survey among these students to find out what they wanted from the library which should be interesting. I’m looking forward to that because I might be involved with the Malaysian students.

After office, CC and I were invited to DC’s house to celebrate her birthday. She and her partner, R, lived at Eastern Green. We chatted while waiting for PB to arrive. We were practically starving by then. As soon as she arrived, the 4 of us piled into her car and headed to Wing Wah. We planned to do a take-away and eat it at DC’s house, She’d already coked the rice and I will do a vegetable stir-fry,

Each of us had styrofoam container and we packed as much as we could into it . You would not believe how much food we could fit in. As usual, I went straight for the seafood. There was the king prawns with garlic, sesame prawns on toast, butterfly king prawn, king mussels in oyster sauce, pan-fried fish fillets, squids in chilli sauce and crab claws Thai style.  Absolutely yummy…There was still some space and I loaded with seaweed and noodles. The container was practically bursting and the juices were escaping out. We need to get home quick.

R joined us for dinner before he went out to meet some friends. We’d a lovely time polishing up the food and checking out what the others had. DC kept on topping our glass with a variety of soft drinks. I’d not seen PB for nearly a year and it was lovely seeing her again. DC was a lovely host and kept on trying to feed us with cakes which unfortunately we’d to say NO. We planned to try out her new Kinect but we just couldn’t move. It was a lovely start to the weekend.

I didn’t take any photos, a first for me, cos the camera was in CC’s car and it was raining cats and dogs. Anyway, I was too engrossed with my food. There was still plenty of leftovers. We left at about 9pm. It had been a long evening. Happy birthday DC. I gave her a puzzle to solve. It was nice seeing you PB and have a safe drive home. Thanks CC for giving me a lift.

When I arrived home, Babe wanted something for dinner. He must have been starving. Sorry darling. I heated 2 Cheese and Onion pasties and the leftovers for him. And off course, I’d some of the leftovers for supper too. After a quick wash and Ishak prayers, it was time for me to hit the sack.

My rant this week was about Cameron’s visit to the Middle East which was accompanied by eight arm manufacturers. Who on earth think that this was a splendid idea? How can you talk of peace and democracy when your entourage included bosses from such arm firms as BAe Systems, Thales UK, Atkins and Qinetiq.

As people in the Gulf States risk their lives opposing authoritarian regimes, it was deplorable that he was seeking to exploit the crisis by promoting the sales of weapons and torture equipments to these volatile regions. I think he should ban all UK companies from weapon deals with regimes that deny human rights to their people. There were other countries who don’t manufacture their own weapons but still need to defend their people.

Did Cameron see the photograph of a British-made armour personnel carrier speeding past Libyan demonstrators in the papers?  How can he be so blindly stupid to sell arms to despots and in the same breath bleat about democracy? Defence Secretary Fox declared that Britain should retain a healthy slice’ of the weapon industry. Does this mean that if we don’t take advantage of every opportunity to profit, no matter how morally bankrupt, then we were fools because another country will??? Breathe in..out…very s-l-o-w-l-y….  

“We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war”

~Jimmy Carter~

Coventry D50  20-02-2011 11-27-24

Finally the Christmas cactus has bloomed, 2 months late. But who cares huh…

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