Friday, 6 May 2011

Royal Weekend

So what did you think of the Royal Wedding? Were you glued to the screen for the whole morning? I planned to give the whole thing a miss. I woke up quite late and then went for a walk around the block. I did bring my camera with me because I was hoping that the pubs  dotted along the route will be garlanded with the Union Jacks, balloons and buntings. Nada. zilch, zero…I was soo disappointed. No street parties in my area too. How I wish someone had organised one. Coventry S5700  29-04-2011 12-33-57

After transferring the dwarf French beans seedlings, I had my breakfast in front of the screen and from then on I was hooked :-). Just in time to see Catherine getting into the car wearing the best kept secret in the world. What do I think of the wedding dress? It was too simple for my taste. Everything about her was too demeanour and very safe. She looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. But don’t be fooled by this. I bet she has plenty up that white lacy sleeves of hers. 

What struck me most about the wedding was that, despite the pomp and razzmatazz, the marriage ceremony was intimate and touching.  A joyful union between a young couple deep in love. The weather even cooperated. It was very cloudy at first and looked like it might rain but the sun did make an appearance. I really like the festive atmosphere at Hyde Park especially when the confetti was scattered over the crowd after the Prince and his bride uttered the words, “I will”. I wished I was there just to soak in the atmosphere. Coventry S5700  29-04-2011 12-47-57

To the Duke and Duchess, I raise my glass and pray for a very long and a very happy reunion.

Among His proofs as that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He played in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.

~Koran 30:21~

After the obligatory kisses on the balcony, we went out for a drive to bask in the glorious spring sunshine. We planned to check Bradgate Park and perhaps pay a visit to Lady Jane’s Grey ruins. It is believed that the unfortified great houses was the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey (1536/1537 – 12 February 1554). She was known as The Nine Days' Queen,  who occupied the English throne from 10 July until 19 July 1553 and was executed for high treason by Mary 1. Hmm…I’m sure the new Duchess of Cambridge won’t be facing the same fate :-).

As usual we nipped into Groby Pool first. A lot of people were feeding the natives. The Canada Geese were a bit aggressive while the hybrid ducks were enjoying the free food. We saw a coot nesting nearby and Babe spotted a Great Crested Grebe swimming on the lake. We heard cries of cormorant and herons chicks from the island situated in the middle of the lake. We decided to follow the footpath hoping to get closer look. 

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We walked through thick undergrowth when I saw my first dragonfly and it was feeding on an insect!!! Not a pleasant sight but that was how nature worked. We passed through woods carpeted with bluebells and came across a fantastic picnic area, sadly strewn with rubbish. It was such a thoughtless act. We continued walking and found out that we were walking further away from the pool. So we decided to walk back. We changed our minds about going to Bradgate Park because it was nearly closing time.Groby Pool D50  29-04-2011 14-12-14Since the sun was still shining brightly, it was a shame to be indoors. We continued to our favourite haunt to take advantage of the glorious weather. The reserve was already closed but as members we have the code to enter the side gate. We walked straight to East Marsh Hide to see what was about. The wildfowl number had continued to decline as we approached summer. Babe spotted this handsome reed bunting checking out the scenery. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  29-04-2011 16-47-50On the island in front of the hide, we noticed the Greylag shifting and saw about 2 chicks underneath her. Ooh…I couldn’t wait for these fluffy chicks to be out and about. On the main island, 3 very aggressive lapwings were bombing a heron. The heron was doing its best to dodge them but he was being attacked from 3 different sections. It went on for about 5 minutes before it gave a mighty squeak and flew away. We looked closer and saw at least 2 lapwings nesting on the island. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  29-04-2011 16-49-61We checked the Teal Pool hide and saw a Mallard with chicks feeding on the mudbanks. I was quite apprehensive because 2 herons were eyeing them with great interest. 2 male pheasants was also checking out a female at the end of the pool. A lone Redshank was feeding on the left-hand side of the pool. We also checked Baldwin Hide because we could hear the Terns making themselves heard. We saw a few checking the nesting sites on the pontoon. I’m sure they will be squabbling for this site soon. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  29-04-2011 17-49-6 It had been a long day for us. The rest of the evening was spent pretty much vegetated in front of the screen alternating between the World Snooker Championship and the highlights from the Royal Wedding. Seeing the new Duke and Duchess driving to Clarence House in the open-top Austin Martin and waving to the crowds added a very nice touch to the day. Watching the latest snooker sensation, Judd Trump coming back from behind to defeat Ding in the semi-finals was simply the best. 

On a very blustery Saturday morning, we went for a drive to Rutland Waters to check the piece de resistance, the ospreys. On the way up we managed to bypass Leicester and Loughborough. It was a very pleasant drive through huge expanses of dandelion-yellow fields rolling in the distance. The deep blue sky  were such a perfect contrast with these yellow flowers. Roadtrip Twycross Zoo D50  01-05-2011 11-53-18

There were times when I felt like asking Babe to stop so that I can run into the deeply musky, sickly scent of the flowers :-). Unfortunately there wasn’t any safe place to stop. Not a good idea though because it was that time of year when these fields laden with that glow of dandelion-yellow flowers and fragrance become an irritant to hay fever sufferers, moi included. Rutland Water Lyndon D50   30-04-2011 15-05-08

We had to drive cautiously to the Lyndon Nature Reserve, dodging the hundreds of cyclists and walkers. It was very warm and we took turns to use the facilities. The last time we were here, 3 kestrel chicks greeted us from their nesting boxes. According to one of the volunteers, the female had been seen but not the male. I guess we were a bit early. As we left the visitor centre to follow the self-guided trails towards the hide, we were hit by a very strong garlicky smell. The path were covered with wild garlic. I was so tempted to pick some but had to refrain myself. 

Rutland Water Lyndon D50   30-04-2011 12-46-25We walked through thick clouds of midgets. They were everywhere and getting into everywhere. Eek…We checked the first hide and there was nobody home. The main problem with large bodies of water was that water fowls tend not to feed closer to the hides and thus limiting us taking photographs. We didn’t spend too long at any of the hides because there were long walks between hides and lagoons. Luckily, the hay meadows were full of wild flowers and teeming with speckled woods, tortoiseshells, blues (below) and orange tips keeping our cameras busy. Rutland Water Lyndon D200   30-04-2011 12-51-07We finally reached the Waderscrape hide with views of the osprey nest. It also overlooked a small reed-bed which was surprisingly quiet. We spotted the male osprey perching on a branch near the ground. I think the very strong winds and the choppy waters were making  it difficult for them to fly and to fish . From March to September the hide was manned by a team of Osprey volunteers. They helped visitors get the best possible views of the Ospreys through their project telescopes and answering any queries. Rutland Water Lyndon D300s X2  30-04-2011 14-11-25We continued our journey towards the Shallow Water hide, a little further west, which looked out across the shallowest part of Manton Bay to the Osprey nest. We thought it had a better view of the nest. The male osprey was seen flying about and chasing away the lapwings that managed to get close to the nest. Babe managed to get this wonderful photograph of the osprey bringing a twig to be added to the nest. Rutland Water Lyndon D300s X2  30-04-2011 14-18-10We also saw this Egyptian goose feeding very close to the hide. They seemed to be everywhere and a pair was seen at the opposite mudbank with chicks. How I wished they were closer to the hide. But I guess they feel safer on the island. There were plenty of very nosy lapwings, shelducks and terns. 2 juvenile seagulls were feeding on a fish. Not many species that we haven’t seen before. Rutland Water Lyndon D300s X2  30-04-2011 14-08-54As usual. Babe’s camera attracted a lot of interest and he’d to face with a few Q&A. We’d to leave as it was getting a bit too much. As we walked back towards the visitor centre, we took a different route and saw stunning views across the very choppy water. A few young male cattle were feeding on a nearby field. Tree sparrows, tits and goldfinches flirted among the hedges. Babe spotted a blackbird with its beak full of caterpillars and I managed to photograph a pair of chaffinches making sweet music. Absolutely amazing. Rutland Water Lyndon D50   30-04-2011 14-44-53 After finishing our ice-cream, we made our long drive home. Unfortunately, our chatty tree frog aka GPS didn’t take us the route that we came in. We followed it through Leicester which we were trying hard to avoid. Thankfully, it was the holiday season and there wasn’t that much traffic on the road. We arrived home safe but tired. After a very simple dinner, I settled in front of the screen watching snooker while Babe wrestled with the hundreds of photographs that we had taken.  

On Sunday, I wanted to attend the British Falconry and Raptor fair at Raglan Hall but Babe wanted to check out Twycross Zoo. Hmm…choices, choices. After a lot of persuasion, I reluctantly agreed to Babe’s plan. So off we go for another adventure on another lovely day.  Since it was a new destination, I think it deserved its own posting.Twycross Zoo D200 01-05-2011 12-26-15_stitchBank holiday Monday was a day of rest. Babe needed time to recover from a very busy weekend. I spent the day cleaning the bathroom, trimming the grass, reading and baking chocolate chip muffins. I also made a quick trip to Tesco and came out with a few groceries and a checked shirt which was on sale. We’d roast lamb with all the trimmings for lunch and I settled down to watch the finals of the World Snooker. Well done to the Wizard of Wishaw for winning an emotional fourth World Championship title with an 18-15 win over Judd Trump. He’d worked hard to silence his critics.

Phew…Babe and I had enjoyed a wonderful packed weekend. I started the party earlier with a leaving do for Jess. After years of sending her CV’s all over the country, she finally got a high-powered job in another department in the university. Congratulations, you deserved it.  We promised to keep in touch.Warwick University S5700  28-04-2011 13-47-03

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your field
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand

( A Celtic blessing )

The bluebells in Tocil Wood were in full bloom. The delicate scent suffused the air drawing me deeper into the woods. Above, the sun dipped long fingers of warm light into a stunning sea of gorgeous blue flora. Momentarily, I stood in awe of the natural beauty surrounding me. My own little heaven on earth.

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