Have you watched Popstar to Operastar? I’m no fan of reality tv but I tuned in to watch Joe McElderry, the winner of 2009 X-Factor taking part. I really like Joe and it was very unfortunate that his career failed to get off the ground. I would love to see and hear more from him. I guess this was the next opportunity for him to put his talents back on track and didn’t he do well on the show. He sang the Toreador’s song from Carmen by Bizet. I couldn’t wait to see him again in a fortnight’s time.
My colleagues were incredulous that I was watching the show. They were not opera singers or opera fans but they think that it belittled a lifetime of training and studying into something that diminishes efforts and hardships. But I think they were taking it a bit too seriously. Everyone knows that it take years to train a voice to be able to sing in an opera house. It was just an “entertainment” programme and follows the format of X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice, Britain Got talent, Apprentice etc, etc.
The programme was to show the public what goes in teaching someone to sing “properly”. And I think it was an ideal of bringing opera to the masses and breaking down the barriers. Did it succeeded? Well, I for one watched it but only because McElderry was in it. Listening to the songs sung by the contestants, I realised that most of them have been used in all kinds of advertisements. So not that “upper-class stuff” at all. Fingers-crossed that my favourite contestant will be chakka, chakka, chakka (the Mexican music maestro Rolando Villazon’s meaning of tiptop, spot on) and win the contest.
Congratulations and well-done to Babe. I think 4 of his photographs of a kingfisher, deer at Bradgate Park, Four-Spotted Chaser and Redshank chicks had appeared on the BBC Springwatch red button montage. Viewers had sent about 126k photographs (the last time I checked) and to have 4 was pretty amazing. We enjoyed taking photographs of everything and anything and to share it with everyone was the icing on the cake. On Thursday, CC and I went to see Les Barker performing at The Maudslay. Barker is a Wrexham-based folk hero and poet best known for his comedic poetry, monologues and parodies of popular songs. He has remained firmly rooted in the circuit of folk clubs and festivals where he has a devoted following. Barker was also known as Mrs Ackroyd, named after his mongrel dog. In 2008 he was awarded the NIACE Inspire Award as Welsh Learner of the Year, and recited his poem "Have you Got Any News of the Iceberg?" in Welsh at the presentation in Swansea. That itself was a great achievement.
CC and I had dinner at McDonalds, my first trip in about 10 years and I guess it was a treat :-). I tucked into Filet-o-Fish, a small portion of chips and a milk shake. It was ok and I might visit again in 10 years time. We later met GLW and PW at the venue. CC bought me a Coke, thanks, before we adjourned to the function room. We got a table near the stage as other spectators began to trickle in. We were first entertained by a folk group who were giving us a taste of their performance for the coming Warwick Folk Festival. They were good.
Then it was time for the main act to perform. Barker strolled slowly on stage and managed to keep us in fits of laughter before he even started. He read the well-known poems from his books and his dedicated followers would join in with the last verses. It was hilarious and a bit weird for us. His fans knew these poems very well. We left much earlier because it had been a long day for both of us. CC bought one of his books and we nearly split our tummy laughing at this haiku.
O the island of
Haiku is seventeen syl
lables long; doo dah.
At work, the International Student Group met to discuss the results of a survey that we conducted to find out the views of foreign students on the library. We wanted to know what were the problems they had encountered when using the library and finding out ways on how we can help them. I was given the task to evaluate and analyse the answers about the library’s best bits. There was a variety of answers given and I group them into ambience, books, electronic resources, opening hours, staff, self-service machine, refurbishment, IT help-desk, the catalogue etc. I was so pleased that the catalogue was listed :-). Babe promised to help me to construct a spectacular graph to illustrate my findings which will be added in the final copy.
On Friday, this escapee caused a stir in the University. My colleagues couldn’t wait to inform me about this beauty they found feeding merrily in the grounds between the Humanities, Modern Records Centre and Coventry House. At first, I thought they were pulling my leg until GLW showed me a shot he took with his mobile. I was out in a flash. A few staff were still there checking the bird out. This adorable parakeet was still feeding, oblivious to the excitement it had caused. Some wanted to call the RSPCA but the bird was healthy, feeding and flying. Anyway, I spent sometime with this exotic bird before reluctantly getting back into the office to earn some £££.I couldn’t wait for my lunch break to see if it was still around. And it was still there, still feeding merrily on the grounds. For such a colourful bird, it was very well-camouflaged. There was a lot of people walking past who wasn’t even aware of it. I spent my break sitting on the ground and even shared my lunch. It came very close. It was so tempting just to grab him. A rumbling tractor drove by and spooked it, disappearing onto a nearby tree. When Babe came in the evening, we went to look for the bird. But he was AWOL. I hoped he was ok and safe.
Much talking is the cause of danger. Silence is the means of avoiding misfortune. The talkative parrot is shut up in a cage. Other birds, without speech, fly freely about.
Saturday was spent chilling out at home because Babe was having one of his bad days. I spent the morning pottering in the garden. Everything was growing by leaps and bounds. There was plenty of weeding, dead-heading and grass-cutting. The lavender was in bloom, filling the air with its heady scent and the violas, pansies, geraniums and marigolds were a riot of colour. The cucumbers, tomatoes, chards, courgettes, leeks, aubergine and pumpkins were growing happily. The rain interspersed with lovely sunny days were a blessing.
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
My salad trough have been supplying me with fresh salad for nearly a month now. With the food scare in the news, it was a blessing. There was 4 troughs of rocket, mizuno, lollo, spinach and cos growing happily. My pak-choi failed to grow this year. I don’t know what when wrong. The fig tree was covered with little baby figs and there were blueberries on the bush. I pulled out an oak sapling which would be too big for our very tiny garden and hoping to plant some raspberry canes. But I think it was too late in the season. A project for next year, perhaps ???I nipped into Tesco in the afternoon to get the papers and a bit of shopping. I didn’t know that there was a half-price sale in the women’s department and just had to join in. First, I hunted a purple cardigan that I’d seen before but it wasn’t there. There were other colours but not purple :-(. Then a peep at the shoe section which looked like a tornado had gone through. I picked the latest colour, a pair of nude court shoes. The last size 5 left and when I tried it on, it wasn’t comfortable. What a double let-down.
After collecting my prescription from Boots, I went into Next to purchase a pair of black leather court shoes. I have been eyeing these for months, but there was always something else that I needed to purchase first. I tried them on and sashayed on the carpet. It was perfect and was very comfortable. Unfortunately, there was no size 5. Grrr…I will come again next week and fingers-crossed it will be in stock.
After spending Saturday in bed, Babe couldn’t wait to get a bit of fresh air. So on a drenched Sunday afternoon, we were in Brandon Marsh in our waterproof gear. At Baldwin hide, the terns were sitting in their nests on the floating pontoons. As we walked along the path, the swifts were out and about enjoying the rain. From East Marsh hide, we saw the Oyster Catcher chicks have grown to be exact replicas of their parents. We have been keeping an eye on their progress. It would be very sad to see them go.We dashed towards Carlton Hide in the rain. There was nobody there and when we looked out it was very quiet but thankfully not for long. A very soaked Mistle Thrush sang his heart out in the rain from the tree top. Babe spotted this very drenched Sparrowhawk perched on the tree stump to the right of the hide. What ever the weather, they still need to be out and about hunting for food.It was the same for this Blackcap. There was a pair nesting in the bramble bush just beside the hide and they must have very hungry chicks. They took turns flying out and landing on the shrubs just in front of us. We held our breath and all you could hear were our cameras rattling away. We saw them moving from stem to stem, picking caterpillars with their beaks. It was pretty amazing to see them with their beaks full of wriggling caterpillars. Then they fly back to their nest and we could hear the cries of the hungry chicks wanting to be fed.We also spotted this Whitethroat doing the same thing. Whitethroats were doing well in the reserve. I really love these adorable birds with their striking white beards, busy hunting for insects and their larvae. I would have love to stay longer but it was freezing in the hide. The rain was still pouring and all I could think was my warm casa and a hot cup of coffee. It was time to call it a day to a very chakka, chakka, chakka week. :-)
It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honour nature’s gift, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.