Friday, 24 February 2012

Magical Moments

Did you have a fabulous Valentine? I hoped you did. I think we all need a little bit of love in our lives, whether with our girlfriends, family, or that special someone. I don’t need a special day to show my love for my loved ones but I just love the excuse to be extra loved-up on the day. As usual Babe and I exchanged lovely, soppy cards. I gave him posh M&S chocolates and I got a tree, not any tree but a Kilmarnock willow with catkins!!! He knows me so well. Just imagine, queuing by the till, other men clutching bouquets of red roses and Babe dragging a tree. I just love him soo very much. Coventry D3100  19-02-2012 17-15-37

"Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine"

~Thomas Hood~

I thought I was dreaming when I spotted a life-size replica of an elephant at the piazza during my lunch break. I wanted to get a closer look but it was near a “Free Hugs” guy and with the winter virus running rampant, I don’t fancy one. I’d to Google to find out. It was a promotion by RBS for their Indian Summer opportunity. The winning university team will travel to Mumbai for three weeks and work with a community project. Warwick University had won it last year and they wanted to keep the reigning champions title. Good luck to those who are participatingWarwick University D3100  14-02-2012 13-35-15This week, we’d the 19th visitor to our bird-feeder. Words were tweeted and twittered fast and quick. Babe sent me this photograph of a very adorable Long-tailed tit feeding from our feeder. I was quite surprised to see him on his own because they are usually in a flock wandering through like flying teaspoons or bumbarrels with their extraordinary tails as handles. Perhaps, he was a scout searching for food and will fly back to his extended family, tweeting that they are all invited to my garden party.Coventry D300s X2  14-02-2012 10-34-009

‘And coy bumbarrels twenty in a dove

Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain

And hang on little twigs and start again

~John Clare ‘Emmon sails heath in winter’~

On Thursday, at 5.15pm, I received an e-mail from my manager, who was working from home. He wanted me to give him a provisional idea of how long it will take for me to upload  the British Official publications records from catalogue cards onto the library system. And he wanted them before Friday’s lunchtime!!! I don’t even know a card catalogue cabinet exists. I quickly ran up to the 4th floor in search of this ancient relic. It was at the end of the room. I counted 22 trays full of cards. I brought the 1st tray down and was contemplating to take it home with me so that I could make a start. But, I decided not to. I’ll thrash it out tomorrow.

On Friday, bright and early, I started counting the number of cards contained in an inch. There were 86 cards. Each tray was approximately a foot long. That means 1032 cards. There were 22 trays which meant 21,704 cards. Based on the work that I’d done with another project, it would take me 5 (???) years to complete. The bibliographic records need to be populated because the information on the card catalogue was very basic. I’m now waiting to see if the project has been approved. The challenge is that I already have 2 projects in the pipe-line and a third will be the icing on the cake, NOT!!!

Since we didn’t do anything special for Valentine’s Day, Babe surprised me with tickets to see a  Malaysian Night at the university. I have been working here for 6 years and this was the first time we attended the event. And we were glad we did. It was a magical night. For 3 hours, I was transported home. As most of the audience were Malaysian, the girls were elegantly dressed in traditional costumes and the Malay language enveloping us.

We thoroughly enjoyed the performances. Warmest congratulations to the members of the Malaysian Society for putting up a very comprehensively unforgettable display of Malaysian culture and multiculturalism. Kadazan, Bollywood, joget (Malay dance), ballet, waltz, hip-hop and a dragon dance was beautifully merged together to produce a stunning showcase. The highlight and piece de resistance was the well acclaimed dikir barat. It was very well put together and energetic performance. Apart from the usual songs in Malay, they managed to pull it off with songs such as Black Eye Peas ‘I’ve got the feeling’ and Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget you’. I was impressed.

We kicked ourselves for not bringing our cameras. We have been to a few events at the Warwick Arts Centre and they were very adamant that no photography and videos was allowed. But not tonight. Nearly everyone had a camera except for us. I was fuming. I managed to get this photograph when the students were making a lot of noise around the campus, promoting and highlighting the event.  But there’s always next time. We enjoyed the event so much that we are looking forward for next year’s show. And this time fully equipped with our cameras :-).   Warwick University D3100  09-02-2012 13-45-033

We ended this magical week with a walk around Brandon Marsh. We were surprised to see the car-park full and there was even 2 coaches on the road. What on earth…do they know something that we don’t!!! It was a lovely, warm, bright Sunday and I guess everyone just want to get out and about. We checked out the first hide and it was standing room only. Hmm…we decided not to wait for an empty seat and quickly walked to the next hide. But we still managed to get a shot of this Pintail who vowed the visitors. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  16-02-2012 15-20-41

At East Marsh Hide, we found a seat and scanned the lake. On the main island, there were hundreds of very laid-back lapwings soaking the warm sun. In contrast, Lesser Black-backed gulls, Herring gulls and Common gulls were competing with each other to be heard. A pair of Shelducks and Golden-eyes were enjoying a swim. A flock of widgeons was fast asleep on the opposite end of the bank and a Common Snipe busy feeding just below the hide. But what caught our attention was this very odd-looking hybrid among the Canada Geese. I think this was the first time we’d seen him in the reserve.Brandon Marsh D300s X2  19-02-2012 15-49-32After about an hour, we left as the hide was getting more crowded, noisier and warmer. We spotted a group of people along the path observing a Gold-crest. We were quite surprised to see Carlton Hide empty but not for long. We saw a Bittern flying and disappearing into the Newlands reeds-beds. Unfortunately, it was quite a distant away. This was my first sighting for the year. Then, Babe spotted this handsome Buzzard checking out the surrounding. We decided to head for home when the hide began to fill up again. Brandon Marsh D300s X2  19-02-2012 15-03-07When we arrived home, Babe saw a raptor on top of the tree overlooking our garden and bird-feeder. We quickly got our camera and started clicking away. It was a Sparrow-hawk, the 20th visitor to our garden. I really don’t expect that. Although I don’t want it to treat my bird-feeder as a takeaway, I don’t have a choice. This is what Mother nature is all about. Coventry D300s X2  19-02-2012 16-50-28

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

♫My love is your love♫

I switched on the tv and there was back-to-back of Whitney Houston’s on. I continued on doing whatever I was doing, singing along to some of the best ballads ever sung. Then I looked up when the above song was on and saw the headlines…Oh my god, Whitney Houston had died. I couldn’t believe what I was reading coming across the tv screen. I quickly changed to BBC News and there it was. I changed back to the music channel and sat there stunned, with her songs enveloping me. ♫I want to dance with somebody. I will always love you, How will I know, The greatest love of all, Where do broke hearts go, It’s not right but it’s ok, One moment in time, So emotional, Didn’t we almost have it all…♫

It was so tragic. Such an incredible talent. Her sudden death was unbelievable I know. But I wasn’t entirely surprised because there was news that she’d not been well and was still battling her demons. What a waste. This posting is a tribute for a wonderful entertainer. May she rest in peace and may we let her memory lay in peace.

If I should die this very day
Don't cry, 'cause on Earth we weren't meant to stay
And no matter what the people say
I'll be waiting for you after the judgment day
'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love♫

Remember the last post where I mentioned about wanting new feathered friends to come to my garden party? My wishes came true. Not entirely, but beggars can’t be choosers. We were in the driveway when Babe spotted these beauties sunbathing on the tree-top in our garden. It was a flock of Fieldfares and hang-on, a Redwing. Man… I was so please that they doing a stop-over. Now, for them to start feeding in the garden will be a bonus.Coventry D300s X2  11-02-2012 13-14-59

"Sweet bird!  thy bow'r is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear;
thou hast no sorrow in thy song,
No winter in thy year."
~John Logan,  1748 - 1788~

This weekend we decided to brave the icy conditions and drove to Bradgate Park on a sunny, freezing, frosty day. Just look at these stunning winter landscape. It was as if we were in a winter wonderland. Mist hovering over snow-covered valleys burned away as the sun shone, giving the surroundings an almost ethereal feel, in the weak winter sunlight. River Lin which flowed through the park was frozen solid. All the natives were on the bank and often running towards the visitors begging for food. Bradgate Park D7000  11-02-2012 15-08-20

One moment in time♫

Snow had blanketed and transformed the park sparkly white. It was breathtakingly beautiful. And it was definitely one of those afternoons where we’d to keep on moving or we might just freeze on the spot. Babe kept reminding me to watch my steps because of the icy conditions. Guess what? One minute, I was busy admiring my surroundings and the next, I was on my knee. Ouch…ouch I’d slipped and bruised my knee. The craziest thing was that I’d used my left gloved hand to cushion my fall and my right hand still clutching my camera. Priorities eh… Bradgate Park D7000  11-02-2012 14-34-47

It’s not right but it’s ok♫

We continued walking because I don’t think I’d a bad fall. It was quite embarrassing actually because there were hundreds of people and I was the only one that slipped!!! There wasn’t many deer about. The ones we spotted were feeding in the undergrowth on the hillside. I think most  of the herd had ventured further into the forested hills to escape the snow and to search for food. Near the ruins, we saw this beauty flew in and started feeding. We sat on a bench and our cameras started clicking away.Bradgate Park D300s X2  11-02-2012 15-13-49

Then it was a very slow walk back to the car. I don’t want to be flat on my backside again. We spotted a flock of ducks being fed by the entrance. And there he was, my favourite widgeon among the mallards. I’d brought some bread with me and took the opportunity to feed them. It was lovely to see him survived the cold winter. Bradgate Park D7000  11-02-2012 15-41-029

This week I took the bus a few times to work and I will most probably be doing the same for the next few weeks. Everyday we encountered 3 major road-works on the way to work, a headache when waiting at temporary traffic lights. There was one at Old Church Road which thankfully had just been completed. The next 2 were around the Ricoh Stadium and on the Hollyhead road. These were part of the package of improvements aimed at sprucing up Coventry in time for welcoming the world to the Olympic football matches. We’d to leave earlier and earlier and it was at the same time if I took the bus. Taking the bus was also much, much cheaper. It was only 80p, saved wear and tear on the car and Babe have more time to rest. 

Million Dollar Bill♫

At work, I attended the first session of Encore, a search platform/new discovery tool on the library catalogue. The library had purchased this many moons ago and I’d attended a few workshops run by other university libraries. It was going to be a soft introduction before the main launch after the Easter break. To be honest, spending Friday afternoon testing and learning something new was quite hard to absorb. We’d a lot of questions and luckily we’d ample time to play and get used to it.   

I Learned from the best♫

Encore is good for keyword searching of broad concepts. Built on Web Services Architecture, it provided a platform that allows for content flexibility and streams information from article sources in real-time. It is like Google - just one box to enter your search in. From this "one box"  users can discover faceted search, advanced relevancy ranking, peer-reviewed articles, recently added books on subjects selected and tag clouds. It does sound amazing  and I really need to familiarise myself, ASAP!!!

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to ♫Dance with somebody♫ who happens  to be my lovely niece, Emil, on her birthday.I hoped she’d a wonderful time. Coventry D300s F  09-02-2012 21-55-37I will always love you♫.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Amber Weekend

Parts of the UK were on amber alert last week which was the Met Office’s second highest severe weather warning. This meant “100% probability” of severe cold weather, icy conditions and heavy snow. The cold snap had already seen daytime temperatures plummet four or five degrees lower than average for February which was traditionally the chilliest month of the year. I kept my eye glued on the clock because the fluffy, magical stuff was predicted to fall at 3 pm. When I looked out the window at 2pm. the heavens opened and snow flurries were floating about. The eerie silence of falling snow was an absolute joy of nature for me. I was grinning from ear to ear as the snow fall got heavier and heavier.  Coventry D7000  04-02-2012 20-53-19 We just had to get out and play in the falling snow. By this time, it had already fallen to 10 cm. It was surprisingly very bright and I just had to scoop some of the fresh snow to make snowballs. I wish I could join the children at the nearby park. I could hear them whooping and lobbing snowballs right into the night. I don’t blame them and I’m glad they were having fun. The next morning, my neighbours were busy fashioning this handsome snowman. Coventry D3100  05-02-2012 12-22-06I spent the morning observing the bird-feeder. I just love it when a cold front hits because all my feathered friends came over to join me for a garden party. There were wood-pigeons, collared doves, house sparrows, robins, blue and great tits, magpies, starlings, reed buntings, blackbirds, dunnocks and, oh hello,a black cap. I was hyperventilating when I saw this handsome chap stopping by. What a beauty. And he has been coming regularly too. I’m keeping my finger and toes double-crossed that with the prolong wintry weather, more will join the party. Hmm…goldfinches, fieldfares, jays, redwings or waxwings :-)Coventry D300s X2  06-02-2012 11-04-029 Before the  party started, I attended a session on How to Write at the Bell Green Library from 11am-12pm. It was facilitated by two local writers Ann Evans and Rosalie Warren to mark National Libraries Day. It was a good turn-out and I was asked a few times by the participants of what I’d written. Oops…It seemed that most of them have had their works published. The authors gave a very refreshing insight of their experiences as writers and how they got the ideas for their books.Coventry D300s X2  06-02-2012 11-02-049 We were reminded to jot our ideas and always record our thoughts. It was an eye-opener to learn that we need to interview our characters so that their story could be developed. We were encouraged to plough on, never give up and to keep our day jobs!!! Not everyone can be JK Rowlings. There were also queries about local publishers, e-books publishing, literary agents, and copyright versus publishing rights. It was a very good session and it was a pity that it had to be cut short because the authors had to rush off to another library. It was also lovely seeing Rosalie again.

This poem by the Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson of the Gruffalo Lady was published in support of libraries for the day itself.

Everyone is welcome to walk through the door.
It really doesn't matter if you're rich or poor.
There are books in boxes and books on shelves.
They're free for you to borrow, so help yourselves.
Come and meet your heroes, old and new,
From William the Conqueror to Winnie the Pooh.
You can look into the Mirror or read The Times,
Or bring along a toddler to chant some rhymes.
The librarian's a friend who loves to lend,
So see if there's a book that she can recommend.
Read that book, and if you're bitten
You can borrow all the other ones the author's written.
Are you into battles or biography?
Are you keen on gerbils or geography?
Gardening or ghosts? Sharks or science fiction?
There's something here for everyone, whatever your addiction.
There are students revising, deep in concentration,
And school kids doing projects, finding inspiration.
Over in the corner there's a table with seating,
So come along and join in the Book Club meeting.
Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow,
And help make sure it'll still be here tomorrow

On Sunday, we made a quick dash to check what was about at our favourite playground. Not many people about. I guess the freezing cold, the snow, ice and the muddy footpaths were a deterrent but not for us. We checked out the forest. It was amazing to see the bleached stems, stark branches and barren trees around us. There was plenty of bleak beauty in the different textures and washed out colours. A very cheeky  jay kept me busy, playing hide-and-seek.Brandon Marsh D3100  05-02-2012 14-53-15 The conservation team must have been busy. We were quite surprised to see a lot of the trees cut down and shrubs cleared. Why are they doing this work in winter when the animals were still hibernating and birds desperate for food and shelter? This is a nature reserve, not a country park. Brandon Marsh D7000  05-02-2012 14-54-39 We headed towards the Steely Hide where there were several sightings of the bittern. No such luck when we were there. The lake was frozen solid. We’d coffee from Babe’s lens mug that I got for his birthday. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype and the coffee had turned cold.. While we were tucking into blueberry muffins, Babe spotted this buzzard in a distance. Suddenly, it flew towards the hide and there was a scramble to get our cameras.  It was hilarious. As we walked back to the car, we were accompanied by 3 buzzards gliding and mewing above us.Brandon Marsh D300s X2  05-02-2012 15-10-014 This week I’m ranting about banks. In my case, Santander. When we moved casa, Babe had informed them the change of address. Since it was a joint account, it should be on both names. Guess what? We received our shiny, new red bank cards but Babe was sent to our new casa and mine was posted to our old casa!!! Luckily, our re-address was still valid. We went to the bank, armed with our utility bills of both address to prove that I’d moved. The guy behind the counter wanted my passport because they need photographic evidence. I enquired why the address wasn’t automatically changed. Their reasoning was that some couples wanted to keep their accounts separate. BUT THIS WAS A JOINT ACCOUNT!!! Somehow, he doesn’t seemed to grasp that.

I returned the next day with my current passport. I was asked to fill a form (which wasn’t mentioned before). I’d to give my marriage certificate because my passport was in my maiden name. Then I was asked for my visa!!! I don’t need a visa but he wanted the passport with the vignette which was in my old passport.  Isn’t the current passport a proof of identification? My salary was deposited monthly into this account for the past 6 years. Why don’t they believe me!!! I asked Babe to bring my old passport when he comes to get me in the evening. Finally, I was able to change to my new address. I was soo tempted to change banks,.

This week, on the 12th day of Rabi-al-Awwal of the Islamic calendar, marks the birthday of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW)* birthday. There is a difference of opinion about whether the Milad Un-Nabi should be a time of celebration. The Prophet was careful to warn his followers not to imitate other faiths, whose had elevated their prophets and added to the religion what was not in the original teachings. For me, the remembrance of the Prophet's birthday is a wonderful time to read the Qur'an, and remember the life, teachings, and example of the Prophet.

"Alif Laam Raa. A book which we have revealed to you (Muhammad) so that you may lead the people from out of the darknesses into the light by their Lord's leave to the path of the All-Mighty, the Praiseworthy."  

Coventry D300s F  09-02-2012 21-53-31

It was AM’s birthday. As usual she didn’t disappoint us by bringing a very big batch of homemade goey brownies and yummy lemon drizzle cake. We polished them immediately and even had seconds. Happy birthday and many happy returns.

*(peace be upon him).

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Enter the Dragon

“Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons”

~Richard III (Act 5, v 3)~  

It’s the year of the dragon. This is one of the most revered years of the Chinese calendar, and those born under the sign are regarded as innovative, passionate people who are colourful, confident and fearless. Unlike the demon that gets slayed in Western literature, the Dragon is a symbol of good fortune, intense power and good luck in Eastern culture. Dragon years are also popular to have babies. You have been warned.

My colleagues and I welcomed the new year with a trip to the Noodle Bar. It was a good excuse to let our hair down, have a good laugh and blow away the winter blues. The restaurant was packed but we still managed to get a table. I ordered my usual fried udon with seafood special and Chinese vegetables washed down with steaming cups of Chinese cha. We also requested yummy steamed prawn dumplings for starters. We’d a wonderful time, catching up with the latest gossips. What a great way to start the new year.

I also baked Chinese New year cookies for my colleagues. This was the first time I made them and it turned out perfect. I was chuffed to bits.  

         Chinese New Year Cookies (aka Kuih Bangkit)

225g tapioca flour

30g margarine

65g icing sugar

1 egg yolk

75-90ml coconut milk

a pinch of salt

Line bowl with greaseproof paper.

Microwave flour on high 1 min. at a time for 5 times, stirring every minute.

Set aside and cool completely before using.

Cream margarine with sugar and egg yolk.   

Add in coconut milk and mix well.

Add flour and knead until a non-stick dough is formed.

If too dry, add coconut milk, a teaspoon at a time.

Rest covered with a damp cloth.

Take a quarter of  dough and roll on a floured top 1 cm thick.

Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.

Bake on lined tray in pre-heated oven at 180C for 15 minutes.

Taste one and it should melt in the mouth.

If not, bake another 5 minutes. Cookie should not be brown.

Cool completely.

(This is my 2nd batch and I added pink food colouring).

Coventry U850sw  29-01-2012 21-56-43

To continue with my Chinese theme, I was allocated a group of students from the University of Beijing on my first library tour of the year. As usual, I greeted them with a few Mandarin words to welcome them which was greatly appreciated. ( Note to myself : I need to learn more Mandarin words). I showed them the different study areas in the library, which floors they can bring a drink and the silent study areas. Showing them how to access the mobile units was always the highlight. On the ground floor, I demonstrated how to use the self service check-out and returns. It was always lovely to take an enthusiastic group of students around the library and I hoped they enjoyed their stay here in the university. 

It was also the annual One World Week, the "World's Largest Student Run International Event", an entirely student-run, non-profit initiative. It aims to stimulate personal development and inspire a view based on acceptance and appreciation of the World's Mosaic of Cultures, encouraging awareness of and positive action on issues which affect our world. The nine-day event extravaganza was the pinnacle of the international experience at the University and consists of a variety of interactive celebrations in four elements: Forum, Sports, Festival and Nights. During the course, the campus comes alive with debates and discussions, parades and performances and a large host of sports and games. I only managed to check out some of the sessions during my lunch break. In my opinion, compared to the previous years, it was quite subdued.  warwick University U850sw  23-01-2012 13-37-54 I am also reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (ELIC) by Jonathan Safran Foer for my upcoming book club. I have missed so many meetings because of my work-load and ill-health. I’m determined to attend this. ELIC was narrated by a ten year old Oskar Schell who was in a desperate attempt to cope with the depression and grief (Oskar called it heavy boots) of losing his father in the 9-11 twin towers disaster. Haunted by 6 messages left on the answering machine while his father was being incinerated, Oskar embarked on a quest to solve the mystery of a fat and short  key found in an envelope marked ‘Black’ in a blue vase on the highest shelf in his father’s closet. Extremely loud & incredibly close [Book]

ELIC took me on a grand tour of New York’s 5 boroughs as Oskar attempted to interview every New Yorker named Black. As he roamed the city, he met an assortment of humanity including a war reporter who keeps a biographical index of the people he met and catalogued them into a single word filing card. The ones that made me smile was Tom Cruise (money) and Marilyn Monroe (sex). Another was a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building.

There were also 2 additional narrators. Oskar’s grandfather who mysteriously loses the power of speech and communicates only by writing. A “yes” was written on the palm of his left hand and a “no” on the other. A survivor of the Dresden bombing, he returned to Germany before Oskar’s father was born and became ‘the renter” in Oskar’s grandmother’s house when he found out that his son had died. Oskar’s grandmother is blind and types hundreds of pages of her life story onto a ribbonless typewriter. It was for Oskar and recounted her German childhood and her adult life with and without her husband.

I found these alternating narrations (in epistle form) irritating and found myself wanting to flip through the pages. I wanted to be with Oskar and his quest. The search for the lock kept the story moving. I was as curious as him about finding what the key opens. But the end left me bitterly disappointed. Oskar finally found the owner of the key, William Black. Oskar went with him to the bank to open a safe deposit box. But I still don’t know what had William Black ‘s father left him?  This was left out. Why???  Anyway, Oskar ended his journey where it began, at his father’s grave.  He was accompanied by “the renter” They dug up the empty coffin and the “renter” filled it with autobiographical apologetic letters.

At first, I thought that Foer was hopping on a global tragedy. After I’d read the book, 9/11 was actually a smokescreen. It was a good read and I couldn’t wait for the discussions. The book  was made into a film starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Thomas Horn as Oskar. Will I watch It? Hmm…I don’t think so although it might be interesting how the director interpret all the flashbacks and narrations. And maybe, I might know what was in the safe deposit box :-).

We didn’t celebrate Burn’s night this year. I took the day off to accompany Babe to the spanking new City of Coventry Health Centre for blood tests. Babe had been complaining of difficulties in swallowing for the past week. The lovely doctor diagnosis was an infection but she wanted to be sure. Babe had already been fasting but by the time we got to there,  100 people were already in the queue. It was going to be a very looong wait and then he will be fasting for more than 12 hours which will be harmful to his health. We decided to come another day and timed it correctly.

I have a rant about hospital parking charges. It was £1 an hour and it was pay and display. How on earth do patients know the length of their stay? Why not pay when you exit? People go to hospital for a reason. They are either ill or visiting someone who is ill. Why are we burdening them again??? Breathe in and out s-l-o-w-l-y. 

After a light lunch, we went into the city-centre to do the car tax. We parked above the market and had a leisurely walk towards the main post-office situated in WH Smiths in the West Orchards Shopping Centre. I gave myself a treat and had my eyebrows threaded. With my perfectly-shaped eyebrows, I’m ready to face the world :-). We checked out Peacocks which was under administration. Another name about to bite the dust. I bought a pair of red pants and a striped cardigan as a reminder (!) if the shop disappeared from the high street.

Saturday was spent digging up the garden!!! I’m making a raised bed out of a bookshelf that we can’t put up in the casa. So I decided to recycle it. Instead of standing upright, it was now laying down. I’ve cleared the weeds and grass, dug up the soil, use the shelves as borders and filled in home-made composts. I’m soo excited and couldn’t wait to start growing something. I’m planning to fill the beds with different kinds of salad, tomatoes, broccoli, pak-choi, corn, beans, radishes…Ooh…I’m salivating.

I’m sure my neighbours will think I’m a bit loco because their gardens are very pristine and mowed perfectly. Mine will be like a mini Malaysian jungle :-). We left the edges to the left and the top in its original state ie full of shrubs, hedges, ivy, elderberry bushes and leylandi hedges To the right, along the fences, I’ve planted 3 different Buddleas or Butterfly plant and Cytisus. I’m thinking of adding raspberries next. I’ve also planted 2 different climbing roses near the arch.  It is going to be a very colourful summer. Did I say summer??? It’s not even spring yet and the weathermen are forecasting for snow. Yaay…bring it on. I want that fluffy white stuff to fall so bad.

On Sunday, we stretched our legs at our favourite playground. We met M who informed us that K’s dad had died just before Christmas. Our condolences to both of them. We exchanged news while walking towards the hide. At Baldwin Hide, we spotted the Great Crested Grebes out and about. The Goldeneye was floating at the end of the lake. We then went to check what was about at East Marsh Hide. There was a pair of sleeping widgeons, a Shelduck, a handsome male pheasant and we counted at least 7 snipes huddled on the opposite banks. Since they were quite far away, check out this amazing photograph that Babe took earlier in the week of a Snipe feeding. We left when the weather began to plummet. Brandon Marsh D300s X2  27-01-2012 13-31-060

Before I log off, I would like to wish a very good friend in Malaysia, CYH, a very happy birthday.

Wishing you the very best in the years to come. May your days be filled with bright sunshine and beautiful colours, and may your nights be filled with comforting dreams and wonderful wishes.
Many things have changed over the years but you are still the lovely person you have always been.

May Allah bless you always.