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. 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. I 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 :-) 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. 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. 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. 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. 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."
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).