Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Spring into Summer

Spring was officially sprung just a couple of days ago but it felt like I’ve already skipped a whole season and hurled straight into summer. The seasons were playing leapfrog as March felt like a balmy British June. In a survey for the Pimm’s Great British Summer Reports, 43% out of 3K adults think that talking about the weather is a peculiarly British trait. The comedian Giedroyc said : “We talked about the weather because there was so much of it. What other nation can boasts four seasons in one day?”

And I totally agree with him. Getting dressed for work was a challenge. It was freezing cold in the morning. Misty and foggy and at times, needing to scrape the car. By lunch-time, it was scorching. When it was time to head home, there was a chill in the air. At night, the temperature dropped like a stone..

The March win roars

Like a lion in the sky

And makes us shiver

As he passes by.

When winds are soft

And the days are warm and clear,

Just like a gentle lamb,

Then spring is here


Although most of the students have gone home for the Easter vacations, the campus was bustling with activities. There was the Housing Association Conference, the Annual Conference of European University association (EUA) and one of the biggest events in the University sports calendar as Warwick hosts the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUSCS) National Football tournament. Traffic and parking was a nightmare and queues, queues everywhere. I nipped over to Cryfield Sports Field and ate my sandwich watching Durham play Gloucester in the Woman’s Trophy final. Unfortunately, I didn’t know who won because I’d to get back to work. Warwick University D3100  21-03-2012 13-11-34On Friday, I’d lunch with HH who had spread her wings and tried something new. I missed her farewell office party and dinner at the Noodle Bar ( how could I ?) because I was ill. We’d a lovely picnic under the glorious blue skies and sizzling sunshine near the latest sculptures on campus by the Japanese artist Atsuo Okamoto. HH had just returned from a lovely holiday in Washington where she got a glimpse of the Camerons. We’d a lovely time talking about everything under the sun. It was lovely to see you HH and we promised to have lunch together at least once a month.Warwick University D3100  22-03-2012 13-54-46 Then we checked out the 3 sculptures that was displayed on the Coventry House lawn. These works have been gifted to the University by the Sidney Nolan Trust. They have been created using the traditional Japanese methods of stone carving known as wari modoshi, translated as splitting and returning. This is a technique where splitting blocks into manageable portions and then fusing them together into a sculpture. Would I have it in my garden? Hmm.. I don’t think so.Warwick University D7000  22-03-2012 13-51-36

I spent the weekend pottering in the garden. I have sowed broccoli, spinach, chards, dwarf French beans, Chinese cabbage, radishes and for the first time, artichoke. The last one should be a challenge. I have never even eaten one but I like the structure of the plant. I am now working on 2 raised beds which I hoped to plant plugs of corn, courgettes, pak choi, tomatoes, rocket, salads and leek. Cucumbers will be grown in potato bags. I was supervised by this gorgeous Goldfinch, perched on our tv aerial.Coventry D50  25-03-2012 08-26-44I also bought 3 trays of lobelias, marigolds and petunias from Aldi. This will be for the 3 hanging baskets I have also sowed Dichondra Argentea Silver Falls in another hanging basket which would looked amazing under the porch. Anemone Coronaria de Caen or windflowers, Croscosmia, Hollyhocks, Dahlias and Peacock Orchids had already being planted. Fingers-crossed, there is going to be an explosion of colours in summer. The spring flowers such as daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and helleborus were still going strong.Coventry D7000  22-03-2012 09-34-37

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden.

On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth.

I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.

~Helen Hayes~

Slimbridge WWT D3100  24-03-2012 14-58-39

On Saturday, we made another trip to Slimbridge WWT. It was a lovely day to be out and about and we were not alone. Hundreds of people were out in full force taking advantage of the lovely weather. We walked across the bridge just in time to watch the natives gathering, waiting patiently for their food. What a delightful sight. We then made a pit stop at the wader shore exhibit to check out these very graceful Avocets and Black-winged Stilts amongst the Redshanks. I could sit here for hours.Slimbridge WWT D3100  24-03-2012 16-11-44From the Crane enclosure, we spotted this Crane trying to build a nest. Ooh…I’m quite excited. If this materialise, it meant that Cranes have been successfully bred in captivity. We walked towards the otter pool and watched the silky mammal vowing the crowd, had a peep at the field-mouse maze and head past a huge building site, dubbed the pink pool. I think this is where all the 6 species of flamingos will be housed. It will definitely be pretty in pink.Slimbridge WWT D7000  24-03-2012 16-34-048Then we circled back towards the Latin American flamingos and had a very nice surprise. Usually these graceful birds were always at the far end of the pond but not today. Look how close they were to the visitors. As usual, I couldn’t resist skipping over the stepping-stones. They were made just for (big) kids like me :-)Slimbridge WWT D7000  24-03-2012 16-50-09As we continued walking, we noticed that love was in the air. Everywhere, the males were being territorial and aggressive, hissing and chasing everything in sight. We couldn’t help observing this crow with its beak full of feathers, waiting to fly to her nest. A few Coots and Moorhens were already sitting on eggs and we even walked past a nesting Nene. I couldn’t wait to return again when all the eggs had hatched. Slimbridge will be like a huge nursery, full of fluffy, adorable chicks.Slimbridge WWT D300s X14  24-03-2012 15-11-010Finally we arrived at the hides. All we could see were hundreds and hundreds of Shelducks among the small flocks of Teal, Lapwing, Widgeon, Mallard, Greylag and Shoveler on the Tack piece. From the Holden Tower, we saw a Short-Eared Owl quartering above the reeds. Unfortunately, it was quite a distance away.. Chaffinches, goldfinches, robins, reed buntings, blue and great tits were taking turns to feed at the Willow Plantation feeding station.

We walked back to the main area and checked some of the more exotic ducks in the Asian enclosure . We fell in love with this Falsated Duck. Checkout those cool colours. We’d a wonderful day out and I’m sure we will be back again.Slimbridge WWT D7000  24-03-2012 16-21-049On Sunday, we had another nice day out at our favourite playground. As usual, the car-park was overflowing. It was quite quiet. I think most of the natives were having a siesta. Near the Kingfisher pool, a group of people were crowding around a stretch of bushes. Hmm…one of them told us that they had spotted a slither of grass snakes which they believed had just emerged from their den. We didn’t spot any and with these huge crowds about, I bet the poor creatures had slithered back into the deep undergrowth.

We stopped at Baldwin Hide. The Lapwings and the Gulls were squabbling as usual. From time to time, the Oyster Catcher chased each other around the lake. The Coots and Moorhens were being territorial as usual. We saw the pair of Great Crested Grebe sleeping, bobbing peacefully in the lake. Then they woke up and started doing their mating dance, mirroring each other perfectly and then…they went to sleep again. What an anti-climax.Brandon Marsh D200 X2  25-03-2012 14-04-47We also checked out the East Marsh Hide. We heard the Cetti Warblers warbling around us but they were nowhere to be seen. We only spotted the Little-Ringed Plover when it was been chased away by a Lapwing. 3 Common Snipes were well-camouflaged beside a tree stump. It had been a long day for us and we decided to go home. But first, we checked the overflow car-park and was entertained by a flock of Long-tailed tits feeding and flirting from tree to tree. I just loved these adorable birds. They always make me smile. We’d a lovely start to the week and I hoped everyone did too. Brandon Marsh D7000  25-03-2012 15-58-050

March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection.

March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.

~Khalil Gibran~

Slimbridge WWT D300s X14  24-03-2012 15-07-052

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