Last night the rain spoke to me slowly, saying
what a joy to come falling out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again in a new way on the earth!
St. George’s Day was the wettest day of the year as the country suffered a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours. We had to keep our umbrellas handy and our winter coats on!!! With an average temperature of just 7C, it was also the coldest April since 1989. Despite the downpour, we were still in drought as the land was too dry to soak up the rain. A steady rainfall was required to top up depleted groundwater level. Much of what had fallen so far had been too intense and flowed into streams and rivers.
It was also World Book Day which was a celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. At my local public library, a local poet, Anthony Owen, was reading poems from his two acclaimed collections of poetry, My Father’s Eyes were Blue and The Dreaded Boy. The library, too, were giving away free books to those who attended the session. I planned to attend but by the time we reached home, it was already over :-(.
23rd. April was chosen by UNESCO as World Book’s Day due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death. So in celebration of both England’s patron saint’s day and her greatest playwright, lets ponder these stirring words written by Shakespeare and invoked to his soldiers by Henry V during the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
“Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry God for Harry, England and St. George”
Miguel de Cervantes Saaveda (1547-1616) was a Spanish poet, novelist and playwright. His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered the first modern European novel, was a classic of Western literature, and regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written.
“The pen is the language of the soul, as the concepts that in it are generated, such will be its writings”
At work, I was reclassifying this book ‘Imagist Poetry’ edited by Peter Jones (Penguin, 1972). Someone had borrowed it and on the date due slip penned this poetry which I thought was very good.
“On my way home
In an suburban street
The sudden understanding
Of the black tree’s branches
Rivulets of blood
Against the orange street sky”
What do you think? I hoped the author is still penning poetry and doing well.
I was on leave on Tuesday to accompany Babe to the Citizen Advice Bureau. While waiting for our appointment, we observed the very crowded waiting room. On the door, we saw the sign that only 20 walk-in customers will be seen in a day. During this desperate time, people were being turned away because the CAB was being crippled by of the Tory-led Coalition government budget cuts. A bit sad as this organisation was one of the backbone of this country’s Big Society long before Cameron seized on the phrase as an election gimmick.
After the session, we walked through the pedestrianised Broadgate Square. The Lady Godiva statute was shivering under the grey skies and the light reflecting granite blocks made the area quite cold. The development of Broadgate was part of a £7m project aimed at transforming the city ahead of the 2012 Olympics. Coventry hosted the men's Olympic football tournament qualification play-off where Senegal beat Oman 2 – 0 and qualified for the finals for the first time.
Since there was a respite from the weather, we decided to check out Draycote Waters. Babe had seen lots of Wheatear photographs on Flickr and we wanted to see them ourselves. We were pleased to see a lot of improvements had been carried out around the reservoir. Hopefully, the visitor centre will be re-opened soon. We walked towards the Hensborough Bank through hoards of irritating flies, getting everywhere. The water level of the reservoir was quite low.
As usual we walked at the wrong end of the reservoir. We didn’t see any Wheatear. Nada, zilch, zero. Oyster-catchers were playing catch and their cries echoing around us. A twitcher told us that he had spotted a flock of Arctic Terns in the middle of the reservoir. As we walked back towards the visitor centre, a flock of birds flew in and was feeding along the mudbanks. We stood still and all you could hear was our cameras whirring away. It was our first sighting of a Linnet.
We sat on the walls watching the antics of the birds. They kept on flying off and coming back again. Then Babe spotted a pair of very bright yellow cuties in a distance. We crept closer and it was a Yellowhammer, another first for us. We were so pleased that we’d forgotten the Wheatear. We went home as soon as we felt the first drop of rain..
I haven’t finished with the rain yet. The torrential rain meant a treacherous drive to work and there were still drivers who drive like a p—t. I also didn’t bother going for my usual walk during my lunch hour as the novelty of being soaked everytime I was out was rapidly wearing off.But, I still put on my walking shoes and walked up and down 5 floors, TWICE. The students must think I’m a bit loco especially when they could hear me grasping for breath when they walked past me :-)This week I took the opportunity to listen to a recorded Repositories Support Project (RSP) webinar on the Proposed changes to copyright law by Professor Charles Oppenheim. He covered topics on Orphan Works and the draft Directive, Hargreaves Review of UK Copyright Law and the Digital Economy Act. I found the definition of Orphan Works very restrictive. For example, if a work has 4 authors and although only one can be traced, it was not an Orphan Work. What happened if one of the other 3 identifies himself as the author? Can he stop further copying or worse still, insist that copies made being deleted!!! More discussions were still needed before it could be implemented.
I also had another run through with GLW using the Millennium Create list database for processing e-books. Before this the Procurement officer will sent an-email to GLW with a file of e-books that needed processing. He’ll upload them into the database and e-mailed the list to me. Now, every morning I’ll check the database myself and process them ASAP. It makes sense..
I also attended the International Students Working Group meeting. We wanted to add another feature to the website by adding some interviews with a few international students about their experiences in using the library, good of course. I am still waiting for some feedback from a few Malaysian students that I’d e-mailed. I guess they must be busy slogging for their examinations.
During Friday’s lunch break, CC and I braved the showers and dashed to the Kings Hill Nursery. CC wanted to get some bags of compost and vegetable plugs. I just wanted to tag along but it was soo tempting to buy something. Anyway, it was for a good cause. This nursery was run as a charity for people with learning disabilities which I totally support. I bought a pack of broccoli and sweet corn plugs, a pot of Moreno sweet pepper seedlings and 3 different kinds of plants for the hanging basket. I could have bought more…
On a very chilly, freezing Saturday, we were back in Draycote Waters again. This time we walked towards the opposite bank, the Farborough Bank. I wasn’t pleased that the old store in front of the visitor centre had demolished. We’d spent many happy moments here trying to photographs the Swifts whizzing in and out of the roof, feeding their chicks. I wonder where they were nesting now. We saw a good number of Swifts, Swallows and a few House martins whizzing through as we walked on the bank. Check the distinctive white rump of the House martin.It was a blast trying to stay upright as we continued walking. But it was perfect weather for the sailors and wind-surfers. They were whizzing away on the reservoir. They must think that we must be loco to be out and about battling against the elements. We thought the same, too. But when we spotted these beauties, it was worth it. Yellow wagtails showed up and they were competing for territories with the Pied wagtails.Then the piece de resistance turned up. We couldn’t believed our eyes when one stood on the rocks in front of us. We couldn’t helped grinning and missed the opportunity to take a photograph. A first, me thinks. But not for long. There were at least a dozen of Wheatears flitting and showing themselves on the piles of rock, bobbing as we approached closer. Check out those grey back, black cheeks and wings with a white strip above the eye. We must have taken hundreds of photographs in this murky weather.
“The Wheatears come in early spring
And sit on turfs of higher ground
Bobbing smartly as they sing
Synchronously with the sound”
~Robert S. Morrison ‘Words on Birds’~
We walked a bit further until we reached The Spit. Babe had a chat with a twitcher about what they had seen. We sat on the wall, hunkering down from the blistery winds and rain. We spotted a few Common Sandpipers bobbing up and down along the shingle banks. We were entertained by the Wheatears and wagtails but then another flock of waders flew in with their shrill flight call. The Dunlins with their very distinctive black belly were zig-sagging on the mudbanks. I’m so glad that we were brave to batten down the hatches. It was worth it.
After all the excitement on Saturday, you might think that we would have a quiet Sunday. Oh no, not us. It rained the whole day but that didn’t stop us from trampling through the very muddy and water-logged Brandon Marsh. We were seriously losing our marbles. We headed towards Baldwin Hide where we could hear the Swallows and Sand-martins having a party.
Sister, my sister, O fleet, sweet swallow
Thy way is long to the sun and south”
We slowly opened the shutters and to our upmost delight, a Swallow was taking a breather, perched on the pole outside the hide. What an amazing sight. We could see the amazing metallic blue above the red brown chin and the long tail streamers very well. The males have long tail 'streamers' to show how fit and strong they are. He turned and looked at us. We held our breathe and he continued giving himself a good wash. These birds have to be careful when they fly because if they accidentally fall into the water, they will drown.
“True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings; Kings it makes gods, and meaner creature kings”
As the rainfall got heavier, they got busier swooping and sweeping insects floating on the lake. These insects had been stunned by the pelting rain. Their chattering warble of a song and ‘witt witt’ call in flight vibrated around us showing their long wings and forked long tail streamers. It was utterly amazing. We could have stayed longer but it was frrreezing.
The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~