Friday, 22 June 2012

Return of the Westerlies

It was back down to earth with a bump after the jubilant celebrations. Although it was only a three day week, it felt longer and I was counting the days for the weekend. The office and the roads were quiet. It was the school break and some had taken an extended break. The weather wasn’t helping at all. It was supposed to be Flaming June but it felt more like a midsummer monsoon.

Loud roared the dreadful thunder,

The rain a deluge showers

~Andrew Cherry, 1762-1812)~

Relentless torrential rain and 80 mph winds had lashed the country. The atrocious weather was being blamed on the “European monsoon” weather phenomenon or the “Return of the Westerlies”. Westerly winds from the Atlantic were common during winter and ease off in spring before returning with a vengeance in June. We woke up to the news that Aberystwyth had been flooded by the River Rheidol and River Leri. 12cm of rain fell in the area in 24 hours. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw  familiar landmarks under water. I was relieved when my friends e-mailed me to say that they weren’t affected.

I was lucky to get tickets for a lecture by Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the world’s greatest contemporary novelists, a playwright of distinction and a leading public intellectual. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In the full house theatre, he discussed his latest novel, The Dream of the Celt. This monumental novel dealt with the key moments in the life of the Irish nationalist, Sir Roger Casement especially his denunciation of human rights abuses in the Congo and in the Peruvian Amazon, his participation in the Easter Rising and his arrest, prosecution, and conviction for treason by the British in 1916.

A few of my book club members were also there. We thoroughly enjoyed the lecture and the Q&A session was a hit. Llosa kept on reminding the audience that the novel was a semi-fiction based on a historical character. The subject of Casement’s homosexuality was delicately handled, as Llosa dismissed the authenticity of the so-called “Black Diaries”, in which Casement supposedly chronicled his furtive gay encounters. The evening which began with a book discussion had ended in a political debate. I made my way home as long queues formed for the book signing session.

Last weekend, I took the bus to the city centre to have a little wander of my own and do a bit of window shopping. Babe was not well enough to be following me around the shops. And I’d a very nice surprise. The city centre was literally bustling and bursting. Did somebody heard my rant about the Jubilee weekend??? I take them back and I guess the wet. miserable, cold weather was the culprit. I love a city centre that was alive and buzzing with people and activities.

My first stop was Primark. I will only check out this store in the morning before the stampede arrive and there were no queues at the changing room and the tills. I browse here and there, getting ideas and tips. I tried 2 long skirts, a red and maroon. I couldn’t make up my mind and ended up buying both :-). Outside Primark, there was a beach complete with a train, deck chairs, ice-cream van and stalls on the new Broadgate Square. The only thing missing was the donkey rides. The kids were having a ball. Coventry D3100  09-06-2012 11-02-05On Smithford Way, there were about 20 stalls outside the public library. It was the Multicultural Book and Craft Fair celebrating the 18th Positive Image Festival. They were selling a wide range of books, CDs, DVDs, musical instruments, food and artefacts representing the different cultures living in Coventry. I checked out a few of the stalls, made a lantern with the Chinese Association and ate a lovely Punjabi sweet. There was a very long queue at the mehndi stall that I gave it a miss.Coventry D3100  09-06-2012 10-58-54Then I followed a trail of vinyl foot and handprints on the pavement which led me to the Stan’s Cafe in Shelton Square. It was a Do-It-Yourself theatre puzzle which was part of the Coventry Mysteries Week, another annual festival of dance, drama, music, film, digital media and visual art. The city’s many varied public spaces, including pedestrian streets, shopping centres, and parks, had attracted artists from across the UK to create new works and, encourage audiences to relate to buildings and people in new ways. I would love to participate but I just don’t have the time.Coventry D3100  09-06-2012 10-51-06 I checked out one of my favourite shops in the City Arcade, Drop in the Ocean. I love this shop because you just don’t know what they have in stock. I wanted to get a shampoo that doesn’t contain paraben. I usually get my toiletries from Body Shop or Lush but I wanted a change. They have quite a nice selection on the shelf. I chose Faith in Nature Chocolate shampoo and will get the hair conditioner on my next trip. I checked the chillier and to my utmost delight, they had tempeh in stock. I bought a packet and couldn’t wait to make a meal out of it. A quick glance at the sale shelf and a box of Turkish delights with almonds also came home with me.

I browsed in H&M where a kimono-style jacket caught my eye but they only have size 6 left. I found nothing interesting in Next or Dorothy Perkins and fell in love with a pair of wedges in Clarks. At £45, I better start saving and get it on my next pay day as a pressie to myself. A very talented busker serenaded the crowds with songs from the swinging 60s.

On my way to the bus station, 2 vehicles from Coventry Transport Museum were parked outside Cathedral Lane. I was photographing them when one of the drivers told me to check out the Coventry Car show on the Coventry University piazza. Of course, I did and thanks a million. As I looked down from the Coventry Cathedral steps, I was greeted by rows and rows of cars and started snapping away. Coventry D3100  09-06-2012 11-06-06 At home, Babe set up the Bushnell Webcam in the garden overnight. We wanted to see if the hedgehog or any other visitors will be dropping by. We scattered peanuts and cat-food in front of the webcam and waited in anticipation. We spotted a pair of bright eyes low scampering on the ground. Mr. Prickly had returned. It was lovely to see him again. He spent about 10 minutes feeding before disappearing into the night.

Then another pair of eyes came into view and it was higher than Mr. Prickly. At first, we thought it was a cat. But when it came into view, to our utmost delight, it was a fox. My oh my. We held our breath and couldn’t help grinning. Mr. Foxy was very cautious and nervous. Slowly but steadily, he began grazing around the garden, picking up the food that we’d scattered about. We felt so blessed to have our own mini urban jungle.Coventry Bushnell IR  14-06-2012 03-22-58

The fox has many tricks

The hedgehog has but one.

But that is the best of all.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Babe set up the webcam every night and upload and edited them the next day. Mr. Prickly turned up every night and Mr. Foxy bought along a friend. That was a very nice surprise. The neighbourhood cats too came for a bite but we shooed them away. Any leftovers will quickly disappear in the early morning. Magpies, Wood pigeons, Blackbirds, Collared doves and Starlings were coming in earlier and earlier. Who needs an alarm clock eh???   

We also had a brief outing at our favourite playground to see what the natives were up to. We expected everything to have calmed down a bit as most of the birds might have already migrated. As we walked through the visitor centre compound, a soft twittering  caught my attention. When I looked up, I spotted the residential Pied wagtail with an insect in its beak and disappearing under the solar panels. Ooh, there must be a nest down there.Brandon Marsh D50  10-06-2012 11-59-27

By the pond, it was buzzing with activities. Hundreds of dragon flies were busy mating and laying eggs on the water surface. We checked the other ponds and they too were buzzing.Brandon Marsh D50  10-06-2012 12-01-17

We walked through the very lush woods. With abundant rain and humid but high temperature, everything just exploded. We stalked this juvenile Jay with his harsh ‘skaarking’ call vibrating through the woods. We saw one of the parents with him earlier and I guess he wasn’t being happy being left alone. Brandon Marsh D50  10-06-2012 12-21-34

We made a pit stop at the Baldwin Hide to check what was going on. The Terns were chasing and shreeking at each other. The Gulls were honing their hunting skills, dropping pieces of wood into the lake and diving for it. The Lapwings with its very distinctive pee-wit were competing for bird factor   The Oyster Catcher chick wasn’t there any more but we’d another nice surprise when a fuzzy ball appeared from under the Black-Headed Gull. A chick had just hatched. All together now, Aaahhh…Brandon Marsh D50  10-06-2012 12-40-39 At work, WFP and I started working on the Sivanandan journals. I am really drowned with work that I wasn’t able to do this project on my own. WFP downloaded records that was available on-line, upgrading them before adding to the library collection with the appropriate subject headings. We have never done serials cataloguing before and this will be a trial and error process. WFP will pass to me any titles that needed original cataloguing. It would take a few months to complete this project because WFP is working part-time and he will need to divide his time equally with his other duties. We have more than 1K titles to troll through. That will keep us out of mischief for some time :-).  

My colleagues and I also had a meeting with the Reading Lists staff. We were briefed on their procedures for downloading bibliographic records which we felt were quite out-dated. We discussed on ways to improve their workflow so that the records they downloaded were up to the high standard that we demanded. We know that they weren’t trained librarians but they should be able to ensure that the correct bibliographic record was attached to the right book. We were going to meet again for a refresher session.

The European football championship was up and running full steam ahead. The Three Lions went to Ukraine without the usual fuss because no one expected them to play well at all. Not many supporters followed them especially after the broadcast of a BBC documentary, showing gangs of violent neo-Nazi racists giving Nazi salutes, taunting black players with monkey noises and chanting anti-Semitic slogans. The comments from Campbell who warned fans to stay away because they 'could end up coming back in a coffin' didn’t help either. I did think of boycotting the match over the human right abuses in Ukraine. But, I felt that our boys deserved a bit of support.

A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.

~John Toshak~

Hodgson’s barmy army opened the EURO campaign with an unlikely draw against the much fancied French. Lescott scored the first goal in Donetsk and Nasri equalised for France minutes later. I was listening/watching the game on my PC when the goal was scored and keeping my fingers crossed that they will defend it. But would they listen? NO. By the time I got into the car to go home, France had equalised. Pah…

At a football club, there's a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters

~Bill Shankly~

I invited my colleagues RSC, SLA and AM for a girls night in watching England playing against Sweden. At first, we planned to see the match in a local pub. But Babe wasn’t too keen for us girls to be out on a Friday night and suggested inviting them over. Aww…isn’t that sweet. Thanks darling. Since SLA is a vegetarian, I made a huge pot of chilli to be eaten with rice and tortilla chips. It was bubbling happily in the slow-cooker the whole day.

We’d a Malaysian delicacy called Kuih rengas, a fried green bean patty, while waiting for the rice to cook. I wanted to show the girls my vegetable plot but unfortunately, it was raining. So we pressed our noses against the patio doors and I told them where the broccoli, radishes, leeks, pak choi, tomatoes, peas, beans, artichoke, courgettes, pumpkins, asparagus, chives, rocket, peppers, kale, chard, blueberries, figs, cucumbers, sweet corn and salad were growing.  Coventry D3100  09-06-2012 16-12-37 Then it was dinner time. We piled our plates high and sat in front of the screen, chatting and enjoying the lovely camaraderie. The match started late because there was a thunderstorm during the earlier game. Listening to the fans robust rendition of ‘God saved the Queen’ always made me feel proud. Then the game began. The 2 pony-tailed footballers caught our attention :-). Carroll scored the first goal and we thought, oh dear, here we go again. And we were right and it got worse. But somewhere, 2 goals came along and we won. RSC jumped and nearly made a hole in the ceiling, SLA and I whistled and clapped. I must apologised to my neighbours. A piece of Daim torte cooled everyone down. It had been a wonderful night.

I always like to think I'm having a dinner party, and I'm the host, and the audience are my guests.
~Caroline Rhea~

For the final Group D match, England needed an equalizer against the host, Ukraine.  Everyone was feeling confident because Rooney was playing. For me, it was one of the worst games I’d ever seen. We played a very sloppy game, scored a goal and became champion of the group. It was unbelievable. We must try harder for the quarter-finals playing against former champions. Don’t let us down again. Good luck with Italy.

Babe had one of his bad days this week. I spent the weekend pottering about the garden, weeding and transplanting plants. I also baked a pineapple upside down cake. In the afternoon, I walked to the Gallagher Retail Park for a spot of retail exercise and ended with a pair of London Rebel black wedges from my favourite shop in the world, TK Maxx. I spotted an identical pair in Clarks last week for £45 and for only £18, well a woman got to do what she got to do :-).

The garden had become a bird creche. The parents were bringing their juveniles into the garden and feeding them. Their presence was a delight to us. They were wonderful models for our cameras and we always took the opportunity to learn and observe their delightful behaviour and wonderful antics. Babe captured this tender moment of a Blue Tit parent feeding its chick.  How can you not love that?Coventry D300s X14  10-06-2012 13-58-029b (4) It was also Father’s Day on the weekend. I took this opportunity to wish my Abah a wonderful day with a bouquet of Argyranthenum frutescens from our garden. They are now flowering beautifully in the front garden. Coventry D2h  10-06-2012 11-18-22

The greatest gift I ever had

Came from God: I called him Dad!


Friday, 15 June 2012

Jubilicious Weekend

So how was your rainy Jubilee weekend? Did you participate, celebrate or were you a damp squid? I had 2 days off making it a 4-day weekend. Off course, I’m going to celebrate. My attire for the weekend was red, white and blue with a pair of Union Jack earrings dangling and a Jubilee headband. I’d put up buntings in the living room and they will stay there for the EURO football tournament and then the greatest show on earth at the end of July. Roll on the Olympics :-).Coventry D3100  03-06-2012 10-28-06
It was a soggy start. It was tipping down and it was cold. We decided to just chill indoors and potter about. As usual, I called my parents and my sister picked up the phone. It was 11 am here and 6pm in Malaysia. They had just returned from my cousin’s wedding held at my late grandparents home. Ooh, how I missed those gatherings and the glorious food…We chatted for about 20 minutes and my father reminded me to call on Sunday next week because they are attending a ‘majlis cukur rambut’* and ‘kenduri doa selamat’** on Saturday.     Coventry D7000 M F  02-06-2012 16-06-33 We braved a wet and windy Sunday into the city centre to check out the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. There were two parties at the Millennium Place and the Lower Precinct. From the car-park we could hear music blaring out from the Lower Precinct. I was soo looking forward to a sea of red, white and blue, flags flapping, buntings criss-crossing, Union Jacks everywhere but…it was practically non-existent! I had never seen the city centre quite deserted. It was nearly 12 noon and there were less than 200 people. What happened??? I know it was a miserable day but at least make an effort. When you read the papers, Coventry was always been slagged off by its residents. Not enough entertainment, no shops, no this, no that but when something was done, they don’t bother to turn up. Breathe in…out…very, very s-l-o-w-l-y.Coventry D7000  03-06-2012 11-27-048 Those attended, moi included, did their best to be in a party mood. The Swallows was on stage and they were rocking to some very good 60’s classics. We joined in for a sing-a-long and a few brave ones showed their moves. Coventry D3100  03-06-2012 11-44-18I also took the opportunity to pose with the FA trophy. It was the 25th anniversary of Coventry City winning the cup on 16th May 1987. The team defeated Tottenham Hotspur 3–2. Unfortunately on the 21st April of this year, the Sky Blues was relegated to League One for the first time in 48 years, following a 0:2 home defeat to bottom of the table, Doncaster Rovers. The timing really sucks. I made a donation and started posing with the Cup. Mind you, it was quite heavy. After about 2 hours, we left as more people started trickling in.Coventry D7000  03-06-2012 11-25-33 After a light lunch, we continued our celebrations at our favourite playground. It was surprisingly quiet. The usually boisterous Gulls were very subdued. On the main island, Terns were still sitting on nests. We saw Coots being territorial and Moorhens chasing away the grown-up chicks. I think the later were thinking of nesting again. From the floating pontoon, the Black Headed Gull was still sitting on eggs. And the loveliest surprise was when this fuzzy Oyster Catcher chick step out from his Momma’s bosom. All together now, AAAaahh.Brandon Marsh D50  03-06-2012 14-48-24 As we walked along the path towards East Marsh Hide, hundreds of hirundine and swifts were soaring and dipping over the reed-beds. They were harvesting insects for food. We stopped to watch the feeding frenzy and listening to the constant twitterings and chatterings. We continued walking to Carlton Hide and watched the same spectacle again. From time to time, a very noisy Oyster-Catcher will make a sudden fly-past. It had been a long day for us and we left with the call of the Cuckoo echoing from the woods.     Brandon Marsh D300s X14  03-06-2012 16-01-53On a dry but cloudy and chilly Monday, we joined hundreds of post-party revellers to Bradgate Park. But first, a pit stop at Groby Pool. A lot of people must have been feeding the natives because soggy bread chunks were floating on the pool. Not good for them at all. There were fluffy cygnets in various stages sunbathing with their parents. On the pool, 3 Great Crested Grebes paddling and diving leisurely very close to the bank.Groby Pools D2h  04-06-2012 11-46-35 As usual when we were In Bradgate Park, we always headed towards the River Lin first. We haven’t seen our favourite Widgeon for ages and he was still absent. I hoped he was ok, dozing among the reeds. We spotted a lone deer feeding under the shadow of the oak trees and started stalking it very slowly. But we stopped on our tracks when we spotted a Tree Creeper’s nest. We saw the adult with an insect in its beak creeping along the tree and disappearing under a bark. Then it flew out again and returning soon after with another prey.Bradgate Park D300s X14  04-06-2012 12-38-27
From the day they leave the nest until the day they die
From ground up they climb the tree and then to the next tree fly’
~Francis Duggan~
Bradgate Park D300s X14  04-06-2012 12-38-25
We continued walking and came across groups of people having Jubilee parties of their own. It was lovely to see people enjoying themselves in such a lovely environment. We walked towards the river bank to see if there was any Kingfisher’s nesting hole. And again, we were stopped in our tracks when we spotted this gorgeous bird feeding on the grass. It was a Yellowhammer. We’d never seen them before and in this year we’d seen them 3 times in 3 different places. I’m not complaining.
Bradgate Park D300s X14  04-06-2012 12-50-03
‘In early spring, when winds blow chilly cold,
The Yellowhammer, trailing grass, will come
To fix a place and choose an early home,
With yellow breast and head of solid gold’
~John Clare~
Further on, we spotted a herd of deer on the hill slope. We walked quietly and slowly, trying to hide behind the trees so that they won’t be spooked. It was hilarious because Babe nearly stumbled into this herd of deer who were laying down and very well camouflaged among the bracken.  They looked up and continued munching with their eyes zeroing on us. We tried to blend with the surroundings, sitting on deer poop and pee. They were so chilled out that we managed to photograph to our hearts content. It was amazing to get this close to them.Bradgate Park D300s X14  04-06-2012 13-04-052A male Chaffinch was singing his heart out and a juvenile jackdaw was begging for food from its parents. A Blue Tit whizzed past and disappeared in a hole in the fence. Then he popped out again and flew off. I slowly crept towards the fence and when I looked down, 4 yellow beaks greeted me. My oh my…it was a nest with chicks. What a vulnerable place for a nest. We sat quite a distance away, watching the nest, not wanting to attract any attention to the nest. One of the parents flew in again and came out with an egg sac. Bradgate Park D300s X14  04-06-2012 13-55-035 We were surprised to see Lady Jane’s Grey house not open to the public. I guess we won’t be able to see whether the owlets were out and about. We could hear the shrieking cries of the peacocks from within the walls. It was wonderful to see the albino female on the wall, checking out the visitors. From a hole in the wall, we spotted these 2 males circling and seizing each other out. We waited to see if a fight will erupt but they kept on circling each other until I got dizzy watching them.Bradgate Park D300s X14  04-06-2012 13-40-011 We saw a herd of fallow deer with young chilling out in in the main field. A herd of Red deer males were foraging near Old John’s Folly which was too far for us to walk. The Blue Tit was still flying in and out of its nest. The juvenile crow was looking forlorn, still waiting to be fed. A Pied wagtail was flirting from one rock to another, accompanying us. And then, just as we rached the car-park, the clouds moved and it was bright sunshine and glorious blueness again. Typical :-)
We ended our Jubilee weekend with another leisure stroll in Coombe Abbey. And we weren’t alone. There were again more Jubilee picnics and BBQ’s parties in  the ground. I’m glad that people were enjoying their weekend. The lakes were full of waterfowl, begging for food and they weren’t disappointed. Not a good idea to feed them with bread but hey, who am I to complain.  This family of 8 fluffy cygnets paddled over in a straight line, wooing the crowd. 7 goslings were behind their mum and one was in front, just out of the frame.Coombe Abbey D50  05-06-2012 12-42-38
We walked straight to the hide at the end of the park. A lot of trees and bushes had been cleared along the path. When we reached the hide, it was very quiet and very empty. We had missed the breeding season of the herons and the cormorants. Only a squirrel came over to say hello. We left when the hide was getting louder and noisier. On the walk back, we spotted a pair of Great Crested Grebes with a chick on its back. We stood silently on the bank, watching the parents interacting with their baby.   Coombe Abbey D300s X14  05-06-2012 13-50-002
Babe spent the day uploading and editing the thousands of photographs that we took during the weekend. I pottered in the garden, weeding and harvesting the garlic, which were now drying in the shed. Everything was just lush and my salad tub was overflowing with goodness. I’d already harvested my pak-choi and they tasted divine. This gorgeous Dahlia outside the front door was a welcoming sight.Coventry D7000 M F  04-06-2012 10-09-39
I thought that my excitement for the weekend was over but it wasn’t over yet. When I closed the patio doors at about 10pm, I spotted a blob scrambling about in the garden. What on earth??? I rushed upstairs where I could have a better view. Babe looked too and said that it was a hedgehog. My oh my…we rushed downstairs armed with our cameras. You will be surprised to know that a hedgehog can run, fast. We managed to catch it and took a few photographs. It was hilarious because Mr. Prickly rolled into a tight ball and I have no idea where the head or tail was. I put him down near the food source and it began feeding again. We left him in peace and gave him an open invitation to come and see us anytime. We have plans to encourage more species into our humble garden. Coventry D7000 M F  05-06-2012 20-54-11What a weekend. I started the week falling ill with a hideous hay fever attack. I woke up unable to open my eyes. My eyelid was glued together and swollen. I spent the day in the dark with the curtains closed to shut away the light. I couldn’t read and worse still was listening to Coldplay songs on the local radio station all day long. Coldplay was in town playing at a sell-out Ricoh Arena in front of 40K fans. I couldn’t get any tickets and it made me feel worse. Boo-hoo :-(  
On Friday, the Library Working Group for International Students had another meeting. We invited SK and J to discuss a survey we conducted last year. J was employed as a project officer to study the library requirements of the international and mature students. We felt that there were data that we could compare, exchange and discuss. What we’d in common was that the students wanted a bigger library with more study space and more books. Nothing new then.
It had been a wonderful weekend for me and I hoped for you too.  So lets stop for a moment and raise a glass to the real reason why we’ve all gone Jubilee crazy.Long may she reign. Three cheers: Hip, Hip, Hooray; Hip, Hip, Hooray; Hip, Hip, Hooray.
**gathering with prayers

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Summer’s knocking

Summer had finally arrived with a vengeance. The days had been scorching. Everywhere people had stripped off their winter woollies and basking in the warm rays after weeks of grey, gloomy skies and incessant rain. The early spring washout was a distant memory and we enjoyed balmy temperatures from dawn to dusk. It was a good excuse to take the roof off the car for the first time after it had a new roof put on.Coventry D7000 M  26-05-2012 10-04-23

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jewelled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.

~Ada Louise Huxtable~

It was the time of the year for my annual review appraisal. What I normally do was cut and paste what I’d done last year and see if the objectives had been met. If not, I’d to find reasons why they weren’t met. My manager and I spent nearly 2 hours going through my objectives and training needs. We also had long discussions on what the future holds for the department and how we were going to accomplish them. A very interesting and informative session. 

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.

~Dale Carnegie~

By lunchtime, the temperature were into the 30s and the whole country was experiencing sunny, cloudless skies. It would be foolish not to take advantage of the beautiful sunny weather and to top up the tan :-). My colleagues and I joined HH for an impromptu picnic outside MRC. Hundreds of students who were in the midst of their examination week were also taking the opportunity for a breather. Good luck to all of them. The library had accommodated the students demand for a 24 hour opening. No excuses for not doing well then.

AM and I then had an adventure to Birmingham to attend the ‘FRBR for the Terrified’ workshop. Babe gave us a lift to the railway station on his way to the playground. We arrived early because we wanted to find the Old Joint Stock Pub, the venue for the meeting. Thankfully, it was about 20 minutes walk from the train station. It was a lovely pub and we took the opportunity to have an early dinner. Both of us enjoyed the scampi and checking out the other patrons.Birmingham U850sw  23-05-2012 17-06-38 At 6 pm, we joined 10 librarians from the West Midlands. It was lovely seeing EA, the coordinator, again. We’d met before at the CIG conference in Exeter. I liked the way she conducted the session by using examples and lots of active participation and exercises. I realised that if I say the framework out loud (to myself), I would be able to pinpoint the book in hand whether it was a Work, an Expression, a Manifestation or an Item.  This was necessary to accommodate the  implementation of the new library rules, RDA or Resources Discovery and Application. .

Unfortunately, we don’t have time for Q&A. It was nearly 8.30 pm and it had been a long day for all of us. A few of us need to be at the train station on time. Birmingham was still buzzing in the balmy evening with the night revellers trickling in. At the station, we were pleased that we made the right decision by taking the slower train. We were standing on the platform when it was announced that the faster train schedule was cancelled. We arrived in Coventry in one piece at about 10 pm.

I started the weekend early by taking Friday off. We were looking forward to another adventure and checking out Arundle WWT. We had planned this trip ages ago but ill-health and unreliable weather conditions prevented us from going. We got everything ready the night before because we wanted to be on the road as early as possible. We left at about 8.30 am and headed to one of the busiest roads in the country. The temperature in the car was 30C.

This was the first adventure for us, driving down south. Driving on the M42 and M25 felt like forever. We drove past Heathrow and it was a bit scary when we were under a hovering aeroplane, waiting to land. I just couldn’t wait to get out of the area. To past the time, we started talking posh when we drove through Berkshire and Sussex quaintest picture postcard villages. It was exciting when we saw the brown sign for Arundel and then the castle on the horizon. Arundel D3100  25-05-2012 10-24-01

We drove straight to the WWT. After a quick refreshment and using the facilities, we began our adventure. As soon as we entered the compound we walked on a bridge overlooking a lake filled with an enthralling display of wildfowl. Although we had seen a majority of the collection before, it was still exciting to see old friends again. Who wouldn’t want to see again and again, the rarest goose in the world, the Nene, with its neat, brindled frame and soft expression, cooing to the flirtatious black and white Eider ducks, the boisterous White Headed ducks with its blue beaks and the noisy, lovable Wigeons.Arundel WWT D50  25-05-2012 11-09-047 

We continued walking enjoying the colours, sounds and personalities the captive bird collection. We stop to observe the very handsome Garganey with its prominent white eye stripe foraging among the reeds. We stalked this Golden Eye as it swam underwater, hunting for food. We’d seen them a million times before with their shiny green heads, bright yellow eyes and white face patches but this was first time we saw them this close, diving underwater.

Arundel WWT D300s X14  25-05-2012 11-03-041

We came across a Black Necked Swan with 2 adorable fluffy chicks. There were also very rare ducks kept in cages with warnings not to feed them as they needed a special diet. Among them was this Blue duck

.Arundel WWT D50  25-05-2012 11-17-56

Then we walked through the marshes and reed-beds on raised walkways, one of the largest remaining in the UK. I was on the look-out for owlets but we didn’t see any although Babe spotted movements in the nesting barrel. It was too hot for them to be out and about. Smart birds because by this time, we were baking in the afternoon sun. Instead, we spotted a water vole swimming and diving, foraging among the reeds. That was definitely, one of my highlights of the visit.

Arundel WWT D50  25-05-2012 12-08-53

We continued walking among the reed-beds accompanied by a symphony of bird songs. A distracted Mallard quacks in agitation to her brood because a territorial Shelduck was staking its territory. There were a few very well-camouflaged hides along the way. Babe was very lucky to photograph this Reed Warbler as it sidles among the reed stems.

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We missed the feeding time for these diving ducks. But it was still lovely to be able to see and photograph the elegant Long-tailed ducks and the Scoters.

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The piece de resistance of Arundle WWT was the Wetland Safari as part of their water vole reintroduction project. Visitors can explore another part of the wetlands on a guided tour on an electric powered boat. The idea was that they can spot the famous Ratty (wrongly classified by Kenneth Grahame). How can I not go because this might be our only trip to this reserve.

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But before we can get to the jetty, an aggressive Swan was blocking the path. It was a scene from High Noon for about 10 minutes before Babe used my ruck-sack as a shield. It was hilarious. We waited for a few minutes before our water-transport arrived. It was lovely to get so close to this Little Grebe. The guide even stopped the boat to let us photograph to our hearts content.

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She must have very sharp eyes because she could spot water voles from a distance. She got us so close to the reeds that we could hear the them munching way. It must have been our lucky day because water voles were just about every where we looked. I’m so pleased that we took this trip. A pity that it was over in less than 30 minutes.

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We went back to the car to have our lunch in the shade. The temperature in the car was 35C. At first, we planned to go back again but after lunch we decided not to. It was a long drive home and we wanted to drop by the castle. So au revoir WWT Arundle and hola Arundle Castle.    

Arundel WWT D300s X14  25-05-2012 13-30-019Harlequin duck

We parked along the tree-lined avenue at the foot of the castle. We didn’t go in because it wasn’t cheap and I don’t think we will have any energy left for the trip home. We took a few photographs from a distance and did a quick tour of the town. Then it was time for the long drive home. The GPS took us to a different route, driving through Portsmouth on a Friday after office hours!!! Thankfully, traffic cleared as soon as we hit the motorway and after 3 hours, we arrived home safe and very, exhausted. We’d leftovers for dinner and then straight to bed.

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On Saturday, we took a leisure stroll around our favourite playground to stretch our legs. Yesterday’s trip had made us stiff. We walked to the sheep field to see if the owlets were out and about. Nada, zilch, non. We checked out Steely Hide and the sun was shining right into our faces. From Baldwin Hide, the Terns, Oyster-catchers and Black Headed Gulls were all nesting on the same pontoon. Along the path, we heard a very, beautiful melodious song and when I looked up. this Sedge Warbler was singing his heart out.

Brandon Marsh D50  26-05-2012 17-52-046

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

It sings because it has an answer.

~Chinese Proverb~

From East Marsh Hide, we saw a lot of abandoned nests and some still with un-hatched eggs. From the Teal Bank, the Oyster catcher chicks were busy feeding on the mud banks. They look like mini versions of their parents.  A Lapwing was chasing everything away because its chicks were foraging among the rocks.

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Sunday was spent chilling out in the casa. Babe was uploading and editing hundreds of photographs and I pottered in the garden. I transplanted the sweet corn, pak choi, pumpkin and 4 artichokes into the raised beds. The garden was growing by leaps and bounds, The grass needed mowing again and everything was just lush. The French lavender was in full bloom and 2 ( out of 5) rose bushes were budding. A Speckled Wood and an Orange Tip was sunbathing and fingers crossed more butterflies would grace our humble garden.

 Coventry D7000 M  26-05-2012 09-50-042

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing~