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. 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. 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. I 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. 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. 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. On 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. 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.
‘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’
‘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’
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.A 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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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. What 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