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!


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