I started the week by taking the 7.10 am train to London. CC and I were on our way to attend the seminar “I think, therefore I classify” organised by the International Society of Knowledge Organization and The British Computer Society. I’d to buy an expensive cup of coffee and a banana muffin to keep me awake. As we passed through the countryside, we saw fields still underwater. From Euston, we joined the throng of thousands and took the tube to Charing Cross where we walked for 20 minutes to the venue.
As usual we arrived early and the organisers were still setting things up. We met a few familiar faces and enjoyed the spread on offer. It was a very packed session. We discussed the needs for classification and skills and from the representative of a recruitment agency, we were told that classifiers were still in demand. We debated about the perspectives of classification and had a very passionate talk from a biologist on how she classifies order out of chaos. After a very lovely buffet lunch, a video conference about back to basics was on.
There was a breakout session where the delegates had to choose a topic on their interest. I chose the ‘Formal versus informal classification’ which happened to be the largest group. We discussed the uses, merits and de-merits of library classification schemes, statistical schemes, and tagging facilities provided by social networking sites. Then everyone gathered again and a spokesperson from each session gave a synopsis of their sessions. A lot of discussions and conclusions were made. But I think it still doesn’t answer how important or relevant are the traditional structure of knowledge organization scheme in a 21st century environment? A topic for the next meeting…
It ended at 6pm with wine and nibbles. Unfortunately most delegates have trains to catch, moi included. We joined the throngs again on the Tube into Euston, standing in a very crowded carriage. When we arrived at Euston, we found out that the trains had been delayed due to a serious accident and decided to have something to eat. One of our colleagues had been to London earlier and was raving about an Indian vegetarian restaurant, Diwana Bhelpoori, he’d sampled and we decided to check it out. It specialised in Southern Indian food and we chose a thali which comprised of several small dishes with chapatti for me and poori for CC. It also came with a sweet dish which was a bit too sweet for me. My verdict? It was ok, nothing special.
Then a very slow dawdle back to the railway station. It was still chaotic, crowds running towards the platform when their train’s departure was announced. We did the same at 8.15pm. We managed to get a seat and was quiet through out the journey. Too tired and too full :-). We arrived in one piece.
The next day, I informed the office that I’m taking the day off. I was too exhausted to come to work. After catching up with much-needed sleep, I was ready to face the world. Uninterrupted sunshine was promised and one thing that we learnt was to grab the good weather when we get it as we’ll never know how long the sun will be with us. Babe and I decided to check out a new playground, Draycote Meadows. We have heard many good things about this place and it was a good excuse to see what the fuss was all about. As usual, the postcode lead us to a padlocked entrance twice. I remembered AH mentioning Blooms garden centre and Babe directed the GPS to it and voila, we found it.Draycote meadows was a picturesque, traditional hay meadow, the ‘creme de la creme’ of the remaining undisturbed grasslands found in Warwickshire. As we passed through the kissing gates, we could see miles and miles of grasslands with waves of buttercups, cowslips, meadow vetchling, adder’s tongue ferns, meadowsweets and yellow rattles. Different species of grass completed the mass to form seas of tawny green with thousands of flower spikes, in an array of wonderful colours. A little paradise on earth. Above us a buzzard with its faint mewing was gliding high on a thermal against a powder blue sky.
“The green grass and happy skies court the fluttering butterflies”
Then there were the hundreds of butterflies and they were everywhere, dancing from one flower to another. We couldn’t point our camera properly because as soon as we spot one, another gorgeous butterfly will suddenly appear, enticing us to point our camera at it. And they were very lively, flittering from flower to flower, making it a challenge to get close enough for a photo. It was amazing to see these extraordinary beautiful creatures. We were mesmerised with the beauty and delicacy of their wings, the variety of their colours and their amazing metamorphosis. They really lived up to their name as ‘flying jewels’ or nature’s gems’.
Among the butterflies we spotted were the Six-Spot Burnet, Ringlets, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Skipper and Marbled White.
[Butterflies] That flash like meteors through the shady bowers,
And rests like broken rainbows on the flowers
Themselves more rich and beautiful of hue
Than any flowers that nourish’d by the dew
Since Draycote waters was just round the corner, it was rude not to say hello. We walked up the hill towards Hensborough Hill and a few Goldfinches accompanied us. We scanned the banks and not a bird in sight. The midsummer birding doldrums were still here. We didn’t walked any further because it was really hot. We were basking in balmy temperatures and uninterrupted sunshine lifted by sizzling sun. We took shade under a tree and point our cameras towards these guys practising their sailing skills. They were pretty impressive. It was the summer graduation. The university grounds have been manicured to welcome the proud parents to see the final result of their children’s hard work. And the weather had been fabulous. Congratulations to all the graduates. A temporary video screen had been installed in the Piazza, streaming the ceremonies. It was lovely to pop over and watched the ceremonies while having my lunch. It was also the first time I witnessed the very slow academic procession before the ceremony started. They literally stopped traffic. Security guards stopped traffic and everybody else to let them through for about 20 minutes.This week the first day of Ramadan had arrived on a blessed Friday. My prayers and thoughts were for all those who were suffering around the world. As usual, I had my ear-phones on and listened to the Quran a few surah a day. Fingers-crossed, I aimed to complete the 114 surah in 30 days. I joined my fellow Muslims for the zuhr prayers in the mosque during my lunch hour. Since I’m not taking any tea and lunch break, I left work at 5pm. Plenty of time to think of what to cook for breaking our fast. Nothing spectacular but plenty to drink and lots of fresh fruits. Watermelons were in season now and we bought a huge one. It was lovely to break your fast with a slice of refreshing, juicy water-melon. Nom, nom.
“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heavens are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the Devils chained.”
The weekend started with a trip to Slimbridge WWT. As usual, the car-park was full and we’d to park in the very soggy over-flow car-park. By the entrance, we spotted Black caps, Goldfinches and House sparrows. After showing our membership card, we walked along the walkway to see what was about. We spotted the swallows were busy flying in and out of their nests under the eaves of the roof. But this fluffed up house sparrow who had just enjoyed a sand-bath caught my eye. As usual, a stop-over at the Wader Shore exhibit was a must. The adorable Advocets and Black-Winged Stilt was having a siesta near the sitting area. We treaded carefully so that we don’t disturb them. They looked up and when back to sleep. The Redshank was out and about, feeding among the mudbanks. The very playful North American river otters, Mother Flo, and twins Minnie and Ha Ha were vowing the crowds with their antics. It must have been a tough life for this family of three to earn their living, spending their days frolicking around in the water, sunbathing and sleeping in their den. We missed their feeding time but it was still lovely to see their playfulness. We checked out the newest exhibit, the Flamingo Lagoon. At first we thought all 6 species will be housed here. But, it was the Greater Flamingo who were the stars. The flock of birds, more than 200, were a spectacular sight in the new African themed wetland. They shared their new palatial quarters with a range of African duck species such as the Cape teal (pink beaks), Cape shelduck (larger orange birds), yellow-billed ducks and white-faced whistling ducks. The enclosure with its sunken viewing area provided visitors with an excellent opportunity to observe flamingo behaviour at close-quarters and appreciate the ecology of their habitat in the wild. We sat down and checked out a group of argumentative flock right in front of the viewing gallery. It would be amazing to come here during the breeding season.
The Lesser flamingos had moved into the revamped old greater flamingo pen (to the left of Flamingo Lagoon). The Chilean, Andean, James and Caribbean flamingos were still at their old enclosures. We were very surprised to see the brightly-coloured Caribbean flamingos with their short grey straight beaked chicks. Something spooked them and all the little bundles of fluff ran into the middle of the flock with the lofty adults towering over them. This behaviour, known as creching, made them feel safer. In the wild, chicks were less visible individual targets for predators if they group together, and by having them in one place, only a few adults were needed to watch over them, leaving others free to feed, bathe or preen.
We walked past Nenes with their soft, doe expressions. These Hawaiian geese were the first to have hatched their young and they now all looked identical. We’d another nice surprise when we saw these fluffy Eider duck chicks. Aren’t they gorgeous? We didn’t stay long because it had been a sweltering hot day and it was the fasting month. Babe was feeling a bit under the weather and we didn’t want to aggravate it.
On Sunday, Babe and I attended “Coventry Welcomes the World” ceremony at the newly refurbished Broadgate Square under the watchful eyes of Lady Godiva’s statute. The City of Coventry will be welcoming the crowds of international visitors that were expected to arrive for the Olympics. We were entertained by singers, dancers and drummers, organised by the various faith groups in the city. Representatives from different faiths recite a prayer/scripture and we joined in reciting the Al-Fatehah alongside the Muslim representative. The event reflected the London 2012 ideals of excellence, respect and friendship and was hosted by the Lord Mayor. I also got my hands on the Olympic torch which was made in Coventry. Woo-hoo
We joined the crowd and enjoyed several performances. The RITMO (CRMC) Drummers were refugees from Iran, Zambia, Cameroon and Peru and they all met at The Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre. We swayed to different rhythms from around the world. These adorable young dancers from the Coventry Tamil Welfare Association danced their way into everyone’s heart. The Troubador Christians spread their beliefs through their heart-warming songs.
But for us, the piece de resistance that rocked the city were the Masterclass Dhol Drummers. It was amazing to hear and see a group of drummers making such a wonderful noise. It lifted everyone’s spirits and really gave a fantastic party atmosphere. I couldn’t help moving my body to the beat. And, I wasn’t alone. You can’t help it. It was so addictive.
We left as soon as more people started pouring in. It was getting too crowded as more people started jostling in trying to get a better view. It was also getting warmer. As we walked back to car, we saw a fluttering of green, red and white. Mama mia, the Italian market was in town. We stopped at one stall and bought one dried tomato and one rosemary focaccia for dinner. Delizioso.
When we arrived home, we found out that Bradley Wiggins had become the first British rider to win the Tour de France. Wiggins finished in the chasing peloton of the final stage around the streets of Paris with a winning margin of three minutes and 21 seconds. Fellow Brit and Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome consolidated second place with Italy's Vincenzo Nibali third. And another Brit, Mark Cavendish claimed a fourth consecutive final-stage victory. Cavendish also won the traditional sprint down the Champs Elysees with some ease and claimed his 23rd stage victory. Well-done and what a morale booster this would be for the Olympics cycling team.
“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions…could have, might have and should have”
My aunt who was seriously ill in Malaysia died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by her loved ones. My heart and prayers go out to the clan. Inna lilla wa inna lilla hirra jiun. *