Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Day We Came So Close

When Murray overpowered Le Muscle from Le Mans, he became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon finals since Bunny Austin in 1938. The country was buzzing. The possibility of him becoming Britain’s first men’s singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936, and the first Briton to win a Wimbledon singles since Virginia Wade in 1977. This was a fight against 76 years of history and a monumental burden of expectation. No pressure then :-)

The dramatic match see-sawed towards Murray first and then Federer. As the afternoon unfolded, watching Murray play was the usual sweet torture. 17 million of us who tuned in watched with excitement and trepidation. And the ‘Fed Express’  roared back to take the last 2 sets. Murray’s dream of lifting the trophy ended in tears after he was soundly beaten by the Swiss maestro. Federer simply outclassed Murray to win an astonishing 17th Grand Slam and matched Sampras record of 7 Wimbledon single titles. Fred Perry still remained atop his pedestal.

Although Murray lost the finals, he’d won the hearts of the nation. Often regarded as moody, he let his guard down and showed a touching vulnerability as he showed his disappointment. I’m sure he’d won legions of new supporters with his amazing tribute to Federer, to his team and to the supporters who had been rooting for him all the way. At last, we had seen a public glimpse of the real man. You could practically hear the hearts melting..

Murray, you did great. I was never a tennis fan but for you, I watched all your games.  It will be your turn one day, Insyallah.

Andy Murray wasn’t the only one to make history during the Wimbledon finals. His compatriot, Jonny Murray became the first Briton to win a men’s double title since 1936. He and his playing partner needed a wild card to get into the tournament. They were victorious over the defending champions, the American Bryan brothers, in the semis. They then defeated 5th seeded Swedish Lindsted and Tecau. It was a very remarkable victory for Murray and the Danish Nielsen. Well-done. It was a good year for tennis.

Earlier during the day, we popped over to our favourite playground to check what the natives were up to. The sun even made an appearance between the downpours. We walked through the very muddy forest and what a mistake that was as we were literally eaten alive by midges. We rushed across trying to dodge them. At Steetly Hide, only a Common Tern kept  us occupied. Trying to photograph it whizzing past and diving into the lake was a challenge. Brandon Marsh D300s  07-07-2012 16-50-058Then we dashed out through the forest again, towards the pit. We wanted to see if the Bee Orchids were still around. Nada, zilch, non. But at least, patches of sunshine appeared now and then, brightening the afternoon. It was lovely walking among the yellow heathers full of buzzing bees with the warm breeze brushing our faces. It felt like summer was here.Brandon Marsh D3100  07-07-2012 17-08-56On Saturday, we went to Bradgate Park again. We wanted to make the most of the brief spells of sunshine. As usual, a pit stop at Groby Pool. The usual culprits were there. They looked a bit defensive because most of them were moulting. We left them alone as we were distracted by a couple of Ringlets. It was lovely to see them because the wet summer had disrupted the butterflies’ breeding season by preventing them from flying, mating and laying eggs.Groby Pools D300s  08-07-2012 11-51-004The Butterfly Conservation wants the public to help with its annual Big Butterfly Count (KEEP) to see how species have fared following several exceptionally wet months. It runs until the end of August. To take part, please visit the website

When we arrived at Bradgate Park, the heavens opened but that didn’t stop us. We had our raincoats on and water-proofed our cameras. We didn’t dare to approach the grounds by the River Lin because they were already so saturated. We couldn’t see our favourite Widgeon anywhere. In fact, there wasn’t any ducks in the fast-flowing water when it was supposed to be a great day for them. Looked at these dramatic waterfalls. That showed how heavy the rain had fallen.Bradgate Park D300s  08-07-2012 12-40-15Even the deer avoided the soggy grounds. They were busy feeding on the grass banks along the footpath. But still keeping an eye on the visitors checking them out. We glanced along the walls and it was void of any Yellowhammers. Another flock of deer were feeding at their usual place, by the bracken bushes.Bradgate Park D300s  08-07-2012 12-56-055We walked through Lady Jane Grey’s ruins and went straight to the pond. The Egyptian geese family had gone. We only saw them last week. We hoped the chicks had fledged safely. As we walked slowly towards a herd of deer with young, we startled a bird that flew away and it landed on a mound a distance away. It was a Little Owl, our first sighting at Bradgate Park. My oh my…my wish came true. We stood there watching this gorgeous bird.Bradgate Park D300s  08-07-2012 13-16-002And then another cloud bursts and it flew further back and landed on the wall at the end of the compound. As we walked back to the car, we spotted a Green Woodpecker on a fence. We stalked it slowly and startled a flock of thrushes. Babe think it might be Mistle thrush. We were impressed by the different birds that we’d seen in this compound but it was time to head back to the car.Bradgate Park D300s  08-07-2012 13-30-31 The rain was getting heavier and as usual, the faster we tried to walk, it was chucking down loads. We were in for a soaking. Since we’d difficulties walking upright, Babe took shelter under the chestnut tree while moi, videotaped a herd of deer in the rain. Dedication or what!!!Bradgate Park D300s  08-07-2012 13-44-046

A break in the heat
away from the front
no thunder, no lightning,
just rain, warm rain
falling near dusk
falling on eager ground
steaming blacktop
hungry plants
turning toward the clouds
cooling, soothing rain
splashing in sudden puddles
catching in open screens
that certain smell
of summer rain

~Raymond A. Foss, ‘Summer Rain’~

Roadtrip Bradgate Park D300s  08-07-2012 14-25-039

This week, my colleagues and I attended a webinar on RDA and rare materials. It was JG’s turn to co-ordinate the session. She brought 2 packets of very posh Waitrose cookies to keep us from falling asleep and it worked. :-). We have been attending RDA sessions for quite some time and, fingers and toes double-crossed, should be experts. Unfortunately, RDA will only be released worldwide next year. And I bet, we would have forgotten them again. So I guess, it was good that we keep refreshing ourselves with courses, webinars and workshops.

We kept on putting cat-food and peanuts for our nocturnal friends. The Bushnel webcam was always switched on at 9 pm. Babe did his magic and we were able to see them when they came to feed via our tv. Mr. Foxy was still very nervous but not the cubs. They came prancing in like naughty kids. Mr and Mrs Prickly scuttled in slowly and they were a noisy lot. From our bedroom window, we could hear them grunting away. That was why they were called hogs. We promised ourselves not to disturb them but sometimes you just can’t help it. I promised this will be the last time…yeah right!!!Garden cam IR F  07-07-2012 22-17-04Despite the rubbish weather, we still managed to have a brilliant week and we hoped you, too, managed to get your own little sunshine.

Weather is a great metaphor for life---sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.

~Terri Guillemets~

Prayers for my aunt who is seriously ill. Only Allah know what’s best. For my cousins, be strong.

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