Sunday, 26 August 2012

Catching up with Summer

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
~Russel Baker~

The temperature in the car soared to a sweltering 31C when we arrived at Slimbridge WWT. It was the hottest weekend of the year, so far. Everyone was out and about topping up their tans and taking advantage of the lovely day. We came here to check out the Long-billed Dowitcher, a native of North America which had been sighted in the South Lake. We don’t go chasing any bird sightings around the country but as members of WWT and as it was just down the road, it was a good excuse to be out and about. And we weren’t alone. It was also the school holidays and parents were taking the opportunity to take their children out for a bit of fresh air.  Slimbridge WWT D7000  18-08-2012 13-38-47

"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~

As usual we walked along the boardwalk keeping an eye on what was about. House martins were still flying in and out of the mud-nests under the roof of the visitor centre. Young tree sparrows were chirping away, calling their parents for food. Further down, Nenes with their doe-like expressions were vowing the crowds and relieving them of their seeds.Slimbridge WWT D50  18-08-2012 14-00-03

We made a pit stop at Wader Shore to see our favourite birds. The Black Winged Stilts were having a siesta and we crept in quietly so we don’t disturb them. They just looked at us and went to sleep again. The elegant black and white Avocets with their long upturned bills and bluish legs were half-asleep. From time to time, their melodious calls could be heard. The Redshank was as wary as usual, flying from one end to another with its noisy calls, trying to alert the other birds of any danger.Slimbridge WWT D7000  18-08-2012 14-25-46Then we made our way to the South Lake trying to avoid the Nenes who were running towards us for food. We made our way to the right side of the hide where a crowd were poised with their binoculars, scopes and cameras pointing to something in the distance. We found a seat and joined the party. Unfortunately the Long-billed Dowitcher was nowhere to be seen or according to one of the twitchers, it had gone on to the other side of the island. Typical… But it wasn’t a loss to us because there were plenty of other things to look at. We’d never seen so many Godwits feeding in one place.Slimbridge WWT D50  18-08-2012 14-03-50A pit stop at the otters was a must. Again we missed their feeding time, but they were out and about earning their living, entertaining the besotted crowd. We stood at our favourite sport where we were able to get a very good view. They were swimming from one end of the pool to another with their easy, fluid movements. From time to time, they hopped onto the rocks and started scrambling along the bushes.  Slimbridge WWT D300s X14  18-08-2012 14-52-007We’d to cut short the trip because the heat was getting to us. Since the Caribbean Flamingos enclosure was near the exit, we just had to check them out. They were out and about showing off their beautiful colours. But what interest me most were the different stages of the chicks. They were huddled together under the shade. I guess since they were still featherless the heat, too. was getting to themSlimbridge WWT D300s X14  18-08-2012 15-22-04On Sunday, we headed up north to pay a visit to the merry men in tights. It was the 28th Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest, Nottingham. The event which began on Monday, gave the visitors the chance to sample the intrigue and excitement of medieval life in the heart of the forest and celebrate the life and times of the Nottinghamshire legendary outlaw. Once part of a royal hunting forest, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve was 450 acres and incorporated ancient areas of native woodland where slender birch trees grow alongside more than one thousand veteran oaks, most of which were over 500 years old. The largest and most famous of these was the Major Oak which was linked throughout the world to Robin Hood. I couldn’t wait to see this world-famous tree.Sherwood Forest NNR D7000  19-08-2012 11-51-03

Sherwood in the twilight, is Robin Hood awake?
Grey and ghostly shadows are gliding through the brake,
Shadows of the dappled deer, dreaming of the morn,
Dreaming of a shadowy man that winds a shadowy horn.

~Alfred Noyes, A Song for Sherwood~

The festival  featured jousting, archery, falconry displays, musicians and entertainers, craft stalls and activities and were showcased in 3 sections. Armed with a flyer, we carefully planned where we wanted to go and see. First was a walk towards the visitor centre where we came across this pair of performers who obliged us with a pose. Performers, musicians and entertainers roamed around the forest keeping the visitors entertained.Sherwood Forest NNR D7000  19-08-2012 11-48-34

At the entrance of the visitor centre, we stopped to listen to another pair of entertainer. It was a challenge to take photographs because it was so crowded. The place was buzzing. Everywhere we looked there was something going on. From afar we saw the final part of the fire-eating performance from What a Palaver!. We took shade under a tree beside a group of Morris dancers. Woo-hoo, I’m not moving. In front of us was a pair of jesters winding up the crowd. They were hilarious.Sherwood Forest NNR D7000  19-08-2012 12-10-013

While waiting for the next performance, we spent the time people watching. It was lovely to see a lot of the visitors dressing up in medieval costumes. There were a few dressed as Robin Hood, Little John, Maid Marion, Will Scarlett and Friar Tuck as well as the Sherriff’s men in tights. I told Babe that next year, I’m going to dress up. It should be fun. Then it was the Kesteven Morris dancers turn to vow the crowd. They were brilliant.Sherwood Forest NNR D7000  19-08-2012 12-16-017

We checked out the Robin Hood experience exhibition that charted the story behind the legend. It was very hot in the halls and the long queues made it unbearable to linger for too long. Luckily, it was a short exhibition and we were out in the open. In the sunshine, we came across children in medieval makeovers running around  with bows and arrows. There must be an archery session somewhere.Sherwood Forest NNR D7000  19-08-2012 12-18-054

We followed the crowd through the forest towards the Major Oak grounds. It was much cooler in the shade and there were a few stalls scattered along the way. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to linger. As soon as we arrived at the grounds, my eyes was drawn to this huge tree. It was the Major Oak. There was a fence around it to prevent visitors' feet from compressing the ground over the tree's roots. This should help ensure the tree stays healthy for many, many more years to come. Sherwood Forest NNR D3100  19-08-2012 12-47-25

The Major Oak was a Quercus Robur, the English or pendunculate oak. This forest veteran was thought to be around 800 years old. It weighed an estimated 23 tonnes with a trunk circumference of 10m and branches that spread to over 28m. I guess that was why slender steel poles were needed to prop the sprawling limbs of this giant. In a 2002 survey, it was voted “Britain’s favourite tree”.  According to local lore, its hollow trunk was used as a hideout by Robin Hood’s merry men, though if Robin was – as legend suggests – active in the 12th or 13th century, this tree could only have been a sapling then. It must have been another, much older oak that hid the outlaws. Sherwood Forest NNR D7000  19-08-2012 12-46-21

There were plenty of activities going on here but we wanted to see the main highlight of the day. We continued to our final destination which was the jousting arena. A large crowd was already there taking the best seats in the house. We went straight to the Ye Olde Redtail Falconry tent  where different birds of prey were on display. The area was fenced in to prevent visitors from getting too close and spook the birds. It was lovely to see a kestrel, Eagle owl, falcon, buzzard, hawks and vulture this close although I would have preferred to see them flying free in the wild.   Sherwood Forest NNR D3100  19-08-2012 13-05-18

The spectators were allowed to be in the jousting arena when the falconry demonstration was on but they’d to sit down. This was because these birds of prey tend to swoop down very low and might injure them or sometimes it might make the birds too nervous to perform. It was lovely, though, to see young kids volunteering to handle the birds. It was wonderful to see and admire the speed, grace, power and beauty of these magnificent birds. Sherwood Forest NNR D300s X  19-08-2012 13-56-59

Then it was time for the main event, the jousting tournament between Robin Hood's outlaws and the Sheriff of Nottingham's men. A procession lead by drummers and musicians entered the arena. The Sheriff of Nottingham's men strutted in snarling at the audience which resulted in being booed and jeered by the crowd. On the opposite end, Robin Hood’s gorgeous outlaws received a thunderous applause. It was going to be a battle with a daring display of superb horsemanship and armed combat.Sherwood Forest NNR D300s X  19-08-2012 13-17-46

Unfortunately by this time, the crowd from behind started pushing to get a closer look. Those in front were supposed to be sitting down but due to the pushing they’d to stand up which resulted in blocking everything. And we were stuck in the middle. We  were quite frustrated that we decided to call it a day. We planned to leave early anyway because we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. Thousands of car trying to leave at the same time through the tiny village of Edwinstowe would be a nightmare. We’d a lovely day and we will definitely come again next year. Sherwood Forest NNR D300s X  19-08-2012 14-09-57

This week I had volunteered for 2 pre-sessional induction tours. I opted for the subject floor tours where the students were divided to according their courses. It was easier this way so that we could take them to the floors where they can find the books which were relevant to them. As usual, a demonstration of the mobile shelving unit was always a hit. Then I brought them down to the first floor and handed the group to another colleague. I had always enjoyed these tours and loved the enthusiasm shown by the newcomers. 

AM and I went to Walsgrave Hospital after office hours to visit a former colleague who had a hip-replacement surgery. Babe gave us a lift there and we took the bus home. We took flowers, a card and a basket of fruits  for JHE from all of us at work. We went straight to the 5th floor and entered countless doors before we found her. We were pleased that the surgery went smoothly and she was recuperating well. Imagine that she only had the operation in less than 48 hours and she was already walking, albeit on crutches. That was amazing. We listened to her chatterings before we made our way home. Get well soon, JHE.

Muslims around the world celebrated one special night during Ramadan known as Laylatul Qadr or the Night of Power when the Koran was revealed. It was a celebration to commemorate the arrival of the final guidance for all Muslims. Just as the arrival of a child was celebrated, on its birth and then every year, as a bringer of joy and fulfilment for the family, Laylatul Qadr was celebrated as a bringer of light and guidance for mankind.

On Sunday was World Humanitarian Day. It was a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff. 

Earlier this week, RSC had some very good news to tell us. I’d already guessed it. Congratulations

A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months,

in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day you die.

~Mary Mason~

It was also CEK’s XX birthday. Happy birthday and we hoped you’d a lovely day. She celebrated the day by taking part in the Tywyn Race the Train 10km race!!! What a celebration.

And in the garden, the sweet corn had produced some cobs. It was supposed to be a tall plant but mine was a bit stunted. It still had some catching up to do. Blame it on the temperamental summer. I couldn’t wait to harvest them. Hmm…grilled sweet corn sounds yummy.

Coventry D3100  15-08-2012 07-15-30

August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied.
-  Joseph Wood Krutch~

Thursday, 23 August 2012

♫Always Look on the Bright Side of Life♫

Coventry Olympics S5700  03-08-2012 16-36-13
Did you join the sing-along of the above song with the 80K strong crowd at the Olympics closing ceremony? The audience were treated to a taste of Britain’s comedy heritage when Monty Phyton star Eric Idle appeared on stage and led the rendition. Unfortunately, we’d just returned from a trip from Norfolk and was too exhausted to stay up to watch. But I bet everyone had a ball.

The Olympics was now over. My thoughts were on the brilliant performance of the Team GB women athletes. Of Team GB’s impressive 65 medals haul, 26 were won by women with 12 gold, 8 silver and 6 bronze. Their achievements had given the Olympics some of its most breath-taking and emotional moments. From Lizzie Armistrad winning the first medal, a silver for the road race, to Samantha Murray, a silver for the modern pentathlon, taking the last, British women had risen to the occasion.  Coventry Olympics 2012 S40  23-07-2012 10-01-05
Rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning started the gold rush and more first place finishes followed. Team GB poster girl Jessica Ennis’s golden victory was in the heptatlon. In the cycling, Victoria Pendleton conquered the keirin, while Jo Roswell, Laura Trott and Dani King won the cycling team pursuit. Laura Trott and dressage Charlotte Dujardin won 2 a-piece while Jade Jones got one in taekwondo. On the water, Katherine Grainger/ Anna Watkins hit the gold standard in the double sculls,  Katherine Copeland/Sophie Hosking in the lightweight doubles and Helen Glover/Heather Stanning in the coxless pairs.

A record-breaking crowd at Wembley of 70K+ saw Team GB women beat Brazil 1:0. Winger Karen Carney described the night as “My dream came true when I walked out at Wembley. I think that is every boy’s dream, let alone a girl’s dream, to do that.” We saw them playing in the City of Coventry stadium and a pity they lost 2:0 to Canada. Boxing was the last sport to achieve Olympic gender equality and Nicola Adams got a gold in the 51 kg flyweight.

Coventry D200  22-07-2012 12-30-07_stitch
The headmistress and president of the Girls’ Schools Association, Louise Robinson, praised the ‘phenomenal female role models’ the London 2012 Olympic Games had given to young and not so young girls. She said: “We are now in the enviable position of having a phenomenal number of female role models for school girls, thanks to Team GB’s performance. I do hope we can manage to maintain at least some of the tremendous media momentum behind these sportswomen so that young girls across the country can continue to see, and aspire to be, women of real achievement. We must see at least one of these medallists included in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year line-up as it was so disappointing to see no women nominated last year.”

It was really inspiring to see young women who care about more than fake tans, fake hair and fake relationships to get attention. These were women who are proud to look powerful, who have muscles and who aren't afraid to sweat and pant their way to a gold medal. What an inspiration to the next generation which was the motto of the Olympics.
Coventry FZ28  29-07-2012 14-38-08

And it was not just British women who’d been making the headlines. London 2012 was the first Olympics in its 116-year history where every nation had fielded male and female representatives, and the only one in which women had competed in every sport. For the first time, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei sent female sportswomen. For the first time in its history too, Malaysia had afforded a female athlete – diver Pandelela Rinong – the honour of bearing the country’s flag at the opening ceremony. And she got a bronze. Syabas* and what an inspiration to the girls back home.
Everything about the Olympics was first class, and women were treated as athletes and equals.”
~Elizabeth Robinson Schwartz~
We missed the closing ceremony because we’d just returned from another adventure in Norfolk. We were checking out the Titchwell Marsh RSPB nature reserve. There were so many reserves in this part of the world and we planned to check them one by one. We left at about 9 am and the 196.2 km trip would take us about 3 hours. It was lovely driving through the countryside. Fields and fields of wheat and corn as far as the eyes can see were shimmering in the sun with little ripples breaking upon the surface with even the slightest breeze. Farmers with their amazing machines were busy harvesting hay. “Make hay when the sun shines” was definitely the right way to go. Bales of hay dotted here and there waiting to be collected and stored in the barn. 

Roadtrip Titchwewll RSPB D3100  12-08-2012 15-03-37It was a smooth journey until we reached the Hardwick Roundabout. We were stuck here for nearly 30 minutes before we managed to drive through and then we started crawling to our destination. We have been to Norfolk many, many times and this was the first time we faced so many obstacles. Well, it was the school holidays and Norfolk was a very famous holiday destination. We lost count the number of times we were stuck behind caravans, motor-homes and farm machines. Titchwewll RSPB D50  12-08-2012 14-16-15
Finally we arrived at our destination. After paying £4 for parking and using the facilities, our adventure began. Armed with a flyer, we walked along the 200 metre Fen trail and boardwalk to the empty Fen hide. It had brilliant views over the reed-beds but nobody was at home. From here, we took the 100 metre meadow trail that linked the Fen trail and the West Bank path. There were plenty of butterflies flitting from one flower to another while dragonflies were busy patrolling. When we looked up, a bird of prey was “dancing” in the sky.

As we walked along the West Bank path, the reserve was bathed in summer colours. Thistles and docks lined the path creating a gorgeous corridor of golds, reds and purples. Yellow ragwort flowers brightened the banks like little blobs of sunshine. We knew the reed-beds were Bearded Tits territories but we didn’t see any. As we continued walking we met 2 familiar faces from Brandon Marsh. What a small world. We chatted for a while before continuing our walk.
Titchwewll RSPB D50  12-08-2012 12-24-02
We stopped at Island Hide situated on a freshwater marsh. The elegant Avocets were busy feeding along the mudbanks, sweeping sideways with their upturned bill. A Little Egret was seen feeding at the far end of the marsh. We could see so many waders but they were just too far away. It was a nightmare for us as photographers. But it was still lovely to see them.
Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-49-005
We continued on and we were engulfed with the echoes of the call of the curlew, one of summers’ most evocative sounds. Babe spotted one landing and as usual, it was just too far for a good photograph which happened to be a common theme for this visit. We walked along the Parrinder wall where we could see the Goldfinches feeding on the thistles. The Parrinder hide was the latest hide to be opened. A huge flock of Golden Plover were flying around the reserve, their lovely colours glittering as they fly.

Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-17-44

“A Golden Plovers’ golden music calls
Across the moor, a heady fragrance spills
From freshly-opened pest, then silence falls”
~R.S.Morrison, Word on Birds~
Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 12-57-50

The salt-marsh was carpeted in colour. The blankets of purple on large parts of the marsh were created by the papery flowers of the common sea lavender. We spotted the piece de resistance, a flock of spoonbills with its white plumage and yellow ochre chin. And they were having a siesta. On the same island, a large flock of Oyster-catchers too were having a siesta. I don’t blame them because it was hot, hot, hot.

Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 12-58-049
We continued walking towards the beach where we could see the remains of an old forest. Overhead, the sky was a bright bowl of blue and in front of us was the rolling waves of the North Sea. The water was crisp, clear and clean – and oh, so cool! It was very tempting to have dip. The  beach was packed as people enjoyed a sweltering 27C heat on the hottest day of the Olympics. Part of the beach was cordoned off because of nesting birds although I didn’t spot any. Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-28-050
On the way back, the Avocets, Shelducks, Lapwings and Common Sandpipers were feeding very close to the path. Common Gulls were making themselves heard, squabbling among themselves. Suddenly, a weasel appeared right in front of us. We don’t know who was more surprised to see the other. Babe only managed to get the back end before it disappeared into the bushes. It was a lovely ending to a lovely day at a lovely place.
Titchwewll RSPB D300s X14  12-08-2012 13-48-04
“What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”
~Gerard Manley Hopkins~

Brandon Marsh D300s X2  10-08-2012 14-32-007

On Saturday, we made a pit stop to our favourite playground. Babe had seen the Kingfisher at Steely Hide and had taken several gorgeous shots. I had not seen any this year and wanted to see one. Unfortunately, we’d seen a lot of people heading towards that direction and knew that the tiny hide will be packed to the brim. Thankfully, there were plenty of things to point my camera.

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-03-066
Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life.  And everyone deserves a little sunshine. 
~Jeffrey Glassberg~

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-09-19

I always loved this Buddleia jungle. I’m trying to create a similar patch in our garden. The reason was that butterflies loved them and that was why it was also known as the Butterfly bush. We spent nearly an hour photographing the numerous gorgeous colourful butterflies feeding on the flowers. There were Brimstone, Comma, Admiral, Peacocks, Speckled Wood and Tortoise-shell. People walked past us but no one stopped to admire these lovely butterflies. Everyone was rushing hoping to see something spectacular but they just couldn’t see what was in front of them.

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-13-15

“And where the pretty butterflies
Their glancing beauties show;
It makes me to think
All things with beauty glow”
~Lizzy, 1857~

Brandon Marsh D200  11-08-2012 13-34-009
We walked towards the sheep field. Small whites and grasshoppers were all over the place. We spotted a bald robin trying to hide behind the bushes. The poor thing was moulting. The yellow Ragwort shrubs were covered with Cinnabar caterpillars. You have to look closely because they were very well camouflaged. We spotted more butterflies taking advantage of the lovely weather as we continued walking.

Brandon Marsh D50  05-08-2012 15-31-29
The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity. 
~Attributed to George Carlin~

We walked through the forest to cool down and made a pit-stop at Wright hide. The island was covered with overgrown lush vegetation due to the wet summer. Greylags, Canada Geese, Swans, Lapwings, Gulls, Mallards, Teals, Coots, Herons, Cormorants and Moorhens  were out and about on the mudbanks, enjoying the warm weather. A pair of Common Sandpipers flew in but they were chased away by the Lapwings. It was very warm in the hide that we decided to call it a day.

Brandon Marsh D300s X2  11-08-2012 13-58-12
That night we stayed up late to see the Perseid showers. As Earth ploughs through the debris stream left by a giant comet that had been circling the sun since the birth of the solar system, fragments hit the atmosphere creating an incandescent display. We sat in the garden looking up at the sky. The longer we wait, the cloudier the skies became. It was freezing, too. After about an hour, we gave up and went to bed. Babe woke me up at about 3 am but when we looked out of the window, it was still very cloudy. Hmm…not a good day for star-grazing. I was quite jealous when I found out that in some parts of the UK, people had seen the spectacular showers. Better luck next time.

I also would like to wish a very Happy 51st birthday to my brother-in-law, Khamarul, in Malaysia. I hoped he’d a lovely day and ♫always look on the bright side of life♫.

Coventry D7000 M  10-08-2012 08-27-03 *Congratulations in Malay

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

My Olympics Experience

When I found out that Team GB women’s football team was being sent to Coventry after their magnificent win over Brazil, I wanted a piece of the action and experience the games myself. The Olympics had arrived on my doorstep. I kept my eyes on Twitter updates and found out that tickets will be sold at the stadium. Then conflicting tweets started popping up that I’d to call the stadium. Unfortunately due to the name change, it was like finding a needle in a haystack. But moi is a librarian and information search is my numero uno. The lady on the phone was very surprised that I managed to get through. She told me that tickets will be sold from midday. I took the afternoon off.
The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.”
~Dawn Fraser~
We parked at Tesco and walked towards the Stadium. It was only 1pm and we saw quite a few fans/supporters lingering about around the grounds. There was a double men’s football match where Japan v Honduras at 17.00 and Senegal v UAE at 19.45. There were lots of security men and policemen about, making their presence felt. We walked towards the ticket office in Car Park D and joined the queue. 20 booths were open and we got our precious tickets within 30 minutes. Yes…we felt like we’d already won a gold medal. We were going to be a part of history.
We walked the opposite direction to leave the stadium. I wanted to check out the the otherwise unloved Rowleys Green roundabout just outside the City of Coventry Stadium which was now resplendent with a set of Olympic rings. I had seen photographs of small queues as spectators braved the busy traffic to obtain souvenir photographs. The traffic had been extra heavy and I managed to snap a few from across the road.Coventry S40  01-08-2012 14-20-11 We did a bit of shopping in Tesco before heading home. I spent the evening pottering about in the garden, more weeding and dead-heading. I also transplanted the winter purple kale into the raised beds where the radishes and pak choi were. The leeks were doing fine and I put more composts on their bases. I also had a nice surprise when one of my artichoke had a globe. Unfortunately, you can only harvest them when they were at least 2 years old. I’ve planted 4 and they were all doing well. A Cabbage white came fluttering in and started feeding on the Buddlea. Just beautiful.Coventry D7000 M  03-08-2012 12-58-023 On Friday, I took the afternoon off and Coventry was blessed with perfect weather. We checked the lists of dos and dont’s because we knew that security was very tight. We arrived 2 hours early and already we saw at least 5 busses dropping passengers. We followed the crowd and we could feel the buzz in the air. We were hit by how great the atmosphere was. The volunteers in their pink tee-shirts and friendly smiles were everywhere. We were handed plastic bags where we’d to put in whatever we brought with us.
As we got nearer the stadium, volunteers with big pink foam hands showed us the direction. Spectators with huge bags and rucksacks were led to a different section where their bags were searched and were given a bigger plastic bag. Another volunteer appeared and informed us where our entrance was. And then, he thanked us for being part of 2012. Thank you to him too for making it wonderful.Coventry Olympics S5700  03-08-2012 16-33-49
With every step towards the stadium,  every one seemed to be in a happy mood. Even the policemen were smiling. Stalls selling souvenirs and programmes were making a brisk business. We joined the hundreds who were milling outside the East entrance and sat on the pavement. Families were having picnics, flicking through the programmes or, like us, just simply savouring the atmosphere. Everyone was smiling and determined to have a good time. Some were dressed head to toe in Union Jack flags, with face paints, hats. Children were enthusiastically waving the big foam hands and flags. I wore my Jubilee earrings. I wanted to bring my wiggler but it might be confiscated because it has a pole. But seeing the flags everyone’s waving, I should have brought it.Coventry Olympics S5700  03-08-2012 16-48-00 Then the gates opened.  The sexes were separated because there was a body search. My sling-bag was thoroughly inspected before a female security personnel patted down my body. Then only I was allowed through the turnstiles. And then we were in. This was our second time in this beautiful stadium but it was the first time we entered it through the spectators entrance. Another friendly volunteer showed our seats. We sat in the middle tier between the half-way line and the goal. It was the perfect view to see the goals coming in. Coventry Olympics FZ28  03-08-2012 19-29-50 Since we were an hour early, there was less than 1k people but they were slowly trickling in. We took the opportunity to do what we love most, taking photographs of everything and anything. And we were not alone. Every one was capturing the moment.  The stadium sound system whipped up a party atmosphere beforehand with some really fantastic songs. Then the DJ asked the audience to looked up the screen where the Team GB men’s team pursuit were facing the Australians and the whole stadium cranked up ten fold when we won. Woo-hoo. Coventry Olympics FZ28  03-08-2012 18-30-13 The stadium erupted again when a few of Team GB footballers came out to wave at the crowd and inspected the field. Then came the referees. When both teams came out for a practice session, a huge flag was unfurled and it rolled from the lower tier to the top tier with much enthusiasm from the crowd. Then there was the never-ending Mexican waves, even the press joined in. It was one huge party and I was thoroughly engrossed in the clappings, chantings and togetherness of the occasion. Coventry Olympics FZ28  03-08-2012 18-39-49
20 minutes before the game started, both teams came out. We stood singing the national anthem. I’ve got goose bumps listening to “God Save the Queen”. Team GB was guarding the goal post in front of us in the first half. At exactly 7.30pm, the Japanese referee blew her whistle and the battle began. The match itself was warming up nicely  when suddenly in the 12th minute, Team GB got off to the worst possible start by conceding from a set-piece. Schmidt directed a corner towards the penalty spot, where Filigno scored with a glorious half-volley. From our vantage point, it was a goal from the moment Filigno struck it and Bardsley never had a chance.Coventry Olympics FZ28  03-08-2012 19-25-16 Amidst the crescendo, some one blew a horn trumpet. OMG, everyone turned to look, including the stewards and security people who quickly ran to him. How on earth did he managed to smuggle that in especially when everyone had to go through a body search? The offending instrument was promptly confiscated but thankfully the owner was allowed to remain. Slight boos were heard but quickly forgotten because we have an important game to watch.    
With the ear-splitting roar of the crowd on their backs, Team GB tried hard for a quick equaliser. A long shot was saved and a header missed by inches. Midway through the first half they went further behind through a lapse in defensive concentration. Faced with an untidy wall and a goalkeeper leaving her goal unprotected, the Canadian captain, scored the 2nd. goal. We couldn’t wait for the 2nd. half whistle.Coventry Olympics FZ28  03-08-2012 19-07-58
I joined the very long queue to use the facilities. And then another long queue to get a bottle of water that costs me £1.50 !!! A cheese pasty sets you £3. I don’t want to know how much the fish and chips were. At the stands, huge balls were thrown into the crowd and they were bobbing up and down the stadium. The Mexican waves was rippling around again. Then the 2nd half of the game began, accompanied with a rousing “God saved the Queen”, chantings, clappings and flag-waving frenzies. The crowd was delirious with excitement when it was announced that the attendance was 28,828 – the fourth highest for a sporting event at the stadium. Coventry Olympics FZ28  03-08-2012 19-18-49
The second half was high on effort but low on goalmouth action. Team GB was chasing the game continuously, but they could not summon the organisation or the imagination to break their opponents down. They were simply out-muscled and out-played although they looked stronger at the end. Nine minutes from the end, there was a moment of controversy. Aluko was tripped in the area by Wilkinson only to see the referee waving play on. That really incensed the crowd. By that time, we decided to make our way home. And we were not alone. A lot of people were already leaving.
“Behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought.”
~Dennis Bergkamp~
I walked past the security personnel and the policemen who were lining the walkways. The taxis and busses were already waiting to ferry the passengers to their destination. Everything ran smoothly. Tonight was one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences where the memories will be treasured forever. I was able to strike two things off my bucket list ie to attend a world class football match and to attend an Olympic event.
My colleagues and I had a wonderful time comparing notes. RSC watched the synchronised swimming and beach volleyball. SLA saw the 3 golds that Team GB won in the athletic event.  GLW watched the Belarus men beat New Zealand at the City of Coventry Stadium. JG beat us all hands down because she was an audio converter during the rhythmic gymnastic. Each of us agreed that it was the best feeling knowing that “We were there”.
One of the really important things about the Olympics is, to enjoy yourself, you have to accept that it's different and feed off the enthusiasm of everyone and the inspiration and hopefully that will elevate your performance.

Bode Miller (American athlete)

Saturday was spent chilling in. Babe was in bed recovering from our adventure. Moi was out and about in the garden. More dead-heading, weeding and mowing. The summer kale was growing like there was no tomorrow. The more I picked, the faster they grow :-). I’d to plant the winter kale in another raised bed because they were climbing out of the greenhouse. It was a bit cramped with the broccoli, spinach, leeks and artichokes. The blueberries were beginning to ripen and I’m looking forward to having them with my cereals and my favourite blueberry muffins. Nom…nom.Coventry D7000 M  14-08-2012 08-54-55
On Sunday, we stretched our legs at our favourite playground. The reserve was very quiet. From Baldwin Hide, even the usually vocal Lapwings and Terns were subdued. We managed to reach East Marsh Hide before the heavens opened. It was raining cats and dogs and they were pelting the zinc roof. Thunder and lightning rolled and struck in turns. A few birders entered the  hide drenched. And so were these Canada Geese out there.Brandon Marsh D300s X14  05-08-2012 14-02-025
As soon as the rain stopped, we made our way back to the car. A pit stop at Teal Pool where we spotted a couple of Common Sandpipers feeding along the mudbanks. By the car-park, the swallows were drying out by the electric lines. They will be leaving us soon. Have a safe journey my beauties and we will meet again next year. A couple of Song Thrushes were busy feeding on the ripening rowanberries. It felt like the season was about to turn but I hoped not too soon.Brandon Marsh D50  05-08-2012 15-41-26 
If the first week of August be warm,
The winter will be white and long.
~English proverb~
You have been warned. :-)
Below was a Gatekeeper feeding on the daisies which were dotted around the garden. We left them for the butterflies to enjoy.
Coventry D7000 M  03-08-2012 12-59-019