Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Last days of Summer

A fortnight ago, my colleagues and I attended a 2-day conference in Sheffield. I was at the train station at 6.30am and by 6.50am, the 3 of us, bleary-eyed and freezing, boarded the train to Birmingham. From here, we took the Cross-Country for the 1.5 hours trip. We were quite subdued along the way, trying to conserve energy for the long day ahead of us. We arrived in a rain-soaked Sheffield at 8.50 am. WFP looking smart in a suit was already there and we quickly got in a black cab (made in Coventry) to the university. We registered, put our luggage away, met SH and settled down for a quick cup of strong coffee to stay awake.  Sheffield S40  11-09-2012 18-20-13Over a hundred cataloguers gathered at the University of Sheffield’s Halifax Hall for the conference packed with thought provoking presentations and lightning round talks from 25 speakers. The conference started with a wicked keynote address on the University of Huddersfield’s participation in the JISC Library Impact Data Project, which was set up to investigate the link between library usage and academic outcomes. The project found a correlation between the number of items borrowed or e-resources accessed and the final grade outcomes for students. Especially the link between low library resource usage and early dropout rates, suggesting that library usage data could be used as an early warning flag for students that might need extra support.Sheffield D3100  11-09-2012 06-37-25 Several themes stood out for me from the conference. Unsurprisingly, RDA was one of the most prominent and the one that I suspect drew a lot of the audience to the conference. I am glad to know that we’d already taken enormous leap in implementing the new standard when compared to the other institutions. It must be difficult for those who were in a holding pattern while waiting for the major players in their organisation to make their final decisions about the implementation. But then according to Celine Carty from Cambridge University, it can be quite good not to be the trailblazers :-).
I found the session on new challenges for cataloguers to be the most exciting session. It was a no holds barred and potentially depressing analysis of the current landscape from Heather Jardine of the City of London libraries. She brought us down with a bump. It was inspiring to hear what she was doing to keep her team relevant during this difficult time, and the possibility to turn challenges into opportunities. The common thread was that of changing roles and the adaptability of cataloguing skills, not just in metadata creation and information management, but in systems management, acquisitions, advocacy and income generation.
Anne Welsh and Katharine Whaite from UCL reminded us about the importance of focusing on the principles of cataloguing rather than blindly sticking to the rules. Changes to cataloguing standards and practices have always been more about evolution than revolution. Again, stressing the importance of cataloguer’s judgement. I guess a refresher read on Cutter’s theories and the Paris Principles are in the pipe-line.
There weren’t any parallel sessions which meant that I got to hear every presentations. The concept of having lightning round talks of ten minute snippets of projects and ideas was a hit. These included institutional repositories; collaborative working; shelf-ready; re-classification and special library work. The RDA links from Celine was well-appreciated by the participants. From what I can gather from the conference was that we’d already completed or working on most of these projects and ideas. In fact. we were among the forerunners. I was feeling quite smug about that. Sheffield D3100  10-09-2012 20-55-27
In between the packed schedule, there was the dinner. There were 10 of us at the table and we took the opportunity to re-introduce ourselves. The 3 of us were from Warwick; KC from Kingston, JA from Salford, DL from Courtauld, IM from Scotland, NM from Belgium, MM from National Gallery and DB from Portsmouth. Our table was loud and fun. Bubbly flowed. Our first course was Roasted pears with blue Rockford Cheese on a bed of rocket. It was fresh and simulating. Then came our main course. I’d Spinach and Ricotta parcel with creamy mashed potatoes and grilled Mediterranean vegetable towers. Yummy. Lovely slices of rustic bread were passed around. For dessert, we’d creamy panna cotta. We started fooling around for photographs before ending the night with coffee and chocolates which I declined. Sheffield D3100  10-09-2012 20-54-11
At about 10.30pm, RC and I bid goodnight to the group. We needed our beauty sleep badly. I bet the party went right up through the night and they’d a wonderful time. I called Babe for a nice long chat before saying goodnight and then I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I woke up at 6.30 am to a bright, sunny morning. I’d a quick shower, a cup of coffee and then went for a walk around the stunning university grounds. Then went back to my room to pack and meet RC for breakfast. I’d the vegetarian fry-up, washed down by tall glasses of fresh orange juice. We returned our keys and dragged our bags back to Halifax Hall.Sheffield D3100  11-09-2012 06-42-32
Another packed itinerary was lined for the day. Before that, I met the newly crowned Mrs KH (nee E) who’d cut short her honeymoon to attend the conference. Dedicate or what ??? We’d a wonderful time catching up. I’d not seen her for 4 years although we kept in touch via e-mails.Sheffield S40  11-09-2012 17-20-20
After a very successful and productive conference, it was time to bid adieu to old and new acquaintances. We waited for our taxi which I’d booked earlier. Getting through the traffic  was a challenge but we arrived at the train station in one piece. We’d dinner at Burger King which was a first for me here in the UK!!! I ordered the fish burger with fries and washed down with orange juice. At 6.50 pm we boarded the Cross Country train for Plymouth which does sound strange. We sat with a lovely Cambridge student and I think we were the loudest in the train. We discussed everything and anything that we came across. That helped to make the journey ran quicker.Sheffield S40  11-09-2012 18-19-19
We bid goodbye to the kid in Birmingham before boarding the train to Coventry. It began to rain and we were quiet by this time. It had been a long day for us. RC got off at Tile Hill while CC and I continued on to Coventry. It was good to be back. I’m looking forward to chilling out the next day to get my sanity back.
After a nice, long lie-in, Babe and I decided to stretch our legs at Bradgate Park. A good excuse to play with our cameras too. But, it wasn’t our day. The M1 was closed in both directions due to a vehicle fire on the northbound carriageway near to junction 21. We turned back and were stuck in traffic for 45 minutes at the roundabout. Thankfully, it was a lovely day and we decided to head over to Coombe Abbey Country Park.
We’d never been here on a weekday and was quite surprise to see the place buzzing. We walked straight to the pond to see if anything special was out and about. Just the usual culprits. We made a quick stroll towards the hide and it was very quiet. We’d to leave when a group of children came in. Nothing will appear with all the racket. We headed back to the car and spotted this Great Crested Grebe hunting in its splendid winter colours. Winter….gulp!!!Coombe Abbey CP D7000 X14  12-09-2012 13-27-064
As we were busy snapping away, another Grebe turned up with its summer plumes still intact. What a contrast the pair made up. Then we spotted the Egyptian goose right in the middle of the lake, preening himself. How we missed this colourful, distinctive bird earlier was a mystery. Then we headed back to car. As we were about to exit from the park into the main road, the car suddenly stalled. Oops…Coombe Abbey CP D50  12-09-2012 13-34-59
Babe was able to reverse the car safely by the entrance and started poking around the engine. Still nothing. We called the RAC and was informed that we’d to wait for about an hour plus. And then the telephone needed charging and there was not enough credit in it. AArgh…Babe poked around the engine again and hey presto, the car purred to life. What happened??? We’d to drive home ASAP to inform the RAC that we don’t require their services. We also liked to thank the 2 motorists who stopped and asked if we need any help. Blessed them. Our faith in humanity was greatly restored. 
On Thursday, I was back at work. It was hard getting back to a routine. But I’m glad I took yesterday off because my colleagues told me that they were quite exhausted when they returned to work so soon. On Friday, I took the bus to work because Babe wasn’t feeling too good. And then I’d an early ISWG meeting. We planned our schedules for the new term and was pleased that suggestion for a welcome sign in different languages was accepted. We also wished SA congratulations because she has a bun in the oven. When I was back at my desk, I found out that the server had a melt-down. We started cleaning and clearing our desks. It was never too late for a spring-clean. We went out for an early lunch and hoping that services will be back to normal. Except for moi. My hard-drive was taken away and I did my work on WP’s computer, who was on leave.
We started the weekend with an early trip to Bradgate Park to compensate the one that we missed earlier in the week. It was strange to see the car-park quite empty at 10 am. We walked in the lovely morning sunshine in the quiet park before the main crowd arrived. We spotted Red Admirals taking advantage of the quietness, sunbathing on the warm tree trunks.Bradgate Park D50  15-09-2012 08-49-39
We went over to the River Lin that flowed through the park. There were plenty of ducks squabbling for pieces of bread. And then we heard the very familiar whistle, “whee-hoo”. We rushed over to the river bank and there he was, our favourite widgeon. We were pleased to see him again. He looked a bit un-kept as he was moulting but he was still adorable to us. I even shared my pancake with him.Bradgate Park D50  15-09-2012 08-56-20
We walked along the river bank. Solitary deer was spotted here and there.  I think, they were beginning to stake their territory. We’d not heard any bellowing at all. Hmm…I guess it was still too early for the rutting session. We were so intent on watching the flowing river for wagtails that we nearly bumped into this handsome guy. He didn’t budge at all and was content watching the world passing by.Bradgate Park D50  15-09-2012 09-21-39
I spotted a tree-creeper creeping up the tree, a juvenile Nut-hatch calling for its parents, flocks of Goldfinches flying from tree-to tree, Blue and Great Tits feeding from the fir tree. A Grey wagtail was enjoying a solitude bath in the stream. And the wonderful surprise of all was when we spotted this Flycatcher singing its heart from the top of the tree. It was our first sighting, ever.Bradgate Park D7000 X14  15-09-2012 09-15-47
We were too early for the opening of Lady Jane Grey’s house. We were looking forward to see the Little Owls again but not today. We walked along the stone walls where we spotted this snow white beauty. It was the albino Peahen surrounded by some very handsome juveniles, most probably her off-springs. We often heard her cries from behind the walls and often a glimpse of her disappearing into the bushes.Bradgate Park D7000 X14  15-09-2012 10-03-15
We continued walking towards the visitor centre to see if the wagtails were hunting on the roof. Instead, we spotted them feeding in the main field where a large herd of deer were taking advantage of the warm weather. We took hundreds of photographs of the deer while the wagtails were busy feeding and flirting about. Babe was feeling a bit wobbly and we turned back and walked slowly to the car. By this time, more and more people were pouring into the park.Bradgate Park D50  15-09-2012 10-18-52
We’d a drink and rested for a bit before setting home. We decided to have a pit-stop at Groby Pool and I’m so glad we did. Among the Greylags, Canada Geese, White Goose, Mute Swans, Mallards, Moorhen, Gulls was this adorable Snow Goose. Woo-hoo. We’d seen her before and it was wonderful to see her again. Groby Pools D7000 X14  15-09-2012 11-17-028
On Sunday was another trip to our favourite playground. By this time, I’d given up waiting for the Kingfisher and won’t be checking out the Steely Hide. As usual, we stopped by the Buddleia bushes where the Small Tortoise Shell, Comma, Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies were still busy feeding. Then a pit stop at the empty and quiet Baldwin Hide. Brandon Marsh D50  16-09-2012 13-08-56 At the tiny Teal Pool hide, we managed to squeeze between the twitchers. In the distance, 4 herons were busy hunting in the reed bushes. We’d a wonderful view of the Green Sandpipers and Common Snipes feeding along the mudbanks. I was hoping that the Snipes would come closer but it wasn’t to be.Brandon Marsh D300s X14  16-09-2012 14-27-44As we walking down the path back to the car, GH called us saying that a fox was on the Teal bank opposite the East Marsh Hide. We rushed in and saw the handsome beast. He was checking out the birds on the island and they were checking him out too. It was hilarious when we saw a gaggle of Greylags came closer and closer to check the enemy and he’d to dash into the bushes. Thanks GH for alerting us. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  16-09-2012 14-53-10 Summer was nearly over and to cap the season, Andy Murray became the first British player to win a Grand Slam' men’s single titles for 76 years by beating Novac Djokovic. With his thrilling 5-set US Open victory, he was assured of a place in the tennis history books. Coupled with his Olympic gold medal-winning defeat of Roger Federer, his stunning performance completed a golden summer of British sport. Next, Wimbledon 2013. No pressure than :-)
"I don't wanna say goodbye for the summer
Knowing the love we'll miss
Oh let us make a pledge to meet in September
And seal it with a kiss
Guess it's gonna be a cold lonely summer
But I'll fill the emptiness
I'll send you all my love every day in a letter
Sealed with a kiss."
-  Bobby Vinton~
Brandon Marsh D50  16-09-2012 13-06-057

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