Sunday, 28 October 2012

Ah-tishoo, Ah-tishoo

Ring a ring o'roses
A pocketful of posies
We all fall down.
No, I didn’t catch the plague. Spending two days in bed with the lurgy was no fun at all. I caught the Freshers Flu which had been rampaging around the library like a wild bush fire.  What do you expect when you get in contact with thousands of students from all over the world. The weather wasn’t helping either. Not yet cold enough to kill off all the germs, but plenty flying about.  Sore throat, sniffles, coughs, aches and headaches. You name it and I got it. Bleugh…
We were in Tesco and in my basket were paracetamol, vapour rub, tissues and cough syrup. It was a quick shop as around us people were coughing and  sneezing. Help…get me out of here. At home, I slept on Babe’s reclining chair with a hot water bottle for company. As usual, I’d the patio door opened to let some fresh air in and also see if my feathered friends were brave enough to visit. The usual culprits turned up but it was the bushy tails that provided great entertainment.Coventry D3100  20-10-2012 10-09-20
There were 3 Grey squirrels bounding up and down the garden. They were either scrambling up the bird feeder, the rose arch and even the rotary clothes liner where Babe had hung a peanut feeder. I loved it when they draped themselves around the feeder, some very acrobatic moves. Often, they would be chasing each other off. Coventry D3100  20-10-2012 14-49-54As they hopped about on the lawn, I noticed that their graceful, flowing movements were interrupted by brief periods of stillness as they stood up, looking around with their ear-tufts up, listening and sniffing the air for any signs of danger. When they found something interesting, they would sit up on their haunches and holding them in their forepaws, giving it a little nibble and then bounding off to find the perfect spot to bury their treasure. One even bury it in my plant pot. My poor plants…   Coventry D300s X14  07-10-2012 15-24-18I was still not 100% fit but I was back at work on Thursday. I had to be present for the RDA webinar on name authority. My colleagues took the p—s and made me sit on my own at the end of the table. They didn’t want to catch my goodwill :-). It was a very eye-opening webinar because there were a lot of changes that we’d to be aware of, especially for conferences, active dates and uses of occupational qualifiers to distinguish conflicts. There was still so much to learn and discuss.Coventry D3100  16-10-2012 10-35-25 18th October was also marked as St. Luke’s Day. Although he was venerated as the Patron Saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, butchers and students, his name was traditionally been linked to St Luke’s little summer. It was the height of Autumn’s glory and the weather slowly going downhill after that. The temperature was unusually mild and the leaf colours were a patchwork of gold, russet, yellow, red, orange and scarlet. This was the view outside my window. It made me forget my sniffles for a while.Warwick University S40  04-10-2012 13-48-11
Here’s a little prayer for all the singletons out there on St. Luke’s Day
St. Luke, St. Luke
Be kind to me
In my dreams let me
My true love see
On Saturday, we went to Babe’s favourite shop in Leamington Spa. It was very misty on the drive down but it shifted to a lovely day when we were there. We parked on Royal Priory and walked to London Camera Exchange to get Babe’s latest toy a Nikon D800 as a birthday and Christmas present. We spent quite some time in the shop because Babe wanted to do a few tests before we parted with our hard-earned ££££. Then we went back to the car and deposit our latest purchase before checking out the other shops.Coventry S40  21-10-2012 09-46-39
Originally famed for its healing waters, today Leamington was better known for its spectacular regency architecture, excellent shopping, vibrant nightlife and beautifully maintained parks and gardens. We gave the familiar high streets chain a miss all housed in beautiful Georgian architecture and checked out the smaller and independent retailers on the side streets. I bought a beautiful Red Crystal Buckley brooch as support to the British Legion’s vital work for all members of the British Armed Forces past and present, and their families. I shall wear it with pride and will still put a donation in the Poppy Appeal box. I am against war in any shape or form but …
On Sunday, this was the view outside our house. It was another day of thick fog, mist and cloud shrouding the country. We planned to drive down to Slimbridge WWT  because the first sighting of the Bittern was reported. But we waited until it cleared a bit. There was a nip in the air with a hint of mist and mellow fruitfulness lingering. As we drove along the M6, an amazing mist over the roads moved very slowly, giving the countryside an almost ethereal feel, in the weak autumn sunlight. There were road-works here and there and despite the heavy fog, there were some very irresponsible drivers. What a prat.Coventry S40  21-10-2012 09-48-03
In the morning, skies so grey
Before the sun lights up the day,
I chanced upon a morning mist
That left the leaves and grasstips kissed
With the aqua of the dew
It left a feeling with me, too
Something old, something new;
Something that comes with the mist again,
Never what, but always when
~Unknown, Morning mist~
We weren’t surprised that there wasn’t many people about in Slimbridge. It wasn’t a nice day to be out and about. We renewed our WWT membership before continuing our adventure. Our main target was the Zeiss Hide which was at the end of the park. But first, we were greeted with the unusual high-pitched honking calls of the Bewick’s Swans. They should be arriving by the thousands but so far only these were out and about. Slimbridge WWT D50  21-10-2012 12-02-47
We walked briskly towards the Zeiss Hide giving a quick glance around the several zones in case if we spot any migratory birds and waders. Thankfully, the hide was unusually quiet. We took our seats and it was freezing. The mudflats were busy full of teals, lapwings and Black-tail Godwits but no sighting of the elusive bird. Slimbridge WWT D800  21-10-2012 13-45-016
As we walked around the park, we spotted some very unusual sightings. The Trust had laid a special Halloween trail for children. We had a lovely time checking out some of the exhibits. I bet the children enjoyed hunting for the clues which we did. This was supposed to be a Crane’s brain.Slimbridge WWT D50  21-10-2012 13-45-58
Then a pit stop at the South Lake to see if we can spot the Long-billed Dowitcher. We weren’t surprised that the hide was packed with people trying to catch a glimpse of this North American wader. Finally, with the guidance of a very obliging twitcher I finally met the elusive bird. A pity he was asleep and hidden among the 140 Black-tailed Godwits. He was a bit smaller and more colourful.Slimbridge WWT D300s X14  21-10-2012 14-12-24
South Lake was very busy and full of activity. We were amazed to see a few of the Black-tailed Godwits feeding so close to where we were sitting in the hide. They were already in their uniform grey winter plumage. These long-legged, long-billed wader were busy probing for earthworms in the shallow pools. What a wonderful sight.Slimbridge WWT D300s X14  21-10-2012 14-14-00
As I scanned the pool, I spotted a Little Egret looking out of place among the waders. It stood out with its white with black bill, black legs and yellow feet. It was also busy feeding, stabbing its bill to left and right. A joy to watch.Slimbridge WWT D50  21-10-2012 13-59-20
By this time, it was getting quite chilly and we decided to head home. But we just had to check out one of the closest hide, Rushy Hide and we were glad we did. The Pintails had returned from the Tundras. Woo-hoo. The low sunlight highlighted the black long and pointed rear end of the males. Check out the elaborate vermiculated pattern on the back and flanks. A very beautiful bird.Slimbridge WWT D50  21-10-2012 14-30-51
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only tune in.
~George Washington Carver~
And  I’m still sniffling, coughing, aching. I need to get rid of this ASAP so I can get my flu-jab done. It felt bit pointless but you’ll never know what new strain might pop up around the corner. Coventry S40  21-10-2012 09-41-07

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Ode To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
          To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
        With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
  Until they think warm days will never cease,
          For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

~John Keats~Warwick University D3100  10-10-2012 12-30-39For me, there was nothing more evocative in Autumn as the changing leaf colours and fungi. This was the view outside my office. Isn’t it simply stunning? A tapestry of rich colour with shades of yellow and russet. And in the afternoon, the tints shone like burnished copper and all the various shades of yellow, amber and red, glowing golden in the sun where the low beams of sunlight reached them. I couldn’t wait to be out during my lunch break and head out to the woods to revel in the glorious palette.

Warwick University D3100  09-10-2012 12-54-15

Hordes of fungi had sprung up in every corner, alongside the aroma of wet earth and rotting leaves. I wish I knew a lot about foraging because it would be lovely to pick them for dinner. They were everywhere…Warwick University D3100  10-10-2012 12-38-46

I am … a mushroom; On whom the dew of heaven drops now and then.

~John Ford~

These gorgeous views doesn’t stop me from doing my work. I’d been working hard on the Reading lists, e-books, Audit Commission collections, Official and European Union publications and the never ending “urgents”. I’m hoping to finish the Audit Commission collections by the end of the month. I also had to get to grips with RDA, a real pain the a—e. I wanted to do original cataloguing using these new standards but if I’m in a rush, I reverted back to AACR2. Warwick University D3100  10-10-2012 12-34-48

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.

~Elizabeth Lawrence~

On Saturday, we checked out Bradgate Park again but this time we went through The Hallgates (Cropston) entrance. It was the opposite end of the Newton Linford entrance, about 2 miles apart. Since we were quite early, there wasn’t that many cars and it was a tiny car-park. At first we walked along the tarmac but we got closer to the moss covered stone wall when we spotted a few birds landing on it. There were the usual Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch and hang-on, a Redstart. Our first sighting ever Bradgate Park D50  13-10-2012 11-39-49 What a brilliant start for the day. We continued walking along the wall, hoping to catch more new sightings. We didn’t see the feathered kinds but came across these Fly Agaric. This quintessential toadstool, although poisonous, appears on Christmas cards and New Year cards as a symbol of good luck. What a contradiction.Bradgate Park D50  13-10-2012 11-53-44 

“If only one could tell true love from false love as one could tell mushrooms from toadstools.”

~Katherine Mansfield~

Then across the tarmac, below the spectacular display of the season’s vivid colours, we spotted another group of mushrooms in the shade. The smell of fallen leaves, musty and damp, a smell peculiar to Autumn enveloped us as we got busy clicking away.Bradgate Park D7000  13-10-2012 12-00-017

We strolled towards the very busy Deer Barn Tea Room and checked out the nearby field. A herd of Red Deer were having a siesta in the warm sun. We could hear the bellowing, roaring and barking echoing around us but they were not out in the open which was a bit unusual. The stags should be parading themselves, bellowing, bush bashing, antler clashing and stinking their way through out the rut. Bradgate Park D300s X14  13-10-2012 12-48-025  We spotted another herd of Fallow deer on the rocky outcrop. We walked silently past a herd of sleeping deer and spotted several clumps of mushroom on the banks of the bridleway. It was a foragers paradise. It was also a fabulous time for woodland walks, scuffling through the fallen leaves as we made our way towards the herd. Bradgate Park D300s X14  13-10-2012 12-15-042

October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again.
~Hal Borland~Bradgate Park D50  13-10-2012 12-26-30

We were getting quite close to the herd when this huge fallow buck suddenly put his head up and eyed us. OOPs . Very slowly and quietly, we walked towards a tree enclosure and stood behind it as a precaution. It was better to be safe than sorry. Those antlers looked menacing. We decided to stay here until the buck decided to join his family. Phew…then only we continued our adventure.Bradgate Park D300s X14  13-10-2012 12-47-04The views up here were breathtaking. We had a breather and a drink enjoying the spectacular scenery. Flocks of migratory birds flew above us. We could hear Jays calling from the woods. Then we made the slow walk downhill towards the car-park. We  also saw our first Small Copper feeding on the heathers and it also might be the last butterfly we will be seeing this year. We are regular visitors to Bradgate Park and there are still pockets of the park that we’d not seen before. Mind you, the park was 830 acres. Bradgate Park D7000  13-10-2012 13-24-26

Since we had a bit of time left on the ticket, we drove to Newton Linford to see if there were any Jays about. They’d stripped the tree of acorns and as we walked around the majestic oak, all you could hear was the crunch of fallen acorns cracking beneath our feet. A pit stop at Groby Pool revealed nothing and the Buzzard wasn’t at his usual place on the electric pylons.Brandon Marsh D7000  14-10-2012 08-42-40

We made an early morning trip to our favourite playground to catch the mists rising from the reeds. As we drove along the lane, it looked promising as the mist bathed the landscape in an eerie fog. After parking the car, a stunning scene unfurled in front of us as the mist disappeared and the early morning sun illuminated the hundreds of dew bedecked cobwebs. Spiders had been busy weaving overnight their gossamer-like webs across the thistles, bushes and branches. Utterly beautiful…Brandon Marsh D50  14-10-2012 08-52-50

We walked past bushes laden with berries which will provide food for the birds in winter. Hopefully before the Fieldfares and Redwings stripped them bare. We went straight to Baldwin Hide and the mist was still rising when we heard the shrill cries and saw a flash of scarlet blue, make it two, disappearing down the lake among the bushes. My first sighting of a Kingfisher this year and its October. Better late than never huh…An Egyptian Goose and the hybrid goose was fast asleep on the island.Brandon Marsh D50  14-10-2012 09-03-45

We could hear the noisy Widgeons on our way to East Marsh Hide. There were more than 50 of them, drowning the Gulls and Lapwings. We also spotted the Common Snipes, well camouflaged on the opposite bank. And then a whole bus-load entered the hide and the noise was unbelievable!!! We just shook our head and listened to the b---s—t ping-ponging around us. They left after ticking their boxes. Phew!!! And when it was silent, this gorgeous wren popped over to say hello.Brandon Marsh D300s X14  14-10-2012 09-45-057

We decided not to go to Carlton, not with the bus-load about. We popped over to Teal Pool Hide and had the best moment of my life. A Kingfisher was perching on the dead tree at the far end of the pool and watching intently the water below. He was in this position for quite sometime before another intruder flew in. Man…it was like waiting for the bus. For months, I’d not seen anything at all and today 2 turned up. There was a scuffle before the intruder flew into the bushes in front of me. I was grinning from ear to ear. It was my lucky day. We left when both of them flew away. Brandon Marsh D7000  14-10-2012 10-32-18

“The rose petal floats on water. The kingfisher flashes above the pond. Life and beauty swirl in the midst of death.”

~Robert Jordan~

At home, we were back in the garden. There was so much to do in the garden. Babe had purchased the appropriate tools and had lopped off the higher branches and trimmed the bushes.The garden looked a bit bare at the moment but I’m sure it will spruce up in spring.  It was funny because we were being supervised by this adorable  House Sparrow who told Babe off for trimming too much :-)Coventry D300s X14  04-10-2012 10-31-021

And here’s the weather forecast for the coming season. It doesn’t look good.

When leaves fall early,

Fall and winter will be mild;

When leaves fall late

Winter will be severe

I also like to wish a Very Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law. We hoped you’d a lovely, lovely time. God bless.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Blame it on Nadine

Britain braced itself for another barrage of torrential rain, high winds and disastrous flooding which caused widespread damage across large swatches of the country. Yellow warnings were in place for the south western areas and I’m glad that the Midlands were spared. These were the remnants of the Atlantic storm, Nadine, which swept across the country and brought a month’s rain in 24 hours.

If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm

~Frank Lane~

Hurricane Nadine, which became downgraded to Tropical Storm Nadine, was circling the Azores in the Atlantic. There was a battle between warm, moist air to the south interacting with an area of low pressure running towards the south of the UK. This warm air gave the low pressure area a lot of energy as it came into contact with colder air from the north, resulting in the unusual position of the jet-stream and creating some very tumultuous weather. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  01-10-2012 14-46-54

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky.

~Rabindranath Tagore~

And what a wet welcome it was for the students to the new term. The library was buzzing and I got into the midst of things. I officiated the first library tour of the year by introducing a group of new students to the delights of the library. New and the not-so-new students were encouraged to register on-line for “Get Started Sessions”. They chose which date and time that suited them most. Instead of using the lift, I took the students through the scenic tour by using the stairs to walk up to the 3rd. floor. I explained that different floors have different study environments which they need to be aware of. Level 1 and 2 were suited to group work and Level 3-5 were for quiet/serious studying. By the end of the 45 minutes tour, they were given a goody bag in exchange for filling up the feedback forms.

After the hard work, I treated myself to some amazing cakes baked by very talented colleagues. It was for a very good cause. My colleagues and I made time for what matters in life by joining the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Well done to everyone for raising lots of money. What better way to help a great cause than putting the kettle on and tucking into some very tasty homemade cakes.Warwick University S40 F  01-10-2012 10-00-47

It was for a very worthy cause. Everyone knows someone who had cancer in any shape or form. It was said that one in three of us will get cancer and it will be the toughest thing we ever face. And when facing this fight, we need a team of support in your corner with you. Macmillan Cancer Support provide the medical, emotional, practical and financial support. This dedicated team gave cancer sufferers the strength and energy to fight and get through the battle against cancer. What a wonderful and worthwhile cause.

AM and I joined an exercise class held at the Bell Green Community Centre. We have been walking regularly after work for the past few months in a bid to get fitter and lighter. But as the daylight gets shorter, it became harder to find time to walk. The next best solution was to join an exercise class. We were in luck when we found one right on our door step and it only cost us £1 a lesson instead of the normal £5 if you join a gym. Woo-hoo, what a bargain. It was old school exercises, no aerobics or Zumba. Just plain basic movements. But I laughed my head off when Billy Ray Cyrus, Archy Breaky Heart came on. Line dancing to end the session. Yee-ha…

I was intrigued this week when I read about a bell ringing taster session on the Intranet. The Warwick University Bell Ringing Society (WUBRS) hired the Charmborough Mini-ring - a portable bell tower - for a performance beside the Koan sculptures outside the Warwick Arts Centre. These bells were smaller versions of those in English churches. The Society were running demonstrations, answering questions, and inviting interested passers-by to try out ringing a church bell. I didn’t take part but watched the WUBRS in action while enjoying the melodious tinkle echoing throughout the grounds. Warwick University S40 F  02-10-2012 13-58-22

I took the bus to work on Friday because Babe had one of his bad days. About 10 minutes onto the trip, the bus broke down just before the roundabout. The bus driver told us that another bus was on its way from the depot in town. With the rush hour traffic, it was supposed to arrive in 30 minutes. It was raining and it was freezing in the bus. Everyone was so miserable and I was so tempted to nip back to the casa for a cup of coffee. How I wished 007 was around since it was Global James Bond Day.

Global James Bond Day marked 50 years since the first 007 film, Dr No, was released. Bond fans were getting ready for the much anticipated premiere of the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall at the end of the month. And all I want was to get to work in one piece and the bus did arrived at about 8.35 am. The bus driver did his best to get us to work on time but unfortunately we were caught up in the rush hour and arrived at 9.15 am. After reporting for duty, I treated myself to the magnificent 7 fry-up at the library cafe and then only I was ready to face the world.

I took the bus home after work as Babe wasn’t fit enough to drive. I took the first bus into the city centre and it was the number 16 via the Kenilworth road. I got off near the Belgrade Theatre and made my way to M&S to get a birthday card for my mother-in-law. I walked past a toy shop and purchased 2 Olympics memorabilia pen for only £1 each. I also bought 2 packs of plastic spiders which I planned to hang into a curtain for Halloween. I made a pit stop at Primark to check out some duffle coats. I fell in love with one but they only had it in red, black and grey. I was hoping for either purple or patterned. I might check in Matalan in the weekend.

But the weekend was spent at Bradgate Park. We were hoping to see the rutting season in action. As usual, a pit stop at Groby Pool was a must. The water had risen considerably and only the usual residents were out and about. I was quite surprised to see a Red Admiral and a Comma sunbathing. It was still warm enough for them to be out and about.Bradgate Park D50  06-10-2012 10-45-18

Since we were early, the car-park in Bradgate was quite empty. As soon as we walked through the gates, we came across a feeding frenzy. Dozens of Jays were flying in and out of this majestic oak tree  They adore acorns, which they hoard away like a squirrel, a practice that had contributed to the spread of oak woods.Bradgate Park D300s X14  06-10-2012 11-10-027

From bush to bush slow sweeps the screaming Jay

With one harsh note of pleasure all the day”

~John Clare~

Bradgate Park D300s X14  06-10-2012 11-13-14

We were standing right under the tree watching them choosing the acorn. I felt so blessed to get this close to such shy woodland birds. Check out the black moustachial streaks in contrast with its pinkish plumage and intense blue patch on the wing. We were there until our necks creaked. But it was worth the trouble. From time to time, the harsh screeching call trails behind them as they flew away to find the perfect spot to hide their treasure.Bradgate Park D50  06-10-2012 11-05-058

From time to time, we could hear the gruff bellowing of the stags reverberating from somewhere deep in the the forest. I wish they would come out in the open. We haven’t heard the sound of cracking antler against antler either. Solitary deer were seen here and there watching the visitors watching them. We were having a drink soaking up the warm sun when 2 BMNR gang joined us. We’d a wonderful time exchanging tit-bits of what we’d seen. They must have been here very early in the morning because they were on their way home.Bradgate Park D300s X14  06-10-2012 13-10-16

We continued our journey and followed the path that they told us. It was behind Lady Jane Grey’s ruins, below Old John’s folly. We walked to the rocky outcrops where we’d some amazing views of the park. A herd of deer were busy feeding among the bracken. A flock of birds flew in and landed near the outcrop. I crept closer and I think they were Redwings, an early winter migrant.      Bradgate Park D50  06-10-2012 12-43-040

Then a very slow walk downhill. We were surprised to see Lady Jane Grey’s house open. I thought it was close in October. I would love to go in and check out the Little Owls but our parking time was nearly up. As we walked along the River Lin, we came across this Widgeon but I’m positive it wasn’t our favourite bird. I threw in some pieces of bread and it was ignored. And he wasn’t as noisy or bossy as usual. Bradgate Park D50  06-10-2012 13-34-38

On the drive home, I had my camera on my lap. I was hoping to see this Buzzard again at his usual place, perching on the electric pylon. And I was in luck. The traffic lights turned red as we reached the runabout. I was busy clicking the camera to my heart content. What a majestic bird, surveying his kingdom.Roadrip Bradgate Park D50  06-10-2012 14-08-15

Sunday was spent chilling at home. We’d a lot of tidying and clearing up to do in the garden. Babe trimmed a lot of the bushes and shrubs and we only managed to do a fifth of the garden. We’d to get proper gardening tools so that we could do a better job. It was a hard task for Babe and he only managed the lower branches. The vegetable patch was getting very bare although the leeks, curly kale, perpetual spinach and purple kale were still going strong. I’m preparing the top raised bed to plant purple sprouting broccoli. I saw some seedling plugs at the Range last week and was hoping to get some soon.  The artichokes too were doing well and one was even flowering, brightening the garden when everything was beginning to shut down.Coventry S40  02-10-2012 08-09-34

Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?

~Rose Kennedy~

Bradgate Park D300s X14  06-10-2012 12-43-29

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Especially When The October Wind

“There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne~
October arrived, ushered by blustery winds. Subtle tinges of colour in the leaves were beginning to show. It was crisper, almost fresher outside. The scent of the garden was different too. Damp, earthy, musky. The grass was always wet in the early mornings, either from rain or from dew. The air was chill on my face, and thoughts turn to W----r ;-0.
Warwick University S40  03-10-2012 13-43-20
Indoors, my colleagues and I had been busy with more RDA tutorials. We planned to be well-informed and well-instructed with the new standards when it will be unveiled on March 31st 2013. Each of us produced a record filled with as much RDA attributes as we could fit in and explained why we were using it. I did an official publication record and it didn’t look that spectacular. I must try and find a better record next time. We’d the toolkit on-line and we tried to see the difference using the 2 different standards. It was very interesting and we planned to have a monthly tutorial meet-up to keep abreast with all these changes.
We also had our skills tested this week when we were informed that the subject librarians requested that all the books on the Reading Lists should be treated as “urgents”. In this case, it should be ready when the new term start. The major hiccup was that term starts on the coming Monday and we got the news on a Friday!!! I was furious. Everyone and the cat knew when term starts!!! Why wasn’t this planned???  Even if we cleared all these books, about 4 bays of them, they still wouldn’t be out on the shelf because the Processing team finished work by lunch time. Guess, that wasn’t our problem.

My colleagues and I stopped whatever we were doing, rolled up our sleeves and went straight to tackle the mess. Everytime, we completed half a trolley, I called the Processing Team down to collect the books so that they could process them ASAP. I even worked through my lunch hour trying to do as much as possible. By 4.30pm, we only had about 2 trolleys left and that should be completed by Monday. I was really proud of my team. What a magnificent bunch.
I think I deserved a treat after that hard work. So on Michaelmas Day, we made another trip to Slimbridge WWT. It was a lovely drive on a lovely day. But it didn’t last long because we came across major road-works along the M6. It really slowed us down and the worst thing was that there were still bad drivers about, driving like lunatics overtaking from the fast lane to go on to the slip road. Grrr…

Roadtrip Slimbridge WWT D50  29-09-2012 11-41-41
Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day
Want not for money all the year
Slimbridge WWT D50  29-09-2012 13-36-54
had never eaten a goose before and I don’t think I’ll ever eat one. Especially not when I’m photographing the many adorable geese found at Slimbridge. As usual, the car-park was full that we’d to park at the soggy overflow car-park. We chose a different route this time and checked out the hides first. To get to the first hide, we had to walk past the Caribbean flamingo enclosure. The chicks had grown up into gangly teenagers.

Slimbridge WWT D50  29-09-2012 13-27-03
There wasn’t much activity going on at Rushy Hide. Mallards, Teals, Terns, Lapwings were chilling out under the warm autumn sunshine. But then Babe spotted this adorable Little Grebe fishing very close to the hide. What a beauty.
Slimbridge WWT D7000 X14  29-09-2012 12-57-037
We walked on a makeshift walkway over a very muddy path towards the  Martin Smith Hide and Robbie Garnett Hide. Both hides were empty of both people and birds. On the tack, a herd of cattle were feeding on the field. They might have scared off the birds and waders.

Slimbridge WWT D7000 X14  29-09-2012 13-10-13
We continued to the Holden Towers, The first floor was empty but the top floor was packed. There wasn’t a single space. What was going on? We waited for a while and managed to squeeze in between the twitchers. All of them were looking intently through their binoculars and spotting scopes at something in the Severn Estuary. Honestly, I couldn’t identify anything. I did ask someone but he didn’t bother answering me. What a t—t. Later, I found out that they were on a look-out for a  Red-necked Phalarope on the Dumblers floods.

Slimbridge WWT D7000 X14  29-09-2012 13-17-042
We walked back to the visitor centre and headed to the Zeiss Hide. Again, the first floor was empty and a packed top floor. We managed to find a space and checked out what was going on the mudbanks which was bustling with activities.. We saw hundreds of Widgeons, Mallards, Lapwings, Shovelers, Black-tailed Godwits and someone counted 1932 (!!) Teals feeding on the mudbanks. I waited for the 3.15 pm high tide to see if there were any spectacular displays on show. The time came and went and there was nothing. What a let down.

Slimbridge WWT D7000 X14  29-09-2012 14-08-58
By this time, we were both hungry and thirsty. We decided to head back to the car, have our lunch and then check out the rest of the area. After a quick lunch of cheese and onion pasty and washed down with strong, sweet coffee from the thermos, we headed back into the wetland centre. At the bridge, we spotted a pair of Bewick swans having a good wash. Hopefully. more will come during the winter months.

Slimbridge WWT D7000 X14  29-09-2012 13-31-060
Then another a pit-stop at Wader pool. As usual, the Black-winged Stilts, Redshanks and Avocets were having a siesta. The elegant black and white Avocets with its long, upturned bill and bluish legs woke up and started flying. The liquid melodious call woke up the rest of the sleepyheads. Then it started feeding sweeping the splendid bill sideways. They have long pink legs, a long thin black bill and are blackish above and white below, with a white head and neck with a varying amount of black. Slimbridge WWT D300s  29-09-2012 15-21-038

We checked out the South Hide to see if we can get a glimpse of the wintering Long-billed Dowitcher. The conservation team had trimmed the bushes on the island but I still can’t spot him among the 270 Black-tailed Godwits. And I wasn’t alone. There were a lot people there all trying their best to seek this elusive wader. On the lake, there were also Redshanks, Teals, Shovelers, Greylags and Cormorants.

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I don’t know how we missed the turning for the Otter pool. Nevertheless,  we were tickled pink when we arrived at the Flamingo lagoon. As usual the 250 leggy Greater Flamingos were squabbling among themselves. We took the opportunity to check out this spectacular habitat with its sunken observatory where we could see a very unique view through the legs of these mersmerising birds.  This habitat was typical of an African wetland which was perfect for them to roost and nest and I couldn’t wait to see them again when they started breeding.
Slimbridge WWT D300s  29-09-2012 15-56-08
At the Otter pool, we missed their feeding time, again. But we stayed on and watched the playful family earning their keep, entertaining the crowd and swimming from one end of the pool to the other. We spotted one scrounging among the bushes and came out dragging a huge salmon’s head. I think their keeper must have hidden the food in the bushes to encourage the otters to hunt for their food as they do in the wild.

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Sunday was spent chilling in. The trip to Slimbridge had taken its toll for both of us. After a very nice long lie-in, we did our weekly shopping at Asda and bought a huge bag of peanuts and bird-seeds for our feathered friends from The Range. So far only the House sparrows, Robins, Wood pigeons, Starlings, Collared Doves, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Blue and Great Tits have been coming regularly. Not forgetting the squirrels. It was also lovely to see the Starlings making regularly use of the bird-bath.

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I also tried a new recipe. I bought a packet of red bean paste from the Korean shop and made my first ever Steamed buns. I’m chuffed to bits that it tasted exactly like the shop-bought ones Woo-hoo. I need to learn to make the twist at the top of the bun a bit neater. Guess I need to make the buns again. I don’t mind because they were delicious. 
Coventry S40  30-09-2012 18-21-17
1 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup bao/ pao flour (you can substitute with all purpose flour but the buns will take on a yellowish tinge)
1/2 cup self-raising flour
3 tsps of melted butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup of red bean paste

1.  In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 2 tbsps warm water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp of bao flour.  Mix well to get rid of the lumps, cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until frothy, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut up 12 squares of baking paper (3 inches by 3 inches) for placing the buns on while steaming
2.  In a large bowl, sift the remaining all-purpose flour and self-raising flour.  Add in the rest of the sugar, the yeast mixture, the warm water and melted butter.  Use a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. 
3.  Prepare a floured working surface.  Turn out the soft dough and start kneading with your hands until smooth and elastic, this should take at least 10 minutes.  The dough should not be too sticky.  Dust with extra bao flour as needed. 4.  Prepare an oiled bowl and place the dough into it.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to proof for at least 1 hour or until doubled.  Note that it will take longer usually to proof in colder and drier climate. 5.  Punch down dough to remove the air.  Prepare a floured working surface.  Knead the dough briefly for 5 minutes.  Roll the dough into a log.  Meanwhile, prepare a wok for steaming, by the time you finish sealing the buns, the water should be boiling rapidly and you can immediately steam the buns.
6.  Divide the dough into 12 portions roughly.  Take one portion of dough, knead with your hands lightly and form into a ball.  Flatten the ball with your hands and press down with your thumb in a circular motion. 7.  Spoon about 1 1/2 tsps of red bean paste into the middle of the flattened dough.  Seal the dough by gathering the edges together and gently twist to seal.  Place the bun, seal-side down onto the prepared baking paper squares. Steam the buns over high heat (covered) for about 15 minutes. 

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.
~Dylan Thomas~

Roadtrip Slimbridge WWT D50  29-09-2012 11-56-42