Friday, 30 November 2012


Warwick University S40  13-11-2012 14-37-07

I’d made a long list of plans. Things to do, friends to meet, places to see. And everything collapsed. I woke up on Friday (many, many moons ago) with a massive headache and then I began spluttering, sneezing and coughing and coughing, non-stop. Oh holy s—t. After a quick shower and early morning prayers, I started wheezing and feeling clammy. I croaked to Babe that I’m too ill to go to work. I called in sick. I’d taken the afternoon off to have my flu jab done and my eyes tested. I was gutted. I called the surgery to cancel the flu jab and made an emergency appointment to see a doctor.

After a light breakfast, I doused myself with paracetamol and cough syrup, and took a nap in Babe’s reclining chair with a hot water bottle and vapour rub for company. I was so exhausted and had a very sleepless night. Thankfully, I managed to have a very short nap but woke up still tired and stuffed. Everytime I moved, I’d coughing fits which was hard on my tummy muscles. Babe dropped me at the surgery and called him after I’d seen the doctor.

Sitting in the reception was tough. Everyone around me was coughing, spluttering sneezing and checking each other with sorrowful eyes. A healthy person will definitely fall sick sitting among this lot. I’m glad Babe wasn’t here. It would be difficult if both of us fall ill at the same time especially when Babe wasn’t in the best of health.  The lovely doctor told me that my chest was rattling hard and I’d a chest infection. I was given antibiotics and an inhaler to help ease my symptom, plus the usual plenty of rest and fluids. I called Babe and we went to Boots to collect my prescriptions and purchase more cough syrup, paracetamol and tissues. It was going to be a long week.Warwick University S40  13-11-2012 14-43-24

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.

~Irish proverb~

I spent the week feeling very sorry for myself. I was achy and tired. The nasty cough was really difficult to shift and once I started, it was difficult to stop. I’d been deaf, no sense of smell and taste and fumbling around the casa like the walking dead. I’m tired all the time. God…I’m whinging. My brain seemed to have gone to mush. No one dared to pop over except for this cheeky fella and then he was only for the peanuts :-).Coventry D3100  19-11-2012 13-23-13I’m trying to remember what I’d been doing many, many moons ago before I succumbed to this horrible lurgy. Gosh… it felt like ages. I think I started the week very positive with the mid-term annual review. My manager and I went through the aims that I’d written down and how many boxes I’d ticked. I must  admit that I rushed through the Audit Commission Collections and managed to complete it a few days before the meeting. I was chuffed to bits :-).

CC and I also celebrated Diwali, the Festival of Lights, at the Royal Bengal in Earlsdon. I am not a big fan of Indian food, unless it offered thali. In Hindi, it meant plate and it was an Indian meal made up of a selection of various dishes, usually served in small bowls on a round tray. I’d the chicken curry, lamb curry, vegetable bhaji, tandoori chicken, sheekh kebab with pilau rice and garlic nan bread. We started the meal with huge poppadums and several chutneys and washed down with a mug of milky tea. English oldies interspersed with Bollywood songs were piped around us. Would I come again? I think not. The service was superb. It was just that I’d eaten better thali than this.

Islamic New year 1434 fell on Thursday. Muharram was the first month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims took time on the first day of the month to reflect on their lives and to think how they can improve them. Some Muslims fast during the hours of daylight on the ninth and 10th or first, 10th and 11th days to commemorate that Noah left the ark and that God saved Moses from the Egyptians. Shi'a Muslims beat or whipped themselves as part of a mourning ritual for Husayn ibn Ali (grandson of the Prophet Muhammad SAW) on the Day of Ashura. I salute the religious leaders who encouraged Muslims that felt that they should lose some blood on this day to donate blood to the blood transfusion service. That was a very modern attitude towards ancient rituals. Well-done.

I didn’t cast my vote for the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). And I wasn’t alone. It was the lowest turnout. Maybe the reason people didn’t vote was they didn’t understand the purpose of the role, they didn’t want the role, they never asked for the role! Or choosing not to vote was their vote. For me the millions would be better spent on more local police station hours, more police officers on the beat, more victim support units and increased police budgets.

While I was resting, Babe took the opportunity during the lull in the atrocious weather to check out the natives at our favourite playground. How I wished I could tag along. When Babe returned from his short trip, he told me that he’d met M & K who we’d not seen for ages. I’m glad they were ok. Babe took several lovely shots of the very elusive Water-rail dashing among the reeds outside East Marsh hideBrandon Marsh D300s X2  18-11-2012 14-36-017Babe also started putting dog food out for the foxes when he spotted a vixen out and about in the garden during broad daylight. She must have been very hungry to be seen during the day time. We put the food out before we went to bed. It was a fight to prevent the cats from polishing the food first. Babe had installed the webcam again and we watched them slowly skulking in from the warm comfort of our bedroom. It was quite tough too when I’d one of my coughing fits. Foxes had very sharp hearing and a slight sound… and they were gone. But they returned again. Coventry D300s X2  21-11-2012 15-06-35

Shake paws, count your claws,
You steal mine, I'll borrow yours.
Watch my whiskers, check both ears.
Robber foxes have no fears.
~Brian Jacques~

Everything in the garden had been battered by the horrendous weather conditions. But I’d a very nice surprise when I spotted the Peacock Orchids blooming. I’d potted them about 3 years ago and this was the first time they bloomed. I’d given up on them because they were supposed to bloom between July and September. Better later than never, huh!!! The flowers had a light, clean fragrance like mild soap. Not that I can smell anything. Coventry S40  18-11-2012 10-12-44We’d been eating rubbish like cheese sandwiches, doughnuts, sausages, pasties and burgers. I blame my taste buds, dulled from taking the different medication. We supplemented our rations with grapes, oranges and one of our favourite, persimmons. Before I fell ill, I managed to bake this tomato and onion focaccia. I still need to get grips with the kneading techniques.  Coventry S40  12-11-2012 19-50-19

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd druther not.

Mark Twain

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Wild Geese of Martin Mere

Last night when skies were still,
Slept, sunk in deepmost night,
Beneath the sinking moon
The wild geese passed in flight.

 Martin Mere D300s X14  10-11-2012 12-24-47

Their whirring, beating wings
Flow southward through the dark,
Deep stillness after them
Only the soul might mark.

Martin Mere D300s X14  10-11-2012 12-26-045 

The changing of the year,
The coming breath of cold,
Along the Grampian slopes
The birches will be gold.

Martin Mere D300s X14  10-11-2012 12-24-55 

Snow upon Eskdalemuir
And, where wild pigeons brood,
The aspens all in flame
Fringing the Ord Bain wood

 Martin Mere D300s X14  10-11-2012 12-46-37

Will burn in scarlet leaves.
The clearing glows at night,
Cairngorm is crowned with snow,
The whirring wild geese flight

 Martin Mere D800  10-11-2012 14-31-38

Went by in solitude
'Neath a low orange moon.
The summer hush has gone,
The wind will change its tune.

 Martin Mere D800  10-11-2012 12-24-30

Heather and birch and pine,
Three wild and lovely things,
And all the taste of them
Swift on those passing wings.

Martin Mere D3100  10-11-2012 15-17-30

~M.C. Adamson, The Wild Geese~

This was our second trip to Martin Mere WWT. It was just too far for us to go to as often as we liked and our annual trip was truly one of our guilty pleasures. We got up early to make the 3+ hours journey up north. We made certain that we were not driving on the tol road which we accidently went on last year.

As soon as we parked the car, we were greeted with flocks upon flocks of geese flying overhead in their v-formation. My heart was bursting and I was grinning from ear-to-ear. It moved my heart in a vey special way. I felt very sorry for this adorable wagtail who felt left out when we kept our cameras pointing overhead. Martin Mere D3100  10-11-2012 12-07-04As we walked towards the hides, our senses were assaulted with the sound of thousands of honking, whooping, yelping, trumpeting and quacking. This was even before we saw them. When we walked past the In Focus shop, a few photographers rushed out of the hide shouting Common Crane, Common Crane. We looked up and there it was, the third sighting so far of the year. Wow what a start. Unfortunately, it didn’t land and flushed up thousands of Pink Feet as it went. We were rewarded with the sight and sound of a major feathered flypast.Martin Mere D300s X14  10-11-2012 12-20-049

We managed to get a seat in the nearly-full Swan Link Hide. When we looked out, the lake was heaving with wildfowl and waders.  Among the 5k Pink-footed geese, 1.5k Whooper swans, 1k Lapwings, we spotted hundreds of Shelducks, Mute swans, Canada Geese, Mallards, Wigeons, Pintails, Moorhens, Greylags, Teals, Pochards, Goldeneyes, Galdwalls and Tufted ducks. We just don’t know where to point the camera. But this adorable Ruff caught our attention.Martin Mere D300s X14  10-11-2012 14-25-39Since the feeding time was at 3 pm, we took the opportunity to check out the waterfowl gardens. Since most of the inhabitants were identical to the ones in Slimbridge, we wanted to see the ones that we’d not seen before. The inhabitants were much more tame and you can get very close to them. Expect for this Bufflehead ducks which were hidden under the shrubs.Martin Mere D800  10-11-2012 13-24-54We also checked out this adorable family of Asian short-clawed otters. Their enclosure was in the oriental area of the wildlife gardens and had been carefully designed both on land and in the water to allow the otters to express their natural behaviour. It included areas for digging, grooming, climbing, foraging, bathing, swimming, resting and sleeping. We stood on top of the enclosure watching them interacting among themselves. They were a joy to watch.Martin Mere D3100  10-11-2012 13-40-45We made our way back to the Swan Link Hide early to get the best seat in the house. We’d cheese and onion pasties for lunch while waiting for show-time. Meanwhile, squadrons of Pink-footed geese were filling the sky, their bellies full from a day’s foraging, coming to the lakes to roost. They wheel around swarming in unison, the sky got darker and darker and slowly, they dropped down by the mudbanks. As the sky faded, the noise became deafening. Martin Mere D800  10-11-2012 15-02-022 Then the party started. We could see the wildfowl swimming closer and closer towards the bank. And at exactly 3 pm, the cacophony began as thousands honk, clamour, jostled and pushed forward as scoops of seeds were thrown by the warden. It was spectacular and simply an unforgetable experience to see them this close. Martin Mere D3100  10-11-2012 15-09-51After a lovely day, it was time to head home. Overhead, more and more geese were flying in to roost. We could hear the deafening noise from the car-park. We wished them Bonn nuit and hoped to see them again next year, same time, same place, Insyallah. Martin Mere D3100  10-11-2012 12-14-044

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Frost by Midnight

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud, -and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,

Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange

And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.

Methinks its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,

Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

~Samuel Taylor Coleridge ‘Frost at Midnight~

Jack Frost paid us a visit last night. Everything in the garden sparkled in the morning sun as if diamond dust had fallen while we slept. It was freezing but very pretty. These Ornamental Cabbages summarised things beautifully. Coventry S40  06-11-2012 09-03-38When we came home in the evening, there was a huge bonfire in someone’s garden which was at the back of our casa. What a contrast to the frost we’d in the morning. For 400 years, bonfires marked the failed Gunpowder Plot. Bless him, that poor Guy Fawkes. The dark cold night was punctuated with the sounds of shrieking rockets, fireworks lighting up the sky and the air thick with the smell of a myriad of explosions and sulphur . Babe and I took turns to check our car in case any rockets landed on its soft-top roof. Thankfully, nothing came close.

We celebrated the Bonfire night with a very hearty chilli bean soup with cheesy garlic bread for dinner. It surely beat hands down the burnt sausages and baked potatoes often associated with Bonfire nights. AM and I went for our exercises class which was on hold while I was battling the lurgy. But when we arrived the gates was locked and the centre was in darkness. Huh??? I guess it was cancelled and everyone was having their own garden party. Since we were already properly attired, we had a quick stroll around the housing estate, oohing and aahing as the fireworks brightened the sky and rockets whizzed past us.Coventry D3100  03-11-2012 17-02-56

My male colleagues were looking a bit rough and unkept this month. During November each year, Movember was responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. It was for a very worthy cause. The aim of which was to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Good luck to all the very brave male staff members taking part. So far no VanDyck, Soul Patch, full beard, Goatee, or Wiggins-esque sideburns had been seen yet.

Babe and I also went for our first trip this year to one of our favourite places on earth, Donna Nook in Lincolnshire. The seals were back and we were itching to see them again when we saw photographs of them circulating in Flickr. We went on a week day to avoid the en masses that would be there on a weekend. Somehow the GPS took us on a different route through a newly-built road system. It was shorter but it felt longer.Roadtrip Donna Nook D3100  08-11-2012 10-18-11We weren’t surprised at all to find the small parking bay full. Thankfully, someone was just leaving. The red flag was fluttering which meant that the jet fighters will be out and about, doing target practice as Donna Nook was owned by the MOD as a bombing range. Quite remarkable that the seals weren’t undisturbed by these planes. Since these killer-machines were doing their practice run, we took the opportunity to photograph them first. The seals weren’t going anywhere. Check out those water-vapours.Donna Nook D800b  08-11-2012 12-11-033The first thing we noticed was the new double fence that stretched along the sand-dunes. Last year a huge tidal wave surged across the dunes dragging and separating the pups from their mothers. Visitors were warned not to come whilst a major operation was carried out to clear the debris and allowing  pups and mothers to be reunited. When we looked now, we could not believe that such massive destruction had occurred. That was Mother Nature in action.Donna Nook D800  08-11-2012 12-11-020We continued walking along the fences. Strewn along the sand-dunes and mudbanks were the cows and their young white pups. The first few adult seals had arrived on the 22nd of Oct. and some pups were born a week later. When we were there, there were  348 bulls, 642 cows and 444 pups. As more seals haul on to the beaches, more pups will be born. We planned to come again when 1k pups were counted. Donna Nook D3100  08-11-2012 12-45-05We didn’t witnessed any births but we were lucky to see a new born pup making its first contacts with its mother. It was a picture of harmony. Just us, the cows and the pups. These pups were cute bundles of fur when they were they born, adorable and highly photogenic. And they do cry mama, which sounded surprisingly human, quite eerily. Many die in their first year but that, unfortunately, was nature and the natural world.Donna Nook D3100  08-11-2012 13-11-05 The female seals gave birth to one pup and they suckled for three weeks. The milk was so rich that they will triple their weight during that time. When the pups have been weaned, the females were in season and ready for breeding and one of nature's great spectacles - the bull fight - seal style will commence. At the moment, the males had chosen to bid their time, just lazing about in the sun, huffing, groaning, scratching and arguing.Donna Nook D3100  08-11-2012 12-57-14We enjoyed the amazing spectacle, listening for the many different sounds of the Grey Seals ranging from the almost bloodcurdling calls of the adults to the new born pups calling for their mums. From time to time, the peace was broken when another fighter jet screamed over the beach on another practice dummy run. Flocks of starlings, Brent geese, Lapwings and other unidentified flocks were seen swirling along the beaches. And to our utmost delight, a male Marsh Harrier, whizzed past. Woo-hoo, our first ever sighting here. Check out the their hunting method of low-level flight. Donna Nook D300s X14  08-11-2012 12-34-054We went back to the car to warm our cockles and fill our growling bellies. The weather was beginning to turn. Grey clouds were beginning to gather and it was getting very blustery, not forgetting freezing. We ate our sandwiches and washed down with steaming hot coffee, hmm heaven, while planning our next move. Usually, we will go back again but decided against it. We’ve a long drive home ahead of us and I’m back at work the next day. Anyway, we will be returning again.Donna Nook D3100  08-11-2012 13-02-29 On Saturday, we went for another long drive. This time to the north-west We must be loco. We were going to check out one of Lancashire’s hotspot, Martin Mere WWT. We’d such a wonderful and memorable time here and I think it needed its own separate posting. Roadtrip Martin Mere D3100  10-11-2012 11-32-44On Sunday, after doing the laundry, I took the bus into the city-centre with my enamel poppy proudly pinned on my lapel. Babe was too exhausted after our trip and needed to recover. I still have a bit of battery-power left ;-). I wanted to check out the poppy drop at West Orchards for Remembrance Sunday.  It was one of the rare Remembrance Sundays when the day coincided with the date commemorated, the original Armistice Day of 11 November 1918. This was also the first time when no first world war veteran remained to bear witness: Florence Green, who served as a mess steward at RAF bases and died last spring aged 110, was the last known survivor.

Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November, was the day traditionally put aside to remember all those who have given their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoyed today. On this day people across the nation paused and fell silent to reflect on the sacrifices made by our brave Service men and women. Even the constant background chatter of Twitter was hushed – if not silenced. The British Legion said 11 million people had signed up to its pledge not to tweet during the two minutes' silence. Just before and after 11am the subject was trending – although @Eliota_Sapolu tweeted in exasperation: "#RememberanceSunday is trending. You could at least remember how to spell remembrance."  Oops…

By the time I arrived, it was 10.50 am. The service was held in the yellow corner of Level 3 and the Centre had turned off the escalators and the lift. I walked up to the 2nd level and was trying my best to see the proceedings. Unfortunately, the Xmas decorations were already up and obstructing my view. A welcoming speech was read out, followed by poems from local school children and prayers by a local minister. The haunting sounds from a bugler of the Last Post permeated throughout the building brought tears to a lot of people, moi included. This followed by a two minute silence when 4K red delicate poppies dropped from the above. Totally mersmerising and amazing.Coventry D3100  11-11-2012 10-56-49 My only rant was the presence of the glittering, blinging Xmas decorations which was in contrast to the very sombre occasion. The shopping complex knew that they were hosting the ceremony. They could have put the decorations up after the ceremony.  I think next year, I will be at the Memorial Park where a memorial service and parade was held. It was a more suitable place to remember the debt we owed to the men and women who gave their lives so that we can live the life we wanted and also of the men and women still serving.Coventry D3100  11-11-2012 11-00-11Life is precious, and war is a senseless waste. Yet, every year, thousands of soldiers are sent to far-off battlegrounds to fight these wars. We need to see reason beyond war and communal conflict.

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!

Maya Angelou



Saturday, 10 November 2012

Double, double toil and trouble

Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble
Double, double, toil and trouble
Something wicked this way comes.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing

Act IV, Scene 1 from Macbeth (1606) by William Shakespeare

Nobody knocked on our door. I was looking forward to greet any tricksters in my witch hat and skeleton gloves. I guess even ghosts, witches and vampires were scared of the rain. It was a horrible night to be out and about.Coventry D3100  03-11-2012 15-47-17 

Home is where the haunt is

The weather wasn’t going to stop me enjoying the yumminess that Halloween had brought to the table. I got to fulfil my annual pumpkin fix. They were so cheap in the supermarket. It was death by pumpkin. So far I had made stuffed pumpkin and my first pumpkin pie which was utterly to die for. I have another pumpkin on the table and I’m planning pumpkin soup, muffins and pie again because it was really delicious.Coventry D3100  03-11-2012 16-51-44

The traffic had been horrible on Tuesday. We were inching along Kirby Corner for nearly 30 minutes which normally took us 5 minutes. We were cold, hungry and thirsty and decided to detour to Cannon Park for some refreshments and, fingers-crossed, the traffic will be gone by then. And we weren’t alone. Quite a few people decided to do the same thing. We did a bit of shopping and was delighted when the Danish pastries were reduced to only 15 pence!!!. We picked a few packs, got a carton of apple juice and sat in the car, enjoying our feast while watching the still queuing traffic.

After demolishing the pastries, it was time to join the queue.  And about 10 minutes later, we found the culprit. A bus had broken down right in front of the traffic lights and the sensor had detected it. This meant that the light changes every few minutes, letting only 2-3 cars through. The best thing was that although everyone could see what was wrong, no one drove through the red light. I salute the British attitude although we arrived home at 7.30 pm when the usual time was at 6 pm.

I nearly missed the ISWG meeting. HI came to my office to remind me. Oops… I ran up 4 stairs and arrived breathless, just in time. After settling down, the meeting began. We welcomed a new member to the group, KH. It was a short meeting because 2 of our members from Customer Service were needed at their service points by 10 am. Our main agenda was to revamp and resurrect the ISWG Library Strategy for International Students. which we hoped to produce next year.

This week we’d another party for SC’s retirement. She was leaving the library after 20 long years of service. The table was groaning with delicious finger foods  and we’d a lovely time polishing them up. We also raised a glass to wish her congratulations because she recently tied the knot. Wow…what a way to start her retirement. Unfortunately no photographs because I’d forgotten my camera. Doh…

On Friday, we popped over to Kenilworth after office to check out Waitrose. We’d not been here for ages although it was only 10 minutes away. Traffic jams and limited parking stopped us from going there. But we’d to bite the bullet because I’m searching for agar-agar. I wanted to make marshmallows and had been hunting high and low for the blasted ingredient. We managed to squeeze the car in the very tiny parking lot. We quickly browsed the pricey shelves before getting what we came here for. I got a pack of sushi, Clearspring agar-agar flakes, Taylor and Colledge Organic vanilla bean extract and a Helston Hidden Clementine Xmas pudding which I’m reserving for the festive season

I spent the weekend chilling at home. I de-cluttered a lot of clothes and I’ve got a bag for the charity shops. I cleared a space under the kitchen cabinet for a washing machine and brought the gardenias into the house to over-winter. The garden feeder was busy with our feathered friends and the bushy-tails. We still need to do more clearing up in the garden. Babe scattered peanuts in their shells for the bushy-tails and they really appreciated it.Coventry D7000 x14  06-11-2012 09-54-04

On Sunday, after doing the shopping, we made another late evening trip to our favourite playground. We found out that at least 5k starlings have joined together for the mumuration display. I’m soo looking forward to that. We made a pit stop at East Marsh Pool to see if the female Redhead Smew was around. She was somewhere in the lake but it was too dark to see.Brandon Marsh D800  04-11-2012 17-15-037

We then walked straight to Carlton Hide and waited and waited. At 3.55 pm, the first flock flew in. Then more and more joined in putting on another mesmerising performance as they wheeled and swooped in unison, creating dark shape shifting clouds and appeared to move as though they were a single being. The noise and sight of seething masses of thousands of birds swirling like a shoal of herring above the Warwickshire skies made this among the most spine tingling of scenes that I’d ever seen.Brandon Marsh D800  04-11-2012 17-01-001

It was feathered fantastic. The din of thousands of squeaking voices, the whirr of wings tearing through the air and the giddy rotation of the perpetually swirling smoke of birds was for me one of the most awesome wildlife experiences. The smaller congregation or “moots” flew in from different directions and joined the liquid amoeba, swelling in numbers. Then they began raining down into the reeds and … the sky was empty. Late strays flew straight into the reeds to join the flock.  How I wished that I could see them huddled together, whispering in the darkness, catching up with things. Bonn nuit, my feathered friends.  Brandon Marsh D800 DX  04-11-2012 16-55-062

I came across this sculpture during one of my walks. Around Zero by Michael Stallard was one of the three new sculptures that had recently joined the University Art Collection and had taken up residence across campus. All three works had been donated by Eric and Jean Cass through the Contemporary Art Society. It was fun wandering around campus trying to locate them. I spotted this between the Senate House and the Mosque. I had seen the second and still hunting for the third. That should be fun.Warwick University S40  01-11-2012 15-13-50

This week we received news that WFP became a daddy again. The stork flew in and dropped a bundle of blue. Congratulations and he kept that quiet…

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Arctic blast

This week was the last week of British Summer Time. And as we moved the clocks back for winter, cold weather swept in across Britain, with an Arctic blast from Iceland, bringing snow, ice, flooding and bitter gales.. Significant snowfall hit parts of Scotland, including the Highlands, north east, Central, Tayside and the Borders. The first snow showers of the Autumn were brought by a short blast of very cold Arctic air. Lucky sods :-)

The mercury plummeted to near freezing in many areas with daytime temperatures 15C lower than this time last year. The cold nights were set to get even longer when the country turns back the clock by an hour on Sunday. The change meant darker evenings, which will remain until the clocks are put forward again at the end of March next year.  Soon, I’ll be leaving for work in the dark and coming home in the dark.

After a storm, comes a calm

~Matthew Henry~

I spent the first 2 days of the week at home trying my best to get rid of the overstaying lurgy. I’m fatigued, my muscles ached, a very stuffy nose, headaches and cough fits. The only solution was to stay at home to rest and recuperate. I spent the days sleeping, drinking lots of fluids, reading. Just chilling out. The weather wasn’t helping either. It was horrible and muggy and hopefully the Arctic blast will blow away the days of thick fog, mist and cloud, taking my lurgy with it.

There is nothing short of staying at home for real comfort

~Jane Austin~

I also had an appointment with the hospital at 11 am which was the worst possible time. The bottle-neck traffic all queuing for a parking space. If we come early, there was the exorbitant parking charges. Since it was only a minor check-up, Babe gave me a lift and I walked in. After my check-up, I called him and waited at the bus-stop. Easy-peasy.  I was pleased to know that the authorities were building another car-park to ease the congestion. Just as long as they don’t raise the parking charges. People go to the hospital for a reason!

We also checked out the huge sport shop that was just recently opened at the Arena Park. I think it was a missed opportunity for the company not to have opened in summer to take advantage of the Olympics where thousands of people from around the world were in Coventry. It was a huge warehouse and we spent a lovely time checking out what was on offer. The prices were quite reasonable. Babe had his sight on a pair of boots while I bought a water-bottle.

Although still not 100% fit, I still slogged to work, coughing, spewing sneezes and my nose looking like Rudolph, raw from the continuous rubbing. My eyes glazed over as I stared at the screen. I had to attend the RDA E-forum. I booked the seminar rooms for the 2 days forum. My colleagues and I spent the day doing the exercises recommended by the CIG, checking and rechecking the rules and name authority, and e-mailing them back to the forum. We then went through the exercises that the other organizations had submitted for comparison.

On Friday, I could barely got out of bed. I was soo exhausted and felt sicker than before. I trudged downstairs with a seriously stuffy head and a throat that was on fire Oh no!!! I called work and informed that I’m not coming in. I need to rest and get back on my feet ASAP. After having a drink and dosing myself with cough syrup and paracetamol, I joined Babe in bed again with a hot water bottle. After 3 hours, I woke up feeling much better. After a quick wash, a big mug of steaming coffee and toast, I was able to think and see straight.

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.

Satchel Paige (1906 - 1982)

I called my parents in Malaysia to wish them Haj Mubarak. Celebrated about 2 months after Eid, on the 10th day of Zulhijah, the 12th month of the Muslim calendar, it marked the end of the pilgrimage period. Eid Al-Adha  commemorates when God appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience. As Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, God stopped him and gave him a sheep to kill in place of his son.  Around the world, Muslims slaughtered livestock in remembrance, giving the meat to the poor.  

Bradgate Park D50  27-10-2012 13-22-44 On Saturday, we made another trip to Bradgate Park. We badly needed some fresh air and stretched our legs. We wrapped up like the Michelin man and although the sun was out, it was freezing and very windy. I think the rutting season was over because we didn’t hear any bellowing at all. We spotted the solitary deer, here and there.Bradgate Park D50  27-10-2012 13-09-06

As usual, we scanned the river to see if our favourite Widgeon was around. There were plenty of Mallards and Gulls frolicking in the water but no Widgeon in sight. I guess he was having a little snooze somewhere among the reeds. And I spotted this adorable Little Grebe in its winter colours swimming merrily, diving from time to time.Bradgate Park D50  27-10-2012 13-12-014

When we looked towards Lady Jane Grey’s ruins, we saw it was opened. We thought that it was closed in winter. We walked briskly across the fields towards the compound. We went to the back of the house to see if any unusual birds had flown. But not today. A herd of deer were checking us out as we crept closer to them. We stopped on our tracks when we heard a grunt and a bellow. Oops…And this handsome buck appeared from the bracken. We very s-l-o-w-l-y walked away. Phew…Bradgate Park D50  27-10-2012 13-50-17

We had a drink and something to eat when we were ambushed by these two. They come running when they heard the rustling of the biscuit packets. It was hilarious and quite difficult to eat. We’d to bribe them with a jammy biscuit to leave us alone. Bradgate Park D800 X14  27-10-2012 15-00-40

We also checked out the herd in the main field. A few bucks were about but they kept mostly to themselves. They were enjoying the bright but very chilly sunshine. Flocks of birds were seen flying around the park. The migration season has begun.Bradgate Park D800 X14  27-10-2012 15-23-009

On Sunday, we were at our favourite playground to see if the Whooper Swans were still around. Unfortunately, they only stayed for a day before flying to greater pastures. We chatted with H who was also there for the swans. We walked through the forest and came across loads of rain-soaked swollen fungus. When we walked past Goose Pool, I spied this handsome Jay hunting among the undergrowth.Brandon Marsh D50  28-10-2012 13-41-01

Then we threaded slowly along the muddy path towards Baldwin Hide. A pair of Golden Eye, the first winter arrival, was  busy diving around the lake.The drake was so striking with its shiny green large doomed head, bright yellow eye and white face patch. They looked fabulous when the sunlight reflected off their plumages.Brandon Marsh D300s X14  28-10-2012 13-56-11

Or sadly listen to the tuneless cry

Of fishing gull or clanging golden eye”

~George Crabble (!754-1832~

The Egyptian Goose was fast asleep in the middle of the island among the noisy lapwings, starlings and gulls. A Cormorant was swimming very close to the hide, diving and fishing. But my highlight was when this adorable hybrid goose made a very slow fly-past in front of me. Woo-hoo.Brandon Marsh D300s X14  28-10-2012 14-19-034

At East Marsh hide, hundreds of Widgeons were making themselves heard. We could see more Black-Headed gulls continuing to arrive, alongside the Yellow-legged, Herring, Common and Lesser Black Backed. Then we headed to Carlton Hide to see if the Barn Owl will make an appearance. As the Warwickshire sky gradually deepened from yellow to orange and finally red, we spotted flocks of starlings flying in from all directions and melting together like mercury to form an enormous swirling flock.Brandon Marsh D50  28-10-2012 16-27-16

This spectacle known as “murmuration”. As others join in, the flock was transformed into an immense super-organism in which each individual became subordinated to a breathtaking aerial dance. They swirl and wheel in looping, fluid shapes creating amazing shapes across the early evening sky. Back and forth they twisted like an out-of-place tornado, shimmering dark then light as they turned drifting like a plume of smoke before suddenly, when it was too dark to see, it ended.Brandon Marsh D50  28-10-2012 16-22-34

As if sucked down a drain, part of the flock rained down to earth and was gone, swallowed by the reeds. The rest billowed up and down again and more cascaded into the roost. Bit by bit, the airborne flock dwindled until the last group dived in cover. The reeds were alive with chatterings. It was time for company, warmth, security and a bit of gossip.Brandon Marsh D50  28-10-2012 16-27-49

The king forbade my tongue to speak of Mortimer. But I will find him when he is asleep, and in his ear I’ll holler ‘Mortimer!’ Nay I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak nothing but Mortimer, and give it to him to keep his anger still in motion. 

(Henry IV, Part I, William Shakespeare)

It was also Babe’s birthday. Happy birthday, darling. We’d a chill-out celebration as I was still recovering from my lurgy. Thankfully, Babe didn’t catch any. I made a nut roast and a traditional Malay layer sweet called Kuih Lapis which I also made extra for my colleagues. Unfortunately no photographs. That showed how bleurgh I was feeling.

Darling, may you have

A sunbeam to warm you.

A moonbeam to charm you

A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you

~Irish Blessing~

Coventry D3100  03-11-2012 15-48-20 My winter flowering Jasmine in full bloom.