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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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