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



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