Sunday, 17 February 2013

February’s Fair-maid

Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid,
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!


Coombe Abbey CP D3100  16-02-2013 14-12-41 February was snow-drop show time. What prettier sight, what more heartening sight could one see than the dainty snowdrops with their shyly hanging head, making an appearance. The blanket of snow which coated so heavily on the ground had barely disappeared when the tiny white flowers suddenly sprung up to take its place. The genus Galanthus had arrived to inform us that the “gay time” of spring will soon be with us and of the summer, fingers-crossed, with its roses.  Coombe Abbey CP D3100  16-02-2013 14-10-04

And so the miracle of spring, the time of Nature’s great awakening, was once again taking place before our eyes. I couldn’t wait for the grand spectacle to unfold. Unfortunately, huge carpets of snowdrops were rare in Coventry but we know of a place where there were drifts of them. I was so excited to check them out and hoping that we’d arrived in time. And yes, under the shadows of the trees, we spotted drifts of the harbinger of spring. I was grinning from ear-to-ear. What a beauty. Coombe Abbey CP D3100  16-02-2013 14-25-04

When we arrived at Coombe Abbey, we were shocked to find out that it cost us £3.65 to park the car. The price had gone up again but that didn’t stopped hundreds of people from enjoying the park. We scanned the lakes for unusual sightings and among the Mallards, Coots, Mute Swans, Greylags, Tufted ducks, Moorhens, Canada Geese and Gulls, we spotted an Egyptian Goose and this very serene Chinese Goose.  Coombe Abbey CP D300s X14  16-02-2013 14-15-035

We walked along the path where a lot of the bushes and trees had been cleared away. It was a lovely walk by the river towards the hide where we saw Great Crested Grebes basking in the warmth. Wigeons were whistling noisily, dabbling happily up and down the river. Buzzards were circling high in the sky, their mewing echoing around us. When we reached the hide, we saw the Robins, Wrens, Great, Blue and Marsh Tits flying in and out the bushes. The Marsh Tit was very vocal with their high pitch rattling song. Coombe Abbey CP D300s X14  16-02-2013 14-42-18

We spotted Cormorants and Herons flying in and out of the heronry. Soon, they will be taking a very deep interest in the nest. I couldn’t wait. Dunnocks and a Mistle Thrush joined in the feeding frenzy. And then a brown rat popped out and started feeding. It was hilarious when a trio of boisterous brothers bellowed to their Mum that they’d seen a hamster. That made our day. Coombe Abbey CP D300s X14  16-02-2013 15-10-030

On Sunday, Babe wanted to do a circuit of the Warwickshire countryside. Our first destination was the beautiful 17th. century Chesterton Windmill. We were here about 3 years ago during the National Windmills Weekend and had never been since. The Grade 1 listed building was one of Warwickshire’s most famous landmark standing on a hilltop near the Roman Fosse Way (an old Roman Road also known as the B4455).  This unique cylindric tower windmill stood on six stone pillars, supporting two raised floors and was made of local hard limestone and with sandstone detailing. Chesterton Windmill D800  17-02-2013 13-11-54

Erected in 1632 from a design attributed to Inigo Jones, it was probably built by Sir Edward Peyto, who was Lord of the Chesterton Manor House. We planned to come here at different seasons of the year because from here it gave a very impressive view of the local Warwickshire countryside. The main problem with photographing the windmill was that the sails were facing into a very very muddy fields and there was a sign to remind visitors not to be in the fields. Chesterton Windmill D800  17-02-2013 13-03-32_stitch

But for me, the highlight was seeing a Skylark. As usual, they were often heard long before they were seen. A very distinctive, melodic, seemingly endless song from a great height in the sky caught my attention. It swooped down, blending well on the ground before it displayed its renowned flight, vertically up in the air. When it landed on the ground, we crept very slowly and managed to spot the crest which was raised. I guess the bird was either excited or alarmed to see us. Then off it flew away. Chesterton Windmill D300s X14  17-02-2013 13-16-18

And still the singing Skylark soared

And silent sang and soared to sing

~Christina Rosetti~

From here, we drove on the famous Roman Fosse Way to Cathion Lane. A few brightly-painted canal boats were docked along the very sleepy Oxford Canal. The car-park closest to the bird feeders had already been taken. We stood a distant away and watched the feeding frenzy. We didn’t stay long because it was freezing and it was very dark under the trees. As we were about to get in the car, we saw this Nuthatch and a Marsh Tit taking turns to feed on the kerb. Someone had put a pile of seeds there. Cathiron Towpath D300s X14  17-02-2013 14-07-16

Our final destination was our favourite playground. It was no surprise to see the car-park full. A pity that there was more people than birds. It had been very quiet on the birding front. Reed buntings were plentiful by the Fisherman’s car-park. Robins were too busy singing and being territorial to beg for food. We met AH and KH who were on their way out by Swallow Pool. We stopped and had a little natter. We’d a pit stop at Baldwin Hide and again it was very quiet. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  17-02-2013 14-35-58

We wallowed through mud to get to East Marsh Hide. I think at least 3 cm of mud had stuck at the bottom of my boots. It was a challenge to stay upright. We’d coffee and something to eat while waiting for something exciting to happen. There were dozens of Wigeons whistling happily in the lake. A pair of Oyster Catchers were sleeping on the island opposite Wright hide. I hoped the Trust do something quick to retrieve back Willow Island from its current watery grave as these birds were among the early breeders for Brandon. After about an hour and slowly turning into ice cubes, we made our slow trudge back to the car. Brandon Marsh D300s X14  17-02-2013 15-16-48     

Earlier this week, we were caught by surprise when the Midlands woke up to several more centimetres of snow. It came as forecasters warned the cold snap was here to stay for another month. An Atlantic weather system had triggered  the topsy-turvy weather. February swung back and forth between snow, rain, sunshine, mild, ice, rain and back to snow. All repeating and changing from one day to the next. Yellow weather warnings were issued because of the danger of ice following the snow. As usual, everything went to a standstill and I was late for work. Coventry D3100  11-02-2013 08-30-22

I checked out the newly formed Professional Development Group before I decided whether I wanted to fully commit. The aims and objectives were quite vague when it was presented. Most probably because it was still in its infancy stage. The idea was to share and exchange experiences and information about the different courses and workshops that each member had attended. It would be a challenge due to the different grades of the members and also job-descriptions. It sounded like an interesting concept.   Coventry D3100  11-02-2013 08-45-22

I got a lot of slack on Shrove Tuesday because my pancakes were from Asda. I just didn’t have time to make them in the morning. In fact, I seldom have time for breakfast if I’m rushing off to catch the bus. Why the big fuss, huh? I know we can have pancakes any day of the year, but there was something special about this day. It was like a birthday for pancakes and it was wrong not to celebrate :-0. Pancakes were traditionally eaten sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon. I like mine with maple syrup.

Mix a pancake.

Stir a pancake

Pop it in a pan

Fry the pancake

Toss the pancake

Catch it if you can!

~Christina Rossetti~  

And then a few days later, everywhere you turned, you were reminded that it was Valentine’s Day. We didn’t go out for expensive meals. We wanted to try out the Sainsbury’s Valentine meal deal but it was sold out. We hey… it looked like a lot of couples were eating in. We ended with a posh pizza which was horrible !!! There were no expensive cards or over-priced bouquets. We did exchange soppy cards. Babe gave me a ‘Groovy kind of love’ CD and I got him the Spartacus part 2 DVD and a box of Thornton’s chocolates. For us, love was something that was spontaneous with acts and words of affection and thoughtfulness. However way we show our love, I wish everyone had a very wonderful and loving of days.Coventry D3100 F  09-02-2013 11-10-09

Here’s a quote from my heart to yours

If there are as many minds as there are men, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts

~Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karerina~

Finally, I managed to find time to meet FK, a fellow Malaysian, for lunch. I met her about a year ago after prayers in the mosque. We e-mailed each other regularly and promised to meet for lunch. But we just couldn’t find the right date. Luckily, it was the Reading Week and she was available. We’d a wonderful time chatting over fish and chips at the Library Cafe. Hopefully, we won’t take another year to meet again..

I ended the week with a wonderful news. Our HR manager informed my colleagues and I that RSC had just given birth to a baby boy. Wow…he was in a hurry to see the world. He was 10 days early. Congratulations and well-done. I was chuffed to bits because I predicted that she was going to have a boy.

What are little boys, made of?

Frogs and snail,

And puppy dog tails,

That’s what little boys, are made of.


Brandon Marsh D300s X14  17-02-2013 14-30-024

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