Thursday, 29 August 2013
I am writing to you to urge you to oppose any military attack on Syria.
I strongly oppose any military attack on Syria. While I oppose all use of chemical weapons, the latest alleged such attack in Damascus should not be used as a pretext for further exacerbating an already bloody civil war.
It seems that the Western governments have already made up their minds about this attack before it has even been reported on by UN weapons inspectors. They are demanding that ‘something must be done’ even though their record of ‘doing something’ has been nothing short of catastrophic.
There have been numerous western interventions in the Middle East and South Asia over the past 12 years. While the attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were all argued for on humanitarian grounds, they have all increased the levels of killing and misery for the ordinary people of those countries. They were in reality all about regime change. This is also what Syria is about.
The same people who brought us those wars have learnt nothing from their mistakes. Now the US, Britain, France and their allies in Turkey and Saudi Arabia are pushing for air strikes. The misnamed envoy for peace in the Middle East, Tony Blair, is once again urging an attack.
Such an attack will have no basis in international law, nor will it have any moral force, despite claims by US Secretary of State John Kerry, from governments who in the past supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons and who have used depleted uranium and white phosphorus in Iraq.
The truth is that this latest plan is about intervening to reshape the Middle East in the strategic interests of the West. Military intervention will make a solution to this complex civil war even more difficult and will be a direct violation of the agreements made at the recent G8 meeting to attempt to resolve this war by an International Conference.
I will be protesting and campaigning against any attack and demand that the British government listen to public opinion, as expressed in recent polls, and play no part in any such attack.
I urge you to vote to oppose any military attack on Syria.
Monday, 26 August 2013
Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry
Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.
His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.
His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee's experience
Of clovers and of noon!
I have long admired all the different kinds of bees. Each day of their lives, they were faced with never-ending toil. They worked tirelessly in their hives, attending their young, building perfect hexagonal cells, protecting the Queen, providing climate control by fanning their wings to cool down, or huddling together in a vibrating clump to keep warm. Outside the hives, they flew back and forth with heavy load of nectar and pollen, as they flitted between flower blossoms and hives.
Despite all these hard work, they seemed to be buzzing with joy. Their enthusiastic attitude filled my heart. I love to stand quietly in the garden and all I could hear were the buzzing drone that was the engine of fertility: honey bees, bumble bees, hover flies pollinating the flowering plants, vegetables, bushes and trees. The French and English lavenders, thistles, sunflowers, roses, sweet peas, Echinaceas were festooned with bees. Bees were in decline and if they continued uncheck, we faced an ecological disaster that we may never recover from.
“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know that, so it goes on flying anyway.”
~Mary Kay Ash~
We should thank the Apis mellilifera or the Western honeybee, for 1 in every 3 mouthfuls we ate today. Honeybees, which pollinated crops, were the ‘glue that held the agricultural system together’. But that glue were failing. Their hives were dying off or disappearing thanks to an unsolved malady called colony collapse disorder (CCD).
So what were killing these bees? Pesticides seemed to be harming bees even at what should be safe levels. Biological threats like the Varroa mite were killing off colonies directly and spreading deadly diseases. Farms were becoming monocultures of commodity crops like corn and wheat which provided little pollen for foraging bees, resulting them starving to death. If we don’t do something, there may not be enough bees to pollinate the flora, fauna and a third of our diet.. But more frighteningly, in a world where up to 100K species go extinct each year, the vanishing bees could herald of a permanently diminished planet.
It was very sad when our own government was against the banning of neonicotinoid pesticides. By not supporting the ban, the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, had exposed the UK government as being in the pocket of big chemical companies and the industrial farming lobby. In a letter released to the Observer newspaper under the freedom of information act, he told the chemicals company Syngenta that he was “extremely disappointed” by the European Commission’s proposed ban.”!!! Like the plight of the hedgehog, it was going to be up to us, the ‘little people’, the thousands of garden ‘land owners’ that by making small changes, we can make a difference for this amazing bees.
I just found out that Bayer had sued the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that were killing millions of bees around the world. A huge public push won this landmark ban only months ago and we can't sit back and let them overturned it while the bees vanished.
Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world's largest chemical corporations, claimed that the ban was "unjustified" and "disproportionate." But clear scientific evidence showed their products were behind the massive bee die-off that put our entire food chain in peril.Last month, 37 million bees were discovered dead on a single Canadian farm. And unless we act now, bees will keep dying. We have to show Bayer that we won't tolerate it putting its profits ahead of our planet's health. If this giant corporation manages to bully Europe into submission, it would definitely spell disaster for the bees.
Please sign the petition.
There were so many simple and easy ways. The first is to stop using insecticides and plant bee-friendly plants. These included bluebells, rosemary, geraniums, lavender, sweet peas, thistles and honeysuckles, which bumblebees prefer to the more exotic imports. Create natural habitat gardens by leaving a small space at the end of the garden to go au-naturel. By doing all these simple things, all gardens will be bee and butterfly central.
Bee faithful ~~~ Bee kind ~~~~ Bee happy ~~~ Bee thankful ~~~ Bee True
~Bless the Bees~
This week I felt like one of the bees, bumbling away from day to day. It had been a very busy week. I attended a new enquiry management system, ENQUIRE, which logged all library enquiries to make it easier to monitor and track them across departments. It was supposed to make record keeping, enquiry tracking and statistical reporting easier. This hopefully enabled quick and effective referrals between the Library teams. I am not directly involved in the process but it would be in my best interest to know what to do when the odd queries come my way.
I’m still facing problems with the EBL platform. It was never a straight-forward process and those involved were still trying to find the best solution. The problem was that the solutions kept on changing everytime a new bundle arrived for me to catalogue. I’d to be on my toes and alert if I came across any discrepancies. I’d to make sure that we don’t purchase the same books twice by checking them in our database first. A task that should have been overseen by the purchasing officer. I don’t mind doing it but it meant that it would take me longer to make the e-books available to the users. As a result, checking the platform first thing in the morning was my main priority at work.
It wasn’t all work and no play for me. The Psycho-Hitters rounders team had another match against the Uni. Engines. We played in the hard field opposite University House. For the first time, we’d more players than the opponents. Thankfully, my team mates were willing to play half innings each. We’d a wonderful time in the glorious sunshine and we played well although still losing 20:28. We still need to learn the rules and catch the ball better. Babe was already there when I arrived at the field and took some amazing shots. Thanks darling.
I attended a retirement dinner at Xananas for AD after work. I’d known AD when I started processing the British Official and European Union publications. AD had been the overseeing these collections on Floor 4 for more than 2 decades !!!. She could find these publications with her eyes closed. A lovely lady from Germany, she’d been a wonderful friend and I’m going to miss her lots and loads. She made my work a thousand times easier and it was going to be tough when she’s gone.
I’d never eaten at Xananas before although it was situated above the Student Union. I was looking forward to the meal and ordered the soft crab salad. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected and was a bit greasy for my liking. We’d a wonderful time checking each other’s plate. Although the restaurant wasn’t full, the service was quite slow. My meal arrived first and I was nearly finished when a few of my colleagues had just started theirs. We’d dessert and it was definitely yummy. I chose the chocolate chip cookies with cream and ice-cream. Something very easy to assemble and which I’m very attempted to do during the bank holidays.
Babe was mucking about in the garden photographing moths and mating slugs (eeew) when he heard a loud rustling in the bushes. He thought it might be the neighbour’s cat or perhaps our resident fox, searching for a midnight snack. But he couldn’t see any. I went out and wallah, spotted our resident Mr. Prickly foraging under the bird-feeder. He was definitely making a lot of noise, snorting away. I rushed in the house to get some dog-food for our lovely visitor. He’d a little nibble and then ran off into the darkness. We followed him and that little prickly guy can really run.
My colleagues and I’d planned a fish and chips picnic even before we knew our manager was leaving us. Although he’d a busy morning, he was determined to join us which we really appreciated. Taking orders from 8 colleagues with different requirements was a real challenge but CC managed it like a trouper. She placed the orders first and we went to picked it at about 12.15 pm. We planned to have a picnic but the weather wasn’t on our side. Thankfully, the Students Union was available and we stank the place down :-). SLA made lemonade, JG brought yummy cherries and AM thought of the utensils. Thanks guys. RSC brought adorable Henry and he was busy munching vegetables and a chip. We’d a lovely time and wonderful memories.
I took Friday off because it was our 16th wedding anniversary. I’d many plans lined up but as usual even the best laid plans were foiled. Our car was leaking water. So the first thing was to book an appointment at one of the garages in Foleshill. It was still safe to drive the car but we have to make sure that we have water in the boot. We drove into the city-centre to get a few bits and pieces. We drove to the market to park at our favourite spot. Unfortunately, the tickets had run out and the telephone engaged Grrr…there was a queue behind us and we’d to ask them to reverse because no one can use the parking lot. Luckily, we managed to find a parking space by the road but it was limited to 2 hours only.
It was still the school holidays and the city-centre was buzzing. A beach in the city centre was created on Shelton Square and it was packed. With the sea about 3 hours drive in either directions, the Conventrians were truly deprived of the sea. So I guess, the beach had to come to them. It was lovely to see the children having fun, with a few adults thrown in. Some were even seen having fish and chips on the deck-chairs. What was missing were the donkey rides. How could they missed that.
We proceeded towards the ruins of Coventry Cathedral because the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust were organising an event on peregrines and I wanted to see them first. We knew they were there because we’d seen a pair when they came to roost during the Godiva Awake performance. I have been in these ruins countless times but everytime I sat on one of the benches and looked around it felts like being in a post-apocalyptic film with glassless windows, ivy covered walls and a strange stillness. It was quite eerie actually. The ruins resonated with the futility and desolation of war! What a fantastic building it must have been before the Nazi bombs crashed through the roof in 1940. So devastating was the Blitz on November 14 that the Nazis coined the word 'Coventrate’ to describe the complete destruction of a city. I pray that it will never happen again.
On a sunny, bright day like today, with the clear blue skies for a roof, it was calm and serene. This place gave off a sense of liberation and contemplation. A very peaceful and reflective place to be in the middle of a very busy city centre and a great place to spend time contemplating, people watching, or just being still. It was lunch time and there were people having lunch, reading and visitors posing and taking photographs. I would love to climb the 180 steps of the church tower again but it would be too difficult for Babe. The 3rd. highest church tower in the country and the views from the top were spectacular.
We sat on one of the benches and spent the day looking up, with our cameras and binoculars scanning the sphires and other high-rise buildings surrounding the cathedral. There were plenty of pigeons flying in and out but no peregrines in sight. We walked past the Unity Green, between Coventry Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Church, still looking up. And there it was, a juvenile peregrine, fast asleep just below the church tower. Whoop…whoop. All you could hear was our cameras rattling away.
The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the “Duck Hawk” in North America, is a cosmopolitan bird of prey in the family Falconida. They are some of the fastest creatures in the animal kingdom, reaching speeds of over 200mph when diving for prey. Although they are traditionally seen on sea-cliffs, urban environments are increasingly being populated by them. Buildings provide the height needed for diving and the bounty of pigeons are a plentiful food source. I would love to see these agile and powerful birds of prey hunting and that meant another visit.
My falcon now is sharp and passing empty, and till she stoop she must not be full-gorged, for then she never looks upon her lure.
I’d the pleasure of being married and having a wonderful man as a husband, whom I adored with every breath of my being. I can say that celebrating our wedding anniversaries was a must. If a marriage was worth celebrating originally, then it was worth re-celebrating each and every year. In our case, twice a year because we’d 2 wedding ceremonies. An Islamic declaration in a mosque in Aberystwyth and a week later, in a registry. We exchanged soppy cards and I gave him a Spartacus DVD and a box of Ferrero Rocher while I received a bottle of Vera Wang’s Rock Princess. Thanks darling.
“To keep the fire burning brightly there’s one easy rule: Keep the two logs together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart – about a finger’s breadth – for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule.”
~Marnie Reed Crowell~
The August Bank holiday was summer’s last blast as Britain basked in the glorious sunshine again. The sizzling summer was set for one final flourish with sunny weather and temperatures of up to 27C. We woke up to an azure blue skies with the sun beaming down on my lovely, overgrown, bursting garden. Traditionally, this was the weekend that people had their final barbecues and al-fresco meals. The final hurrah before school start, autumn and early, dark nights. But not yet. The long summer stretches on, moving gently and bathing us in warm sunshine.
We checked out the Coventry Festival of Motoring held at Stoneleigh Park. We drove to the car-park that we’d been last year and found out that the organisers had set up a different car-park. We followed the signs and somehow missed a turn and ended back in town!!! We retraced our route and arrived in one piece. This misadventure resulted us in missing the flagship ‘historic vehicle run’ which drove through the stunning South Warwickshire countryside and included a section driving through Coventry City Centre. This was the second year the event has been held at Stoneleigh Park instead of Coventry’s War Memorial Park.
It was quite a long, dusty walk from the car-park to the venue. We were among the 25K people walking past and admiring the record-breaking 54 car clubs in attendance including an impressive fleet of classis, luxury, vintage and sports car, showing off everything from Italian Abarth racing cars to classic Coventry Triumphs. The old-fashioned vehicles were undoubtedly the stars of the show though, with car club members attending in their droves. Some were even dressed to suit the occasion to celebrate the city’s motoring heritage.
But, we were more interested in checking out the steam traction engine displays which was new for this year. We followed the ‘woo-woo’ sound as steam was released from the engines. A traction engine was a self-propelled steam engine used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at any chosen location. The name derived from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine was to draw a load behind it. They were sometimes called road locomotives to distinguish them from railway locomotives which were steam engines that ran on rails.
Road steam disappeared through restrictions and charges that drove up their operating costs and also with the introduction of petrol lorries. The last new UK-built traction engines were constructed during the 1930s, although many continued in commercial use for many years while there remained experienced enginemen available to drive them. Although no longer used commercially, traction engines of all types continued to be maintained and preserved by enthusiastic individuals and were frequently exhibited at shows such as this.
Then we went straight to the main stand to get a good view of the next performance. The Kangaroo Kids were a world class stuntmen from Brisbane, Australia. A father and son team, they thrilled the crowd with amazing and dramatic acrobatic performances from quad bikes. In 2000, Matt Coulter created two new "Guinness Book of Records" records by jumping 14 4 x 4 jeeps and 4 moving 4 x 4 jeeps. Unfortunately, he didn’t performed any of these but still put up a thrilling show. He did however jumped over a tractor and a Ferrari that made the crowd jumped when a rocket was timed to go off at the same time.
Again, the timing of the programme was really off. While the Kangaroo Kids were about to do the above stunt, we could hear the thundering and roaring sounds of aeroplanes flying towards the arena. Everyone looked up and suddenly the announcer announced a flypast from aeroplanes that fought in the Battle of Britain. And then above us, a Hurricane and Spitfire whizzed past and disappeared into the horizon. That was it. I bet some people didn’t even have time to set up their cameras.
There was also crowd participation when Matt invited 4 ladies to join him on his quad bike. It was amazing to see him take one at first around the enclosure and then another and then another and then all 4 squashed together. We could hear the women screaming when he drove faster and then tilted the bike to quite a weird angle. The slimmest woman had to sit on the bike handles which was hilarious. A standing ovation to all of them.
This Festival doesn’t just celebrate the past. In the Future of Transport Expo hall you can explore current and future transport innovations from some of the region’s premier vehicle manufacturers, and The Sporting Bears was on hand to offer ‘dream rides’ for charity in both exotic and historic vehicles. We spotted some brave souls testing the Extreme Wheelie Machine. There was a free classic shuttle bus operating between Coventry Transport Museum and Stoneleigh Park for those lucky visitors arriving from the city centre. We didn’t stay long enough to see my friend who was taking part in the vehicle run because I was beginning to suffer from heat exhaustion.
We’d a chilled out bank holiday Monday. I spent the morning mowing the grass, clearing the spent plants and overgrown brambles. My lips were stained black from munching the juicy blackberries which was full of Vitamin C. I harvested the sweet corn, tomatoes, more beans and courgettes. I picked blueberries and had it with my cereal for breakfast. Unfortunately the pak choi and mizuno were depleted by the White caterpillars. Well, I guess if I want to enjoy the beautiful butterflies in the garden, I had to put up with the caterpillars. There were still plenty of Whites and Speckled Wood butterflies fluttering in the garden.
In nature, a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans, it is the other way around : a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar.
Sunday, 18 August 2013
Last summer, we joined the thousands of people who converged in the city centre to soak up the spectacle of the long-awaited Lady Godiva Awakes performances. We saw Godiva emerged from her 1K year slumber opposite Coventry Cathedral and gave her a massive send-off to London for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games on a purpose-built bike powered by 50 cyclists. This gigantic puppet was one of the 12 specially commissioned pieces of public art created to celebrate the Games and now was finally returning to where it all began. Lady Godiva had a wheely spectacular homecoming as she rode around the ring-road on board her famous Cyclopedia with a carnival-style cavalcade of cyclists and walkers. For Godiva Awakes The Homecoming, Imagineer Productions had teamed up with Cycle Coventry (a 3-year project to improve facilities for cyclists) and Coventry City Council, which launched a new campaign, Coventry on the Move, encouraging people to get up and be active. It was the only opportunity for people to walk, run and cycle on the ring-road. She was the “figurehead” for the £7m city scheme. We met our favourite lady as she and her massive entourage were arriving in Broadgate. She got off her Cyclopedia for a walkabout in the city centre and waved at her adoring subjects. The turnout was amazing and everywhere we turned there were people everywhere, on the balconies and I was so fortunate to be able to stand on a bench. No point sitting on one, because everyone was standing. As she walked, she was accompanied by dancers and drummers. As she strolled past where I was standing, I noticed that she’d sky-blue ribbons pleated into her hair. Whoop…whoop… This beautiful dancer gave Babe a beautiful pose dressed as a hummingbird. The Hummingbird was seen in myth as a messenger and a stopper of time, while Godiva too acted as a messenger taking the Book of Intent to London, carrying our hopes and beliefs. The Hummingbird has the ability to fly backwards and taught us that our past informed the future. Godiva also reminded us that our history was at the heart of what was to come. Hummingbirds were tireless, working hard to find the sweetest nectar. They reminded us to do our best each day to find the beauty in life and in others.
Some Hummingbirds were known to fly as far as 2000 miles to reach their destination, so we were reminded to be persistent in the pursuit of our dreams and we could all make a positive impact in the world if we want to. The Hummingbird was an important metaphor for human endeavour. This beautiful tiny bird hovering represented the fragility and transience of life, but the fragile shell belied an inner strength and tenacity. I took the opportunity to stand between 2 very adorable, colourful little birds.
Thousands watched her walked towards her namesake, the naked statute of Lady Godiva riding on her horse. Thankfully, our marionette was fully clothed. Then she walked back towards her horse and gave her metallic horse a pat which delighted the crowd. As the clock chimed at 3 pm, everyone turned up to look at the "Godiva Clock", where two doorways with black eagles on them, signifying Coventry rising from the ashes, and a triangular window above. On the hour, Coventry's most famous heroine came rolling out of one door on her horse, buck naked of course with only her long hair to cover her modesty. As soon as she appeared, the famous voyeur Peeping Tom popped out of the window above to get a good eyeful. She rode from one doorway to the next.
Then the drums began to roll accompanied with confetti strewn all over Broadgate, Lady Godiva continued her walkabout down the high street. She was followed by the Cyclopedia, the Pif Paf Flycycle and Submercycle and I noticed that more Sky Blue ribbons were tied to all the bikes in the Cyclopedia. As the procession made their way to the Cathedral ruins for a rest, they were accompanied by the Crocodile Style Band, a 7-piece street band playing some very cool music. It was so infectious that I couldn’t help swinging to the beat and I wasn’t alone.
Meanwhile, visitors were entertained throughout the day by the Godiva aerialists, dancers, drummers, and choir along with national street theatre companies such as Natural Theatre Company, Bootworks, Pif-Paf and Paparazzi. Actors from the Theatre Company put up a cheeky play on Godiva’s nakedness while Pif-Paf were inviting people to climb abroad their eccentric cycle powered flying machines and submarines. Around the corner, we came across performances from Bootworks, where audiences experienced a 1940s film noir-influenced murder mystery in Red Box theatre installations in small mobile booths. Very eccentric but lively street performances.
In the evening, there was a candlelit vigil at the Cathedral with performances by a cellist and a speech by the Dean of Coventry about peace, reconciliation and Lady Godiva. Her bespoke coat was exhibited next to the story of her journey to London. After an evening of contemplation in the Cathedral Ruins, Lady Godiva retired to her temporary sanctuary on the 17th Floor of the Ramada Hotel where she will rest while waiting for a purpose-built house to be constructed.
While Lady Godiva was resting, we went for an evening stroll at our favourite playground. We met the Haynes at Baldwin Hide whom we’d not seen for ages and had a natter to catch up. Fluffy Tern chicks were patrolling along their nesting site under the watchful eyes of their parents who were perched on the stumps. A Great Crested Grebe was having a late swim at the end of the lake. Suddenly, the Lapwings and Gulls were up in the air spooked by a predator and I managed to photograph it. It was a Hobby, hunting for its evening snack.
After the excitement, we made our way to East Marsh Hide. Along the way, we spotted a flock of Long Tailed Tits flirting from tree to tree. It was too dark to photograph under the trees. East Marsh was empty and we made our way to Carlton Hide. And it was the same. I guess it was the time of year where we were currently going through a barren period on the birding front. As we were about to say good night, a flock of Canada Geese appeared from the reed beds and made their way through the thick weeds to roost for the night.
This week, Muslims from around the world celebrated one of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar, Eid, that marked the end of Ramadan. It fell on the first day of Syawal, the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, an observance that began with the sighting of the new moon. The first Eid was celebrated in 624CE by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions after the victory of the Battle of Jang-e-Badar. Eid was a day of great merriment and thanksgiving. I was working on that day and made a traditional Malay sweet called Seri Muka, steamed glutinous rice topped with custard, for my colleagues. I’d to turn down an invitation to an Eid gathering because of time constraints but I’m sure everyone had a wonderful time. Here’s wishing all Muslims, Eid Mubarak which meant ‘Have a blessed Eid.’
After the fasting month was over, I rejoined my colleagues for another games of rounders. Coincidently, there was a new league, and the Library teamed up with players from Careers, Psychology and Economics to form a team, called Psycho Hitters. We can only manage 6 players, the minimum requirement for a team. It was a disadvantage especially when it came to fielding. Our first match was against University House 2 when the heavens opened before the first ball was hit. But we continued playing and sliding in the wet field. Unfortunately, we lost but we’d a wonderful time making new friends under a new captain MK from the Psychology department.
I had my final pre-sessional induction tour for this term, fingers-crossed. I took a mixed group of students from Engineering, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Linguistics for a tour of the library. As usual, I highlighted the different study areas in the library to make sure they know which floor they should be. Again, the mobile shelving was a hit. Because of library renovations, I wasn’t able to bring them to Floor 3 and showed them where the books on that floor were kept. I’d a wonderful time with the group and I hoped they will take advantage of the services that we’d to offer.
Data Services had another meeting and James was introduced to temporarily take over the manager’s post until the post was filled. I hoped he know what he was getting into :-). In the meantime, SH gave us a list of tasks for us to take over. I was asked to overseer the BSLW ; GLW on Millennium and SLA and JG on Content-DM. WFP gave us a briefing on World-Share. SH also requested that we submitted the Library Review before the bank holidays.
I tried a new recipe this week, Toad-in-Hole. It was a bit burned but still delicious with home-grown steamed beans and lashes of M&S onion gravy. I used vegetarian sausages and adapted this recipe. Not bad for a first-timer.
I ended the week with another trip to our favourite playground. We walked straight to Steely Hide and waited and waited and waited. It was still very quiet in the birding front and the weather was very warm and humid. I heard the shrill cries of the Kingfisher and saw him landed on the pole and before we could do anything, it flashed away, like a blue flame. We decided to check the rest of the reserve with a walk through New Hare Covert where I spotted these hornets building a nest. I’ll keep an eye to check on their progress.
Along the pathway, we walked past flowering Thistles, Harebells, Purple Loose-Strife and Hawkweed crowned by low hedges waving with the long streamers of sweet-smelling Honeysuckle. The berries on the trees and bushes were beginning to glow especially the Rowanberries, Blackberries, Hawthorn, crimson hips of the Dog Roses and the blue bloom of the sloe berries. They will provide food for the natives. Butterflies were still abundant, feeding, flirting, mating and laying eggs. The hedgerows were alive with Commas, Peacocks, Small Tortoise Shells, Common Whites, Speckled Wood but my highlight was when I saw a Ringlet and a Common Blue feeding together.
“A handful of beautiful butterflies
Crushed in a wanting grasp
A handful fluttering in the air
Free to show their beauty and grace
Which is more beautiful?
Grasping to hold? …or to behold?”
We spent the night with our eyes to the skies for what promises to be a “natural firework display”. The skies were supposed to be shimmering as the Perseids meteor shower crosses into the Earth’s atmosphere. Stargazers and amateur astronomers enjoyed the natural occurrence, which was a result of material falling from the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed Earth in 1992. The Comet won’t be visiting our necks of the woods until 2125, but every year we got this beautiful reminder as the Earth ploughed through the debris it left in its orbit.
“The light from a shooting star is like no other, It’s not starlight, it;s not moonlight, it;s not sunlight. It has a ghostly sliver and a sleeting brilliance all of its own,”
~Dr. David Whitehouse~
We wrapped up warm and lounge as comfortably as possible, trying not to strain our necks. Babe had the camera pointing up the heavens, on a timer taking shots every 15 seconds. I was so excited when I spotted the characteristic streaks of light here and there. They appeared as fleeting flashes lasting less than a second, but the brightest ones left behind trails of vaporised gases and glowing air molecules that took a few seconds to fade. Unfortunately, the camera didn’t capture any shooting stars but it did manage a photograph of International Space Station as it navigate its way round the earth. Although we didn’t experienced the sight of the sky lit up by the meteors, it was still awesome to have seen them. It really made me feel very small in the scale of things.
“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone.”