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.”