Monday, 30 September 2013

Dawn of Autumn

Departing summer hath assumed

An aspect tenderly illumed,

The gentlest look of spring;

That calls from yonder leafy shade

Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,

A timely carolling.

~William Wordsworth~

Shots from Home

Autumn was definitely dusting off her gown of golds and browns. It was often misty and chilly out first thing in the morning. And the garden was laced in cobwebs. I’d walked into several long strands of silken web strung across the arch as I went to top up the bird-feeder. It was always a telltale sign of Autumns approaching when intricate webs appeared everywhere.  Isn’t it beautiful with dewdrops glistening on cobwebs. Look how perfectly aligned the fine threads were, each section completed with meticulous accuracy.Shots from Home

I was walking through the Arts Centre during my lunch break when I saw this and did a double, even a triple take.  The children has just started school, the students had not even return yet, still no spooky Halloween treats and the sparkly delights of November 5th. and they have set this up!!! But thankfully, it was for a retail conference. Phew … But it seemed that in several large supermarkets, seasonal aisle popped up piled high with mince pies, chocolate Santa’s  and tins of Quality Streets and Roses, all under the bright red and gold banners announcing the arrival of Christmas.  It felt like they were trying to force the festive season onto shoppers too soon. And it was still 100 days to Xmas. Shots from Warwick University

We’d just arrived home when our next door neighbour, MR, came rushing out clutching her mobile phone. She couldn’t wait to tell us that she’d taken a photograph of a fox who was relaxing at the back of her garden. The next morning, when I looked out of the window, there it was Foxy sleeping in her garden, underneath the children’s trampoline. Babe took a few photographs and we gave a copy to MR. We started putting dog food out now and it had been visiting us every night. We think it was a young fox.Shots from our Home and Garden

 Suddenly, a small fox, playful

Floods your wounded heart with joy

He searches your face with his singular gaze,

Knows you’re at one with his vagabond stance

~Al-Sadiq Al-Raddi~

At first, I thought the International Students Working Group won’t be involved with the Warwick Higher Education Foundation Programme (HEFP) induction. And then we were asked to be on stand-by. And then we were asked to be involved. My slot was supposed to be at 10 am but at 9.30 am, the telephone rang and the students were already here. Whaat!!! I haven’t had my herbal tea yet. AM and I rushed upstairs and we waited and waited and waited while the student ambassadors get their group in order. I knew that no matter how well you timed it to the last second, things never fall to plan. Shots from Warwick University

The HEFP students were from Stratford College and Warwickshire College. It was a pre-university course that helped to prepare overseas students for study in the UK and helped them decide on future study. Finally, at 10.15 am, I welcomed my group but it was a whirlwind tour because they’d to be in the Teaching Grid for a briefing by the subject librarians at 10.30 am. That was the briefest induction that I’d ever done. But I hoped to see them again for the self-guided quiz. But they were so short of time, that they missed that too. The problem was that their college were based in Stratford-Upon-Avon and Leamington Spa and the traffic had been horrendous on that day.

I’m leaving the garden alone at the moment. It was looking very tired especially now when the sun had beaten down with ferocious intensity and the rain had been meagre and sporadic. I’m beginning to tidy the potted plants and the annuals, trim the hedges and mow the lawn. It was too early to start planting the bulbs. The sweet corn and dwarf beans had been harvested and the stalks added to the compost bin. I’m still picking courgettes, tomatoes, blueberries, rocket, broad beans and figs. The sunflowers and the courgettes were still flowering. Shots from Home

The end of the week we celebrated the autumnal equinox when the sun passed directly above the equator and day and night became equal in length. It was another shift in the seasons of our lives, in the passage of time, and in eternal turning of the Wheel. It was officially the beginning of autumn but summer was refusing to go quietly. Summer appeared to be fighting back. Bees and butterflies, especially the whites were taking advantage of the extended summer. I managed to photograph this Speckled Wood sunbathing. Shots from Home

The sunshine and 23C said that it was still summer as the the trees and plants showed signs of next season with low clouds and dew-soaked lawns. But while the changing season normally brings lower temperatures and blustery weather, autumn appeared to be getting off to a slow start. Temperatures were above average because of warm tropical air coming from the south west and the Azores, causing an area of high pressure over the country.

I haven’t been going for walks during my lunch break because I was making up time.  I have an appointment with the doctor and 2 appointments with the nurse.  I couldn’t get the earliest or the last slot. The trip to the doctor went ok but I really dreaded seeing the nurse. I’m having travel vaccinations and let a sigh of relief when I only needed one, a typhoid booster instead of 3.  I’d one very sore right arm for about 3 days when I returned again to have my annual flu jab in the other arm. Now, I’ve got 2 sore arms. I’d to walk to the surgery because Babe had one of his bad days. On the walk home, I just had to take a quick photograph of this very serene autumnal scenery of Coventry Canal.Around Coventry

“There is a harmony

In Autumn, and a lustre in its sky,

Which through the summer is not heard or seen,

As if it could not be, as if it had not been!”

~Percy Bysshe Shelley~

For the life of me, I cannot understand the randomness of terrorist violence, It appalled and sickened me. I believe to the one God as these people  but what when wrong. Where did they read that required his believers to murder others. They weren’t Muslims because Muslim meant submission or surrender to the laws of Allah which is peace, purity and obedience.. Please don’t blackened the name Islam. These people were murderers, full-stop. my   My prayers and thought were for those people murdered in Kenya and Pakistan. Shots from Home

On Michaelmas Day, I took the bus to town to meet KC and CC for lunch. Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, was celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day was associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. The city centre was buzzing. Everyone was out and about taking advantage of the warm weather. I don’t blame them. Make hay when the sun shine. As I was still early, I checked out a few shops. Then off to IKEA to meet the girls and they were early.Shots from Home

After the obligatory hugs, we planned to continue our chinwags over lunch. We said no to IKEA’s restaurant because it was going to be crowded. CC said no to the Town Crier. I wanted to try out the new sushi bar, Yakii, but KC was a bit wary. Finally we agreed to safe old Cosmos. After being given a secluded table by the window and ordering a pot of Chinese loose leaf tea, we took turns to fill our plates. As usual, my first port of call was the sushi corner covered with billowing dry ice to keep them from drying out. Unfortunately, the labelling was haphazard that I only chose the ebi nigiri (king prawn), tamago nigiri (egg omelette), tuna sashimi  and salmon maki roll.Shots from Home

We’d a wonderful time catching up and keeping each other up-to-date. The last time I saw KC was in May when she attended the RDA pop-up. It was lovely seeing her again and the conversations and laughter flowed easily. For my second course, I chose the seafood galore. There were King prawns, oysters, mussels, salmon, calimari and scallops. Yum… yum. There were also live cooking stations where I chose prawns, fish ball and kailan all dipped in Sichuan Hot and sour soup. It was a bit too spicy for me. I cooled down with a panna cotta before getting up for a final course of more seafood.Shots from Home

We noticed there was new cooking stations such as the Indian Tandoori, Yakitori and Robata Grill, Teppanyaki, Asian Carvery, Pizzeria, Global Kitchen etc. But I didn’t check them out. I was much more interested in the seafood. The restaurant was a bit noisy with children running around tables which were quite close together and laden with food. After our 2nd pot of tea and finishing with desserts, we slowly dawdled out. After hugs and promises to meet again, KC was off to catch the train, CC off to IKEA where she parked her car and I toddled off to Pool Meadow to catch the bus home.Shots from Home

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

~George Eliot~

Shots from Home

I didn’t take any photographs with the girls. Too busy eating and yakking :-). Instead, these were my feathered friends who were having a party in the garden while I was away.Shots from Home

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Not A Sealed Knot Day

At the weekend, without fanfare or polite inquiry, autumn arrived unbidden. Last week, we were all skipping about in the glorious sunshine of a lingering Indian summer and today, bham!!! We’d an ugly confrontation with a leaden sky, the hideous shock of dropping temperatures, a rip tide of goose pimples, gusty winds and then the heavens opened. It was a week of extraordinary extremes. The weather was settling into a typically drizzly British autumn.  Bradgate Park in the rain But the unsettled weather didn’t stop us checking out Bradgate Park again to witness a re-enactment. Bradgate played an active role during the English Civil War with Thomas Grey, Lord Grey of Groby (c. 1623–1657), being a senior commander in the forces of Parliament. Members of the Sealed Knot will commemorate the event when they gather at Newtown Linford and march down to the ruins of Bradgate House. Here they will demonstrate their equipment and drill before forming up and marching back to Newtown Linford. But we arrived in time to see the Roundheads leave. Grrrrrrr…… 

Bradgate Park in the rain

ROUNDHEAD, n. A member of the Parliamentarian party in the English civil war --so called from his habit of wearing his hair short, whereas his enemy, the Cavalier, wore his long. There were other points of difference between them, but the fashion in hair was the fundamental cause of quarrel. The Cavaliers were royalists because the king, an indolent fellow, found it more convenient to let his hair grow than to wash his neck. This the Roundheads, who were mostly barbers and soap-boilers, deemed an injury to trade, and the royal neck was therefore the object of their particular indignation. Descendants of the belligerents now wear their hair all alike, but the fires of animosity enkindled in that ancient strife smoulder to this day beneath the snows of British civility.”

~Ambrose Bierce (American Writer, Journalist and Editor, 1842-1914)~

 Bradgate Park in the rain

How did we missed the event? Did they started earlier because of the horrible weather and the lack of spectators? When we arrived, there was less than 50 cars in the car-park. If they’d performed 2 weeks earlier, there would be standing room only. Although we missed the re-enactment, we stopped along the route and I video-taped the crew as they march past us. I’m gutted and now keeping an eye on the calendar for the next performance. Bradgate Park in the rain

The Sealed Knot was an English historical association and charity, dedicated to costumed re-enactment of battles and events surrounding the English Civil War. They took their name from the original Sealed Knot, a secret association aimed at the restoration of the monarchy, although the modern incarnation has none of the political affiliations of its namesake. Apart from re-enactments, it was also involved in research into the history of the Civil War, and education (at the school or college level) about the subject. Bradgate Park in the rain

But it wasn’t only gloom and doom. Since it was such a dreich day and not many people about, the natives came out to play. Herds of deer were scattered all over the place, foraging in peace. Well, nor for long when we were around. It was lovely pointing our lens and not photo bombed by lots of people. We spotted a few young bucks locking horns, a practice for the rutting season which won’t be long now. We couldn’t wait. Bradgate Park in the rain

We walked along the very muddy river bank. River Lin that flowed through the park was rushing past because it had been raining the whole day. We saw a yellow wagtail upstream but it was too dark to photograph under the trees. Our favourite Wigeon was enjoying the solitude among a flock of mallards. Above us, house martins with their forked tails and white rump, were busy swooping for food. They will be migrating soon, wintering in tropical Africa.   Bradgate Park in the rain

We walked towards the hill side where we saw quite a large herd of red deer. Green woodpeckers cries were echoing around us but they didn’t stay long enough for photographs. They were well-camouflaged among the ant hills and long grasses. We didn’t stay long because the rain was getting heavier and the winds were whipping around us. It was time to head home. We did a pit stop at Groby Pool but it was deserted. It was too windy and wet for the natives to be out and about.  Bradgate Park in the rain

On Saturday, I boarded the bus into the city-centre to check-out what Coventry had to offer to celebrate the 19th heritage open days weekend. The weekend celebrated England’s architecture and culture by allowing visitors free access to properties that were either not usually opened to the public or would normally charged an entrance fee. They also included tours, events and activities that focused on local architecture and culture. They were organised by volunteers and were one of the biggest and most popular voluntary cultural event.  Heritage Open Day - CoventryMy first stop was the undercroft of the Priory Visitor Centre. I have walked past this building countless times but never checked this place out. So today was the day. It was quite surreal when I entered and walked down the steps into the extraordinary area of cellars which were originally part of the city’s original cathedral. The Priory was home to a community of Benedictine monks for 500 years until it was dissolved on the orders of King Henry VIII. I walked through and admired stone vaulted rooms, courtyards, doorways and passages. It was a wonderful glimpse into Coventry’s medieval past. Heritage Open Day - Coventry

The Priory Undercroft offered a fascinating revelation of an 11th century Benedictine priory showing some of the elements that featured in the daily life of the occupants. Excavated as part of the Channel 4’s Time Team programme in 2002, it had been beautifully presented in an easily accessible glass-fronted basement with an above-ground visitors centre. Following the excavations parts of the remains were open to the public as the 'Priory Garden' which can be walked through or above on wooden walkways. Heritage Open Day - Coventry

Nearby was the Old Blue Coat School, a unique and historic building nestling between Priory Row and the new Phoenix Initiative. The signage was a bit confusing because a few visitors, including moi, were going around in circles trying to locate the entrance into the building. A Grade II chateau style girls’ school believed to have been founded in 1714 as a charity school for girls who spent their last two years being trained in the rigours of domestic service. The present building was built over the ruins of the Cathedral and Priory of St Mary's (founded by Lady Godiva and her husband, Leofric, in 1043) and rebuilt and enlarged  in 1856/1857 and designed by John Murray. Heritage Open Day - Coventry

Having not been in use for many years, it was completely re-furbished as part of the Phoenix Initiative development in celebration of 2000 years since Christ’s birth. Now it house the Holy Trinity church centre, and had been transformed and played an important role in the rejuvenation of this historic part of the city centre. There was supposed to be a guided tour of the old school room but there was no guides around and visitors were left alone to wander around. Heritage Open Day - Coventry

Last but not least on my list was the the impressive Holy Trinity Church, founded in the 12th century, with its existence being first recorded in 1113. It was one of the largest medieval churches in England and was built for the tenants of the Priory lands which extended over the north of Coventry. Again, I have walked past this building hundreds of time and this was the first time I stepped in and wow… it was as impressive outside as it was inside. Heritage Open Day - Coventry

The Church had become well known for one of the most fascinating examples of a 15th century ‘Doom Painting’, depicting ‘The Last Day of Judgement’. The picture may have been created as a result of Coventry having experienced an earthquake around that time, making church leaders think that the Day of Judgement was soon to come and to demonstrate the eternal consequences of both charitable and uncharitable acts. Dated to the 1430's, this "Last Judgement" style of image, known by many as the "Apocalypse painting", was only kept on view for around a century, before becoming victim to King Henry VIII's reformation. Many images, statutes, shrines and other forms of decoration in churches were considered to be frivolous, and as a result of this, the medieval mural was white-washed over shortly after Henry's reign. Heritage Open Day - Coventry

More liberated times were to come, and in 1831, artist David Gee restored the painting and gave it a varnish coating to "preserve" it! The bitumen contained in the varnish soon caused it to darken, and half a century later the painting had once again virtually disappeared from sight. In 1995, discussions were held to find the best way to reveal and preserve the ancient painting. In 2002, work was underway and, thankfully, two years later we can enjoy the work originally done by Coventry's medieval artists 50 years before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper. Simply amazing. Heritage Open Day - Coventry

I stood below the chance arch and above me was this 600 years old mural. The amount of colour and detail was still visible, especially when you think that it had twice been covered over and revealed. Apart from the murals, I checked out the display of Bishops Bible dating from 1568. This was the first officially-commissioned version of the Bible in the English language. There were beautiful and ancient stained glass and it was not until I entered the church that the full colour and artistry can be enjoyed. None more so than the great west window which was glazed by Hugh Easton in 1955. Also exhibited was a fire extinguisher that was used to put off the fires during the the 14th November 1940 German attack. Coventry - Heritage days

This week was my last departmental meeting with my manager. He was leaving us to take up post as head of resources development and delivery at Oxford Brookes university. It was the moment we dreaded most  and we must accept that nothing stays the same. During the meeting, each of us were given tasks to ensure that the activities of the department were running smoothly. I was given the Back Stage Library Work project where I will be the contact person for issues relating to classification. A mammoth task but right up my street. My colleagues and I wished him every success in his new role. The staff at Oxford Brookes were very, very lucky to have him.Lunch with Colleagues

We’d a leaving do lunch with him at the Queen and Castle in Kenilworth. This was the 2nd time in a month I’d eaten here. Since we arrived first, CF and I took the opportunity to take photographs of the lofty 16th. century Tudor castle. The spectacular ruins looked amazing in the autumnal sunshine. After everyone had been counted for, we went in to find our long table. Then a considerable time spent perusing the menu. There were so many to choose from. Finally, I ordered the linguine pasta with tiger prawns, crab with tomato and chilli. They were delicious and I highly recommend them. We’d a wonderful time checking out each others plates. Everyone picked a different dish. A pity we can’t taste each others dish. Lunch with Colleagues

RSC who I’d not seen for ages was sitting beside me. CC was on baby-sitting duties looking after adorable Henry. We’d a wonderful time exchanging news and gossips over a lovely tall glass of icy lemonade with lime, a concoction which she introduced to me. It was delicious. I asked the obliging waiter to take a few photographs of us enjoying our meal. We ended our meal with dessert and I indulged in a yummy chocolate brownie with Italian vanilla gelato and lashings of chocolate sauce. It was sinful. But for today lets forget ‘a moment on the hips that meant a lifetime on the hips.’

At the end of the week, there was another leaving lunch for RG at the Varsity. Everyone seemed to be leaving for new pastures. This month I’d signed 5 leaving cards and I was running out things to say. It was also getting very expensive. At 12.30pm, we followed the exodus to the Varsity and joined table. After a long perusal of the menu, I chose the grilled chicken combo topped with piles of crispy breaded onion rings and potato spirals with a bbq dip and a tall glass of elderberry cordial. RG joined us for a natter and we wished him good luck and success for the future.

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.

~Gilda Radner~

On the home-front, we had seen Goldfinches around our casa and even spotted them gathering feathers from the garden for nest building. But they’d never graced our bird-feeder. Thankfully, Wilko had Nyjer seeds on offer and I bought a packet to tempt them. Then I found out that they needed a special feeder because they were very fine seeds from the African yellow daisy, Guizotia abyssinica. The specialized feeders prevent spills and restrict access to the seeds to only the most desirable birds. There were tube feeders with narrow feeding ports, wire mesh feeders and nylon mesh socks which were perfect for small, clinging finches but less suitable for larger birds that may strip the feeders more quickly. Shots from our Home and Garden

In the birdseed market, Nyjer was often sold or referred to as thistle seed. This was a misnomer resulting from early marketing of the seed as "thistle" to take advantage of the finches' preference for thistle. Nyjer was referred to as "black gold" due to the higher price that resulted from import taxes and the cost of sterilizing the seeds. It was going to be a white elephant if the Goldfinches don’t turn up. We put the bird-feeder up in the evening and the next day, a Goldfinch was seen feeding. Whoop…whoop. Shots from our Home and Garden

I would love to see a charm, the collective name for goldfinches, but this was a very promising start. A charm was derived from the old English c’irm, describing the Goldfinches twittering song.These birds appeared frequently in medieval paintings of the Madonna and Child, reflecting the finch as a symbol of fertility and resurrection. I’m keeping my fingers and toes double-crossed for redpolls and siskins to pay us a visit. Dunnocks, Robins and Blackbirds were taking advantage of the spills on the ground. Although expensive, the introduction of Nyjer seeds to our bird-feeder was a good investment.

Shots from our Home and Garden

In the fields
we let them have—
in the fields
we don’t want yet—
where thistles1 rise
out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open—
each bud
a settlement of riches—
a coin of reddish fire—
the finches
wait for midsummer,
for the long days,

~Mary Oliver ‘Goldfinches~

Sunday, 8 September 2013

September’s Indian Summer

September had arrived. I smelt it in the air, like wild blackberries and wind fall apples, autumn was knocking on the door. The green of summer hadn’t abandoned us yet but little tinges of brown, yellow and orange were beginning to make their appearance. I’d this urge of gathering in all the yummiest of summer’s blazing glory and kept it forever.  I’m not ready to say goodbye to the glorious summer of 2013. And with temperatures still hitting the 20s, an Indian summer was on its way.  Brandon Marsh

An Indian summer was when the weather was warm and dry for a significant period of time after summer has officially ended. Normally, an occurrence between mid-September and late October. An area of high pressure had remained over the UK due to the wind changing directions to south westerly. A heat-wave left us sweltering in the first week of September as early fog gave way to beautiful skies and rising mercury.

“If we can have modest ordinary weather from here on and some Indian summer for veraison [the onset of ripening] and harvest itself, we could be looking back in November at a beautiful and even plentiful harvest.”


Brandon Marsh

The hedgerows were bursting with brambles and bushes were heavy with berries. There were mounds and mounds of them. A late, wet start to spring turned out to be perfect weather for the berries. Just as the bumble bees were the harbinger of spring, the ripening blackberries were the harbinger of autumn. Trees such as hawthorn, crab apple and rowan delayed flowering for weeks because of the chilly weather. When warm, sunny conditions finally arrived, they came out with a bang. The blackbirds, thrushes, field mice must be having a banquet. Oaks, too, flowered late, ensuring a bumper yield of acorns. Good news for the Jays and the squirrels. There was a bumper crop of bird cherries, elderberries and blackberries in our garden that we’d stopped putting food out for them. Brandon Marsh

Folklore has it that you shouldn’t pick wild blackberries after Michaelmas (29th. September) as the Devil will have spat them, rendering them inedible. You have been warned. But actually, superstitious or no, by the end of September, you are unlikely to find any berries left. But who knows with this weather? And also does the bumper of fruits and berries foretell a hard, bleak winter??? I guess we just have to wait and see. But we can be sure of is that 2014 was likely to produce even more weather surprises for both us and the wildlife. Shots from our Home and GardenThe blueberries too were ripening slowly on the bushes. It was lovely to have cereals with freshly-picked, home-grown blueberries, bursting with anti-oxidants. Yum…yum. I’m thinking of planting another bush next year. They were quite easy to grow and the only major drawback was that they required ericaceous soil which was a bit expensive. But once it started fruiting, you get more, plenty more than you bargained for. I have already picked them 4 times and usually saved the last harvest for blueberry muffins. Oooh…I’m salivating already. Shots from our Home and Garden

I’d to call in sick on Tuesday because I think I had food poisoning. I was up all night with stomach upset and feeling a bit nauseous. And I wasn’t alone. Babe too were up all night and both of us were scrambling to use the toilets. Thankfully, we’d 2 in the house. We couldn’t think what we’d eaten that had gone off. Both of us went to bed with a hot water-bottle each and plenty to drink because you can get easily dehydrated. After calling the office, I’d another hot-water bottle and fell asleep on Babe’s reclining chair with the patio doors opened. Outside, summer was flying past its glorious best, and everything looked a bit tattered. This was my last bunch of roses.Shots from our Home and Garden

When summer gathers up her robes of glory, and like a dream of beauty glides away

~Sarah Helen Power Whitman~

But not the sunflowers. They were just beginning to bloom. Last year, the giant variety grew taller than our porch, which was more than 2 metres high. I’d to tie them to the porch to support them because none of the bamboo stake were tall enough. But not this year. I wonder why? There was a theory that last year’s lack of sun had forced them to grow taller, in search for the light. The busy bees were always buzzing around them and later after the flowers were spent, we hang them on the bird-feeder and watch the birds, especially the starlings, go crazy over the seeds. Shots from our Home and GardenI love sunflowers. They were magical, grand and mood enhancing. Native to the Americas, the Incas worshipped its image as a symbol of the sun god. And they were right. Most sunflowers exhibit ‘heliotropism’, a propensity to turn towards or follow the sun. At sunrise, their faces turn towards the east and over the course of the day they follow it westward. They epitomized the bright, sunny days of summer by their name, and their cheery yellow and red faces. The flower was a testimony to the majesty of the sun. The ‘sun-dance’ was a North-American Indian ceremonial dance in honour of the sun.Shots from our Home and Garden

Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;
Shots from our Home and Garden
Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves and aspire;
Where my sunflower wishes to go.

William Blake (1757-1827) 

At work, I took the opportunity to grab the last of the summer’s ray during my lunch break by taking a brisk walk. I walked towards the nursery lake where a lot of work had been going on. A car-park was built behind Radcliffe and a pathway was built linking Radcliffe to Heronbank. A few Darters were seen patrolling by the reed-beds. The sight of a heron having a shower under the fountain was hilarious. And as I continued on, a large flock of about a hundred Canada Geese were enjoying the peace and quiet under the shade before the students return for the new academic year.Shots from Warwick University

I attended another International students group meeting and volunteered to write the minutes. We decided not to add any new materials to the new library website until the website was much more ‘stable’ and when KH was given editing rights. We hoped it would be soon because we wanted to update our web-page before the new students arrive. The group was relieved when we found out that we might not be fully involved with the ‘notorious Stratford students’ but we might be on stand-by. KH and HR will be giving a training session for new library staff and I’d agreed to be present. All the group members will be involved with ‘Get started’, the library induction programme for the new term.Brandon Marsh

I ended the weekend with a visit to our favourite playground. There were sightings and photographs of the Painted Lady and I was looking forward to see them. Unfortunately, they were no where to be seen. We stood among the Buddleia bushes and saw Whites and Peacocks with bees buzzing around us. A large flock of Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits were busy feeding among the Rowanberries. I couldn’t help popping a few ripening wild raspberries which were just yummy as we made our way to the hides.Brandon Marsh

We met the gang at Baldwin Hide and had a little natter, keeping up-to-date with things. The Common Terns had left and flashes of blue followed by a piercing cry flashed past the hide. The Kingfishers were playing tag and disappeared down the creek with their shrill calls trailing behind them. The water level was still high and on the main island, we spotted 7 juvenile Grey herons. Some were fast asleep  while the rest were either standing motionless, hunched down with their neck bent over their chest at the water's edge or wading slowly, hunting for food. Having found a suitable location, they stood silently and waited patiently for the right moment to stab passing prey with their dagger-like beaks. Brandon Marsh

“The old heron from the lonely lake

Starts slow and flaps his melancholy wings”

~John Clare~

We continued towards East Marsh Hide. The path was overgrown with brambles but thankfully, not in front of the hide. The islands and banks had their annual trim and the chances of seeing something will be greatly improved. We saw a Common Snipe huddled in the corner of the island. A Bullfinch made a pit-stop but was too quick to pose for a photograph. A female Pintail was supposed to be around but we failed to see her. A heron was seen flapping its wings and squawking the harsh ‘frarnk’ calls, looking like doing some funky dance move. When we looked closely, we noticed that it was being mobbed by a flock of Gulls. It was trying to shoo them way but it still stood there like a target, waiting to be attacked.Brandon Marsh

We nipped over at Teal pool and we were glad we did. We spotted half a dozen Common Snipes beautifully camouflaged with cryptic patterning of browns, blacks and whites. They were feeding furiously on the mudbanks. Their numbers were beginning to increase slowly, a sign that the autumn migrants were beginning to arrive. Among them, too, were 2 Green Sandpipers, enjoying the banquet. A juvenile Water-rail was dashing from bushes to bushes, trailing off with its long. red bill and impressively barred flanks. A handsome male pheasant strutted in front of the hide.Brandon Marsh

I wanted to check the wasp nest but it was already too dark. It was bright an hour ago and in a flash, the sun was already setting in the horizon. As we walked past the Goose Pool, Babe spotted this adorable toadlet hopping merrily towards the pool, minding its own business. I bet it was surprised and a bit miffed to be manhandled but not for long. After rattling a few shots, we let him down gently and it quickly disappeared into the undergrowth. Brandon Marsh

September arrival heralded autumn with her cloak of gold and crimson and bronze. She trailed through the garden leaving silken threads of cobwebs across the paths and got attached to my hair and clothes as I topped up the bird-feeder. Tinges of autumn can be seen on the leaves. It is less than 3 weeks from the Autumnal Equinox.

“Departing summer halt assumed

An aspect tenderly illumed,

The gentlest look of spring;

That calls from yonder leafy shade

Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,

A timely carolling.

~William Wordsworth ‘September’~

Shots from our Home and Garden