Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Indian Summer Tales

Finally, we’d an Indian summer. According to the Met Office’s Meteorological Glossary, an Indian Summer was defined as a ‘warm, calm spell of weather occurring in autumn, especially in late September, October or November.’ It was a bit early this year as we enjoyed the final flourish of summer sunshine before the drearier weather sets in. Temperatures soared above the September average of 16.5 C to 19C as a high-pressure ridge forced warmer air up from the Atlantic. The first recorded use of the phrase appeared in a letter written by a Frenchman called John de Crevecoeur dated 17 January 1778. In his description of the Mohawk country he wrote "Sometimes the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warm which is called the Indian summer.” And my sunflowers were loving the final spell of summer.

blog images ipad mini  07-09-2014 17-35-23

“Farewell, thou later spring; farewell, All-hallown Summer”

~Shakespeare, Henry V. i. 2~

Earlier this month, Coventry City fans savoured an emotional homecoming to the Ricoh Arena. For the first time in 503 days, Sky Blues supporters flocked back to their home ground and partied hard. “Ownership is temporary,’’ Jimmy Hill once said, “loyalty is permanent.’’ The words of the Coventry City legend had been adopted by the loyal supporters. Coventry fans had been to hell and back, administration and back, Northampton and back, but were finally rewarded for their loyalty on Friday night. They still had the questionable hedge fund owners, Sisu, but at least they were back in the right postcode.

Days before the match against Gillingham, snaking queues had formed outside the football club’s superstore in the Gallagher Retail Park. We happened to be there when we were looking at alarms in Maplin which was just next door. My colleague had joined the queue previously but it was already sold-out before he even reached it. The saddest thing was that as soon as the news came out that the club was returning home, the shop had been ram-raided and merchandise stolen. What an opportunistic lot !!! In the match, Nouble scored early on against Gillingham in the 1-0 League One win, and the Ricoh was rocking and all that frustration of so many months away was heard in the 27,000 voices. We lived about 3 km away and we could hear the chants, songs and roars. And it went on late into the night.

After that righteous night, we were up and early, well not that early, to check out our favourite playground. We went straight to Steely Hide and we weren’t alone. The hide was full and one of my ex-colleague was there taking a quarter of the space :-0. I introduced him to Babe and they’d a long chinwag about cameras and lenses. Since nothing turned up, the others left and the 3 of us made ourselves at home. As usual, when everything was quiet, the natives came out to play. The Kingfisher flew in and spent quite sometime alternating between the pole and the bushes. All you could hear were 3 powerful DSLR cameras rattling away. Brandon Marsh - September

After it flew off, it was quiet again but not for long. At the end of the pond, I spotted a head bobbing up and down and realised that it was an otter hunting. Whoop… whoop. Our first ever sighting and we’d been coming here for nearly 7 years. Again the cameras rattled away. A pity that it was too far away and only the head and tail was seen as it swam. Otters were the only amphibious member of the weasel family. They were solitary creatures, only meeting to mate. Brandon Marsh - September

“It’ll be all right, my fine fellow,” said the Otter. “I’m coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there’s a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.”

~Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Brandon Marsh - September

After all that excitement, it was time to head home. By the walls near the car-park,  the swallows were gathering on the electric wires. The sight reminded me that Summer was nearly over and I bet they were thinking about the great journey to Africa that they were about to make. But in the meantime, they flutter about restlessly as we stood there. They always turned out smart, glossily be-suited in top hat and tails with their blue backs shining in the hazy sunlight like hardened silk. The early broods of youngsters were usually the first to go. But a few stragglers like this chap was still around, begging to be fed. Brandon Marsh - September

“The swallow of summer, cartwheeling through crimson,

Touches the honey-slow river and turning

Returns to the hand stretched under the eaves

A boomerang of rejoicing shadow”

~Ted Hughes, ‘Work and Play’~

Brandon Marsh - September

Below the twittering Swallows, a Grey wagtail was feeding by the pool’s edge, moving with a dainty walk, dipping head and neck forward. It paused for a few minutes before sprinting off again at a surprising speed. At times, it darted into the air after an insect, and then continued walking briskly along the ground. More colourful than its drab name suggested, the pale blue-grey back contrasted sharply against the lemon yellow underparts. When it flew off, a sharp chi-cheep call trailed behind. Brandon Marsh - September

On Sunday, we drove over to Bradgate Park to check what the natives were up to. And we were surprised to see the park buzzing. It was so full that the authorities opened both the overflow car-parks and had the rangers directing traffic. After paying the £3 parking fee, we joined the hundreds who were there. There was a sponsored walk fund-raising for LOROS or Leicestershire and Rutland Organisation for the Relief of Suffering, a local charity for hospice care. Although there was a large crowd, the natives weren’t so bothered by the intrusion. Bradgate Park - September

We walked along the River Lin which flowed through the middle of the park. Mallards, Gulls and Ravens were enjoying the bread chunks thrown by the visitors. Further down, we heard a familiar whistling ‘wheeooo’. It was our favourite Wigeon. He was looking a bit tattered because he was moulting. After this process, when the plumage was said to be in ‘eclipse’, this drake resembled the female, which were grey or buff-coloured with a white underside.

Bradgate Park - September

Common darters, a summer and autumn species, were out and about and they were one of the last dragonflies on the wing. As the name suggested, they dart forward suddenly from a hovering position to catch their prey. They then fly to their favourite perch to enjoy their meal. They were out in abundance preferring to breed in the still water at the edges of the stream, surrounded by the bulrush plants. We spotted a few pairs laying their eggs by broadcasting from the air. The male held the female in tandem and swings her down and forward over water at a height of around 40 cm. Bradgate Park - Dull day

We heard ringing calls ‘wee-wee-wee-wee-wee-wee’ above us and scanned the branches of the large, mature trees. A flock of Nuthatch were descending the tree-trunk headfirst, the only British species to do so. These small but beautiful birds were easily identified by its blue-grey upperparts as they clambered up and down the branches and tree-trunks. They were very vocal with their loud, rapid series of piping notes. I was delighted to see this chap doing a trapeze right above my head. Bradgate Park - Dull day

We continued towards the ruins where families were having picnics under the crystal blue skies and wall-to-wall sunshine. The atmosphere on a glorious late summer‘s afternoon was languid and relaxed. We walked past the bracken where a herd of fallow deer were having a siesta. We noticed one was attacking the bracken with its antlers resulting in the vegetation dangling on them. He was strengthening his swollen and thickened neck for potential clashes with other male ‘suitors’. The rutting season won’t be long now.Bradgate Park - Dull day

In Lady Jane Grey ruins, we chatted with the volunteer who told us to look out for the albino peahen with her chicks. Whoop…whoop. We scanned the edges of the park and on the stone wall at the furthest end, we spotted her under a tree. We crept closer and she disappeared into the bracken. Despite her colour, she blended well with her surroundings. We stood still and waited and waited and waited. And then we spotted her, checking us out. We left after a few photographs because we don’t want to stress her.Bradgate Park - Dull day

On our way back to the car, a small flock of brown, streaky birds caught my attention. I followed the strong ‘spek’ calls as they fed on the conifers. Tree pipits were the commonest songbirds in upland areas but this was the first time I saw them here. Invisible among the vegetation, they rose a short distance up from the tree, and then parachuted down on stiff wings, the song became more drawn out towards the end. The adults moulted first before leaving for tropical Africa. I was glad to have seen them because they were on the red list of conservation concern. We left the park quite early because I need to be fully rested for my trip to Canterbury.Bradgate Park - Dull day

I was in Canterbury for a 3-day CIG conference at the University of Kent with 4 of my colleagues. The 3 of us  took the 9.50am train from Coventry and arrived at Euston in one piece. We dragged our luggage for about 30 minutes towards St. Pancreas where we were meeting another colleague and 4 other participants. After the introductions and hugs, we cleared the shelves at M&S for our lunch. Then we walked towards the platform when we realised that we were at the wrong one. It was a mad dash up the elevators not an easy feat when we’d to drag our luggage and just saw the tail of the Southeastern High Speed train leaving the station. NOOO… The next train was in an hour’s time that we decided to have a picnic near this impressive building. blog images ipad mini  08-09-2014 12-09-20

I checked my mobile and found several texts from another colleague who was on the train. Oops…if only I’d checked my mobile earlier. Never mind. The 7 of us had one carriage to ourselves and boy did we make a lot of noise. We weren’t the stereotyped librarians with fingers to our lips saying hush. We were planning to start the party early especially when CES brought out her now in-famous boozy gin-cake. The train speeded through London towards  the south-eastern corner of England. France was just 34 km across the Straits of Border. It was very tempting to hop on the wrong train. Although Kent was traditionally known as the “Garden of England’ because of its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, we didn’t see any.

We arrived sober an hour later and met a few other conference attendees that made things easier to share taxis. It was a 20 minutes drive uphill to the main Canterbury campus. We registered and was quickly taken to our plush accommodations. After a quick freshing-up, we made our way to the main lecture theatre where the conference was held. With the rise of RDA, the development of BIBFRAME and the ever-increasing pressure on library budgets, traditional metadata was undergoing something of a transformation. New models were emerging as technologies change and the way we think  about metadata was evolving as well. For 3 days, we listened, discussed, brain-stormed and debated about the impact of the changes on metadata and how can these best be maximized in terms of ‘adding value’. Good metadata provided much more than just tidy catalogue records. It underpinned the entirety of the users experience that has the potential to help or hinder. 


But it wasn’t all work and no play. Dinner was held at Dolche Vita and the food was surprisingly good especially when you have Ben and Jerry ice-creams for dessert. I’d the roasted lemon sole with all the trimmings. Since not many were having fish, we’d seconds :-). Then it was the obligatory pup quiz which everyone participated with great gusto. The next day, since AM and I weren’t CIG members, we decided to pop into town during the AGM. I think you need to find time to check out the place because it might be the only time you’re here. When we got off the bus, we realised that all the cobbled roads led to the impressive Canterbury Cathedral.The town’s skyline was dominated by this stunning cathedral, the oldest in England.Canterbury

We followed the signs for the historical Butter Market which was situated directly opposite the Cathedral entrance. This very busy pedestrianised courtyard had served as the focal point for the town for more than 800 years. It was previously known as ‘Bullstake’  named after the practise of the baiting of bulls with dogs in belief that it tenderised their meat. Situated on top of Roman ruins and a series of secret tunnels, used to hide the monks, the square now served as War Memorial and public events. This Canterbury’s World War 1 memorial dominated the square.Canterbury

We walked through the huge intricately carved Christ Church gate which was built between 1504-1521. It was probably built in honour of Prince Arthur, Henry VIII’s elder brother who was married to Catherine of Aragon in 1501. After his death, allowing Henry VIII to become King and married the widow in 1509.  (Imagine the consternation of the sculptors responsible for the heraldry trying to keep up-to-date with changing family dynamics :-)). It was the main entrance for visitors and of the first glimpse of the 900-year-old cathedral that got them reaching for their cameras. Unlike moi, who was always camera ready :-). The oak gates were carved with the arms of the Kent landmark and were replaced in 1616 after the original ones were damaged.  You have to pay to enter but it was free between 5-9 pm in the grounds only. The Cathedral sat in the centre of a large green lined with beautiful old houses and buildings. There were throngs of school children and visitors but there was still a sense of quietness, peacefulness and tranquil emanating from the spectacular building. It reached out and enveloped you as you walked around it in awe.Canterbury

We didn’t stay long because we were visiting the Cathedral on the conference’s final day. We walked out and through the many winding lanes and quaint streets with their unique identities and historical structures. The city still retained part of it’s medieval walls which unfortunately, I wasn’t able to walk on due to time constraints. There was a more continental feel to the surroundings with plenty of street cafes, buskers and street performers. We just had to nip into this old-style British sweetshop housed in one of the many stone buildings. What a cornucopia of confectionary. Shelves were groaning with jars upon jars of delight, the joys of old favourites and the thrills of finding something new and scrumptious. We’d a wonderful time checking out the abundance of varieties on offer. Finally, I chose a tub for Babe as a treat from Canterbury. Canterbury

We’d to get back to our accommodations to get ready for the conference dinner. I also managed to purchase a new pair of black 5 cm high heels from Deichmann as a treat :-). After putting on my glad rags, a laced LBD with a black pashmina and in my new heels, we walked uphill for about 10 minutes. Aah… my poor feet. The drinks had started early and I stuck to a tall glass of fresh orange juice. Then we adjoined to the table for dinner. Although the meal was a let-down, our table was where the cool kids hang out. We made our own party games and everyone joined in. It was a blast. By 10 pm, we bid everyone good night.Canterbury

On the final day, we checked out of the room and dragged our luggage to the lecture theatre . The morning was spent on the final presentations and then it was time to bid everyone goodbye with promises to keep in touch. Two of my colleagues and I took the bus into town where we were going to have lunch before meeting the others for a tour of the Cathedral Library. We’d lunch in one of Canterbury’s oldest public houses, The City Arms, a traditional, grade II listed 15th century pub. The earliest record of the pub was as the ‘Morocco’ in the Licensing list of 1692. How exotic was that. After polishing off the not-so exotic but delicious burger, we dragged our luggage on the cobbled street to the Christ Church Gate to meet the others. Canterbury

The librarian walked us through the Great Cloister to the library. The library had undergone a £1m renovation and refurbishment works. These included the installation of climate-controlling equipment, a new copper roof, hi-tech insulation, new heating system and secondary glazing. It had a collection of about 30,000 books and pamphlets printed before the 20th century and about 20,000 later books and serials. Many of the earlier books were acquired as part of donated collections. It was rich in church history, older theology, British history (including local history), travel, science and medicine, and the anti-slavery movement. We spent about an hour here when we found out the tour doesn’t include the Cathedral!!! There were lots of eyeing at each other and the organiser had to apologise profusely for the error. We’d to pay another £10.50 on top of the £9 that we’d paid. Thanks but no thanks. Anyway, most of us were already too tired and just want to go home.Canterbury

On the way out, I rattled a few shots of the gothic cloisters that we walked past. The cloister was a very beautiful square building, curiously arched with stones. They were designed and built around 1400 by a Kentish man, Stephen Lote, an associate of Yevele who was actually responsible for the destruction of the earlier Norman cloisters when he rebuilt the Nave of the Cathedral. On the ceilings are bosses that bore the arms of individuals who had donated money to the construction and decoration of the Cathedral. Canterbury

Founded in 597, by St Augustine, who was sent by Pope Gregory the Great, as a missionary and became the first Archbishop, establishing his seat (or 'Cathedra') in Canterbury. In 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and ever since, the Cathedral has attracted thousands of pilgrims, as told most famously in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The Cathedral housed a Romanesque Crypt, dating back to the 11th century, a 12th century early Gothic Quire and a 14th Century Perpendicular Nave. Beautiful medieval stained glass windows illustrated the miracles and stories associated with St Thomas. Then it was time to bid goodbye to Canterbury.Canterbury

But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
That ye n' arette it nat my vileynye,
Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere,

To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
For this ye knowen al so wel as I,

Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
Everich a word, if it be in his charge,

Al speke he never so rudeliche and large,
Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.

He may nat spare, althogh he were his brother;
He moot as wel seye o word as another.
Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ,

And wel ye woot no vileynye is it.
Eek Plato seith, whoso that kan hym rede,
The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.


~Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The Canterbury Tales’~

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Late Summer’s Joy

“Fairer of the months

Ripe summer’s queen

The hey-day of the year

With robes that gleam with sunny sheen

Sweet August doth appear”

~R. Combe Miller~

Slimbridfe WWT

A tropical hurricane swirling around the Bahamas brought the summer back with temperatures soaring.  While Hurricane Bertha brought downpours and flash flooding, Hurricane Cristobal brought the Caribbean sunshine and warmer climates. The 3rd. named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane, narrowly missed the UK but it drew high pressure from the continent, and brought above normal temperatures and abundant sunshine. The high pressure was maintained as the jet stream moved to the north of the UK and brought settled conditions. Day time temperatures reached to mid-20’s  but unfortunately the spell of warm weather doesn’t fit the definition of an Indian summer, yet because we are still in August. I’m keeping my fingers and toes double-crossed that this warm weather will be prolonged until October.

It was also that moment in the garden when I sensed that everything was tipping over. I loved the languid feel of August as I enjoyed watching the changes day by day as we slid into summer’s end and waited for autumn’s glory to come. Many of the flowers in the garden were past their best, going over and the flowers were slowly going to seed. Everything were looking  slightly bedraggled. Some were still blooming , but the sense of things drawing to a close was tangible. But, the Hydrangeas were going strong. Shots from Home

First discovered in Japan, the name was from the Greek ‘hydor’ meaning water, and ‘angos’ meaning jar or vessel. This translated to ‘water barrel’ referring to the plant’s need for plenty of water and the cup-shaped flower. With their wooden stems and lacy, star-shaped flowers packed closely together in a pompom, the colour ranges from white, blue, pink and purple which was determined by the acidity level of the soil. According to the experts, it was much easier to change the colour from pink to blue by adding fertilisers low in phosphorus and high in potassium to the soil which I am tempted to try. Watch this space. Shots from Home - Hot summer days

I started the bank holidays by taking a bus into town. First stop was at the Cathedral where Warwickshire Wildlife Trust had set up a peregrine watch stall. The Trust were raising funds to install cameras on prominent places which I tool will be quite a challenge because there were 3 very tall spires in the area and also the peregrines were nesting somewhere else. One of the volunteers took me to the cathedral ruins where he’d set up a telescope trained on a female peregrine, resting high up on a balustrade in the church tower. While keeping an eye on the gulls circling overhead, she was keeping an eye in a pair of pigeons cavorting around the lower edges. A familiar face, Greenman, was also there checking the bird out. We’d a little chinwag before the heavens opened and we went our separate ways.Coventry Peregrine Falcons

I was in and out a few shops like Primark, Dietchelm, Claire Accessories, M & S but came out empty-handed. I did try a few clothes in Primark and was thinking of purchasing one but the queue to the till was just too long. And it was boiling in the store. I bought dried apricots from Holland and Barrat  because it was BOGOF and I got it much cheaper by using a voucher. As the saying goes, every little helps. I stopped by the square for a drink while listening to some amazing flute tunes from this colourful musician. Thankfully, his list doesn’t include Una Paloma Bianca. After a few songs, it was time to head home.blog images ipad mini  23-08-2014 14-45-37On Sunday, we checked out the Festival of Motoring at Stoneleigh Park, We and a dozen others followed the signs round the rolling Warwickshire countryside for the parking site. The organisers seemed to change the entrance every year. After paying the £5 parking fee, we walked for about 10 minutes and joined the thousands already in the grounds, where the festivities were in full swing. The flagship element of the festival were the 500 vintage vehicles which had already left the Park for the spectacular 50-mile Historic Vehicle Run through Coventry and Warwickshire. Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

The first thing that we spotted were the shiny Steam Traction engines. gleaming in the sunshine. Traction engines or general purposes engines were the all rounders of the steam world. They were commonly used for threshing corn, sawing wood, crushing stone, haulage and many more varied tasks. Following WW1oil powered internal combustion engines began to catch up with and overtook steam power on the roads, favourable taxation accelerated this decline and by the end of 1930’s steam had all but disappeared from British roads. But thanks to vintage steam enthusiasts, these beautiful machines were often seen in various shows.Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

Then we’re off to the main entertainment area to check the lawnmower racing demonstration with the North-West Lawnmower Racing Association. I have never seen this sport in action before so I was quite looking forward. It was supposed to be a fun sport but the participants seemed to take it very seriously. Lawnmower racing was a form of motorsport in which competitors raced modified landmowers, of the ride or self-propelled type. The engines were retained but the blades were removed for safety. I was surprised to see how fast they go, covering the spectators with flying dust and grass with the smell of burning oil in the air.Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

There were plenty of things going around us but we stayed put. We just moved around the field to get the best view because next was the  Broke FMX motorcycle stunt show. Above us shone the brilliant sun that was gaining strength. The show featured two of UK’s top ranked riders, incorporating the latest heart stopping tricks, often seen on television. The thrill of seeing them jumping 35 feet in the air pulling acrobatic stunts over gaps of 100 feet was a sight to behold and challenged the very senses, much to the delight of the cheering audience.Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

It was a thrill-seeking experience for everyone. Featuring motorbike stunts, ramp jumps, wheelies, stoppies and backflips, the riders gave the audience the adrenalin rush alongside a hysterical non-stop commentary that escorted the 30 minute show. Using custom made takeoffs and new ramp technology, FMX featured impressively high jumps and extreme stunts. With such displays, the show turned into one of the most breath-taking adrenalin pumping and skilful motorcycle stunt shows. Even more impressively, these riders have no footers and handlers when performing their dangerous tricks. Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

And as soon as the show finished, we were keeping our ears and eyes on the skies. The closing act of the day was the Flypast of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with 2 legendary fighters, the Hurricane and Spitfire, in the air. It was lovely to see them zooming across the Warwickshire countryside. It was a fitting mission to the aims of maintaining and flying historic RAF bombers and fighters to members of the public with the sight and sound of a by gone age.  Known as a “museum without walls”, it was a “living and breathing tribute” to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. A pity that it was over in 5 minutes.Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

Finally we were able to browse among the 1000 cars on display from the various car clubs. But what caught our attention was the newly restored 1916 Maudslay Subsidy chassis. It was one of only a handful of the 1.7k Coventry-built vehicles used during WW1 still surviving. Used by the War Department for airfield duties in Scotland during the war, the Maudslay had been used as a showman’s caravan and as late as the 1970s was use as a holiday home. Since been discovered in a Dundee farmyard the volunteers and museum staff from the Coventry Transport  had been been restoring it to its glorious form. The eerily bit was the staff had successfully start up this lorry for the first time in 40 years on 4th August 2014 which was exactly 100 years since Britain went to war.Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

Then it was a pit stop at the 2 main halls. We’d been so occupied in the fields that we decided to see it at the end of the day. Thankfully, it was still open and we weren’t alone. Most of the spectators were thinking of the same thing and everyone queued to get in. As most of the people stopped at the first hall, we went straight to the second which was at the end of the building which was taken over by the Imagineering Show. This production was a showcase of the imagination, ingenuity and extraordinary innovation of companies in Coventry and the sub-region. There were exhibitions from prestigious companies, including Jaguar, The Imagineering Foundation, BMW, Formula Gravity, MIRA, Coventry Robot Club, the IET, Fiat and many more. The hall was buzzing with hands on activities and workshops. The highlight was the 6 metre walking Godiva and her 10 metre tall Cyclopedia which although we’d seen several times was lovely to see again.Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

I was also impressed with the Mantis robot demonstrated by the creator, Matt Denton. This giant hexapod spider was currently working on the next Star War movies with Harrison Ford. But courtesy of Ford’s broken leg, it was able to be seen in Coventry. Then we walked through the  Hall 1 Marketplace and craft stalls. It was very busy as most traders were pitching for their final sales. We stopped at the petting zoo but the poor animals were already too exhausted to play. Most were asleep and hiding in their cages. I guess they too had a long day. We walked back to the field trying to remember where we parked the car. We’d a wonderful day out and were looking forward to next year.Coventry Festival of Motoring 2014

Although we’d a tiring day at the Festival of Motoring, we went into the city-centre for an easy stroll and check what the peregrines were up to. We scanned the skies and the spires of the Holy Trinity Church and the Old Cathedral ruins. At first, we didn’t see anything but then Babe spotted the raptor on the spire of Holy Trinity while we were in the ruins. We dashed towards the building when we realised that there were 2 raptors.  As we got closer, one flew off with the screeching noise it made as it circled the spire. We tried to make ourselves comfortable and cranked our necks to take photographs of the peregrine perched on the edges of the 72 metres spire. Coventry Peregrine Falcons

Along with keen eyesight, peregrines have a good hearing. They don’t make warning cries, but they listened to the warning calls of other birds. They were usually silent while hunting and dived with their tapered wings slicing the air and dropped like a missile the fastest feathered thing on earth. When a peregrine dived at its prey, it struck first with the razor-sharp back talons which usually killed the prey instantly. As we were busy rattling more shots, harsh, heckling cries that even made the pedestrians who were walking by looked up. The other one had returned and alighted on the ledge with something between its yellow talons.Coventry Peregrine Falcons

I think that was the adult and as soon as it landed, the juvenile was screeching and heckling begging to be fed. But the adult ignored it and continued plucking its food. The juvenile edged closer and closer and then there was a tussle when the it fell off the edge and flew off with a piece of meat. There was a lot of squawking and flapping in between. The adult stayed on and continued eating, most probably one of the hundreds of pigeons living in the city. Coventry Peregrine Falcons

Meanwhile, during the last week of the school holidays, we have been baby-sitting our neighbour’s cat called Puss-in-Boots or better known as Boots. We have no problems looking after this very laid-back tabby because he’d been in and out of our house ever since we moved here. MA gave us a huge box of cat-food pouches and crunchies. He was fed in the morning and evening and in between he has a bowl of the crunchies. Everyday, a bowl of water was placed outside the door. Thankfully, Boots spent the night outdoors. He was a very affectionate cat and kept me company on the sofa. Now, he was alternating between the two houses although he knew that he won’t be fed here.NIght time in the Garden

As usual, most nights Babe and I were in the garden, photographing the moths. One night, I heard snuffling and scuffling at the rose arch and there was a hedgehog having a walk-about. Whoop…whoop. I went into the house and took a handful of dried meal worms and left it on the steps. It sensed the worms and all I could hear was the sound of crunch, crunch. It was enjoying the meal. From that night onwards, I put out mashed dog-food laced with dried mealworms for them. Babe put water on an unused stone fountain bowl for the hogs to drink. We were looking forward to see if more will enjoy this nightly buffet.NIght time in the Garden

August was the month of our wedding anniversary. We’d 2 weddings a week apart and we celebrated every year with oomph, in our own little way. We exchanged cards and gave each other a gift for fun. We celebrated with a takeaway dinner from my favourite Chinese restaurant, Noodle Bar and finished with a cheesecake. Simple and sweet. Here’s to more wonderful years together.Shots from Home - Hot summer days

“I will remember always that marriage, like life, is a journey –not a destination – and that its treasures are found not just at the end but all along the way”