Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Fast and Furious in Monaco of the Midlands

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

‘If you love car culture, hot rods, and the world’s most gorgeous models, this show is a must see.”

~Jeff Kutash~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

We ended the month by joining the thousands of petrolheads that poured into the city for the Coventry Motofest, a motoring extravaganza. This was the second year it had been run. We don’t know how we missed the first one. As Coventry was the birthplace of the British cycle and motor industry, a 3 day festival was dedicated to the city’s motoring heritage featuring pop-up racing and demonstrations events to static displays and fringe events like an Edinburgh Festival for cars, bikes and vehicles. There were motoring exhibitions, Ace Cafe burgers and PopBangColour dotted through out the city centre. The organisers had really taken advantage of Coventry’s unique heritage as the spiritual home of the British motor industry. The new Friargate-bridge deck and nearby Greyfriars Green were awashed with static displays of cars, motorbikes and simulators to keep fans of all ages happy.Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“You’re safer in the race car than you are in cars going to and from the track”

~Mario Andretti~


Coventry Motofest 2015 - MayThe ring road became a dedicated course to showcase these memorable motors, which included a rolling show, a short oval action arena and a sprint circuit, as part of the event’s climatic pace car-led cavalcade. Demonstrations of motorsports took place on the ring-road although plans to hold racing there had to be scrapped. It was a pity that the legislation to allow them wasn’t passed on time. In July last year, the government granted local authorities the power to suspend the Road traffic Act, previously requiring an act of Parliament. It was hoped that competitive time trials would form part of the motoring festival making Coventry the first city to hold races under the new laws. Fingers-crossed next year, we will see the promised ‘wheel-to-wheel racing.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

‘It’s all about racing on the track’

~Adam Petty~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

But first, since the infamous ring-road was closed to traffic, we’d to find a place to park. Thankfully, my colleague who lived within a walking distance, offered us to park at his place. Whoop… whoop. Thanks GLW. We walked past a huge military vehicle display at Grosvenor Road to where the action was. We hadn’t even reached the ring-road yet but the incredible noise of highly tuned engines revving up, the screeching of tyres, the smell of burnt rubber and exhaust fumes were in the air. Thousands of people were already packed on both sides of the ring-road but somehow we managed to squeeze in.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“The road is not certain, and the end of the journey cannot be seen”

~John Speed~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

As it was closed to traffic, the ring road was used as both a pit lane and circuit. The 1.5 mile long temporary track took in a section of the ring-road beginning just before the slip road on J6, before heading all the way down to J4 and then returning to finish at J6 again. The circuit’s official start line began at the slip road just before J6, setting off into the new Friargate tunnel. On the circuit, drivers negotiated chicanes before heading under J5 at Holyhead Road, with a ‘turn around’ in the central reservation. The track also featured a series of crash barriers and marshal points, along with various viewing areas and spectator zones along the route.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“There are no speed limits on the road to success”

~David W. Johnson~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May 

Throughout the weekend, various events and cavalcades took place, including those from Jaguar Heritage, the British Touring Car Championships, the Renault Clio Cup, historic Group B Rally Cars, Mission Motorsport (which aids the recovery of personnel injured in military operations to rehabilitate and recover through motorsport activities), the TVR Car Club Speed Championships, the Falken International Drift Team, Rally Cross BTRDA and the British Automobile Racing Club’s race series. There were also rolling shows from BRISCA F1 and 2, Rebels, National Ministocks, V8 Hotstocks, Classics Hot Rods, UK Modifieds, Heritage F1  and 2 Stock Cars, Dragsters, Mission Motorsport. We were thoroughly spoilt.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“It’s always a little different, racing on your hometown track. It makes it more special.”

~Buddy Rice~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

I was gutted that we missed Jaguar’s celebration of its 80th anniversary in its home city. The company had displayed historic vehicles worth over £40m and it opened the Motorfest with a procession of Jaguar cars being driven around the ring road, led by the 1988 Le Mans-winning XJR-9LM, with its original driver, Andy Wallace, at the controls. There was also the 1938 SS 100, the first car to bear the Jaguar name and launched in 1935, 80 years ago this year. I was also so looking forward to the world debut of its unique new sports car F-Type R Bloodhound SSC Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV). It was created by Jaguar Landrover Special Operations and was driven by Bloodhound SSC Chief Engineer Mark Chapman. Jaguar was a technical partner of the Bloodhound and will be supplying engines, engineering expertise and support vehicles for the world land speed record attempt in 2016.Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“Le Mans takes the best out of everyone. Winning is important but it’s not everything’

~Tom Kristensen~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

We hung around the new Friargate-bridge deck waiting for things to happen. Below us we could see an exciting line-up of stock cars, dragsters, Hot Rods and racers from the British Touring Car Championship. We were waited and waited and waited for something to happen. Nothing seemed to be moving. In the mean time, a range of local bands were playing on the Radio plus 1 Live stage just opposite to where we were standing. The main problem we could see was that between the stage and us with thousands of spectators were the the side road into the city centre. The volunteers were having their work cut out to make sure that traffic ran smoothly and people weren’t wandering on the road. It was not the best place to have a stage. From what I could gather, everything was at a standstill because of confusion with communications, timings and locations. The organisers had a lot of learning to do.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

‘It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving’
~Henrietta Mears~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May While they sort that out, we wandered around the ring road live action arena, where a welter of events were held. The Top Gear Experience Racing Aces was in action, Scalextric, diecast cars, a French Connection  vehicle display, the latest from Coventry University Transport Design Degree Show, a Landrover experience showcase plus cool exhibits from the Heritage Motor which also included the team firing up the Rover-BRM jet turbine. Several car manufacturers too were in attendance and we collected some funky black balloons from the Mini stand and tied them to our rucksacks. To me, the main attraction to these exhibition was the golden opportunity for spectators to get up close and personal with the array of spectacular vehicles from the past, present and future with no barriers or viewing restrictions. It was a challenge taking photographs too because everything was photo-bombed:-)

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“More books, more racing and more foolishness with cars and motorcycles are in the works”

~Brock Yates~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

Since it was still quiet on the road, we decided to venture into the city-centre stopping to check out the live performance art from Pop Bang Colour. There was a very long queue for the Landrover experience where spectators took part in the test drive of the famous 4x4. There were classic car displays in the Bullyard and more in Broadgate with a myriad of privately owned classics . It seemed that every public areas (and pedestrianised zones) had become a stage to celebrate Coventry’s automotive and engineering pedigree.  

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

We all have our time machines

Some take us back, they’re called memories

Some take us forward, they’re called dreams’

~Jeremy Irons~ 

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

There were also plenty of displays through out the city centre which we didn’t have the chance to visit. Coventry City College and Peugeot/Citroen’s Academy (also based in Coventry) showed off their prowess in producing first-rate technicians for the future and Coventry University’s School of Art and Design showcased their current graduates’ work, covering the visual arts, design and media, as well as the respected Automotive and Transport Design courses. The French Connection was at the University Square, classic car clubs at the Millennium Place, Triumph Dolomites 50th anniversary at Upper Precinct, Scalextric at Lower Precinct, car-themed family fun at Ikea, History of vehicle instruments at the Watch Museum and even a Jaguar Bonnet art collection at Fargo Village. 

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

Drag racing has played a big role in In-N-Out’s history, and it is also an important part of my family history’

~Lynsi Torres~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May Then it was back at the ring-road to watch one of the highlights of the festival and a real treat for the spectators. The Falken International drift team which made the recent Nurburgring 24 hour race very exciting, was getting through sideways and smoky between Junctions 4 and 6.  They created more tyre smoke that the ring road had ever seen. They were doing their their very best to ruin the freshly-laid tarmac around Junction 6 of the Friargate development. Spectators, us included, lining both sides of the road were breathing in lots (and I meant lots) of smoke. The UK team of former British drift champion Matt Carter, Paul Cheshire and Kirstie Widdrington, plus Irish Drift champion James Deane got all 4 cars Falken-shod cars simultaneously driving around the ring-road in a spectacular display of car control at speed of over 80mph---sideways. I bet the local boy racers were looking with great interest cos they were watching the very best :-). Smoking tyres and “donuts” were the order of the day and I bet these drivers, too, were having fun.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“If you don’t drift to win,

what do you drift for?

~Fast and Furious~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

Drifting was the automotive equivalent of ice skating with points awarded for style and speed not outright lap time. But thankfully, these were just demonstrations. Just imagine if this was a competition. It was a bit crazy to watch them in action within a much tighter confines of the now slippery ring-road, hemmed in by concrete walls, barriers and spectators. The course laid out wasn’t technical for these experienced drivers but considering the speeds involved, the narrowness of the road and the unforgiving curbs and barriers on either side, they gave the spectators a glimpse into what drifting was about. Watching the DW86 emerged from the slip road’s tunnel sideways at the top end of an estimated wheel speed of 125mph before tucking into the chicane with all 4 wheels locked was not the sort of thing you expected to see on the ring-road. To be honest, the Driftworks team was a real treat for us and also for the rest of the spectators. There was a huge crowd, from the over head gantry bridge of Junction 6, the packed footbridge, to the the carriageway perimeter of walls and even the grassy banks along the ring-road.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“Speed defines everything”


Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

We were here for 2 days. On Saturday, it was such a hot day that we were wilting by 4 pm. At first, we didn’t planned to come on Sunday as it was a miserable day and raining. But, Babe wanted to check them out again because he was hoping that it won’t be crowded due to the rain. Wishful thinking :-). We managed to find a parking space at Central Six (naughty, naughty) and walked straight to the footbridge where more rolling show featuring stock cars, dragsters and Shakespeare County Raceway was underway.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“Why did I take up racing? I was too lazy to work and too chicken to steal”

~Kyle Petty, Stock car driver~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

Off course, everyone was waiting for the driftwork team and again they blew the crowd away. Heritage car wise, there was a good representation of the various era’s of F1’s along with a maximum capacity of 13 Junior cars. A real credit to all those youngsters that took part to support the event. The heavens opened and it got heavier and heavier that we decided to call it a day. Although Coventry lacked the glamour of Monaco , it hadn’t stopped the organisers going all-out to put on an amazing show. The fact that they got the beleaguered city council to agree to the motoring spectacular was a feat in itself. A big shout to the organisers. Well done and I’d already penned the 2016 date in my planner.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

True happiness is singing at the top of your lungs in your car while the people in the car next to you are staring’


Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

Off course, watching all these fast cars reminded me of the actor from the all-action blockbuster street-racing franchise, Fast and Furious, who died in a tragic accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. Paul Walker was a passenger in his friend’s, Roger Rodas, Porsche, in which both lost their lives on the 30th November 2013. I had seen the first two films which was shown on television. I don’t remember much of it but this quote will be a poignant memory of him. RIP.

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May

“If one day speed kills me, do not cry because I was smiling”

~Paul Walker (1973-2013)~

Coventry Motofest 2015 - May



Tuesday, 14 July 2015

May Mayhem

“As full of spirit as the month of May, and as gorgeous as the sun in Midsummer”

~William Shakespeare~

Shots from Home - May

We checked out Draycote Waters again and were greeted by the screaming Swifts wheeling high above us, scythe-like silhouette against the sky.  The arrival of these black sky-racers had changed the demure summer Warwickshire skies into something furious, fast and wild and often they came hurtling low, as if they were skimming the lake . The fierce strength and agility of these supreme aerialists had made their impressions on earlier generations as they were called Devil Birds in various places in England. They even looked like one with their blackish plumage, pale chins and necks and long sickle-shaped wings.

Draycotte Waters - May

“No birds soars too high if he soars with his own wings”

~William Blake~

Like flying anchors, these symbols of high summer had greater mastery of the air than any other bird. They were often in parties, swooping, screaming and chasing each other all day long.  They drink, bathe, preen, collect food and nesting materials all without alighting. The nights were spent on the wing and they were the only bird known to mate on the wing, too. We did spotted a pair but they were just too fast to photograph. It was lovely sitting on the embankment watching these excited screaming parties careering madly at high speed. It was strange to think that they were only British for three months each summer and the rest were African. Draycotte Waters - May

While the swifts were having fun, we spotted a Crow demolishing a baby rabbit. It was just too gruesome to show any photograph. Thankfully, a Grey wagtail hunting for flies caught our attention. It must have chicks because its beak were full of flies. It was dipping and wagging among the rocks searching for food. When it spotted us, it flew off uttering a brisk cheerful double note ‘chissik chissik’.

Draycotte Waters - May

“Little trotty wagtail, he went in the rain,

And tittering, tottering sideways he near got straight again

He stooped to get a worm, and look’d up to catch a fly

And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.

~John Clare ~

Draycotte Waters - May

A familiar canary-like liquid twitters erupted from the meadow and a ‘charm’ of Goldfinches were gathering to feed on the seeds of thistles, burdocks and teasels. Unfortunately, a group of children were running all over the place and off they flew with every bounce of the buoyant flight to the light tinkling sounds of delicate Chinese bells. They flew to the tallest tree and the same ‘conversational’ twittering could still be heard.

Draycotte Waters - May

“Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop

From low-lying branches; little space they stop;

But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;

Then off at once, as in a wanton freak;

Or perhaps, to show their black and golden wings

Pausing upon their yellow flutterings”

~John Keats~

It was the University’s 50th anniversary. For such a young university, it consistently ranked in the top 10 in national rankings of British universities and it was recently declared as The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2015. I felt very privileged to work here and I hoped to continue working here for a long time. Throughout the anniversary, a diverse mix of events were hosted and we were given the opportunity to attend 2 of them.

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The first was the distinguished lecture series where we were treated to an evening of intellectual discussion by the world-famous physicist, Professor Brian Cox and the our own Dr Michael Scott, an associate professor in classics and ancient history,  on the future of interdisciplinarity. Interdisciplinarity involved the combining of two or more academic disciplines into one activity, like neurosciences and cybernetics. It was about creating something new by crossing boundaries, and thinking across them. The 2 intellects also discussed on how public’s engagement effects interdisciplinarity activities and whether the traditional boundaries of academic studies were becoming obsolete.

We were lucky to have seats quite close to the podium as it was a sell-out event. Although free, I’d to wait 3 months to get the tickets as all was taken during the first hour alone!!! I gave my name and telephone number (which I hated giving out) to a list in case there were people who’d returned the tickets because they couldn’t make it. The terms were quite strict. You’ve to answer within the first 3 rings and if you don’t, your name will be crossed off the list and they will make their way down the list. You can imagine, me rushing everytime the telephone rang.

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So what did I think about the discussion? Both speakers were brilliant. But what strike me was that the ideas were brilliant but there were barriers in the career paths of those who chose interdisciplinary work. For example, interdisciplinary grant applications were refereed by peer reviews from established disciplines and likely to lack commitment  thus denying untenured researchers the funding and promotion.  All in all, it was truly inspiring evening and came out feeling a bit smarter but thoroughly confused:-)

A few days later, we were serenaded by the brilliant Joan Armatrading (JA). I won a pair of tickets for the concert and was over the moon when I found out. Actually, a colleague asked me to help him with Twitter because the competition was run via the social media. After helping him, I decided to take part too. And guess what??? I won and he didn’t. Oops … I was gutted. He wanted to see it so badly that he bought the tickets in the end. I guess lady luck was on my side.

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We arrived about 1.5 hours before the show started mainly so that we could find a parking space. We hang around to listen to some acts outside the hall and went in as soon as the doors were open. Slowly, people began trickling in and we were entertained by 2 supporting acts before the main act appeared. JA may have worn a black suit but she provided a colourful reminder as to why she retained her position as one of Britain’s best loved singer songwriter, despite a low public profile over recent years. She didn’t just take to the stage at the sell-out Butterworth Hall of the Warwick arts Centre, she owned it. A pared back set with the veteran performer appearing solo on stage with a selection of electric guitars and a piano, treating the audience to some of her best known songs from the last four decades. This was part of her final world tour and the first as a solo act.

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Opening with 1972’s City Girl, JA performed her best songs including All the way from America, These times, Mama mercy , My Baby’s Gone, Drop the Pilot, Me Myself and I, the Weakness in Me and the ever wonderful Love and Affection. The row behind us was singing in tune to all the songs and cat-whistling and stamping their feet after every song. Mind you, they weren’t teenagers and this wasn’t a rock concert. I guess they were die-hard fans because even before she sang a note, they cheered the bejeezus out of the room.

Laughter was juxtaposed with the songs, as JA peppered her set with one liners and wise cracks, resulting in ripples of laughter filling the hall. Behind her, a screen projected images and clips from her music videos, which gave the songs an additional layer of meaning. She also talked through a slideshow of images from her life in music. There were photographs of her with McCartney, Elton and Mandela, with her MBE and even in the pages of Beano. All too soon, the show had to end and JA stood on stage to enjoy the spontaneous rousing standing ovation with a beaming smile of appreciation. She ended the show with Willow, encouraging the adoring audience to softly sing the last two choruses for her. How often do you get to sing someone’s song to them? That stuck in my head forever.

“Just an hour with you, and I understand why we had to meet”

~Joan Armatrading~

Earlier during the day, I made a pit stop at the city centre to check out an exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum . But first, a smooch around Broadgate which was buzzing with activities provided by the Messy Church. It was a form of church that involved creativity, celebration and hospitality. There were plenty of prayers, songs, games, stories and a sit-down meal for people who don’t already belong to another form of church. It wasn’t my scene and went straight to have lunch at my friend’s cafe, KoCo. We’d a nice chinwag and I was introduced to more Malaysians. After having a meal of Indian-style fried noodles with chicken curry and a spicy condiment, I made my way to the Herbert . As I walked past  HolyTrinity Church and the Old Cathedral, I did scanned the spires for the peregrine. But nobody was home.

The Herbert was buzzing with children and adults. They were here for the ‘The Story of Children’s Television’ exhibition. The exhibition traced the fascinating history of children’s television, bringing together seven decades of iconic objects, memorabilia, merchandise, clips and images. From puppetry to CGI and live shows to dramas and fantasy, the exhibition looked at how the magical programmes of their childhood had created memories and nostalgia, in adults and children alike.

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Although I didn’t grew up with these characters, it was lovely to see the exhibition receiving rave reviews. As soon as you entered the sliding doors, I was greeted by life-size characters from the Tweenies. Although they were cordoned off, children were running towards them, stroking and giving them hugs :-). The parents were having a hard time controlling their children but who can blame them.   Ipad mini  23-05-2015 12-09-54

Then, it was to the main exhibition itself through a magic door that slides open as you step on the magic carpet. Inside, it was standing room only. Packed full of interactives for big and small kids, the exhibition showcased original props and characters, from Mummy Woodentop to The Wombles, Morph, Gordon the Gopher, Rastamouse and the singing veggies from Mr Bloom’s nursery. There were long queues to dress-up as the characters especially as Daleks from Dr Who which I think wasn’t a children’s tv show. Proud parents were busy taking photographs and it was so busy that I bet a lot will be photo-bombed.

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I didn’t stay long as the crowds were getting bigger and the noise getting louder. It was quite warm too, despite the air-conditioned room. As I turned round the corner to use the facilities, I came face-to-face with these cute characters. Why were they here and not with the rest? Since it was quieter, I was able to photograph to my hearts content without being photo-bombed. It was lovely seeing Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po. But, not for long. A group of children ran past me, ducked under the ropes and gave the Teletubbies a hug. “Eh-oh!” As I walked away, parents and staff were rushing in to stop/collect the children :-)

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On the weekend, Babe and I popped over to Bradgate Park to see what was about. After the dog-chasing-deer incident early this month, there were plenty of signs requesting dog-owners to keep their dogs on leash. I was very impressed with the owners. The 4C’s worked which were :

CONTROL your dog

Never let it CHASE deer


CLEAN up its mess

Bradgate Country Park - May

As for the deer, they were very chilled-out. We noticed a few spending their time ‘lying up’, which was where the deer lie down to ruminate between feeding bouts. There were plenty of young bucks staying with the doe herds and they stayed until they were 18 months old, when they leave to join the buck herds. Outside the mating season, bucks roamed around in their own herds separately from the does and their young. The fallow were also the only British deer with palmate antlers in mature bucks.

Bradgate Country Park - May

In the well-known 16th century folk ballad “The Three Ravens’, the term ‘fallow doe’ was used metaphorically, as meaning ‘a young woman’

“Down there comes a fallow doe,

As great with young as she might goe’

Bradgate Country Park - May

As we continued walking on the pavement, the familiar high-pitched scratchy ‘srii’ greeted us. I glanced up and spotted a tree-creeper flying to the base of another tree. We quickly followed it and there were at least 3 flying about. We knew where to point the camera because they crept in and flits down to the base and spiralled up the tree trunks. They must have chicks to feed because their long, distinctively down-curved bills were full of insects and seeds from the crevices in the tree barks.

Bradgate Country Park - May

We walked straight to Lady Jane’s ruins where we met the warden again. He was busy looking at a group of teenagers who were getting too close to the deer herd in the compound. When they spotted him, they quickly dispersed. We asked the warden to show us the tree where the Little Owls were nesting, They’d already fledged but the telltale white droppings were easily seen on the ground and on the tree trunks. He also told us where a Kestrel was nesting but it was very quiet when we checked out the tree. The sighting of this Spotted Flycatcher perching high up on the tree made my day.

Bradgate Country Park - May

The deer in the compound were quite relaxed too, busy feeding among the bracken. Flocks of Goldfinches with their liquid twittering echoed around us. From time to time, the cries of the Peacock could be heard but they were hiding away in their enclosure. Cuckoo calls were bubbling from deep in the woods. We decided to walk back where we spotted a Blue Tit popped out from a hole in the tree-fence. Whoop-whoop, it was nesting at the same place we saw last year. We stood quite a distance away because we didn’t want to attract any attention. After managing to get some shots, discreetly, we made our way back to the car.

Bradgate Country Park - May

We ended our week with our usual pilgrimage to our favourite playground. The Swallows welcomed us with their chattering warble of a song as they swooped and swept around us, too fast to photograph. We continued on towards Baldwin Hide, where we were greeted by a couple of excited photographers and twitchers. We joined the party and on the island was a Fulvous whistling duck. Babe noticed it wasn’t ringed and also not an escapee because it was also not ring tagged. We weren’t too bothered and all you could hear were our cameras rattling away.

Brandon Marsh - May

D was a duck

With spots on his back

Brandon Marsh - May

Who lived in the water

And always said ‘quack’

~Edward Lear~

Brandon Marsh - May

After taking our fill, we let someone else oohing and aahing over the exotic visitor. We made a pit stop at the empty East Marsh Hide. On the island opposite the hide, Shelducks, Mallards and Teals were having a siesta in the hot, humid afternoon. Then a family of Oystercatchers with 2  chicks caught my attention. They’d grown into very fluffy grey-brown chicks and each parent was looking after one and feeding them with worms. Parents fed their chicks for longer periods, helping them to grow quickly in order to survive and looking from the tireless parental care and nurturing, I’m sure they would.

Brandon Marsh - May

After that cute overload, we continued our journey to check out the next hide. Along the path, my attention was caught by a jerky display flight from the bushes. It’s long tail was flicking as it darted rapidly in and out of cover. It was a Whitethroat, a summer visitor and a passage migrant,  and it was playing hide-and-seek with me, skulking in the thick bushes. I stood there patiently and finally it came out in the open, displaying its pure, white throat. When he spotted me, he made a rapid churring call before flying off.Brandon Marsh - May

‘And after April, when May follow

And the Whitethroat build, and all the swallow’

~Robert Browning~

We stopped at Carlton Hide and nobody was home. We continued on to Ted Jury Hide and opened all the windows. The overpowering smell from the wood varnish was still very strong. We didn’t stay long at all because the smell was just too overbearing and it started to give me headaches. Thankfully, I was distracted by this Chiffchaff busy singing its name out loud ‘chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff’, performed from the tree canopy. Then this olive-brown leaf warbler actively flitted through the trees, with its distinctively tail-wagging movement. 

Brandon Marsh - May

On our way out, dragonfies and damselflies were basking in the sun. Dragonflies were distinguished by their larger eyes, that usually touch, different shaped fore and hind-wings which were held horizontally at rest and by their powerful flight. Damselflies had similar shaped wings which they held close to their bodies when resting.  Dragonflies were agile fliers and had brilliant iridescent or metallic colours produced by structural colouration which made them conspicuous in flight. Damselflies had weaker, fluttery flight. It was quite strange that they were symbols of courage, strength and happiness in Japan, but sinister in European folklore.

Brandon Marsh - May

Dance , O dragonfles

In your world

Brandon Marsh - May

of the setting sun


Brandon Marsh - May

Apart from checking out all my favourite playgrounds, I ‘d  also been busy at work keeping up to-date with my professional development. First was taking part in the NISO/NASIG Joint webinar ‘Not Business as Usual: Special cases in RDA serials cataloguing’. Although RDA provided instructions and guidelines on formulating bibliographic data in a linked data environment, it didn’t fulfil the unique requirements needed when cataloguing thespecial materials such as reproductions, microforms, rare materials etc. It was interesting to learn how these cataloguers relied on the development of a community-based best practice to do their work.

The second webinar was on the ‘Digital Preservation Metadata and Improvements to PREMIS in version 3.0’. Unfortunately, I was lost during the presentation because digital preservation wasn’t my forte. There was so much for me to know in advance like a Data dictionary, XML and schema. I am aware that the PREMIS Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata was the international standard for metadata to support the preservation of digital objects and ensure their long-term usability but I never had any hands-on training. It would also be interesting to see how PREMIS could be used to capture the metadata.  .    

During my lunch breaks, I often popped over to Tocil Woods to check out the bluebells which had transformed the countryside  by creating vivid carpets of intense blue and eloping the woods with their delicate scent. I was blessed to have these magical displays right on my door-step. It was lovely following the winding paths through the swathes of the dainty blue flowers forming an almost unearthly blue haze through the woodlands. I spent quite some time on my knee checking out these delicate English bluebells where the flower stalk bend over and the bells were a deep, blue colour. 

Shots from Warwick University Grounds - May

The lime green of the beech leaves provided the perfect canopy for the sea of bluebells below. Walking through these ancient woods with the sunlight filtering through these trees made everything looked magical. In fact, in folklore, bluebells were considered to be the flower of the house goblin. It was a symbol of constancy and was probably the origin of the ‘… something blue …’ that a bride wore on her wedding day. When all the leaves of the trees had unfurled, these woods darkened and the bluebells die down as they had insufficient light to grow. Not to worry because they did their growing when there was plenty of light and replenished the nutrients stored in their bulbs. They lie dormant until next year.

Shots from Warwick University Grounds - May

I ended this post with one of my favourite visitor to our bird-feeder. This Jay came to our garden in early spring every year as it started a family in a small woodland near our casa. Despite its colourful plumage with its pinkish plumage and intense blue patch on the wings,  it behaved in such a way that it was very silent and quite hard to notice. I only knew it was at the feeder when it gave out a loud harsh screeching as it flew away with an undulating flight when I opened the patio door. It was as startled as I was. Now, I knew it was there, I looked through the glass door first and only opened it when the coast was clear.

Shots from Home - May

From bush to bush slow sweeps the screaming Jay

With one harsh note of pleasure all day’

~John Clare~