Sunday 10 December 2023

Weekend Landscapes


I had a lovely lunchtime walk with a friend on Friday, walking round Harrison Park, which sits next to the Union Canal which passes through Edinburgh. The weather was mild, and the skeleton trees looked lovely. Several Redwings were running around on the grass and three Goosanders were floating in the canal.

Yesterday it was pouring for most of the day. Crafty Green Boyfriend and I braved the rain for a walk along the Water of Leith. We were rewarded with the lovely sight of a mother otter with her two cubs, running along the riverbank and swimming upstream. No photos or videos, but it was a wonderful thing to watch! 

I also went along with a friend to see the lovely Scottish Landscape Awards exhibition at the City Art Centre. It's a lovely exhibition of paintings, prints and other landscape inspired artworks. My favourite was the coral reef made from felt and beads and other assorted materials. The exhibition runs until March 2024. 

As ever, coloured text contains hyperlinks which will take you to other websites where you can find out more

Thursday 7 December 2023

My Etsy shops

As many of you know, I've had two Etsy shops for many years now. I started out with the Crafty Green Poet shop, but after a few years decided to separate out the vintage and supplies area from the handmade and set up Crafty Green Magpie. This worked really well for several years, but over the past 18 months, sales have been well down in the Crafty Green Poet shop. Then, recently, Etsy introduced an extra layer of account security (which is obviously in many ways a good thing). However, having to 'choose the boxes with motorcycles' or similar up to twenty times to move between shops was just too annoying and time-consuming. 

So I have shut the Crafty Green Poet shop and will soon be adding a handmade section to the Crafty Green Magpie Shop. Etsy does allow for the possibility that I might one day reopen the original Crafty Green Poet shop, but for now, everything will be in the one place, at Crafty Green Magpie.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Tree Following

This year for Tree Following, I've chosen the beautiful cooking apple tree in Crafty Green Boyfriend's mother's garden. You can read the post where I introduced the tree here

The tree is around fifty years old and produces a lot of apples (last year was a bumper year and I gave apples to colleagues, neighbours, students in my writing classes as well as friends!). The apples are excellent in apple crumble or just stewed and eaten with custard or added to porridge. 

The tree has now lost most of its leaves.

A few apples are still hanging on 

The tree hasn't produced as many apples as last year, but there's still been a fairly decent harvest and several apples left over for the Fieldfares and Redwings to enjoy. Last year, a Fieldfare became quite aggressive, defending 'his' apples from all the other birds in the garden! 


Talking of apple trees, the Neighbouring Orchard is a wonderful project in the east of Edinburgh (the other side of town from my chosen apple tree!) connecting people through apple trees planted in private gardens and public green spaces. The project is now moving into new areas of town. You can read more about the project here


I'm happy to say that Green Ink have just published my poem Raspberry Picking in the Forage edition of their online journal.

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Time to Sign up for Twelve Days Wild

 The Wildlife Trusts have launched their 12 Days Wild campaign! 

Thousands of people across the UK will be brightening up their winters by signing up for 12 Days Wild and doing something wild on every one of the twelve days of Christmas. 

Why not sign up to join in and do one wild thing every day from 25th December to 5th January? You’ll receive daily inspirational emails jam-packed with fun ideas to help you connect with nature and lift your mood.

Spending time in nature can help you feel happier and healthier. You can join in by walking in the park, watching a starling murmuration or making a piece of art inspired by nature.

Or you could choose to take action to help nature, for example, you could go plastic-free for 2024, recycle your Christmas cards, feed the birds or volunteer at a local nature reserve.

Find out more about 12 Days Wild and sign up here

Monday 27 November 2023

Heaven's Coast by Mark Doty

In 1989 Mark Doty is a successful poet and college professor and he is deeply in love with his long term partner, Wally Roberts. Their harmonious existence, however, is shattered when Wally tests positive for HIV. 
This memoir is an unflinching look at the process of grief and how to come to terms with it.Doty writes movingly about grief, religious attitudes to death and bereavement, and how he comes to terms with losing his partner so early in life. 

Roberts and Doty find solace in their pets (two dogs and two cats) and in nature. Roberts spends much of his last few months in bed surrounded by the pets, looking happily out of the window, seeming most of the time to be peacefully accepting of his impending death. 
Doty particularly likes seals as they somehow remind him of Roberts 'something about playfulness and a freedom of spirit'. There is a lovely scene, after Roberts' ashes have been scattered to become one with the life of the marsh, in which Doty's dog Beau plays with a group of seals 'swimming for half an hour with a tribe he recognises, though it tumbles in an alien medium.'

The book ends with a meeting between Doty and his dogs and a coyote that stops in front of them briefly, prompting Doty to meditate on the meaning of seeming random events and the possibility that the coyote is in some way a message from Roberts. 

This is a beautifully written, moving book which meditates on loss and grief, while shining a light on the things that make it well worth living in the world after the death of a loved one. 

Heaven's Coast by Mark Doty, published (1997) by Vintage
At around the same time as writing this memoir, Doty wrote the beautiful  poetry collection My Alexandria, which I reviewed here


Sunday 26 November 2023

Wood Mouse on Calton Hill

 Yesterday we had a lovely walk around Calton Hill in Edinburgh. The hill is famous for its assortment of monumental buildings and this unfinished folly 

There are lovely views across Edinburgh. I particularly like this view which shows a controversial new building in the background, framed by the traditional architecture of the buildings on Calton Hill

There are also some lovely trees on the hill

but the highlight of yesterday's walk was meeting this lovely little Wood Mouse! We were able to watch this adorable little creature for several minutes and Crafty Green Boyfriend got a photo

Friday 24 November 2023

Buy Nothing Day - it's free!

Today is Buy Nothing Day, which offers a chance to think about the impact our shopping habits have on the environment.

We are all consumers, and of course, we need to buy things such as food, clothes and books. However, we need to become more thoughtful consumers and to question the products we buy. Overconsumption already has negative effects on the environment, through for example destruction of forests and pollution.

Everyone can join in Buy Nothing Day, it's easy and it's free.

Recycling is great, but reducing how much you consume is better! If we all reduce the amount we consume, then we will change our attitude towards our throwaway culture. 

Disclaimer: I probably need to buy a pint of milk today, but otherwise I'm entirely on board with this.  

More Information on the Buy Nothing Day website.