Saturday, 1 August 2015

A Cat called Treacle

We went along to Edinburgh Cat Protection today and found ourselves a cat! This is Treacle a beautiful young male cat who likes to explore the flat, sit on the windowledge and watch the world go by and sometimes even likes to lie down and rest!

When our lovely rabbit Anya left us to cross over the Rainbow Bridge, we had often thought of getting another rabbit, but we needed to first make sure the flat would be mouse proof. Rabbit food attracts mice you see and any old building in Edinburgh has mice. However we eventually realised that because of the mice, another rabbit wouldn't be practical. So we started to think about getting a cat and eventually that's exactly what we did.....

I've made quite a few cat toys from upcycled materials, and I'll blog about them in the next few days. He's playing with them happily already. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Bees at the front door

The local bees just flock to the front of our building at this time of year to feed on the beautiful Hypericum bush

If you look closely you can see that this white tailed / buff tailed bumblebee has got quite large knees (pollen baskets) so it's obviously a very busy bee! (Bees don't really have knees of course, but the pollen baskets do look like knees!)

and this common carder bee is all neatly tucked into the flower!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A wee insect finds a cosy spot to rest

Look carefully in this thistle flower and you'll see a beautiful Grypocoris stysi.(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)
I took this photo while we were picking raspberries at lunchtime in our favourite raspberry picking place. The weather was beautiful and the raspberry bushes and brambles were full of bees, red soldier beetles and other insects.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Another beaded lanyard

I made this beaded lanyard from my stash of beads, a re-sued lanyard connector and new jewellery wire and fittings. I added it to the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop a while ago and somehow seem to have overlooked blogging about it.

It's in red, white and blue, which of course are the patriotic colours for a number of nations, but I have to say I think it probably will have the greatest appeal in the USA, as there seems specifically to be a market in patriotic lanyards there, which is certainly something that doesn't seem very likely to be the case in the UK.....

I'm hoping to make another one similar in design, but don't have quite enough beads as yet!

You can see this one in my Etsy shop here.

Monday, 27 July 2015



Gulls divebomb each other,
squabble over perching rights
on chimney pots,
throw back their heads
in raucous chorus,
rip rubbish sacks to shreds,
steal chicks from nests
and eat them on the roofs
then launch into the sky
to soar on thermals,
sharp white wings
against the blue.

At this time of the year, gulls become very protective of their fledgeling young. From our flat we can hear their raucous calls for much of the day and they often chase each other and squabble over food. This is actually quite entertaining, though our neighbours who put up a birdfeeder on their third floor windowsill, soon took it back in again when they found their windowsill a gathering point for the local gulls.

This year, the behaviour of gulls has caused an outcry at national level. There are tales of dogs being killed, a tortoise been killed (and a rabbit being traumatised after witnessing the attack). Calls for culling are repeated across the country and David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister is calling for a big conversation about gulls

For a while the media unthinkingly jumped on this bandwagon, without thinking that a) this is natural behaviour, gulls are only protecting their young and their increased activity only happens for a couple of weeks, b) humans, by providing attractive feeding opportunities, such as overflowing bins in the streets, landfill sites full of rich food pickings, foolish people who feed bread straight to the gulls, are causing gulls to increasingly come into towns, where they become perceived as nuisances. 

Luckily, there have been some articles in defence of gulls:

One of the things that people forget is that gulls are declining in their natural, coastal environments just as they are increasing in more urban areas. As noted above, we're effectively responsible for deciding that they prefer living in towns, where the food is easy. Plus we seem to have forgotten that nature isn't always 'nice' and peaceful' but it is also red in tooth and claw. 

Of course I feel sympathy for the people who have lost pets to gulls, or who have been threatened themselves, but to put it into context, how many people are attacked by pet dogs every year? (Actually I've lost the number, but it's a lot lot more than are attacked by gulls). 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Escape from the Orchard of Wheels by Chris Crittenden

 Displaying Escape_from_the_Orch_Cover_for_Kindlejpg copy.jpeg

When I edited the online poetry journal, Bolts of Silk I was always delighted whenever Chris Crittenden sent me poems to be considered (you can read his poems on Bolts of Silk here).

So I was very happy to recently be asked to review Chris's latest poetry collection Escape from the Orchard. Right in the first poem Whisked Leaves, I was struck, by this very vivid image

then a lion’s mane
dissolving a hind,

and in the same poem, another vivid image, along, this time with a great rhyme

lava blustery,
dancing into lust,

A lot of Crittenden's poems are embedded in the natural world. As a birdwatcher myself, I could really relate to Birdwatchers, with its humour and striking imagery

soon we are blurry again,
cautious within Van Gogh fields,
hunkering like sandhill cranes
over snaky ground. 

There are plenty of birds too in these poems, including Owl

smudge of silence
and mahogany, alert
in onyx, vizier
in a skein of boughs,

and the wonderful description of Hermit Thrush Song 

whose notes are nothing less
and not a sound more
than the cadence
of dusk.

I feel I can hear this bird's song, even though it's a species I've never heard.

There are frequent flashes of humour, like this description of bluebottles from Siesta

their buzz seems to laugh
from a wink of philosophy,

and is gone.

This sense of humour balances the serious, even gloomy nature of other poems covering topics including advertising (Cereal Box Parade) and gutting fish (Gut Knife). Other topics include the wealth of life (specifically ants) to be found in a brownfield site (Not so Vacant Lot) life as seen from the point of view of other species (Thoughts of a Fly and Bat Thoughts), and the writing process (Writing). This is a varied collection that however centres on a profound understanding of the human relationship with the natural world, both the alienation many of us feel these days and the realisation of our real relationship with the creatures with whom we share this planet:

why should i be
its nemesis,
the claw in the gloom
that swipes? why must i
exist to thwart
its hallelujah?

from Annoying Fly  

Escape from the Orchard of Wheels by Chris Crittenden is published by Medulla Review Publishing

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sunny Lunchtime!

It was sunny today when I joined Crafty Green Boyfriend for a lunchtime wander round Corstorphine HIll (which is conveniently across the road from his office!). We picked quite a few raspberries, which his Mum (who we unexpectedly met on the hill, also picking raspberries!) will make into jam.

There were lots of butterflies around, enjoying the sun - we saw ten meadow browns, a few ringlets, a small tortoiseshell and a red admiral, all of which we will record for the Big Butterfly Count.

We also saw a lot of honeybees injoying the rosebay willowherb, there must be a hive somewhere nearby, as it's very unusual, speically these days to see so many honey bees all in one place! There were also lots of bumble bees about, which is more of a common sight, lovely to hear them buzzing away as they gather nectar and pollen.

None of these insects were happy to be photographed apart from this small tortoiseshell, who allowed me to take quite a few photos, though none of them are particularly good

These caterpillars were happy to be photographed (look carefully and you can see the caterpillars inside the 'web'). Thanks to Edinburgh Natural History Society Facebook Group, I think these are parsnip moths.

This wood mouse was happy to be photographed, though I suspect that was because it isn't very well

This smashed snail shell on a rock is probably a song thrush's anvil, where the bird will smash up snails and eat them.

The air was full of the sounds of summer too, grasshoppers in the grass and the gorse bushes were popping in the heat, as the seed heads opened explosively to let the seeds out

 The red campion seed heads are ripening too, if you look carefully you might be able to see the tiny seeds on the front seedhead in the photo below

The puff ball fungi are up.

We were very happy to see a couple of young rabbits in their traditional place in front of the hotel on Corstorphine Road, next to the zoo, (and just next to the bus stop!) only one stayed round to be photographed though

Three swallows were flying round here too, they seem to be nesting in the abandoned building across the road from the hotel. I don't think the bunny noticed them though!