Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Have your Say on the Future of West Princes Street Gardens

view of Edinburgh Castle from West Princes Street Gardens

Currently East Princes Street is covered in scaffolding as preparations are made for an expanded Christmas Market. The town is in uproar as photos are going viral showing what looks like very unsafe scaffolding and people are genuinely concerened about the safety of the market as well as the detrimental effects it will have on the nature and amenity value of the gardens.

Meanwhile the Quaich Project, who will be responsible for replacing the Ross Bandstand in West Princes Steet Gardens are holding a consultation on the future of that part of the park. Now Edinburgh residents know that this city loves consulting its residents but seems not to enjoy listening to what they say in these consultations. So it may seem pointless. On the other hand, if you don't say anything then you have no reason to complain at future actions.

I went along to the consultation at the Central Library today, as did a fair number of other people. I think the various recent controversies over how Princes Street Gardens have been treated have galvinised people and will ensure that the consultation is well attended.

The Quaich Project claim to be committed to a sustainable greenspace that can be used for small scale events and made more accessible for the general public including those with disabilities. Their design for the replacement for the Ross Bandstand is appealing and their ideas seem mostly agreeable.  Quaich Project staff are present at the library to chat to people (though not enough staff to chat to everyone).

The main issue is that the number and type of events to be held in the park (which is what has caused recent controversies, as large events have recently caused the gardens to be shut to the general public for the duration of the events. I've blogged on this issue several times including here and here). The City of Edinburgh Council will be the body who decides how many events happen in the gardens and what scale they are, so the Quaich Project can say they support small scale community events all they like but what is there to stop the council running roughshod over that and shutting the gardens to the public for constant loud concerts? Few people at the moment trust Edinburgh council.

You can read the thoughts of the Broughton Spurtle on the consultation here.

You can access the Quaich Project consultation online here.

The consultation will tour public libraries across Edinburgh during November and December, you can find the dates and times here.

Meanwhile I'm happy that one of my haiku was shortlisted in the John Muir Trust haiku contest. You can read all the haiku here

Monday, 11 November 2019

Four Ducks on a Pond by Nicholas the Cat (with Annabel Carothers)

 Four Ducks on a Pond by Annabel Carothers

This is a lovely memoir about life on the Scottish island of Mull during the 1950s told from the point of view of Nicholas the cat as narrated to Annabel Carothers and with lovely illustrations by Lyn Dunachie.

Nicholas shares his observations of farm life, the effects of foot and mouth disease and the changing social situation on the island. He talks with particular fondness of his best friend, Corrieshellach, the horse:

'She greeted me with the low, Highland whinny that had first endeared her to me, and .... I went with her round the end of the barn to the cosy spot she had been in all night, carefully out of the way of the wind. And she lay down, slowly, ponderously and shook her mane so that it lay in silverly streams over her neck. And I climbed up on her and nestled against her, and closed my eyes but took care to purr rapturously into her listening ear.' 

This a delightful and fanciful look at Scottish island life and well worth reading, particularly if you're needing a break from more demanding literature.

Four Ducks on a Pond by Nicholas the Cat (with Annabel Carothers), illustrated by Lyn Dunachie published by Birlinn

Saturday, 9 November 2019

So Much to See at Edinburgh Botanics

It's been a beautiful clear and crisp autumn day today, a perfect day for enjoying the colours of Edinburgh Botanic Gardens.

and there was plenty of wildlife around too including these moorhens on the pond, brilliantly captured here by Crafty Green Boyfriend

and this grey squirrel, photo again courtesy of Crafty Green Boyfriend

We also popped into the two exhibitions. The first, Microsculpture in Inverleith House, shows large format microscopic photos of specimens from the insect collection of the Museum of Natural History in Oxford. The photos are beautiful and show the diversity of insect anatomy and colour. This exhibition closes tomorrow, so be quick!

The second exhibition The Hidden World of Plants shows photos of fine details of plants taken using Scanning Electron Microscopes. The exhibition is disappointingly small, so it's not worth making a special trip just to see this, but the photos are wonderful.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Upcycled Re-Usable Produce Bags

I bought two lightweight produce bags a while ago. I buy most vegetables entirely loose and just put them into my carrier bag, but always use produce bags for mushrooms and potatoes.

Recently I thought I could use this net-like material (which has been in my stash for ages, I don't know what it was originally, it had seams in strange places and no obvious shape to it!) to make a couple more produce bags so that's the project I've been working on the last couple of times I've gone along to the Friends of Saughton Park Knit and Natter group. The bags are a little oddly shaped, and the fabric is really difficult to sew properly as it's so fine, which means I don't entirely trust the seams to last very long, but hopefully I'll be able to use them for a while!

They seemed to prompt some conversation about reducing packaging waste too, which was interesting.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

More Beautiful Autumn Colours and another update on Gorgie City Farm

It seemed to rain heavily all day yesterday but today has been dry, though paths are still very muddy with lots of puddles. The beautiful autumnal colours continue to glow.

This is the view from our front window taken this morning

Soon after I took that photo someone was out with the leaf blower and all the fallen leaves have gone!

Meanwhile the Dells along the Water of Leith look lovely

This hawthorn shield bug was looking very smart

and these fallen logs are decorated with some very fine turkey tail fungi

Update on Gorgie City Farm: the Go Fund Me fundraiser has raised over £58 000 in just three days and there are collecting buckets in shops around the Gorgie and Dalry area (and no doubt beyond as the farm has always been popular with families across the city. The farm won't be, legally, able to reopen with the same name but former staff and volunteers are hoping to open another community farm (or equivalent) on the site. It would be a real loss to see the farm lost.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Dodo - the Bird behind the Legend by Alan Grihault

Dodo: The Bird Behind the Legend

The Dodo stands as an icon of extinct species, this ungainly relative to the pigeon is possibly what most people think of when they think of historical extinctions (rather than the prehistoric extinctions which are best known through the dinosaurs).The dodo is possibly also the first thing that people think of when they think of the island of Mauritius.

This is a beautifully produced, lavishly illustrated book about the dodo. It examines the history of the human relationship with the bird and how we drove it to extinction, the details of its biology and its role as a cultural icon. It also looks at closely related species found on other islands near Mauritius.

It's interesting to see the myths that have circulated about the dodo and this book does its best to clear those up and to reveal the truth about questions such as : how exactly did humans drive the dodo to extinction? and What did the dodo really look like?

It's a totally fascinating book and an important one to read in these times when it is becoming clearer all the time that we are entering a Sixth Great Exctinction.

Dodo: The Bird Behind the Legend by Alan Grihault published (2005) by IPC Ltd (Mauritius)

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Updates on Gorgie City Farm and Figgate Park Calendar

I just added these updates to the posts below, but to avoid them being lost I'm also putting them in a separate post.

Firstly, Gorgie City Farm, a wonderful community resource where local families can connect with farm animals and vulnerable youngsters get valuable work experience, has been threatened with closure. The liquidators have already been called in, but a group of former farm employees have got together to campaign to keep the farm open. You can donate via their Go Fund Me page here. They need £100, 000 and have already raised over £30,000 in less than 34 hours. Please consider supporting this wonderful resource in a built up area of Edinburgh.

The liquidators have started closing the farm's social media channels, but you can follow them on their new Twitter account here.

You can read my blogposts about Gorgie City Farm here

Secondly, I posted yesterday about the Figgate Park calendar, which is raising vital funds for the Friends of Figgate Park to maintain this beautiful park between Edinburgh and Portobello. I'm delighted that one of my photos has been chosen to feature on the inside cover

and I'm very impressed by the quality of the photos that have been chosen for each month. It really is a beautiful calendar. I mentioned yesterday that I would update on how to buy copies of this calendar (£8.00 each). Figgate Friends have now told me that the calendar will be available from Mousehole Deli & Cove both in Porty High Street and the Computer Repair Shop on Piershill Terrace and at the small but perfectly formed Farmers Market in Brighton Park on 10am - 1pm, 7th December.