Monday, 26 January 2015

Update on my novel

I sort of made a New Year's Resolution that I would get my novel to a stage of being ready to be sent out by June at the latest. In fact I'm well ahead of schedule! I finished the final edit last week and will write the synopsis this week and then send it out into the world.

As a poet whose favourite form is the haiku, I was fascinated to find out that I actually could write (and enjoy writing) something that might resemble a novel, though admittedly it is on the short size (personally I prefer short novels anyway). I started the novel in NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago and it was pretty poor at the end of that month, but I have worked hard on it since and hopefully it may have a chance of getting somewhere.

A brief outline of the novel:

Noa and her mother are part of a community that has been refugees since their Pacific Island disappeared under the seas at the end of the Age of Technology. The newly independent Hebrides have offered the refugees an island to live on. After their long voyage across the world, the refugees have to learn to live alongside the Hebridean islanders. Meanwhile Sheena, a Hebridean woman is studying in New Lanark where the University's high tech campus hides some unpalatable truths. Sheena works with Noa and others to create a field studies centre on the island to conserve what is left of nature and to help bring jobs to the refugees. 

I've no intention of writing another novel unless this one is successful or I get an idea that just needs to be another novel.

I'll keep everyone up to date with the novel's successes, though I'll be quiet about its failures.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Dunsapie Loch

Another cold and bright day today! Dunsapie Loch on the side of Arthur's Seat was half frozen over!

Overall, there weren't many birds around on Arthur's Seat. Hopefully they'd all flown to local gardens to be counted for the Big Garden Birdwatch! The birdwatch continues tomorrow, so if you didn't get round to it today, there's a whol other day ahead!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Rubbish jewellery

I went to a jewellery making workshop last night. It was rubbish, literally! Held in the downstairs workshop space at the SHRUB Swap and Reuse Co-op and run by Changeworks, the workshop showed us how to make jewellery from inner tubes, which are apparently very difficult to recycle and often end up in landfill sites.

We were shown how to cut the inner tubes (they cut beautifully, specially if you use scissors, slightly more tricky if you use a crafting knife) and were then shown some designs for inspiration. Then we were invited to make our own items!

It was a very sociable event and it was great to have two hours to just play around with ideas and make things. I tried to make two pairs of earrings. The first pair, which you can see in the photo, worked (though they're far from perfect)

and the second pair were a total failure!

It was very nice to work with a new material that I've never used before. Specially finding that it's such a lovely material to work with. However I can't ride a bike (shameful admission for an environmentalist I know!) so I won't have a supply of inner tubes of my own.

If you're in (or close to) Edinburgh and want to try making things from inner tubes, Changeworks have a supply, and if you ask nicely they will probably give you some!

You can read about the previous jewellery making workshop I attended here.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Musselburgh on a Cold Day

It was a lovely winter's day in Musselburgh yesterday - sunny and still but cold and frosty.

The Boating Pond was frozen over

and alongside the paths in the nature reserve, the frost covered everything

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Co-operative Cats

It's a funny old world online social media. I recently took part in a competition, organised by Co-operative Insurance, which involved guessing which shopping basket a cat would choose. This lead to us tweeting each other with some of the lyrics of the signature tune of TV show Top Cat, which lead to us sharing haiku about cats. I didn't win the competition, but the company liked my haiku so much they asked me to teach their cat Smudge how to write poetry.

Smudge arrived safely yesterday

and we started with a  simple lesson in rhyme:  The cat sat on the mat.... but I think Smudge was more interested in looking out of the window across to the cats in the opposite flats.

We have the new tabby cat, living in the top flat opposite us (a recent arrival and not to be confused with Tabitha, our favourite local tabby cat.)

Then there is the beautiful grey and white cat, who we suspect is a posh cat. We've only seen her outside twice, once walking sedately along with Tabitha, and once on a lead with her owners as they chatted with some friends in the street. She's usually to be seen at her window, watching the world go by. She shares my interest in birdwatching....

Talking of posh cats, the first Edinburgh cat cafe has just opened in Stockbridge. Called Maison de Moggy, it is home to a select group of pedigree cats who have run of the place. You can pay to spend an hour in their company while sipping on tea and eating cake, not forgetting to give the cats some tasty treats of their own. It 's apparently only open for a limited time (I don't know how long!) so if you want to make friends with these cats, you'll need to be quick!

A second Edinburgh Cat Cafe will be opening in Morningside later this year. This one will be home to rescue cats from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, and these cats, will, rumour has it, be available to adopt by customers to the cafe. (I can see fights breaking out for favourite cats).

Smudge will continue his poetic education and may even visit one of the cat cafes!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Frost and Ice

It's incredibly cold out there today! I had a lovely walk through Colinton Dell, by the Water of Leith, doing my weekly voluntary patrol, picking litter (not much) and recording wildlife (quite a lot).

These icicles were hanging from fallen branches by Colinton Weir

gorse usually blooms all year, but looks particularly striking in the frost

meanwhile the bramble leaves are icy

as are the cones of the larch I studied for Tree Following

and even the ivy leaves in the shade of the larch

Monday, 19 January 2015