Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Monday, 23 January 2017

Winter's Light on the River

It was a chilly morning today but the light was beautiful on the Water of Leith in Colinton Dell

But how is the river itself? Last week I bumped into Ruth from the Water of Leith Conservation Trust as she was setting off to survey the river invertebrates. She said then that she felt that there weren't many invertebrates in the river and she wanted to check. I bumped into her again today and she confirmed that her survey had shown that levels of invertebrates were well down on usual for the time of year. Even more oddly, this result comes after last year being a real high for river invertebrates! Ruth had been finding loads of mayflies, caddis flies and other species in all her surveys and general observations last year and I noticed a lot of mayflies and other species flying above the river whenever I was in the Dells. The other odd thing is that this part of the river is upstream from the flood prevention works, which might be expected to impact on invertebrate life downstream.

So the trust are hoping that a post graduate student will take on a detailed survey of the river's invertebrates and feed these results into SEPA (the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) who may be able to trace a cause and / or offer solutions.

The dippers were chasing each other excitedly today and will be building their nests soon. I hope there will be enough invertebrates in the water for them to bring up the next generation!

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Maison de Moggy

It was Crafty Green Boyfriend's birthday yesterday and for a vaguely anti-Trump Inauguration themed celebration we went to Edinburgh's cat cafe Maison de Moggy today.

Sebastian was taking his cloakroom duty very seriously

Like many of the cats, Elodie was asleep for much of the time, though she woke at one point and ran around at top speed for a while before getting back into her favourite chair

Guillame was one of three of the cats who lay in the window for most of our visit

as did Pauline

though Jacques preferred the shelf unit

and I enjoyed making friends with Alain!

Crafty Green Boyfriend as usual doesn't want to have his photo on the blog but he also enjoyed meeting all the cats!

We loved meeting the cats and also enjoyed the drinks (Chocolate Abyss tea in my case, hot chocolate for Crafty Green Boyfriend) and the cakes (raspberry cheesecake chocolate brownie for me and salted caramel mud cake for Crafty Green Boyfriend.

It was Crafty Green Boyfriend's first visit to the cafe, but my second (you can read my review of my first visit here) and we hope to go back sometime!

If we had thought about it, we would have continued the anti-Trump theme for the day with a Mexican meal, but we had already booked an Italian!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Don't Frack Sherwood Forest

The UK government has given Ineos licences to explore for shale gas across the country. Ineos wants to carry out seismic imaging surveys at various protected locations including Sherwood Forest, the iconic forest famed for its connection to Robin Hood. Seismic imaging surveys would be the first step in determining whether there is shale gas in rocks under the surface, and whether it would be possible or economical to extract it.

Ineos is quoted as saying that this surveying will not include any form of fracking and therefore people shouldn't worry about it, but why would they do the surveys if they didn't hope to find shale gas and if they did find it then why would they not extract it?

Fracking is a controversial technology to say the least and would have lasting damaging effects on the landscape, as well as potentially causing earthquakes and polluting water supplies. We should at the very least make sure that our precious wild places are not opened up even to seismic imaging surveying.

You can read more about the case here and you can join Friends of the Earth's campaign to protect Sherwood Forest from fracking here.

(The picture is a detail from the Sherwood Forest page of the Stickertopia Forest book, which I reviewed here.)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Neandertal Enigma by James Shreeve

This is a long and fascinating book about our best known ancient ancestors. Who were the Neandertals? How were they related to other early species of hominids (human-like primates) and how was it that modern humans succeeded where Neandertals died out? When in fact did Neandertals die out?

The early part of the book covers in detail a lot of the academic controversies and arguments in Neandertal research (as in often seemingly verbatim discussions!) and I found it a bit annoying and confusing, though it was certainly fascinating. Later on though there are fewer such discussions and the book becomes more narrative and becomes more fascinating with every page.

Did Neandertals have the capacity to develop societies like those we see in the world today? Were they held back by a lack of language? A lack of higher reasoning capacity? Were the Neandertals actually living in a state of total oneness with nature? What would the world look like today if the Neandertals had prospered and modern humans like us had died out?

This book explores all these issues and more, looking at the traces of Neandertal lives that have been left in caves in southern Europe and beyond. It's out of date (published in 1995, it was one of my recent second hand book finds!) but its still a brilliant and interesting introduction to our ancestors.

The Neandertal Enigma by James Shreeve published by William Morrow and Company

You can read a series of brief articles about Neandertals on the BBC website

a more detailed section on Neandertals on the same website

and a series of videos about Neandertals on the same site.

(The BBC uses the spelling Neanderthal which is the original German spelling, while many authors, including Shreeve, use the spelling Neandertal to avoid confusion in pronunciation - in German the 'th' is pronounced as 't'.)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Wardrobe Rescue!

The original frills on the cuffs of this top (which were made from the same embroidered fabric as the rest of the top) fell apart and I removed them. But since then the sleeves have always felt too short.

So I finally decided to make some new cuffs (these being easier to make than frills!) I recently found some suitable fabric, a lovely black satin from an old robe that had fallen apart. I cut the fabric from the collar of the robe, which very conveniently included two perfectly shaped pieces with the hemming all sewn and everything (I do like short cuts!).

Here's the first cuff I made and sewed on

and here's the top as it looks now (thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend for this photo!)