Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Corstorphine Hill

It was a lovely morning to take a group round Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh. Apart from walks along the Water of Leith, this was the first time I'd lead a general nature walk rather than a birdwatching walk. We found plenty to keep us interested from the spider webs draped over hedges, some of them with rather large spiders in them, to amazing fungi, lots of hoverflies, late blooming flowers and evidence of rabbits (though no actual rabbits).

The stars of the show though were the birds. We saw four buzzards, probably a family group, circling over the hill, calling to each other, we also had an excellent view of a treecreeper and most excitingly a brilliant view of a nuthatch. Nuthatches are slowly moving into Scotland from the north of England and Corstorphine Hill is one of only two places in Edinburgh where they are likely to be seen (the other place is the birdfeeder outside the Rangers House in Hermitage of Braid). 'Our' nuthatch was perched facing down the tree trunk and pecking very loudly on the tree trunk to move pieces of bark to get at the insects underneath.

Meanwhile I've just added another chopstick bag to the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

Monday, 29 September 2014

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Spiders on Arthurs Seat

Lovely weather today, sunny and warm - perfect for enjoying a wander round Arthur's Seat.

Also perfect weather for spiders. Here's a flower spider of some sort, waiting on the yarrow flowers to catch a small beetle or fly.

And here is a golden orb spider hunting a fly, the photo isn't properly in focus, but the spider still looks impressive.

and here is the spider, in slightly better focus after she'd caught and eaten the fly

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Silver Darlings by Neil M Gunn

This is a novel set in a fishing village in northern Scotland. It follows the fishermen as they go out to catch the herring (the silver darlings of the title), seeing this new industry as a way to escape the brutal effects of the Highland Clearances. It also follows the story of Finn from his early childhood to his marriage.

There are lots of long slow scenes in the novel, many of them set on the boats as they battle with wild weather and uncertain fishing conditions. Also a long section about the effects of a devastating sickness (referred to as the plague) that rages through the community.

Early in the book a whole chapter is devoted to Finn's early encounter with a butterfly, which is beautiful and touching as it explores the development of his relationship with nature

"As he rounded the hazel treea butterfly rose from his feet. ...... It settled and slowly, without looking at it(except out of the very corner of his eye)he moved towards it, but not directly. He got within a few feet, but then could not restrain himself from rushing. The butterfly rose and danced on through the air, down the burnside."

As you may guess though, given that a whole chapter is devoted to the encounter, it doesn't remain an idyllic scene and Finn learns his first lesson about living alongside nature.

The book is beautifully written, full of the rhythms of the language of north eastern Scotland. Also a great deal of insight into the relationships between the various characters. It's a coming of age novel, not just in terms of Finn as an individual but for the communities that are developing the new industry of herring fishing as a way to secure themselves a brighter future.

The Silver Darlings by Neil M Gunn published by Faber

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Uncommon Goods

It's always nice to discover a new source of ethical and attractive gifts, specially at this time of the year when many of us are starting to wonder what to buy our loved ones for Christmas.

So I was delighted to discover Uncommon Goods, a Brooklyn based, online retailer that features unique designs and hand-crafted gifts that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible in their production. The lowest paid workers in the business are paid at 50% above minimum wage, about half the products are handmade (you can see the handmade range here) and about a third include upcycled materials.You can read the company's mission statement here, which outlines their ethical aims.

The website is easy to navigate and there are gifts for everyone - for example you can check out the range of gifts for women here. You can browse a selection of personalised gifts here. You can also search specifically for recycled products, handmade products and those that are made in the USA (particularly useful if you are based in the USA and want to limit the carbon footprint of your purchase).

There's a lovely touch too in that when you click on an individual item, along with details of the product, in most cases you can find out more about the people who made it.

I was very impressed by the range of unusual items on the site, for example click here to see Zen cat sculptures for your garden  or here for stackable lunch boxes, which are not only a great way to carry a packed lunch, but also can be used to avoid plastic and other packaging when purchasing lunch.

However, I think my favourite product is the Butterfly Puddler, which you can purchase here. What a lovely way to attract butterflies to your garden! Its shallow well of recycled glass holds sand or rock salt along with a teaspoon of water. The water evaporates and butterflies are attracted to the minerals left behind.

Overall Uncommon Goods is a great place to find unusual, ethical gifts to suit all ages and interests.

Disclaimer - this is a sponsored post. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

latest key rings

I added beads to some old key ring connectors and these are the results:

All the beads and keyring connectors are upcycled from the stash of second hand beads that I've been collecting over the past year or so. I used a new earring pin to make the fairy keyring.

Both these keyrings are now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.You can find the pink and white keying here and the musical keyring here.

I've also just added another chopstick bag to the shop, you can see it here.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014