Saturday, 25 June 2016

Nature events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

I put together this list of nature-related events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for Living Edinburgh. These events all still had tickets available at the time of writing (I've not necessarily used the titles for the events as given in the brochure, but if you click on the links below you'll be taken straight to the appropriate booking page on the book festival website):

10.30, Tuesday 16 August Scottish Arcadias with Philip Hoare, Magnus Linklater and Alison Turnbull.

1845, Tuesday 16 August Tracey Chevalier talks about At the Edge of the Orchard.

1145, Friday 19 August poetry from Alice Oswald.

11.00 Saturday 20 August, Reading workshop Robert Hunter on The Jungle Book

2045, Monday 22 August Nature writing with Jim Crumley and Stephen Moss.

1600, Wednesday 24 August Opening up our House with Tobias Jones.

2045, Thursday 25 August Tracking down Birds of Prey with James MacDonald Lockart.

1015, Friday 26 Nature Writing with Melissa Harrison and Amy Liptrot.

1730. Saturday 27 August, Lost heroes of Science with Steve Jones and Andrea Wulf.

1845, Monday 29 August Surviving the Vast Forest with Ray Mears.


Nature themed book events for Children 
(I've included all types of animals here, including pets, imaginary species and human type characters in the guise of animals)


1145, Sunday 14 August  Unconventional Animal Friendships with Ed Vere (age 3-6).

1330, Sunday  14 August, animal illustrations with Barroux (age 3-6).

1545, Sunday 14 August, Danger with Chris Judge and David O'Doherty. (age 7-10)

1000, Monday 15 August Unconventional Animal friendships with Ed Vere. (age 3-6).

1030, Monday 15 August Illustration with Barroux, Chris Houghton and Emer Stamp (age 10+).

1145, Monday 15 August Hercufleas with Sam Gayton (age 8-12).

1330, Monday 15 August Getting Muddy with Emer Stamp (age 5-8).

1400, Monday 15 August, Animal Introductions with Nicola Davies and Petr Horacek. (age 4-7).

14.30 Monday 15 August, drop in drawing workshop with Ana and Thiago de Moraes. (all ages).

1515 Monday 15 August, Canine Capers with Richard Byrne (age 3-6).

1000, Tuesday 16 August, Animal Mashup with Ana and Thiago de Moraes. (age 4-7).

13.30 Tuesday 16 August Getting Muddy with Emer Stamp. (age 5-8).

1515 Tuesday 16 August animal illustration with Petr Horacek. (age 4+).

1545 Tuesday 16 August Heroes of the Wild with Nicola Davies. (age 9-12).

1700, Tuesday 16 August animal illustration with Claire Maker and Ross Collins. (age 7-10).

11am - 3pm Willow sculpture (drop in) with David Powell (all ages).

1330, Wednesday 17 August Let Your Kinds Go Wild Outside with with Fiona Bird. (ages 7+)


1515, Wednesday 17 August Midnight at the Zoo (and make an animal mask!) with Faye Hanson (age 4-7).

1000, Thursday 18 August Hiccuping animals with Holly Sterling (age 3-6).

11am - 3pm Willow Sculpture (drop in) with David Powell (all ages).

15.15, Thursday 18 August Going Wild with Fiona Bird (age 7+).

1145, Friday 19 August Hibernating Hedgehogs with Cate James (age 4-7).

13.30, Friday 19 August Beautiful Birds with Matt Spink (age 4-7).

1700, Friday 19 August Furball Fun with Holly Webb (age 5-8).

1000, Saturday 20 August, Cornelia Funke and the Terrible Tab (age 5-8).

11.00 Saturday 20 August, free drop in Big Draw with Matt Spink. (all ages).

1330 Saturday 20 August The Bolds with Julian Vlary and David Roberts. (age 6+).

13.30 Saturday 20 August Mythical Scottish Sea Stories and Crafts (free drop in, all ages).

13.30 Saturday 20 August Holly Webb's Furry Friends (age 5-8).

1400 Saturday 20 August Talking to Animals with Sophie Thompson (age 6-9).

1515 Saturday 20 August The Jungle Book Retold with Robert F Hunter (age 4-7).

1700 Saturday 20 August Baxter the Giant Beetle with M G Leonard (age 10-14).

1000, Sunday 21 August Magical Monsters with Kristina Stephenson (age 4-7)

1030 Sunday 21 August  The Great Diamond Chase with Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton (age 4-7).

12.15 Sunday 21August The Howlet with Kate Leiper and James Robertson (age 7 - 10).

1500 Sunday 21 August A Girl's Best  Friend with Ann M Martin (age 10+).

1630, Sunday 21 August Revealing Life's Mysteries with Gill Arbuthnott (ages 8 - 12).

1345 Monday 22 August Archie the Impatient Rhino with Tracey Corderoy & Tim Warnes (age 3-6)

1330, Wednesday 24 August Odd Dog Out with Rob Biddulph (age 3-6).

1145, Thursday 25 August Odd Dog Out with Rob Biddulph (age 3-6).

1515 Thursday 25 August Japanese Melodies and Myths with Mio Shipley (age 3+).

1700 Thursday 25 August Amazing Plants with Christiane Dorion (age 7-10)

1745 Thursday 25 August Creature Companions with Louis de Bernieres and Gill Lewis (age 10+).

11.00 Friday 26 August A Birthday Party with the Large Family with Jill Murphy (free drop-in all ages).

1430 Friday 26 August Alex T Smith's Big Draw (all ages, free drop-in).

1545, Friday 26 August New Bear on the Block with Sav Akyuz & Ben Bailey Smith (age 4-7).

1415 Saturday 27 August Furry Friends (Humphrey the Hamster) with Betty G Birney (age 7-10).
I love the Humphrey books! You can read my read my review of Humphrey's adventures here).

1000 Sunday 28 August The Great Aaa-Ooo with Jonny Lambert (age 3-6).

1030 Sunday 28 August Monkeying Around with Lydia Monks. (age 4-7)

1330 Sunday 28 August Mr Cleghorns Seal with Judith Kerr (age 10+).

13.30 Sunday 28 August Peter the Badger with Emily Gravett (age 4-7).

1430 Sunday 28 August Hrefna Bragadottir's Big Draw (free drop in, all ages).

1515, Sunday 28 August Bear's Adventure with Benedict Blathwayt (age 3-6).

1315, Monday 29 August Baxter's Starring Role with Hrefna Bragadottir (age 3-6)

1500, Monday 29 August The Shrew that Flew with Julia Copus (age 3-6).



















Water of Leith Roseburn to Stockbridge

Crafty Green Boyfriend and I walked this section of the Water of Leith today. The water is very heavy with sediment at the moment, probably due to the flood prevention work that's going on upstream from this section (I've emailed the Water of Leith Conservation Trust for an update on how this sediment might be affecting the river ecology).

It's still a very pretty stretch of the river to walk along, with some lovely riverside buildings in the Dean Village



and we saw a dipper, mallards and this grey heron, who was posing for a crowd of photographers in Stockbridge.

The mallards didn't have ducklings and I wouldn't be surprised if the heron was to blame....

I also noticed this lovely fern wall - the large fern is harts tongue, the smaller is maidenhair spleenwort.

And I was pleased to see this new notice from the local community council

For 30 Days Wild.


Friday, 24 June 2016

What will leaving the EU mean for environmental protection in the UK?

Last night the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union.

I had voted to remain in the EU as I feel that European legislation has been on balance very important in protecting UK nature and wildlife. You can read my earlier blogpost about this here.

It will take at least two years of negotiations I think before the UK will actually leave the EU. In that time, environmentalists need to ensure that the EU laws that protect our environment become enshrined in UK law. It is of course early days and we don't know how things will pan out, but many politicians in the Conservative government have seen the EU laws that protect the environment as red tape that they would happily get rid of. So it means that we may have a fight on our hands to make sure that those laws aren't lost. Greenpeace and many other environmental organisations will be acting to try to ensure a safe future for our environment.

Here are some articles on the topic:

UK's Out vote is a red alert for the environment (Guardian newspaper).

Scottish Environment Link reaction to EU Referendum result

Brexit - fight on to save environment and climate progress (Friends of the Earth Scotland).

We Must Now avoid a rush to the bottom (Green Alliance).

Brexit: Putting nature in the firing line (Friends of the Earth)

Take part in discussions on the aftermath of the referendum on the Greenpeace UK Facebook page.

Neither Wolf Nor Dog - film review

This film follows writer Kent Nerburn (Christophier Sweeney) as he travels with native American / Indian elder Dan (Chief Dave Bald Eagle) who chooses to refer to himself as Indian, and his best friend to find the truth of the native American / Indian experience. It is an eye opening film that doesn't shy away from portraying the cultural misunderstandings between Nerburn and Dan, nor does it flinch from the struggles of the Indian peoples against the white colonisers of their land and the enduring shadow that history casts over communities and families.

I was to some extent confused by this film, I had expected it to be a documentary, which it obviously isn't, then I thought it was a dramatisation of a real life story, but then I read that Nerburn's book Neither Wolf nor Dog is a novel, but after reading reviews of the book I think mostly it's a true story. Certainly the stories that Dan tells of his people's lives are truth, and truth that we all could benefit from hearing.

I do however suspect that in terms of really learning about the history and lives of native Americans / Indians, the book will offer much more than the film, which isn't a criticism of the film, it's just an acknowledgement that a book can pack much more substance into its pages than this film packed into its 90 minutes, insightful though those 90 minutes are.

Neither Wolf nor Dog is showing as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival:

1805, 24 June at Odeon.

 You can read my other reviews from this year's film festival by following the links below:


Endless Night.

The Lure

Homo Sapiens

Belles Familles.

The Olive Tree.

 Death is Only the Beginning - my review of The Correspondence and The Library Suicides.

The Mine.

The Islands and the Whales.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Bugs - are insects the food of the future?

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival and attended free press screenings of these films

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Edinburgh's best roadside verge in bloom for 30 days Wild

I made a point today of getting off the bus at Edinburgh's best roadside verge to take some photos. Strictly speaking it's not really a roadside verge, but it sits between London Road and Lower London Road and the past couple of years has looked wonderful at this time of year. Here's a selection of my photos from today.
















for 30 Days Wild.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Tree bumblebees and fledging blue tits for 30 Days Wild

Tree bumblebees are relatively new to Scotland, I saw my first here last year. They are adorable looking insects and today I was delighted to find a cotoneaster bush literally buzzing with tree bumblebees, common carders and white tailed / buff tailed bumblebees (its a tree bumblebee in the photo).

The photo isn't the best in the world, but those bees whizz around at some speed and my camera battery died after only three photos!

It was also lovely today to find two separate families of blue tits fledging in trees in the Meadows, bouncing from branch to branch above my head. Young blue tits are so cute with their little yellow faces..... Sorry, no photos, but as I mentioned above, the camera battery failed me.... (plus sometimes its just nice to stand and watch, without worrying about focussing a camera etc)

Endless Night - film review

Endless Night is the heavily fictionalised story of Josephine Peary, played by Juliette Binoche) an arctic explorer who in the early years of the 20th Century set sail to meet her husband the explorer Robert Peary who was on his way to the north pole.

Josephine sets off into the arctic ice with two Inuit guides and Bram (Gabriel Byrne) despite everyone telling her she was foolish. Even after Bram's death she refuses to take anyone's advice and forces the guides to accompany her further. She eventually finds herself at her husband's base camp shack where she meets Allaka (Rinko Kikuchi) who turns out to be Robert Peary's mistress.

The heart of the film focuses on the relationship between the two women, but it is also a study of Western colonialist attitudes. Josephine tries to show Allaka that using cutlery properly is more important than finding nutritious local food. She states bluntly that the Inuit reverence for nature and respect for hard weather is nothing compared to her husband's world changing conquering of the North Pole. She chastises Allaka for casually sleeping with her husband, while Allaka sees no problem with having kept a man warm in cold weather.

The difficulty of surviving the arctic cold is very clearly evoked in this film, as the two women resort to ever more desperate measures to find food and heat.

Will the two women bury their differences and come to some kind of mutual understanding through the long Arctic winter? Will they ever be reunited with Robert Peary?


This is an edited version of the 2015 film No-one wants the Night. 

Endless Night is showing as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival:

1820, 24 June at Filmhouse and 1540, 25 June at Odeon.

 You can read my other reviews from this year's film festival by following the links below:

The Lure

Homo Sapiens

Belles Familles.

The Olive Tree.

 Death is Only the Beginning - my review of The Correspondence and The Library Suicides.

The Mine.

The Islands and the Whales.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Bugs - are insects the food of the future?

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival and attended free press screenings of these films