Friday, 28 April 2017

Swans Showing Off!

These male mute swans looked very impressive as they showed off to each other today at Musselburgh

The John Muir Walkway is quite flooded in places at the moment, even though we've not had that much rain

and I was delighted to see my first common carder bee of the year

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Two Films about Poets in just Two Days!

I'm not sure whether it was a good idea by the Filmhouse to screen A Quiet Passion and Neruda so closely together - the potential audiences for the two films must be very similar and some people may have had to miss one of the films, which would be a shame as they're both worth seeing. Luckily I was able to see them both!

Yesterday, I saw A Quiet Passion, a biopic of Emily Dickinson. It is really a series of scenes from her life, rather than having a structured narrative to it. The viewer sees Emily's relationship with her parents and siblings, her close friend Vyrling and her struggles against both what she considers an overbearing church and a painful illness. I found it interesting to have these insights into the poet's life, and enjoyed the voice-overs of her poetry, but the style of the film was far too mannered for me and the witty dialogue, though entertaining didn't seem convincing. I also found that although her illnesses and social awkwardness should have made Dickinson a sympathetic (though difficult character) I just found her very unsympathetic.

Neruda (which I saw today) is a totally different film. Ostensibly based on Pablo Neruda's political difficulties (he was a communist politician in Chile as well as a significant poet) the film is very fictionalised, concentrating on an invented police officer almost as much as on Neruda himself. The story follows Neruda having to leave his home due to political difficulties and him being chased by said police officer. Thus ensues a game of cat and mouse which is absurd and entertaining. There is also, behind the story itself another, very clever, layer to the film that only becomes obvious as the film progresses. This film is dreamlike, with odd colour tones giving some scenes a feel of faded memories.

Neither film should be seen as honest, real life accounts of the lives of their subjects. But then neither of them claim to be straightforward biopics (in fact Neruda has been described as an anti-biopic) and they offer a degree of insight into the creative process of two influential poets.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Twilight Scrawls by Kirstin Maguire

Twilight Scrawls is a collection of philosophy-based poems from Kirstin Maguire (with illustrations from Liam Ward). The book is made up of three sections, starting ‘at sunrise’, and moving through through the course of a day (and equally perhaps a lifetime) to ‘sunset’, then  into the ‘night’. Themes covered include creativity, fate, consciousness, our relationship with nature and essentially what it means to be human, taking in ideas from various branches of philosophy. The Twilight in the title refers both to dusk and dawn and to a time and feeling of uncertainty.

The book was written over a seven year period while the poet was working on other books. Perhaps partly as a result of this the poems here vary in style. Although many of the poems are in free verse, the poet sometimes uses metre and end line rhyme to great effect as in these lines from Being

I want to dance wild as a reckless flame,
Feel frivolous furnace where once was shame.
I want to glisten as an endless tide,
And not feel compelled to sink and slide

other times the metre and rhyme can feel a bit more contrived as in these lines from Trees of Wonder:

 I don’t know how many times I’ve been blinded by its familiarity.
And suddenly, its blossom, as if for the first time, I see

The natural world appears frequently in these poems, though it isn't the central element of the book and is often used in a metaphorical sense as these lines from Advaita Vedanta
Like the bird
Who flew the nest,
And circled intrepid skies

Some of the best poems, with their effective use of repetition and straightforward rhymes cry out to be made into songs, including I Ain't Growing Any Wiser:
The sands of time, how they shift.
Each wave meets its shore,
Indeed each grows, crests, then flows away.
And it’s waves, and waves, and waves, my friend,
Fragile, violent and pure.
Like waves, and waves, and waves, my friend,
Of all those swift goodbyes.

Similarly Ain't Got No Time for Poetry:

Ain’t got no use for politics,
They play their games and make their tricks.
Knowing context ain’t how I get my kicks,
There just ain’t no use for politics.

The poems become increasingly dark as the collection proceeds, it's a trajectory that makes logical sense but may be disheartening for some readers. Yes it feels as though the world is getting darker all the time, given the current political situations and the worsening state of the natural environment, but  a journey into hope would be welcome! Some readers may feel the collection is too heavily weighted with philosophy, but in general it's a thought provoking read.

Twilight Scrawls by Kirstin Maguire published by Alba Publishing.

Disclaimer: I received a free, electronic copy of this book. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Photos from a sunny weekend

The weather was wonderful this weekend, sunny and warm! I was visiting my Dad down in suburban Manchester. We spent some time in the garden, where the tulips, though past their best, still look wonderful

as do the jonquils

and the azaleas

another azalea bush is still waiting to come into full bloom

while the yellow flag irises look lovely even before they've started to flower

and I saw my first Eristalis hoverfly of the year

We also visited Blackleach Country Park which isn't far from my Dad's house, the cowslips are always a highlight of the park at this time of year

There were loads of butterflies enjoying the sunshine, though not stopped for a photo! We saw several orange tip butterflies, two peacock butterflies and two speckled wood butterflies.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

More sea glass crafts

I have lots of lovely sea glass and sea pottery at the moment! I've donated some of the sea pottery to Gorgie City Farm and the Lochend Secret Garden for their garden mosaic projects and I have lots of ideas for using the sea pottery in various crafting projects.

Meanwhile I've filled some bottles with some of the sea glass, like this

The middle bottle isn't full as a piece of sea glass has lodged and stuck in the neck of the bottle! All three of them though make pretty decorative features. I like the variety of the colours of sea glass in here.

Earlier I had used some sea glass to make a pretty candle holder, which you can see here.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

News from the Crafty Green poet Etsy shop

These I think are my favourite earrings that I've made recently

and they're now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here. I made them from chain from a damaged vintage necklace along with brand new nickel free earring hooks.

Also recently new in my Etsy shop are this necklace (in the shop here)

and these earrings (in the shop here)

which as you may be able to tell are made from parts from the same original piece of jewellery, with the round charm in the necklace coming from a second original item. The earring hooks are of course brand new. I'll be adding more similar earrings to the shop in the near future so watch this space!

I've also made some new chopstick bags recently, including this one made from a lovely orange satin that doesn't look as nice in the photos as it is in real life! (you can find it in the shop here).

Monday, 17 April 2017

Wood Sorrel

Wood sorrel is a lovely flower of early Spring, it's an indicator of ancient woodland. Ancient woodland is defined as land that has been continuously wooded since 1600 or earlier (in England. Wales and Northern Ireland) or since at least 1750 in Scotland.

These plants are growing on a mossy wall in Colinton Dell, along the Water of Leith which is an area of ancient woodland. This area isn't entirely natural ancient woodland as some of the trees (particularly the hornbeams) were planted for use in the construction of the mills that used to line these riverbanks and other trees were planted as ornamentals by the country estates that also used to own much of these lands.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Along the River to a Teddy Bears' Picnic!

We walked along the Slateford to Saughton stretch of the Water of Leith today

and into Saughton Park

where the flower beds are looking wonderful 

especially the tulips

the topiary birds are in great shape

and teddy bears have been hidden around the gardens in preparation for the teddy bear hunt which is part of this afternoon's Easter Eggstravaganza.

Saughton Park will close for a few months soon as it is going to be upgraded, the old buildings that used to be used as stables are going to be brought back into use and a new cafe created. You can read more in my blogpost from a few weeks ago.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Birds in the Meadows

The famous cherry trees of Edinburgh's Meadows aren't fully in bloom yet but we were delighted to see two treecreepers today, here's just one of them

and great views of a mistle thrush too

We'll need to go back in a few weeks to see the cherry trees in full bloom, it's one of the seasonal sights of Edinburgh. You can see the trees in full bloom a few years ago here.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The first rhododendrons of the year

Lovely to see these beautiful rhododendrons in bloom in Princes Street Gardens this lunchtime!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Edinburgh Garden

We had supper at Crafty Green Boyfriend's Mum's yesterday and before eating we had a look at the frog pond, which is surrounded by marsh marigolds at the moment

No frogs though, it was probably too cold and windy for them! So we'll have to do with this

Also yesterday, I went to an excellent talk at the National Library of Scotland on 'from commonplace books to Facebook' which I reviewed here.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Green Promises?

The local elections are drawing closer. So far we've had two election leaflets through the door:

The first one promises:

Push for the whole ward to be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone, which would cap rent rises.

Fight for local groups to temporarily take over the growing number of empty retail spaces, providing free space for community purposes.

Work to make the area more accessible for everyone, seeking improvements to our streets, parks and public spaces.

In the more narrative part of the leaflet his candidate also : speaks out on child poverty, supports community enterprise and promises action on cleaner, safer streets (including more recycling facilities and more frequent emptying of the rubbish bins).

The second candidate promises to:

work hard to reduce anti-social behaviour
continue the flight against domestic violence and hate crime
work hard to keep our streets safe and clean
continue to work to improve waste collection times
continue to promote recycling and work to reduce fly tipping
prioritise efforts to protect our parks and green spaces.

So the question is, which is the Scottish Green Party candidate? You may think it's the 2nd, who includes three obviously environmental priorities in his list, but no, the 2nd candidate is the Scottish National Party candidate. The Scottish Green Party is represented by the first candidate! Now I totally support the three things that he has chosen to highlight as his main aims and in a broad sense two of them are environmentally aware - better use of retain spaces reduces the need to build new retail spaces on green land and he does mention parks plus the more in depth part of the leaflet becomes more obviously concerned with the environment.

But if the SNP is going to highlight some of the obvious green ideas (promote recycling! protect our green spaces!) in their key manifesto pledges then why should we vote for the Green Party? Both parties support Scottish Independence too, so that isn't a defining feature either.It's good that the SNP are taking on board the environmental message, but that gives the Greens even more room to become more overtly environmental.

We need a Green Party that not only genuinely stands up for nature and the environment but that puts those issues and concerns right at the forefront of their campaigns. Most people don't read the party manifesto, most probably don't even read part the three priority statements on the front of the party leaflet. So the party needs to make its eco-friendly stance obvious and bold. The overtly environmental statements should come first, with the other ideals following on with an explanation of how they support the environment in a broad sense.

We need a political party that will wholeheartedly stand up for nature and the environment, but is the Scottish Green Party as yet this party? Or are they just a green tinged left wing party? (Not that that is a bad thing in itself, but it doesn't go far enough for me or a lot of other environmentalists).

(Disclaimer I used to be a member of the Scottish Green Party and left for various reasons and have never been tempted back).

Monday, 10 April 2017

Spring in the Dells

Spring is a wonderful time of the year with all the flowers and the birdsong. The Dells along the Water of Leith are always a great place to experience nature and today was no exception, though it was a little chilly!

Some of the flowers develop very fast, the larch flowers are already larger and darker this week

than they were last week and the needles have developed a lot too in the past week (larch is the one type of conifer that loses its needles in the winter)

Some of the cherry trees are beautifully in blossom already

and the first ransoms (wild garlic) are also in bloom

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Tulips and the first hoverfly of the year at Gorgie Farm

We visited Gorgie City Farm today! The tulips are beautifully in bloom

the sheep are sleepy

the bunnies in the pet boarding lodge are relaxed

the staff have hung up bundles of sheep's wool and other natural materials for the birds to use for nesting material

and I was very happy to see my first hoverfly of the year, Episyrphus balteatus