Saturday, 26 May 2018

Up river to Balerno

We had a lovely walk today up the Water of Leith from Colinton to Balerno. This is a section of the river we rarely walk along and it offers a lovely walk with some very pretty views of the river.

The wild garlic is still out and looking beautiful

and there are lots of other flowers in bloom, in this photo there's leopard's bane, red campion and forget me not with some male ferns.

This grey heron was happy to pose for Crafty Green Boyfriend

as was this mistle thrush

It was nice to see lots of hoverflies too, including this Sericomyia lappona (thanks to the Hoverflies Facebook group for the identification and to Crafty Green Boyfriend for the photo) 

Friday, 25 May 2018

What's your attitude to second hand clothing?

A couple of days ago I attended a training event for Granton Goes Greener with our funder Climate Challenge Fund.

One of the highlights was a discussion about attitudes to second hand clothing.  On the negative side we talked about:
  • people’s desire to wear the latest fashion or to fit in with cultural norms and expectations
  • people’s distaste for clothing that’s been worn by something else
  • laziness – it’s often quicker to find a specific item in a chain store than in a second hand shop
  • stigma – the feeling that you’ll be looked down on if you buy second hand
On the positive side we talked about:
  • creativity – creating your own look or customising old clothes to make something new
  • saving money – you can often find good brands at low prices in second hand shops (though some discount  stores are often cheaper than second hand)
  • more and more clothing designers and fashion retailers are using up-cycled materials in their productions, making the idea fashionable in itself
  • the environmental benefits of reducing waste
Ever since I was a student, I have bought all my clothes second hand (except for underwear). I often buy 2nd hand shoes too.

Part of the Granton Goes Greener Project is the clothing swap shop which is already an ongoing part of the Granton Parish Church community but is set to expand in the very near future! You bring in good quality clothing that no longer fits and swap it for something else. We want donations of good quality used clothing. The swap shop isn’t an excuse to clear out your wardrobe just for the sake of it but part of a circular clothing economy that tries to extend the life of clothing and reduce waste (see this article).  We want individuals to both bring clothing in and take clothing away. Having said that, we won’t turn away donations and we’re happy for people in need to take items of clothing even if they don’t have anything to donate.

Clothes swapping is becoming quite trendy now with Swishing parties being very popular.

The Swap Shop will feature at the launch of Granton Goes Greener which will happen between 12 noon and 3pm on Saturday 30 June.

This article is cross posted to the Granton Goes Greener blog, you can read that version here

Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Seven years old, in my jigsaw world map
I saw the west coast of Africa
fit neatly beside Brazil
despite the expanse of ocean
that correctly came between
in broken blue.

Years later in a college lecture room
I discovered continental drift,
plate tectonics, theories of biogeography
and instantly understood.

Now, sifting through photographs
I see your distant face:
Africa to my Brazil. 

First published in my pamphlet Unthinkable Skies and originally posted on this blog in 2006.

Meanwhile you can read my poem Beach Hut over on my Shapeshifting Green Blog here

Monday, 21 May 2018

Insects and Ducklings enjoying the Sunshine

It's a beautiful day today and I took a walk along the John Muir Walkway at Musselburgh. Birdwatching is the usual draw to the area, but today the insects were well worth paying attention to.

With my increasing interest in lichens, I was fascinated by this tree, but what really stands out are the two spot ladybirds hiding in amongst the lichens

When I got to the Boating Pond, I was delighted to see about 6 common blue damselflies, though only one stopped for a photo

Meanwhile the eider ducks have got ducklings

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Dalkeith Country Park

Beautiful sunshine today for our walk in Dalkeith Country Park. We visit at this time of year, every year as the bluebells are so lovely

The wild garlic was also beautifully in bloom

and the dandelions are seeding

The park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for it's lichens, including these

The ancient oak trees are always a highlight of the visit, whatever the time of year

We saw several speckled wood butterflies but only this one allowed us to get close enough to take a photo

We also saw a few solitary bees and their little holes

This larger hole belongs to a bunny

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Granton Hub Community Garden

Yesterday, as part of my new job with Granton Goes Greener, I visited Granton Hub, a volunteer run community project with a real environmental ethos!

There is a wonderful garden space  behind the building, with space to grow vegetables and woven willow shelters

  and a wildflower nursery.

The Hub sells wildflowers and has supplied Butterfly Conservation and others with plants for their projects.

Edinburgh Scrap Store is also based here, though it was shut when I was there

Granton Hub is based in the original office building of the Maldevic Motor Carriage Company which in 1899 was manufacturing electric cars!

This aspect of the history of the site is reflected in the occasional events held at the Hub that focus on the history of cars and alternative transport. The car factory itself is now derelict (the building can be seen in the background in the photo below).

The Granton Hub Garden is one of three Granton community gardening projects that are involved in the Power of Food  Festival, which is happening across Edinburgh on 16 and 17 June. The other local gardens taking part are Granton Community Gardeners and Granton Castle Garden. The Hub Garden will be making an Iron Age Boat as part of the power of Food Festival, the boat will be built in this space

and then launched into the nearby Firth of Forth. Once the boat has been built, the area will probably be turned into a wildlife area. As I stood there, several goldfinches were flying around and white butterflies too.

The garden is already very set up for wildlife, I really like the way that the ant hill has been marked out to protect the ants and their home.

A slightly different version of this blog post will appear on the Granton Goes Greener blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Fighting Food Waste - One Garlic Bulb at a Time

I hate wasting food and particularly now as part of my job at Granton Goes Greener is to help redistribute useable unsold food from bakers to the local community.

I was annoyed to say the least when I discovered that our garlic looked like this

I did some online research and it seems as though it's the wrong time of year to plant garlic and also it seems as though it's not a crop that will grow well on a window-ledge. However, given that in the past we've very successfully grown tomatoes on our window-ledge (see for example here), I'm going to try growing garlic.

I've separated the sprouting cloves and planted them into two pots and we'll see what happens. If it's successful I'll blog about it again!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

King Crow by Michael Stewart

 The cover of 'King Crow' by Michael Stewart.

Paul is an outsider, obsessed with birds. He watches birds all the time and constantly compares birds to humans and vice versa:

'People often overlook the starling. I  think that's a shame. Just because they're common, doesn't mean they aren't fascinating. What I like more than anything else is their sociability. This can often be mistaken for aggression, but I reckon one goes with the other - you see people piling out of the Brown Cow on Friday evenings and you'll know what I mean.' 

Ashley is everything that Paul isn't, tough and good looking, and inexplicably happy to make friends with Paul. When the two get into trouble, they leave home in Salford and head off to the hills of the Lake District. Paul wants to find ravens, Ashley wants to disappear.

Along the way they meet Becky and the three explore the Lakes together, though definitely not taking the tourist route.

There are many reasons why I love this book - the setting (Salford being close to where I grew up and the Lake District being a favourite place), the writing (Stewart creates a very convincing voice for Paul), and of course the birds. I also really enjoyed Paul's journey to self discovery.

This is Michael Stewart's debut novel. 

King Crow by Michael Stewart published (2011) by Blue Moose Books

If you like quirky novels about birdwatchers, you might also like Pelican Blood by Chris Freddi, which I reviewed here).or An English Guide to Birdwatching by Nicholas Royle, which I review here).

Monday, 14 May 2018

It almost feels like Summer

The weather is beautiful today! A lovely day for a patrol of Colinton and Craiglockart Dells alongside the Water of Leith.

The wild garlic is blooming now and smells and looks wonderful

The horse chestnut trees are also fully in bloom now and looking beautiful

and the larch flowers continue their slow and steady development towards becoming cones

Later in the morning I saw lots of orange tip butterflies, though none stopped for long enough for me to photograph them.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Frogs, Hoverflies and a baby robin

We spent a lovely afternoon in Crafty Green Boyfriend's mother's garden.

This beautiful young robin was happily wandering round the apple tree

Meanwhile there were lots of frogs in the pond just by the side of the apple tree and sunbathing round the pond too

and the whole garden is full of hoverflies including this beautiful Epistrophe elegans

and this Platycheirus peltatus (?)

The rhododendrons all look lovely too