Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Papayas and Lemons

In your garden grew a beautiful lemon tree
In mine there was a papaya tree

We breakfasted on fresh papayas
sprinkled with ginger
and drizzled with lemon juice

Until one day a raging storm
blew down the papaya tree

Now we eat our breakfasts alone
and you take your lemons to market

Previously published as part of Gabrielle Bryden's Citrus Fiesta

Monday, 15 January 2018

Walking the Nile by Levison Wood

 Walking the Nile by Levison Wood

Levison Wood set out to walk the whole length of the River Nile from its beginning as a spring in the mountains of Rwanda through desert and rainforests to LakeVictoria (once thought to be the actual source of the river) and onwards to the delta at the Mediterranean Sea.

Along the way he walks through areas of Rwanda full of terrible memories of the genocide, through lush national parks, devastated forests, inhospitable deserts and through war-torn South Sudan. In some areas he is greeted with crowds singing songs in his honour, in others he is arrested, in others he has to hide from gunfire. He learns about illegal wildlife poaching and about the difficulties of balancing wildlife conservation with the needs of local farmers.

For much of the way he is accompanied by Boston, his guide who becomes a friend.

The book is very readable and offers insights in the history of the Nile and the surrounding areas and commentary on current social and environmental situations. Wood writes with an endearing honesty about his low points when endless desert and searing heat make him want to give up the trek. He is good natured about his fellow travellers and the people he meets along the way, though angry about excess bureacracy!  He is however naive, both in his insistence on walking through a war torn South Sudan and in some aspects of his expedition management.

This is a book well worth reading for anyone interested in rivers or the history of these parts of Africa.

Walking the Nile by Levison Wood published by Simon and Schuster

This journey was also made into a documentary for Channel Four TV, you can watch it here. (Some countries may not be able to view these videos).

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Lauriston Castle Gardens

Lauriston Castle is more of a stately home than a castle

The house is set in lovely walled gardens that are always worth a wander round.

You can look our over the fields of Silverknowes to the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island

Recently a bee hive has been added to the gardens

though it was too early in the year for the bees to be at work yet!

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a  lovely part of the grounds

and the witch hazel is already in bloom

 You can see photos from our previous visits to Lauriston Castle here.

Friday, 12 January 2018

New curtain tie backs in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

I just finished making this pair of beaded curtain tie backs using various beads from my stash, some of which came from jewellery that needed to be re-threaded, some of which came from second hand shops and some which came in gift parcels of  upcycled jewellery supplies.

I enjoyed designing them and they look quite nice used with light-weight sheer curtains.

These curain tie backs are available to buy as a pair in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop - here.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Two Exhibitions at the City Art Centre

There are currently two excellent exhibitions at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh.

On the first floor is Songs for Winter, a joint exhibition between Pauline Burbridge
 and Charles Poulson, who share a studio in renovated farm buildings at Allanbank Mill Steading in the Scottish Borders. The exhibition includes vibrant drawings by Charles and a range of textile art by Pauline. These range from large scale quilts inspired by fields and plants to much smaller collages. Her cyanotype collages of ferns are particularly beautiful.

On the third floor is A Fine Line exhibiting the work of four women who explore the fine line between craft and art. I've always loved Lizzie Farey's willow sculptures and there are some beautiful ones in this exhibition. I was very impressed too by the work of Angie Lewin, who creates beautiful mixed media works inspired by the natural landscape. She uses beautiful palettes of colour and her prints are full of energy. She also creates work on driftwood and sea pottery. Frances Priest's work is represented by various vividly coloured items inspired by Indian crafts, that are both fascinating and uncategorisable. The show also featured work by Bronwen Sleigh, though I have to admit, her work was for me entirely overshadowed by the other artists.

Songs for Winter is showing at the City Art Centre until Sunday 4 March.

A Fine Line is showing at the City Art Centre until 18 February. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Nightdress Case Kitty

I have had this lovely kitten nightdress case since I was about 9 (when  I called her Maria Sashia - even then I liked things to rhyme!). I still use her too, though these days she stores my hankies. Anyway she'd become a bit worn

so I decided to smarten her up. I cut out pieces of dark blue and orange felt and sewed them on. Instead of trying to cut a very small piece of felt the right shape for her nose I decided to embroider her a new nose. So this is what she looks like now

She's not perfect but she looks much brighter now.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Elephant in the Room

There’s little room to breathe in here

the elephant sucks out all the air
through its massive trunk
and presses the couple to the walls.

They stare into each other,
their eyes message
what their lips cannot say:

there’s an elephant in the room.

There’s little room for elephants here
where villages expand into the plains
and poachers gun down whole herds.

Dying elephants suck air
through flattened trunks
fading eyes hold a message

there’s something we need to talk about here.

Previously published on Gnarled Oak

Monday, 8 January 2018

The Beauty of Frost

It's very cold today but the Dells alongside the Water of Leith look wonderful all covered in frost

frosty rosehip

frosty ivy

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Along the Almond

The River Almond is one of the two main rivers that run through Edinburgh (the other being the Water of Leith, which I help to look after in my voluntary work, then there's also the much smaller Braid Burn / Figgate Burn).

Today we enjoyed a cold walk aong the Almond from Cramond Brig to the mouth of the river.The Shetland ponies at Cramond Brig were too busy eating to pay much attention to us.

We were interested to see that the fish ladder is being improved on the river

It's a mess at the moment, but eventually the old fish ladder will be better than ever and salmon and other migratory fish will be able to get upstream to their spawning grounds more easily.

At the same time a wildflower meadow has been planted downstream from the fish ladder, which will hopefully come into bloom in a few months!

Already in fact the first signs of spring are showing, despite the cold, these are the bulbs of wild garlic, which will soon start scenting the area!

We saw several mallards on our walk, I like the way the female here hs showing the blue speculum in her wing, which is often hidden

On the way home in the bus we were happy to see a skein of geese (probably pink footed geese)

Friday, 5 January 2018

Grey Heron and Redwings

A handsome grey heron happy to be photographed today in Braidburn Valley Park

Plus there were over 60 redwings flying around and wandering over the grass (how many can you count in this photo?)! Lovely to see so many of this colourful thrush that migrates from Scandanavia to spend the winter here eating berries.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Does Cammo Estate need to be 'Improved'?

I don't think it's coincidence that Edinburgh Council is looking to 'improve' Cammo Estate (recently made into a local nature reserve) just at the time that they are finalising plans to build on some of the surrounding fields. Also I'm slightly unsure whether Cammo is large enough for some of the types of infrastructure they seem to be proposing, though it does have underused buildings and derelict buildings that could be used. The wee canal has already been restored very nicely so perhaps I should stop being cynical.... 

Anyway, the next round of consultatations on improvements to the nature reserve are on 19 - 21 January. See here for more information. (These are entirely separate from any consultation on the housing). 

You can read more about our latest trip to Cammo here.  

a Cammo squirrel

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The Water's High in the Dells

The Water of Leith is running high at the moment! This is the weir up at Colinton!

 The goosanders seem to enjoy swimming the rapids

and the oyster mushrooms are thriving in the damp conditions

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Drama on the Pond!

We braved the rain today to walk round Figgate Park, which has a lovely pond which is usually full of ducks, geese and swans. Today was no exception, and the mute swans gave a great display

These two males started displaying to each other, which attracted the attention of a youngster

the youngster also joined in the displaying and the calling with his father

which gradually brought more youngsters flocking to their father's help 

 who eventually saw off the rival male

The pair of gadwall seemed unconcerned by the swan dramas 

Meanwhile we discovered a tree that is being entirely taken over by fungi (most of the fungi seemed to be oyster fungi but there may be others there too). The tree's bark cracks as the fungi grows through

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year!

It's an Edinburgh tradition to visit Arthur's Seat on New Year's Day which is what we did today.

We don't go to the top of the hill, as it is one of those horribly steep peaks that gives me really bad vertigo, plus at this time of year there are too many people up there so we kept to the valley where there were far fewer people.

One of our own New year's day traditions is to make a list of all the birds we see, as a start to the year list we keep. We're not competitive about this and just shrug our shoulders when extremely serious birders laugh at  how relatively few birds we see over the course of the year. We did have a good start, seeing 28 species today including in our own street, during our walk across Edinburgh and round Arthur's Seat. Crafty Green Boyfriend took these lovely photos

 goosander on the Union Canal - female above, male below

treecreeper in the Meadows area

male tufted duck, on one of the lochs on Arthur's Seat