Saturday, 21 July 2018

Wester Craiglockart HIll

Lovely views from Wester Craiglockart HIll today

and amazing to see (and hear!) a family of sparrowhawks fledging - you can see one of the parent birds in the photo below

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Raspberry Picking

Sweetness glows red in thorny undergrowth.
Arms scratched and nettled,
we fill bags with fruit,
juice on our hands like blood.
I snack on berries and chocolate
and dream of the jars of jam that will shine
warmly red on our shelves
seeing us through the winter.

Previously published on Misty Mountain Review.

Meanwhile I've posted my poem The Secret of Chocolate over on my Shapeshifting Green blog. You can read it here.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Customising Clothing

One of the aspects of my current job with Granton Goes Greener is to manage the clothing swap shop in the church hall. People can bring in clothing that no longer fits or that they're bored of and swap it for something different. We aim to only have good quality clothing in the shop and some items don't quite make the grade. This t-shirt had a stubborn and unsightly stain on it, but it fits me and though I would never wear anything this colour combination out and about I would wear it around the house. So I cut a patch from a piece of black fabric from a worn out t-shirt and here's the result

I'm not pretending this is either a fashion statement or anything special but it's just a basic idea. Some people do wonderfully imaginative things by patching clothing to hide stains or tears or just to give an old item a fresh look.

Monday, 16 July 2018

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

 The Gracekeepers

The world is flooded and society has become divided between the landlocked who live on land and the damplings who live on boats and travel endlessly around the globe.

Callanish lives by herself in the middle of the ocean, carrying out Restings for those who die and tending their graves and the graces (birds) that mark people's deaths.

North lives on a coracle with her beloved bear as part of a floating circus. She faces an arranged marriage and a forced move onto land when all she wants is her bear.

A chance meeting between the two women changes the course of their lives.

This is a beautifully imagined story from a world changed by climate change. The dynamics of the circus community and the prejudices they face from the land dwellers and the military are very well drawn. The relationship between North and her bear is very touching and sweet.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan published by Vintage (2015)

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Edinburgh Marched Against Trump Yesterday

Yesterday around 10 thousand people gathered outside the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh to protest against Donald Trump visiting the UK.

There were some excellent banners and posters

But in some ways the most pertinent for us in the UK was this one (Brexit = Trump. Stop Brexit).

When the UK leaves the European Union we'll need to find new trading agreements and our government is looking towards Trump's America for at least some of these agreements. But whereas the European Union has stringent guidelines and laws on environmental protection and health and welfare, many other potential trading partners (including the USA) have less stringent guidelines and laws. In addition, if the UK trades within the EU it means less long distance transport for our food and other goods, which means fewer carbon emissions, which is better for the environment.

The march finally arrived at the Carnival of Resistance in the Meadows where the Baby Trump blimp was waiting for us

and where there were speakers and bands including Devils in Skirts

Friday, 13 July 2018

SHRUB Co-operative Reuse and Recycle Centre

On Wednesday (as part of my job) I visited SHRUB Co-operative a Swap and Re-use Hub in the centre of Edinburgh.
They are currently preparing to expand into new premises. The building above, which is their current home which currently houses the Wee Spoke Hub is going to become entirely dedicated to this purpose.. The Wee Spoke Hub is where people can learn how to fix their bikes.

SHRUB also run an inspiring range of workshops on up-cycling and sustainable living. A couple of years ago I went to one of their jewellery making workshops which was great fun! (You can read more about it here).

SHRUB also have wonderful examples of upcycling all throughout their premises, including these two 'chandeliers'

SHRUB also have a swap shop (which is currently closed while they organise their move). You can either turn up with something to swap on the day or your can become a member and donate items to build up swap credits which you can then use to take things at a later date.

SHRUB are on a mission to make Edinburgh a Zero Waste city!

SHRUB will be launching in their new locations over the summer and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how they develop!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Cygnets and Summer Flowers at Musselburgh

It's humid and cloudy out there, we really need some rain....

Lovely to see several bees (though not as many as you would have expected even a few years ago) flying round in the red clover and tall mellilot along the John Muir Walkway

The bees were camera shy unlike this lovely burnet moth

Along the River Esk the red poppies look lovely

while the swans have got five cygnets

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

What can you make with a old sock?

I recently realised my old camera case (made from scrap fabric) was falling apart so I made this one to replace it. Basically it's the top end of an old sock (I cut off the worn foot) with a button from my stash and a ready made buttonhole.

Monday, 9 July 2018

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker

Paul Chowder is a struggling poet (though struggling is a relative term, he seems to find it easy to make a thousand dollars here and there for readings and reviews) who spends most of this novel procrastinating about writing the introduction to an anothology of rhyming poetry and trying to win back his ex, Ros, who left him largely for his failure to complete said introduction.

Along the way Chowder talks about rhyme and rhythm, fashions in poetic style, poets old and new, the value of teaching creative writing. He compares writing poetry to making jewellery:

"You can't alter the nature of a given bead or a given word but you can change which bead you choose and the order in which you string them on their line..... I think I'll do a quadruple rhythm, a love has gone and left me rhythm: one grey green bead and then three other beads of near random colours, and then a grey green bead again".

He also compares creating poetry to gardening, specifically mowing the lawn.

The book is written in a wonderfully natural chatty style, with various observations about people and nature thrown in almost casually. At the same time it packs in a lot of really valuable lessons about how to appreciate and write poetry.

In fact, if you're looking for help and advice for writing poetry I'd recommend adding this to your reading list. Possibly more inspiring than many more formal 'how to write poetry' books and certainly more fun than the vast majority of them.

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker, published by Simon and Schuster (2009) 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A Long Walk on a Sunny Day

Yesterday we walked from Cramond Brig to South Queensferry through the beautiful Dalmeny Estate. Some of the walk is through open fields, some through shady woodland

 and then the route comes out at the coast, where we get some lovely views

We saw a good variety of insects including this  Leucozonia glaucia hoverfly being buzzed by a parasitic wasp

Pellucid hoverflies

and ringlet butterflies

and a speckled wood 

We were delighted to see tree sparrows, a declining species across the UK and one we haven't previously seen in this location

Friday, 6 July 2018

Summer on Corstorphine Hill

A lovely lunchtime walk round Corstorphine HIll with Crafty Green Boyfriend today.

Several hoverflies around too, most notably this Leucozona glaucia, which isn't seen very often in Edinburgh, though this is the 2nd I've seen in the city

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Shetland Coast

Shetland is made up of many islands and all of them have beautiful coastal landscapes, here are just a few photos bfrom our recent trip

 the three photos above are from Papa Stou
 near Lerwick on Shetland Mainland
Burra (above and below)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Plastic Pollution on Shetland - a post for Plastic Free July

Shetland's beaches look beautiful (though tend to be rocky rather than sandy)

and the sea looks free of anything other than the occasional raft of auks floating past 

Unfortunately however there is a lot of plastic pollution around. The strandline which is made up naturally of seaweed and crabs is nowadays even here full of plastic and other waste. Sometimes on the beach you also find plastic like this bottle

We picked litter from the beaches as much as we could and if everyone did that it would make a difference. You can join in a beach clean with Marine Conservation Society, find out more here. Or your local Park friends group may organise regular clean ups. I pick litter every week as part of my volunteering work with Water of Leith Conservation Trust, who also run regular group cleanups - find out more about volunteering with the trust here.

One of the problems with plastic pollution is that often it looks like food to birds or sea mammals that are hunting and so they take it to their nest to feed to their young. This means that the young birds have their stomachs filled with plastic rather than food and so may starve to death.Not Whale Food specifically campaigns on this aspect of plastic pollution.
There are also many simple ways to reduce your use of plastics, see for example this list from Greenpeace. (However it's important to remember not to replace one problem with another. If you use cloth carrier bags instead of plastic bags you need to be aware that more energy is used in their production so just make sure that you have a few rather than keep buying lots of pretty bags, similarly keep cups are more energy intensive than throwaway cups so you need to keep using your keep cup not get rid of it after you've used it four times just to buy a prettier one.)

You can also commit to not using single use plastics for a month for Plastic Free July.

What are your top tips for reducing your use of plastic?

Monday, 2 July 2018

Summer Day in the Garden and Making Friends with a Neighbours Cat

Another lovely day yesterday. We spent the afternoon in Crafty Green Boyfriend's mother's garden

It's looking lovely as ever and is a haven for insects such as this pellucid hoverfly

It was until recently also a haven for frogs but a heron visited recently and ate most of the frogs and this is one of the few left

We also visited the next door neighbour's new kitten, who is full of energy and very cute

 he was fascinated by my shoes

 He's going to be an indoor cat as one of their cats recently died after being poisoned.