Wednesday, 12 December 2018

These Streets were Fields

She remembers when these streets were fields
stretching as far as her eyes could see
down to the beach.

Now she hangs her washing on a sad patch of grass
where once she lay in meadow flowers,
watching birds fly past.

She watches her sons play football on a concrete road
laid on the fields where her brothers played ball
when they were young.

She knows that bulldozers have now returned
to dig up the small field behind the school
and make another street.

But if she half closes her eyes and sits without moving
she can still hear the birds and grasshoppers
alive in the ghostly fields.

originally posted for the now defunct Poetry Thursday back in 2006 and reposted because it's still all too relevant today as ever more fields disappear under buildings 

I also today reposted an old poem on my Shapeshifting Green blog, which you can read here.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The Wild Pear Tree (film review)

 The Wild Pear Tree.jpg

Sinan (Aydin Doğu Demirkol) is a recent graduate set to become a primary school teacher, but he's really more interested in finding a publisher for his first novel. He returns to his hometown of Çan, hoping to scrape enough money together, but instead is faced with family debts caused by his father's gambling addiction.

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan tells the story slowly, relying on lots of dialogue (some conversations do seem to go on rather long, interesting though they are). The cinematography and acting are equally beautiful and the complex relationships between the characters are drawn out with insight and sensitivity and a nice touch of quiet humour. The film deals sensitively and subtly with issues including rural depopulation and how to live life as a good Muslim. 

Any aspiring writers watching this film may well find Sinan's journey to becoming a writer as disheartening as it is believable, so it may be one to avoid if you're feeling low about your writing prospects!

This is a beautiful, slow (3 hours) meditation on life and well worth seeing if you like slow films. 

The Wild Pear Tree is screening at Edinburgh Filmhouse until Sunday 16 December.

Monday, 10 December 2018

It's Frosty out there!

It's very cold and frosty today in Edinburgh! In places the ground is quite slippery with the frost so take care if you're out and about on the higher ground, but everything does look lovely

Saturday, 8 December 2018

A Winter Walk in the Figgate Park

We had a lovely walk today at the Figgate Park:

There were plenty of birds on the pond, including a family of mute swans

a cormorant who we first noticed stretching out its wings on the boardwalk

but who then joined the other birds on the water and seemed to be having an in depth conversation with this swan

There were also three male goosanders and one female and this male came very close, which is relatively unusual for this species

We also kept our eyes open for the otter that has been recently seen here, though no luck today! But the Figgate Park is always a lovely place for a walk whether or not you see the otters or the raer ducks that sometimes appear there (including mandarin, shoveller and gadwall!).

Friday, 7 December 2018

Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel

 Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel

Subtitled The Private Life of an English Field, this is a beautiful, meditative book about the changing seasons in a meadow on the English Welsh border.

Lewis-Stempel owns and works his meadow, some of the best passages of the book describe hand scything the hay in the meadow, a meditative though exhausting process that brings him in tune with the natural world. He gives a concise description of how hand scything should be performed:

'The knack of scything is to keep the blade flat to the ground, so that it hovers a mere millimetre above the surface, and to swing the scythe around one's body in a curcular arc. Knees should be bent and the weight (presuming one is right handed) transferred from the right leg to the left leg as one swings through. A man scything should be mistaken for a man performing tai chi.'

As well as describing working the land through the year, Lewis-Stempel documents the birds and other animals that share his land, the declining curlews, the playful otter, the badgers and foxes. Like the best nature writers he focuses on nature, not on himself and his descriptions are detailed and often lyrical but never overblown or self consciously poetic.

I enjoyed this book from the beginning, but loved it from the July chapter onwards, when the reader really feels present in this wonderful place of  balance between farmland and natural landscape.

This book won the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing in 2015

Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel published by Transworld Books (2014) on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

I can see clearly now....

My cataract surgery went well (if you ever need cataract surgery yourself it's usually straightforward and really nothing to worry about). Although I took a break from blogging and social media, I was still out and about and here are a couple of photos from the past couple of weeks

beautiful winter trees in Craiglockart Dell alongside the Water of Leith
We had a lovely weekend visiting my Dad and walked round Blackleach Country Park where there were lots of birds on the lake, including over 20 gadwall and over 20 shovellers.  We also spent time in the lovely Hug in a Mug cafe in Walkden town centre - a real community cafe which hosts craft groups and sells items made by those groups and also locally made honey. We bought some candles made by local crafter I Love Gracie and a jar of honey.