Tuesday, 15 October 2019

New Items in Crafty Green Poet Etsy store

I recently made these two beaded lanyards from damaged necklaces, taking out the damaged pieces and adding items from my stash. Both are now listed in the Crafty Green Etsy shop.

 this can be found in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy store here.

and this one can be found here.

These lanyards offer an appealing and original way of displaying the ID badge you may need for your workplace.

I also just added this beaded curtain tie back to the Etsy shop too. It can be fastened in two ways, either by putting the open ends over a hook by the side of the window

or by opening one of the loops and attaching it to the other to tie round a thicker curtain

Although I usually sell curtain tie backs in pairs, there is only one tie-back of this design. This tie back is available in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Hornbeams and Herons in Autumn Sunshine

It's beautiful out there today, sunny and still with a wee chill in the air, a perfect autumn day for a walk through the Dells along the Water of Leith.

This is the time of year when the hornbeam trees are at their best, specially when the sun is shining on them

Hornbeams, so called because of their hard wood, aren't native to Scotland, naturally they're only found in the UK in the south of England. They were planted in the Dells back in the days when the river was lined by water mills producing products from bank notes to linoleum. The wood of the hornbeams was used in the construction of mill wheels and other working parts.

The autumn colours are spreading throughout the Dells

I was taken by surprise by this grey heron as it took off from a bridge very close behind me and then landed in the river for me to take this photo. The water is pretty high at the moment as it's been raining a lot

the sky today is pretty clear though there were some clouds earlier on,

these clouds don't seem to be promising rain but we've had a fair amount of unexpected rain recently.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Snails looking for somewhere to overwinter

These walls along Corstorphine Road are full of snails once you start looking

and the ivy is in flower, attracting late hoverflies to feed in the sunshine, like this Helophilus sp (commonly known as the footballer hoverfly, but also the sun fly).

and a beautiful red admiral that was shy about opening it's wings

The bunnies are back outside the hotel! Lovely to see them after a long absence

and there are lots of fungi around including these, which i think may be young King Alfred's Cakes, but I'm not sure, so if you can identify them for sure, please leave a comment!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

The Birds at my Table by Darryl Jones

Subtitled Why We Feed Wild Birds and Why it Matters, this is a fascinating look into the habits of people who feed birds around the world, but concentrating on UK, USA and Australia.

The author travels widely around the world to investigate the history of feeding birds across the world, how feeding birds affects their populations and distribution, how feeding can have the unfortunate side effect of helping spread diseases among bird populations and how on the other hand feeding birds can be a very important conservation measure. It also looks at the bird food industry and outlines the best sources of food to put on your bird table in different parts of the world.

The book asks questions such as:

how did wild birds originally overcome their distrust of humans to start visiting garden feeders so regularly?

what can we learn about wider human  relationships with nature from studying bird feeding habits?

We learn fascinating facts such as the intimate relationship that ancient Egyptians had with birds such as sacred ibises and peregrine falcons which were seen as divine representatives on earth. We learn a lot about the importance of citizen science -for example how the USA based Project Feeder Watch was able to use the observations of people who feed their garden birds to track the spread of an eye disease amongst house finches in the USA and the how the UK's Garden Bird Watch (organised by the British Trust for Ornithology) was able to track changing migration habits in the blackcap. There are fascinating insights into how targetted bird feeding projects have made a difference to bird populations particularly in New Zealand.

The book encourages the reader to think carefully about how our gardens affect the birds that visit them, are we putting out the right foods? Does our garden offer the best mix of habitats and foods for our feathered friends?

The writing is very accessible, but the scholarly approach may mean that this book appeals more to those interested in the science of birds and our relationship with them than to those whose main interest is actually feeding the birds.

The Birds at My Table by Darryl Jones published by Comstock Publishing Associates, an imprint of Cornell University Press (2018)

Cornell University Press strives to use environmentally sustainable suppliers and materials as much as possible in its publishing.


If you're in the UK and wondering what to feed the birds in your garden there's a useful webpage here

I'm happy to have a haiku in the Autumn 2019 issue of Wales Haiku, you can read it on this page. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Amazing what you can find on a fence.....

On the way to the Knit and Natter group at Saughton Park today (where I finally finished making the ghost costumes for the teddy bears to wear at the forthcoming Hallowe'en teddy bear hunt on 26 October) I bumbed into Sarah, a member of Edinburgh Natural History Society who insisted I had to walk along the fence alongside the Water of Leith that forms part of the perimeter of Saughton Park.


Because it is covered in interesting insects and snails. I only took a few photos, but probably could have spent ages taking more photos, but then the teddy bears wouldn't have got their costumes. So here are just some of the beautiful and intriguing insects we saw - thanks Sarah for identifying them!

needle fly - a type of stone fly
rosemary beetle, wonderfully irridescent and stripy! 
parent bug, so called because it carries its eggs and then later its young under its body as it moves around.
There were also numerous snails and at least two species of ladybirds.
What interesting insects have you seen on fences recently? 

Monday, 7 October 2019

Autumnal Colour

It's literally raining conkers today, they're pouring down from the horse chestnut trees in Craiglockart Dell. They are really beautiful but I imagine they'd be painful if they hit you on the head, as they're mostly falling from quite a height!

I don't think I've ever before seen so many beautiful conkers. Apparently the young people in groups who have been attending events at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre have been really enjoying the conkers, though I forgot to ask what they were doing with them!

The hornbeam trees are also beautiful at the moment

and this fungus, which I haven't yet identified, but hope to be able to (if you know what it is, feel free to let me know in the comments).

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Sanctuary - film review

This documentary follows brothers Javier and Carlos Bardem, as they join scientists and Greenpeace volunteers on their voyage aboard the Arctic Sunrise to raise awareness and support for the Antarctic Sanctuary campaign which aims to create a marine sanctuary in the Antarctic's Weddell Sea. 

The film looks at the challenges facing the Antarctic, currently considered to be the most unspoilt place on earth. It looks at the impact of industrial fishing, climate change and the recent huge increase in tourism. Tourism of course has its benefits in terms of inspiring people to spread the word about the need to protect the unique landscapes and wildlife of Antarctica as well as its downside of bringing so many people to the place. It also looks at the benefits of having celebrities such as the Bardem brothers taking part in an environmental campaign as they can take the messages further out than the scientists along would be able to.

The film is beautifully shot, showing a variety of the wonderful Antarctic wildlife including penguins, sea lions and a wealth of underwater wildlife - including sponges, corals and fish - that very few people have ever seen.

The film also includes footage of the Bardem brothers in their role as ambassadors for the Antarctic as they visit politicians and speak on radio and TV shows and follows the Greenpeace campaigners as they drive the campaign forward.

The campaign to create a marine sanctuary in the Weddell Sea in fact failed but is seen as a starting point for a larger campaign to increase the number of marine sanctuaries around the world.

Sanctuary was screened as part of the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival at the Filmhouse and hopefully will get a more general release in due course.

Friday, 4 October 2019

autumn haiku

all the things
I meant to do –
falling leaves


previously published in Shamrock 23.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Upcycled needle case from old purse

I really liked this old velvet purse and kept it even when the zip had broken but never got round to replacing the zip, largely as zips aren't one of my strong points when it comes to sewing. Then I had an idea to remake it into a needle case adding felt and ribbons to do so. So I removed the zip and opened up the purse, backed it with felt and then added felt pages and some decorative ribbons:

I'm quite happy with how it turned out, though it is a little bulky.

 I've been working on this at the Friends of Saughton Park Knit and Natter when not creating ghost costumes for the Hallowe'en teddy bear hunt to be held in the park on the afternoon of 29 October. 

Yesterday in Saughton Park, I noticed this carrion crow / hooded crow hybrid hanging out before and after the Knit and Natter group 

Friday, 27 September 2019

Fungi Love the Rainy Weather

It has been raining most of the day, but really started to pour just as Crafty Green Boyfriend and I set out on our lunchtime walk round Corstorphine Hill.

Here are just some of the wonderful fungi we saw around the hill

Dead Men's Fingers- I think these are the first of this species I've seen, they are well named and have a gruesome resemblance to their namesakes.

Stinkhorn - I've never seen such a fine specimen of a stinkhorn, another well named species as it stinks like an open sewer and the smell seems to pervade the whole area around the stinkhorn. Flies are drawn to the smell and then eat the spore bearing mucus on top of the fungus.

Another aptly named fungus is this coral fungus

giant polypore - this isn't a particularly good photo of the fungus as it's mostly hidden by the surrounding vegetation, but the fungi covers a lot of ground around the tree and these particular fruiting bodies have grown up very recently, there are older fruiting bodies on the other side of the tree.

I think these are amethyst deceivers, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. (Edited to add, I've just been told they are in fact lilac bell caps).

If you're in Edinburgh on Sunday, you may be interested in going along to the Fungus Foray on Corstorphine Hill, which will be lead by David Adamson of Edinburgh Natural History Society, starting at 2pm (see the Facebook event for more details).


Meanwhile I have another 50 word story on the 50 Word Story website. You can read it here. If you enjoy the story, please consider clicking on the Like button on the website! Thanks. 

Thursday, 26 September 2019

A Keeper of Sheep by William Carpenter

A Keeper Of Sheep

Militant feminist, Penelope Solstice, known as Penguin, is expelled from college after setting fire to a fraternity house which was the site of a gang rape. She retreats to her father's summer house at Cape Cod, which he now shared with his new wife, Dorothy, only a few years older than Penguin. Here Penguin reconsiders her relationships and her political views as she joins the fight to save a local wetland area. She also befriends and cares for Arnold, a composer who is dying of AIDS and is desperate to complete his final work, which is inspired by Fernando Pessoa's Keeper of Sheep.

This is a wonderful book, beautifully crafted with a poet's eye and ear for the right metaphor and a great understanding of music and the human heart.

'Arnold told me he was no longer choosing from an infinite source of musical ideas, but that his mind felt like a room that was being moved out of, with only a few pieces of furniture remaining'. 

The narrative is compelling, and the social and environmental issues are dealt with in a way that is both serious but subtle, so that the whole is never bogged down by issues. It's a very moving and thoughtful book with moments of humour. Penguin's journey into a more adult understanding of the world is beautifully done.

A Keeper of Sheep by William Carpenter published by Abacus (1994)

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Big Climate FightBack - Every Tree Matters


Trees are warriors in the battle against climate change.They absorb carbon, reduce flooding and pollution, nurture wildlife and make landscapes more resilient. Urban trees offer shade on hot days and can help people feel better about where they live.

The Woodland Trust are looking for a million people to pledge to plant a tree this planting season, ideally on Tree Charter Day (30 November). 

Before planting your tree though, make sure:

* the tree is suited to the site  - if planting a tree in your garden you don't want it to grow too big 

* the site is suitable for trees - some places offer wonderful wildlife refuges which are damaged if trees are planted there - see my recent blogpost about Kirkconnel Flow in Dumfries and Galloway where lack of management means that trees are encroaching on the peat bog, which is one of the most valuable habitats in the country (and one that also fights against climate change by sequestering carbon).  

So if your site is appropriate for tree planting and your tree is appropriate for the site, then you can make your pledge here.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Porcelain fungi

Although there are fungi around at all times of year, many appear during autumn and we think of them as a typical aspect of autumn. One of the most beautiful fungi out at the moment is the porcelain fungi. I took these photos yesterday in Craiglockart Dell, alongside the Water of Leith.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Walking round Arthur's Seat and Marching for the European Union

It was another beautifully sunny and unseasonably hot day yesterday so Crafty Green Boyfriend and I went for a walk round Arthur's Seat, where there were some very welcome cooling breezes. There was a haze in the air

and the water of Duddingston Loch was sparkling in the sun

There was excitment in the skies as two jackdaws and two kestrels engaged in battle (though the photo only shows one of the kestrels)

This battle went on for several minutes and was fascinating to watch. It was lovely to see the daytime moon too

and the first autumnal colours in the trees

These Canada Geese posed obligingly at the Dunsapie Loch

We took a different route than we normally do when coming off Arthur's Seat and wandered up onto a lovely green trail

with lovely views over Edinburgh

We admired the swans at St Margaret's Loch

We had lunch in a cafe on the Royal Mile and then joined the nti-Brexit march as it passed

As on the Climate Strike (which you can read about on this blog here) there were lots of dogs marching along with their owners, including Chewie, who apparently loves meeting lots of new people but isn't too happy with the loud noises of a political march

The march ended up at the Scottish Parliament where the Shebang drummers played

and the police presence was very muted and good natured

When the Brexit referendum was held I voted to stay in the European Union. The EU has it's faults and problems but it offers many benefits, particularly, for those interested in nature, it's environmental protections (which I blogged about here). There are those that argue that the referendum result (slightly more people voted to leave the EU than voted to remain) should be respected, but that are those that argue that we had been misinformed before the referendum and we were required to vote on something we didn't know enough about. The march yesterday also called on politician's to avoid a No Deal Brexit (which would see us crash out of the EU with no trade deals on the 31 October) and to call for a People's Vote on any future relationship with the EU. Whichever way you voted in the referendum, it surely is only fair that we get a vote on our future relationship with our nearest neighbours.