Thursday, 21 February 2019

A couple of Eco hacks

Eco hacks are basically environmentally friendly solutions to problems or environmental alternatives to standard ways of doing things. Here are two of mine:

1. I love reading Focus magazine in Italian, the articles are consistently interesting, the Italian is the perfect level for me (challenging enough to feel I'm learning some Italian but easy enough to be able to read comfortably). Once I've finished reading it, I cut out some of the photos to use as visual prompts in writing classes and then the rest I shred to make packaging material for my Etsy shop!

2. My tea ball broke! This is a big thing as I try to use loose tea all the time now and a tea ball is vital for all those mugs of tea I make (I've found that I can re-se the same green tea in a tea ball a few times, but my favourite black tea, the low caffeine Keemun tea only really tastes good the first time and I don't tend to reuse that). I tried to repair my tea ball using jewellery findings and my jewellery pliers but the repair only lasted for two cups of tea. Then I thought of this solution, using a clothes peg as a handle, one half of the tea ball becomes a tea strainer. I'm not sure how effective this will be in the long run to be honest.....

The mug features a chaffinch and is the one I won in an RSPB competition several years ago (see this blog post).

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

New Items in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

The beaded ID lanyards in my Crafty Green Poet shop on Etsy are probably the most popular of the items I sell so I recently made several more.

As always these are made using materials repurposed from jewellery that was damaged and lanyard attachments from defunct corporate lanyards. This first one is just a very simple chain design

This one is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

This next one is similar but is made up of a more minimalist chain style and has some faux pearl decorations

This one is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

And finally is this assymetric design, again with a lot of chain in the design but also bronze and pink beads arranged in an assymetric design.

This one is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

I've also recently added more items to my vintage and supplies store Crafty Green Magpie. You can see them here.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Nature's Calendar

Does climate change affect timings in nature?

If you're in the UK, you can join in the Woodland Trust's Nature’s Calendar and help scientists find out about how the changing climate is impacting nature.

From leaf buds bursting to blackberries ripening, the Woodland Trust wants to know what’s happening in nature in your area. By recording your wildlife sightings on Nature's Calendar, you will be contributing to a long biological record that dates back as far as 1736 and helping build a picture of how nature is responding to climate change.

How to Take Part 

To start, look at the list of species and events that you can record. Choose one or more that you can check at least twice a week.

 Choose recording locations that you visit regularly.

 Look out for the seasonal events that happen to your species. Record the date that you first see each event. You can take a photo and add it to your record. You can view your records instantly on the live maps.

You can find out more about how to take part here.

Nature's Calendar helps you to feel more connected to what is going on in nature around you and helps scientists too! 

Monday, 18 February 2019

Fern and Fungus in the Dells

I had started to think that the earth star fungi had disappeared from the meadow area next to Redhall Walled Garden in Craiglockart Dell, alongside the Water of Leith. So I was very happy to find these two (and about three others) under a tree today

There are many different types of earth stars apparently, I can't tell the difference but these are beautifully unusual fungi.

I was interested to see that Redhall Gardens (who manage the meadow area) seem to be planning to plant several more fruit trees (there's already several crab apple trees and a beautiful bird cherry tree, which true to its name seems to always be full of birds). Sadly though all the comfrey seems to have been dug up to allow for this planting. Bees and hoverflies love comfrey so hopefully it will grow back once the trees are established. And certainly it will be wonderful to have the extra trees!

It was lovely out there today, sunny and mild (though occasionally very windy). Lots of birds about, including magpies carrying twigs to their nest sites! Spring is definitely on the way.

Up in Colinton Dell, the harts tongue ferns, which grow profusely there are looking beautiful

If you look carefully you can see the lines of spores on the underside of their fronds.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Youth Strike 4 Climate

The School Climate Strikes started last August when Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old from Sweden went on strike in protest against the lack of action on Climate Change. Since then Greta has spoken at international conferences (spending 16 hours travelling by train to get to the World Economic Forum in Davos while world leaders and celebrities hired private jets.) Thousands of school pupils and students across the world have since then joined in the Climate Strikes.

Today thousands of pupils and students in at least 60 towns and cities across the UK have joined in the first official Youth Strike 4 Climate in the country.

It's obviously great that the young people are showing such commitment to the issue, but some people seem to wonder what effect this may have on their continuing education. UK Prime Minister Theresa May for example has said the children on school strike are “wasting lesson time”. Well it seems to me that taking part in the Climate Strike is good for education, participants are learning about:

climate science 
team building, event organisation and leadership
decision making
assessing and acting on risks
taking responsibility for themselves and for future generations
public speaking

and probably more topics too, making the strikes an excellent field study exercise.

The Climate Strikes are supported by many school teachers, academics, environmentalists and Christiana Figueres, former UN  Climate Chief.

If you're a teacher or a parent of school age children what are your thoughts on the Climate Strikes?

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Show the Love - Get Out there and Enjoy Nature

Every year around Valentine’s Day, hundreds of thousands of people join in the Climate Coalition's #ShowTheLove campaign for the places, people and life that we want to protect from climate change. One way we can Show the Love is by protesting against the destruction of nature as Save Meadowbank Trees were doing yesterday (see this post) and another is getting out there to enjoy nature!

After watching the trees being massacred at Meadowbank yesterday, I wanted to escape to see some living nature so I hopped on a bus and went to Musselburgh, where I hoped to see some interesting birds and to hear the first skylark song of the year.

I wasn't disappointed! There were lots of birds around including 150 lapwings, 50 or so curlew, plenty of teal and wigeon. Also several goldeneye, the males of which were occasionally throwing their heads back onto their neck in their courtship display

The swans were more obvious in their displays

I watched this black headed gull (still in it's winter plumage) for a while as it followed the pair of mallards, picking off invertebrates or other foods that the ducks were disturbing

And yes the skylarks were singing and in fact at one point two skylarks were chasing each other very close to where I was standing. Skylarks are wonderful birds but sadly their numbers are declining rapidly across the UK. They still sing round Musselburgh though, hanging high in the sky singing almost constantly all through the spring and summer.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The Chain Saw Massacre Begins

I've blogged several times before (most recently here) about the threat to the beautiful trees that surround Meadowbank Stadium. The stadium is being rebuilt and many of the trees on the site are slated to be removed to enable the development or in some cases to enable vehicle access to the work site.

Work began to remove the trees yesterday and continued today with several small trees in the site being bulldozed away.

Members of the Save Meadowbank Trees Group and the Edinburgh group of Extinction Rebellion gathered first thing this morning to protest the destruction of the trees.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the trees being bulldozed as at that stage I was taking video footage on a phone belonging to someone from Extinction Rebellion. However I did get a photo of the bulldozer when it was in the rubble of what used to be a world class sports stadium

Edinburgh Council are asking people to contact them about what they want them to do with the wood from the trees. I emailed them to say the trees should remain where they are but if they must be destroyed then they should be made into benches which should be engraved with the words 'In Memorium of the beautiful trees of Meadowbank destroyed by City of Edinburgh Council'. If you want to let the council knowwhat you think about the destruction of the trees you can email them on meadowbankATedinburghDOTgovDOTuk.

Adverts for the new sports centre are pasted up on the hoardings round the site. I'm not convinced that they need (on any reckoning) to remove all the trees they are removing. I'm also not convinced by their 'promise' to lant more trees than they remove. I'll believe that when I see it and even if they do, the replacements will be young trees which will have a lower ecological value than the mature trees that are being removed and also no guarantee of how long the new trees will live.

It was very upsetting to see the trees being bulldozed - specially knowing that this will only continue. If you want to get involved in protesting against this destruction please get in touch with Save Meadowbank Trees on Facebook or follow @MeadowbankTrees on Twitter.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Have you seen the tiny red hazel flowers?

You may be familiar with the male catkins of the hazel tree which have been out for a couple of weeks now

but have you ever noticed the tiny red female flowers that are only coming out now? There's one in the photo above, to the left of the catkins.

Moving closer in we can see how pretty these tiny flowers are

And I now finally seem to have worked out how to get the best from the macro setting on my camera! So I should be able to more easily take photos like this in the future.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Some Photos from the Meadows Community Garden

 Yesterday after our walk along the Innocent Railway (which you can read about here) we walked home across the Meadows. The Greening Our Street community garden is looking good with various plots and a little insect hotel. The project involves local communities and schools in growing wildflowers and improving the Meadows for nature. 

 The project has a crowdfunding campaign on MyPark, to raise funds for future developments.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Walking the Innocent Railway

Very changeable weather today, one minute blue skies and sunshine, the next it's raining though all day thwe wind has been strong. We went for a lovely walk along the Innocent Railway which is now a pathway but started off as a horse drawn railway taking coal from Dalkeith to Edinburgh

It's surrounded on both sides by trees and wetlands

We were delighted to see seven teal on one of the small ponds, though only one got into this photo that Crafty Green Boyfriend took

There's plenty to see too right at the side of the path, like these earth star fungi

and the white and grey candle snuff fungi growing in the moss on the tree stumps

The Innocent Railway emerges at the foot of Arthurs Seat, which was looking beautiful in the sunshine

The magificent cliffs of Arthurs Seat and also Salisbury Crags (see photo below) are very popular with geology students

and we meet another cute little grey squirrel

Friday, 8 February 2019

Show the Love

 Every year around Valentine’s Day, hundreds of thousands of people join in the Climate Coalition's #ShowTheLove campaign for the places, people and life that we want to protect from climate change. This year’s campaign runs from 5-24 February. The Woodland Trust are challenging people to take one action to show your love for woods and trees.

There are many ways to do this of course but part of this campaign is the symbolism of the Green Heart. People across the UK and no doubt elsewhere craft green hearts to wear, share and display!

Here is the heart I decorated for this year, it's a bit of a cheat as the wooden heart had already been painted and I just added some stickers that had come in a stash of crafting supplies I bought in a second hand shop

and these are the green hearts I made for last year's campaign

The wooden heart in the middle is attached to a clothes peg and came in a birthday gift bag of craft supplies, the two cardboard hearts I bought recently from a second hand shop. The beads and thread are from my stash of upcyclable craft supplies. I painted all the hearts with poster paint, which is water soluble.

World Wildlife Fund sent me a green heart as part of this campaign a couple of years ago. It's now permanently pinned to one of my coats and is a little faded but this is what it looked like originally!

 As well as making, wearing and displaying green hearts, you may like to try some of these suggestions from the Woodland Trust about how you can show your love for nature, particularly for trees

Plant a tree – make your surroundings greener, healthier and happier
Record wildlife with Nature's Calendar – share your seasonal observations of nature to help chart the effects of climate change (This is something I should do more regularly. I send my wildlife records to the local wildlife record centre but somehow forget to send them to Nature's Calendar).
Contact your local political representatives and ask them to help protect the things you love from climate change
Sign the Tree Charter – join thousands of others to celebrate and protect trees, and combat threats like climate change

And remember get out there and enjoy nature, it's good for your health and it's great fun and you may even make some new friends like this grey squirrel we met on Corstorphine Hill this lunchtime (when the sun came out between showers)

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Greener Working - a workshop for Gorgie Creative Network Network

Gorgie Creative Network started up about a year ago, offering creatives and freelancers in the local area (the Gorgie, Dalry and Slateford neighbourhoods of Edinburgh) the opportunity to meet up and connect!

Last year the network put together the first Gorgie Freelancers Festival which included some excellent events including a panel discussion on feminism for freelancers and a 'reusable mug decorating workshop' in conjunction with Gorgie Collective, which I blogged about here.

As I type, we're in the middle of the Firestarter Festival (a 'two week long festival of collaborative learning events, illuminating creative, disruptive and innovative ways in which we can all transform ourselves, our organisations and the wider system') which features two events from the Gorgie Creative Network: an excellent workshop on the value of networks which happened last Thursday and a workshop on Creativity which is happening tomorrow at Dalry 183 Creative and Cultural Hub (there are still some free tickets available for this, which you can book on Eventbrite).

Starting from this month, Gorgie Creative Network will be expanding their work offering a monthly co-working Wednesday at Gorgie City Farm, a chance for people to work together in a pleasant environment, particularly useful for freelancers who often are working alone. As regular readers of this blog know, I'm a great fan of Gorgie City Farm and know it's a great place to work, though somewhat distracting with all those cute animals.

Another new regular feature will be a monthly workshop. I'm delighted to be facilitating the first of these workshops on the theme of Greener Working. This will offer a space for creatives and freelancers (and others who are interested) to get together to discuss how we can make our creative and work practices more environmentally friendly. The event will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 20 February at Dalry 183 Creative and Cultural Hub (which is to be the regular venue for these workshops) and costs £20 (with some £5 concession tickets available). You can find out more and book on Eventbrite here.

In the future I'm hoping to also offer a Creative Approach to Copywriting workshop in the same series. Updates to follow here as and when I know more.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A Trick I Learned from Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge

 A Trick I Learned from Dead Men

Lee Hart and his deaf brother Ned are left alone when their father disappears and their mother dies. Things start to turn around when Lee gets an apprenticeship at the local funeral parlour and falls for a beautiful florist.

Lee has a very close relationship with nature, particularly a carrion crow that he considers a friend:

'Crow sits on the telegraph pole by the old post office. He waits there like a chess piece. Crow thinks he's an eagle, you would at those heights. He steps off, casual, skateboarding, wheels, lands on a No Parking sign.'

It's a  moving story, of lovel, loss and family with engaging characters and a nice sense of humour to balance out the sadness.

A Trick I learned from Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge published by Vintage Books.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Hornbeam Trees in Craiglockart Dell

It was a cold sunny day today but the birds were all singing and calling very energetically and chasing each other through the trees in preparation for spring! Lovely to see and hear, though as I was doing my weekly litter pick in the Dells (alongside the Water of Leith) I didn't get photos of the birds (by the time I've laid down my litter picker and got out my camera, the birds have invariably disappeared!)

Trees are easier to photograph as they're not going to move anywhere. These trees are hornbeams

They have strange trunks with a very distinctive texture. They are at their most beautiful in late summer and autumn when they have lovely chandelier type catkins (the photo below is one I took in October 2011)

Hornbeams aren't native to Scotland, though they are native to the south of England. These specific trees were planted in the Dells when the area was full of watermills. The wood of the hornbeam is very hard and was used in the construction of mill wheels and other parts.

I shared these photos also today in the new Facebook group 'Trees to Celebrate in Edinburgh'. If you live or work in Edinburgh and are interested in celebrating our trees then you can join the group here.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Winter at Cammo

In yesterday's blogpost I said it hadn't snowed so far this year in Edinburgh. Well last night we got caught in the year's first snow fall and today many parts of Edinburgh were covered in a fine dusting of snow. Just enough to make everywhere look beautiful, as Cammo did when we walked round there today

We walked up towards the water tower (seen in the first photo) and watched a kestrel hunt and catch something then land on a fence post and eat. Crafty Green Boyfriend managed to take several photos - as you can see we weren't the only people watching the kestrel!

We then made our way into Cammo Country Park which we always visit at this time of year to see the snowdrops. There weren't actually as many snowdrops as usual, not only were there fewer in bloom but there seemed to be fewer in total. However there were enough for us to be able to get some photos

There were also some beautiful fungi poking out through the snow, these are jelly ear fungi

but I don't know what these are, so if you can identify them, please leave a comment!

All the paths round the country park are lovely in the snow

and there are some lovely views over to the Pentland hills