Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Winter Wonderland in North Merchiston Cemetery

It snowed last night and while in most of our local area, the snow quickly melted, it was still lying in the cemeteries when we walked round them on our Daily Exercise lockdown walk this lunchtime. The photos are all from North Merchiston Cemetery

The snowdrops continue to bloom, even as they're covered in snow 

Monday, 18 January 2021

Tree Following - January Update

I thought I'd take a closer look at the silver birch tree that I've selected to follow for Tree Following this year. 

The tree stands in North Merchiston Cemetery in Edinburgh. The whole cemetery is covered by a tree preservation order, which means that no trees can be removed without explicit permission from the council and can only be removed for health and safety reasons.

Silver birches are very familiar trees of rural and urban areas in the UK. They're very easy to identify at any time of the year as they have very distinctive white and black bark. They don't grow very tall but as they age, their trunks become more gnarled. You can find out more about silver birches on the Woodland trust website here

Our silver birch is quite mature and has developed a gnarled trunk with a few fissures in it

 A holly bush is growing right next to the tree 

and there's what looks like the remains of some sort of fungus at the base of the trunk 

In common with all trees in Edinburgh, our silver birch has a number 

It also has a nest box that was recently attached by the council forestry officer (you can read about the day Friends of North Merchiston Cemetery put up bird boxes here). I look forward to seeing which species of bird will set up its home in this lovely nest box 

If you look closely at the twigs, you can see the buds and last year's catkins.


Edited to add: I just found this interesting article on the Trees for Cities website about the benefits of trees


for Tree Following and Nature Notes.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell


 In the 1970s Tom Michell was a teacher in a boarding school in Argentina. One day when at the coast, he came across the heartbreaking sight of a beach full of dead penguins, killed by a huge oil spill. Amazingly he found one penguin that wasn't dead and rescued it, calling it Juan Salvado (John the Saved) and taking it back to school with him. 

This is the wonderful true story about a Magallenic penguin with a huge personality who won the hearts of everyone who met him, who became a swimming coach and the mascot for the school rugby team and helped shy students build their confidence. 

Interwoven with the stories about Juan Salvador are facts and observations about marine pollution and Argentinian politics and living standards in the 1970s. 

It's a wonderfully entertaining and moving read. With beautiful portraits of Juan Salvador drawn by Neil Baker.

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell published (2015) by Penguin.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Pretty handmade gift bag

 I blogged recently about the goodie bag that East Lothian Creative Club had sent me. It contained a lovely inspiring collection of small items to use in craft projects. Well yesterday evening I finished my first project including items from the bag - a little gift bag! 

The bag is made up of three items from the goodie bag (the plain turquoise fabric, the ribbon bow and the green pom-pom) the rest of the materials are from my stash. 

I already have some ideas for what I might make using some of the other items from the goodie bag! 


I've recently added a few pairs of handmade earrings to my Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop, you can see them here!

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Homemade Valentines Card

Given that Crafty Green Boyfriend is now working from home he may see this post, though I hope I can keep it secret as he rarely reads my blog.

East Lothian Creatives Club recently posted a prompt on their social media to create something inspired by hearts, so I made this Valentine's Card. 

This is the front 

and this is the back

All elements of the card came from second hand shops (including the 'Handmade by' stamp).

East Lothian Creative Club is a very inspiring group, offering regular inspiration for creative people in East Lothian (and Edinburgh!). You can catch up with them on Facebook (their page is here and the group is here) and Twitter.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

New Year, New Tree -Tree Following Update

 Last year I took part in Tree Following and chose a horse chestnut tree in North Merchiston Cemetery, which is part of our lockdown #DailyExercise route. Little did I know back then that still in 2021 we would be confined to a limited area for exercise. 

So this year, I have chosen another tree in the same cemetery to study. This is a lovely silver birch tree, all gnarled with age. It's also one of the trees that the forestry officer of Edinburgh City Council put a bird box on while we walked round the cemetery as part of our discussions about the new Friends of North Merchiston Cemetery Group (you can read about our meeting here). So hopefully while following the tree I can also keep an eye on any bird family that chooses to nest there! 

The birch looked beautiful today in the cold winter sunshine 

There are a number of graves around the tree, many of which have seen better days. 

Some of the gravestones will have been laid flat by the council after becoming unstable. Very few people have been buried in this cemetery for many years and there are no new plots left, though you can still be buried there if your family has a family plot there. 

I look forward to being able to watch the birch tree through the year, though I do hope lockdown restrictions can be lifted sooner rather than later!

Monday, 11 January 2021

Creative Inspiration and the first snowdrops of the year

 Today I was delighted to receive a parcel in the post! A goodie bag from the East Lothian Creative Club, which is a group that started during lockdown to offer creative inspiration to people in East Lothian. I seem to have been accepted as an honorary member (Edinburgh is next door to East Lothian but not part of it, and current COVID restrictions mean we cannot travel there, which is a shame as I enjoy birdwatching in Musselburgh (see this post for unsettling news about a potential development in Musselburgh).)

This is what was in the parcel:

So I will need to start thinking and creating! 

I was annoyed recently when this lovely container, that I use to store the threads I'm using in current sewing projects, got damaged

but then I realised I could take advantage of the damaged area 

Crafty Green Boyfriend and I took our usual exercise route through the local cemeteries at lunchtime today and were happy to see that the first snowdrops are showing themselves! 

Friday, 8 January 2021

Formula One Racing or A Wildlife Haven?

 It seems like a no-branier to those of us who love nature and understand the value of wildlife. 


The Lagoons, were created in 1964 by the South of Scotland Electricity Board. Three hundred acres of land have been reclaimed from the sea with pulverised fuel ash from Cockenzie Power Station. The area has become an important area for wading birds and sea ducks and has nice tree lined paths that lead to concrete bird hides.Musselburgh lagoons are now in fact the best place for birdwatching anywhere near Edinburgh 

and plans for a Formula One racing track seem totally inexplicable. However, those are the plans that were put forward recently - you can read more here

If you agree that turning a wildlife haven into a Formula One racing circuit is a stupid idea, then please consider signing the petition against the development here. There are already almost 5,000 signatures, showing the strength of feeling against this madness. 


In other news, I've been making earrings recently and you can see the latest pairs in my Crafty Green Poet Etsy store here and here

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Duddingston Loch in Winter Sunshine

 It's still very cold out there, though the sun has been shining brightly most of the day. We had a wee expedition to Duddingston Loch to see the geese and other birds. 

This goose is a Canada / greylag hybrid and was happy to pose for photos 

There are quite a few of these hybrids around Edinburgh!

This magnificent mute swan was showing off as it swam across the water

while this adolescent mute swan was intent on preening 

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Ice on the Water

 Our temperatures have risen in the last 24 hours and much of the ice has melted from the streets and pavements. We're back in lockdown but this time with no restriction on how long we spend exercising outside (I suspect this is because most people won't spend long outside in the current weather, COVID restrictions or no!). We had a lovely walk to and round Inverleith Park, where the pond is still frozen and there are some nice reflections of the trees. 

The snack kiosk in the corner of the park does wonderful cakes too.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Winter Wonderland at Saughton Park

 It snowed again last night. I was slightly apprehensive about going out, as yesterday I had been very uncomfortable about walking on snow and ice, but today I felt much better about it. We had a lovely walk down to and round Saughton Park, which is a winter wonderland at the moment.

The formal gardens are just as pretty in the snow




We were amused by this miniature snow person on the bridge 

(You can see more of my photos of Edinburgh's snow people here).

There were plenty of birds around, though we didn't see the kingfisher (which has been reportedly seen today) but the most exciting moment was watching the two otters playing around just in front of us. Crafty Green Boyfriend got this photo of one of them