Monday, 6 December 2021

A Greener Way of Wrapping Gifts

For those who celebrate Christmas, it's time to start wrapping Christmas gifts!  

 Consumers in the UK use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year.(Statistic from the Rubbish Project on Twitter).

My family has always reused Christmas wrapping paper when giving gifts within the close family. However, people outside the close family, unless they're keen on recycling themselves, may be less than impressed by obviously reused paper. So how about some more imaginative ways to reuse paper in eye-catching ways? These are examples of fancy reused wrapping I've used in previous years:

For this first one, I reused green and white tissue paper, covered the join with green ribbon and then added a gift tag (recycled from a greetings card!) in matching colours. 


The second uses two different reused wrapping papers, a contrasting ribbon to cover the join and a gift tag made using wrapping paper glued onto recycled card.
Other ideas to reduce the environmental impact of Christmas wrapping, include sending gifts that don't need to be wrapped (for example buying a virtual gift from a charity - see, for example, this selection from the People's Trust for Endangered Species); wrapping in colourful pages of old magazines or newspapers or wrapping in cloth. 
Most sticky tape includes plastic so to avoid this you can use twine or ribbon to tie up your gifts. I have to admit though I've never been able to tie up gifts in a way that looks either aesthetically pleasing or secure. Luckily, I've been able to source plastic free sticky tape in the past couple of years and use that instead.

There's an article about greening Christmas cards and wrapping on the Guardian newspaper website here

Friday, 3 December 2021

South Leith Cemetery


 I'm continuing my job of making wildlife surveys of all the council managed cemeteries in Edinburgh. Today I visited South Leith Cemetery, an ancient churchyard which is now surrounded by modern buildings and sits right next to a shopping centre. 

It's an attractive churchyard 

and is full of grey squirrels! There were at least ten of them chasing each other round the gravestones and it was quite tricky to catch one on film

Someone was in the churchyard feeding nuts and seeds to the squirrels and pigeons, I got the impression that they get fed every day! The feral pigeons lined up on nearby roofs 

 watching over the cemetery and flying off in a flock once in a while. 

Some of the gravestones had good numbers of ladybirds on them, mostly the invasive Harlequin ladybirds unfortunately, but also orange and 2 spot ladybirds which you can see in the photo below, crowding together with the Harlequins.

There's a secret seating area in the cemetery, hidden away, with a couple of nice benches 

and roses still in bloom,  

still in bud in fact!

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

CATS Cycling Across Time and Space edited by Elly Blue.


"In Space, No-one can hear you meow!"

I'm delighted to have a story in this anthology of feminist science fiction stories about cats and cycling. Each story includes at least one cat and one bicycle, but apart from that, there is a wide variety in the pieces. 


Myx Sends It by Jessie Kwak.

Miss Tompkins Takes a Holiday by Kathleen Jowitt.

Mind the Tiger Plume by Cherise Fong.

Sophie by Summer Jewel Keown.

The Ninth Cycle by Gretchin Lair. 

The Certainty of Danger by Monique Cuillierier.

Case Study by Alice 'Huskyteer' Dryden.

Jetta by Judy Upton.

The Tiger's Tale by Juliet Wilson.

Like a Cat Needs a Bicycle by Kiya Nicoll.

Contact in 4, 3, 2 ,1 by Gerri Leen.

CATS: Cycling Across Time and Space, edited by Elly Blue is available from Microcosm Publishing at this link

I have a few copies available for purchase if you're interested. 

However, if you're in the USA or Canada and would like a copy, please buy from the link above, as the postage will be cheaper (it's shipped from the US)!

If you're in the UK and would like a copy of the book (£10 including postage and packing) let me know.

If you're overseas and would like a copy, let me know, and I'll get back to you about postage costs.

Monday, 29 November 2021

A Weekend Away

 Crafty Green Boyfriend and I had a weekend down near Bolton, visiting my Dad. In between the wild weather, we managed a couple of cold weather walks, including around Parr Fold Park, whose Friends group (you can visit their Facebook page here) are doing a grand job of looking after the park. Several of the paths around the park have been improved recently, and volunteers were diligently removing leaves from the paths when we visited. It's a lovely little park

and a good place for birdwatching, we saw a few redwings and a flock of at least 40 goldfinches, with one greenfinch travelling with them. This is obviously where the local goldfinches are hanging out instead of visiting the feeders in my Dad's garden. 

We were also interested to see that one of the larger rocks in the park is actually a glacial erratic (a rock that was moved by the action of the glaciers during the ice age). 

This specific glacial erratic was found in 1914 when a local mill was being extended and was moved to the park. The park friends group has recently erected an information board about the rock. 

We also had a walk along part of the linear parkway, which runs along the old railway lines. 

This linear parkway offers a lovely green route through what is becoming an ever increasingly built-up area. Lovely for people to walk and cycle along, and valuable for wildlife too.

We travelled back to Edinburgh yesterday, through blizzards of snow in the Lake District, but over the border into Scotland we entered a sunny winter wonderland.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Silver Skin by Joan Lennon

Silver Skin

The Stone Age is coming to an end in Skara Brae, Orkney. The sun is dying, the weather is increasingly stormy, and the villagers fear the end of the world. 

Rab is on a study trip from the far distant future and lands on the Orkney beach wearing the remains of his damaged Silver Skin time travelling suit. Voy, the village wise woman imagines Rab to be a selkie (a mythical creature that lives as a seal but can remove its seal skin and take on human form). Cait however had seen Rab fall from the sky and doubts he is a selkie at all, but what is he?

What follows is a story of how Rab learns about how our ancestors lived while getting much more involved in the life of the village than he should be doing on an official time travelling study trip.

This is a beautifully written novel, full of engaging characters and with a strong narrative drive. It's marketed as a Young Adult novel, but I wasn't aware of that until I started writing this review!

Silver Skin by Joan Lennon, published (2015) by Birlinn.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Grange Cemetery

 I'm continuing my wildlife surveys of Edinburgh's cemeteries. Today was sunny and cold as I visited the Grange Cemetery. I have never visited this cemetery before, though I have looked over the perimeter wall from the bus! It's a lovely cemetery with plenty of trees, some of which were looking magnificent in the autumn sunlight, like this oak

The ground under the trees is beautiful too 

The Cemetery is looked after by the Grange Association, which has put together a tree trail round  the cemetery and also has a wealth of information about the trees on its website

There were a lot of birds in the cemetery while I was visiting, including a great spotted woodpecker, a sizeable flock of redwings (a winter visiting thrush), wrens, a sparrowhawk and a coal tit

I was interested to find this strange stuff, which is dog vomit slime mould!  

More appealing looking than that are the many mosses, including Grimmia pulvinata, which is my favourite moss

Saturday, 20 November 2021

LOVE Gorgie Farm

Today Crafty Green Boyfriend and I visited Gorgie Farm, possibly for the first time since lockdown began! The farm is now known as LOVE Gorgie Farm and is now operated by education and social care charity LOVE Learning. The charity supports vulnerable children, young people and adults, using innovative ways to engage them in learning.

There are some new animals on the farm including these sheep, i know they're a special breed, but there was no information on the farm to say which breed they ar, nor does there seem to be anything on the farm website! If you recognise this breed, please let me know what they are in the comments below! 

and alpacas 

But there are still some of the old favourites, including rabbits Lily (the white one) and Thumper

You can help support LOVE Gorgie Farm by adopting an animal (though oddly, neither the rabbits nor the sheep are available for sponsorship). 

An area of the farm is still managed as a wildlife area and now includes a lovely box of nesting material for birds to use when it comes to the next nesting season 

It's nice to see that one of the tracks through the Farm has been named Olive's Walk, after the farm duck who met the Queen:

Gorgie Farm is just next to North Merchiston Cemetery and you can look up to some of the trees in the cemetery