Monday 30 April 2007

haiku - the sea

salt wind blows
across the cliffs -
turquoise sea

gannets dive
behind red fishing boats -
white spray

endless flat sands
stretch to the horizon -
salt tang in the air


eider ducks bob
on coastal waters -
mainline railway


the grey swell
of a northern sea -
dolphin shapes


bright colours shimmer
under life giving water -
shells dry dull.


The sea for One Deep Breath

Saturday 28 April 2007


When I think of wings, I immediately think of birds. In a city like Edinburgh, the most obvious wildlife is the birdlife, whether in the city itself or in the woodlands, river walks and hills around the city. In the centre of Edinburgh, birds of prey are known to nest in what seem like unlikely places:

cathedral spire
rises into the blue sky -
hawk soars.

It was also near a church in the centre of town that a few years ago I saw the wonderful sight of large numbers of a bird that only rarely comes over to the UK from Scandanavia:

hundreds of waxwings
flutter red and yellow wings -
rowan berries.

But its not only birds. Last autumn I saw something that really surprised me, I didn't think that this insect ever came as far north as Edinburgh:

humming bird hawkmoth
hovers above the rose bush -
climate change.

Wings for Sunday Scribblings

Friday 27 April 2007

Art Inspired by Words

This week's prompt on Inspire Me Thursday is to be inspired by words.
One thing I do quite often is to make collages or small artworks inspired by my own poems. Here is one I made earlier today for the poem below:
The Cultural Inheritance of my Hypothetical Granddaughter

Yellow butterflies drink salt from your tears,
drain your colours to monochrome.

Silence white margins your words
to endless winter.

Stillness so deep you can hear clouds
transmute to diamonds.

Check your shoes for black scorpions –
belief in Armageddon is self-fulfilling.

An end to all colour.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Translated into Spanish

I'm delighted that Nia has translated my eco-angst poem 'Towards a Dictionary of Archaic Terms' (published on this blog a few weeks ago for Poetry Thursday) into Spanish. You can read both the original and the translation here.

This week's challenge on Poetry Thursday is to write a villanelle. One day I will, there are lots of environmental issues that would make a good theme for a villanelle. However it will take me a good long while to write one as it is a form that for me is very difficult to get right, largely because of the amount of repitition required. So for today, my offering to Poetry Thursday is a short poem I wrote a while ago that can be found over on Alter Ego.

Monday 23 April 2007

Crafting for the Earth

The theme at Inspire Me Thursday this week is Eco-Art! This suits me perfectly as all the collages and crafts I make are made from reused, recycled or second hand materials. This is a slightly damaged mirror I bought from a second hand shop, which I painted and decorated over the weekend. The lovely rubber stamps are part of the prize I won over at GPP Street Team. The designs are from the Juliet sheet of stamps from Michelle Ward's Green Pepper Press. I bought the backing material and the acrylic block for mounting the stamps from Stampers Grove.

Eco disaster near Edinburgh

As I write this, raw sewage is still pouring into the Firth of Forth, the largest river near Edinburgh. The Seafield Sewage works have developed a fault, which was not exactly unexpected, campaigners have been demanding the works' improvement for years. The Firth of Forth is an important area for several species of breeding seabirds and also passes by several favourite coastal walks and residential and business areas. The problem should be fixed in the next day or so, but that's not really soon enough.

More information here.

haiku for the Earth

ancient mountains
reflect in glacial lake –
endless blue skies

green lands and blue seas
veiled in wisps of white clouds –
our unique planet

haiku for the Earth - One Deep Breath

Sunday 22 April 2007

Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day (though there are also celebrations for an Earth Day in March). As far as I'm concerned, every day should be Earth Day. Wherever we live, whatever our politics, the earth is our home and we should live every day aware of both the beauty of nature and of how our lifestyle impacts on the world around us.

Find out more about Earth Day.

Saturday 21 April 2007

At the Edge of Space, photos by Dan Holdsworth

The Stills Gallery is a small art gallery in Edinburgh, specialising in photography exhibitions. The latest exhibition is Dan Holdsworth's At the Edge of Space which features large scale photos of:

* the European Space Agency's spaceport in Guiana (photos looking like stills from a Science Fiction film);

* the world's largest single-dish radio telescope in jungle in Puerto Rico (which offered a real contrast between hi-tech construction and nature and made me sad for the rainforest)

* stunning views of the Aurora Borealis taken from Iceland and the far north of Norway. In these photos, the small buildings, roads and artifical lights are entirely dwarfed by the vast landscapes and the dramatic natural light shows in endless skies.

The exhibition is on until Sunday 29 April (yes I was late finding it!).

Friday 20 April 2007


Dark storm winds blow
grass browns, shivers,
gorse yellow blooms barely,
gnarled tree leans.

Underground roots sustain.
One of the reasons I love Edinburgh and feel rooted here, is the large number of green spaces in and around the city. The scene above is part of Corstorphine Hill, which is only ten minutes by bus from the centre of the capital city of Scotland!

Wednesday 18 April 2007

Chin Up

Hiding in lofts with sandbags at the door
is a cowards game.

We will keep our gazes high,
carry on playing cards

While the waters rise
and forests drown.

Clouds on the horizon
look beautiful at sundown.

off topic for Poetry Thursday.
My thoughts on Guerrilla Poetry (this week's prompt) are over on Alter Ego.

Tuesday 17 April 2007

haiku - energy

sun's energy
becomes nuts and fruits -
squirrel bounces.
squirrel in Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
energy for One Deep Breath

Monday 16 April 2007

Bank Holiday in the Botanics

Edinburgh has so many bank holidays in April and May, we're very lucky. Today I wandered over to the Botanics and as I had hoped, the rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias were very beautiful. Lots of birds singing as well and squirrels dancing around. Definitely Spring!

Vote with Your Feet

Scotland goes to the polls on 3 May for its local councils and the Scottish Parliament. The Everyone Campaign is calling on people across Scotland to Vote with their Feet to show our elected politicians how much we care about the environment. People are asked to send Green Footprints to the Everyone Can campaign office to be made into a petition of green footprints to present the our politicians. More information at the Everyone campaign website.

Sunday 15 April 2007

The Three Cornered World by Matsume Soseki

Matsume Soseki is considered one of Japan's greatest writers of the last few centuries. This wonderful little novel is the story of a poet and artist who travels into the mountains to meditate, write and paint. It is a meditation in itself on the importance of detachment in Japanese art and writing and on the beauty of nature. It is beautiful, lyrical, thought provoking and sometimes wonderfully funny. If you are interested in Japanese are or poetry (eg haiku) this is a must read book.

Friday 13 April 2007

Secret Identity

Sunday Scribblings this week asks us to reveal our secret identity. Well, this is strictly speaking off topic for this blog, but yes I have a secret identity. I'm a multilingual writer of angst ridden poetry about lost love who wears a lot of black velvet and lace and hangs out in goth clubs (well not for much longer if they all keep moving to new, inaccessible venues). To read more about my Secret Identity please visit Alter Ego.

Build it and They Will Come

Last night I attended the launch of the new Travelling Gallery and its inaugral exhibition Build It and They Will Come' an exhibition of art inspired by architecture and the built environment. The new bus is impressive, it has solar panels and a beautiful exterior painting of forest by Mandy McIntosh.

The works on display are interesting, showing varied responses to the theme. My favourite piece was the beautiful origami deer herd, which if memory serves is by Susie Wright (I may be wrong here, it isn't listed in the brochure).

I was quite disturbed by Susie Wright's photos of huge white constructions tacked onto views of Scottish mountains, casting large shadows across the scenery - a warning on the way we are encroaching on our natural heritage.

I was impressed by Donna Conlon's video of the skyline of the wealthy sector of Panama City being gradually hidden behind towers of giant sized bottle caps and other assorted items of rubbish. A telling commentary on our wasteful consumerist society.

The exhibition will be travelling around Scotland for the next few months, mostly visiting schools but also some public venues, details here.

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Finding the Summit

The path to the top was steep and rough
branches tangled in her hair
brambles tore her clothes
nettles stung her legs.

When she felt she could go no further
she reached a meadow
of honey scented clover
where butterflies hovered.

Undefinable blue like a new type of music
views of dense woodland
and wispy clouds
stretched out forever.

Under endless skies she wore white
and danced to the beat
of summer lazy birdsong
and humming bees.

Thanks to Brian for the line from his sestina style poem Remembrances of a Life which can be read here (scroll down to find it!).

The line I donated was 'sudden in the sunlight' from my poem Making of a Muse, which can be read over on my Alter Ego blog.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

haiku - Bridges

Over the Easter break, we've gone on several long walks (see most recent previous posts for details). While wandering round Dalkeith Country Park, we found:

dense woodland
heavy with birdsong -
grey arch soars above.

which fitted with today's theme over at One Deep Breath. Thinking of bridges, takes me back to the two years when I lived in Malawi. Between the village where I lived and the nearest town:

huge lorries cross
on the way to Mozambique -
old wooden bridge.

This was sometimes scary and it was quite a rickety bridge, but nothing like as scary as over in Northern Ireland:

Carrick-rede rope bridge -
a few bits of rope slung
between two high cliffs.

Monday 9 April 2007

Hermitage of Braid

Today we walked threough the Hermitage of Braid, an area of woodland running by a river in the south of Edinburgh. We found some new paths today, going through steeper parts of the woodland. We had a really good view of a green woodpecker working on its nest in a dead tree, we spent about five minutes watching, its rare to get such a good view of this species. We also saw several wrens, a tree creeper, chaffinches and a grey wagtail as well as lots of blue tits, great tits, jackdaws collecting nesting material, and woodpigeons.

Sunday 8 April 2007

Change of Scene

The Prompt this week at Inspire Me Thursday is Change of Scene. With it being a bank holiday of blue skies we went on a couple of day trips (see previous two posts) which gave plenty of inspiration for this prompt! The ancient Dalkeith oak woods are wonderfully atmospheric and gave me visions of a magic woodland for our rabbit to go visiting her relatives. Our rabbit is rather unusual looking, so it would need to be a magical woodland.... The collage is made from 100% reused papers.
For information about native woodlands in the UK, please visit the Woodland Trust website.

Saturday 7 April 2007

Corstorphine Hill

Today we walked around Corstorphine Hill in the west of Edinburgh. It is a wonderful hill, with woodland and rocky moorland type areas. The gorse was in bloom and lots of the trees were coming slowly into leaf. We saw a couple of rooks working on their nests, a pair of jackdaws gathering nesting material, another pair of jackdaws starting to build a nest in a dead tree (the middle tree in photo 1). We heard a great spotted woodpecker drumming and heard birds singing, including chaffinches, blue tits, coal tits, great tits, blackbirds and robins. We also saw two long tailed tits which came very close up to us, almost as though they expected us to feed them!

Friday 6 April 2007

Dalkeith Country Park and Oak Wood

We went out to Dalkeith Country Park a wonderful area of woodland not far from Edinburgh. The flowers are in full bloom, including celandines (see photo 2) and wood sorrel. We saw lots of birds too including long tailed tits, one of my favourite birds. We then wandered into the Oak Woods (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) which is a wonderfully atmospheric area of widely spaced gnarled oak trees (photo 1). Many of the trees are ancient and falling apart, there are also lots of dead logs and tree-stumps covered with moss and lichen. There are no signs of young oak trees, which is sad, as this means the woodland will eventually die out. The park as a whole is also threatened by a new road which is planned to be built through it. Although this doesn't threaten the ancient oak wood itself, it would destroy the integrety of the park as a whole. Read more at Save Dalkeith Park.

Tuesday 3 April 2007

haiku - Spring sounds

blackbird sings –
morning mist lifts from
city streets.

reggae music pours
from wide open windows –
sunflowers bloom.

kilted bagpiper
skirls a tune for the tourists –
pigeons take flight.

gardens buzz with
Spring’s first lawnmowers –
the scent of cut grass.

Spring sounds for One Deep Breath

Monday 2 April 2007

Yangtze River Dolphin extinct

The Yangtze River dolphin (also known as the baiji) has been declared functionally extinct. This nearly blind dolphin, believed by legend to be a reincarnation of a princess, had swum the waters of the Yangtze for 20 million years. Read more at National Geographic.

Now that an extinct species is closer to us than the dodo and more cuddly than an obscure species of plant or insect, are we going to start taking note of what's happening to the world's unique natural heritage?