Thursday 31 May 2007


A Riverscape

Spring's magic water from underground
bright between stones
gurgles like children's laughter
waterfalls down rocks
tumbling in woodland where
young lovers stroll
and kingfishers dart

meanders through meadows where swallows
swoop and cows graze; farmers fatten
gently in houses behind the hedged
edges of the fields

factories spew poison from banks
constricted by concrete; gulls
dive for dead fish; masked
wizened figures drag
the river bed
for scrap.

flat estuary mud punctuated by lonely calls of curlew
and poor immigrants scraping a living from sinking sands.

sea to the horizon.

River for Poetry Thursday

Wednesday 30 May 2007


one mallard chick
swimming without its parents -
rain dappled river.

Tuesday 29 May 2007

The Fish can Sing by Halldor Laxness

This is a delightful coming of age novel set in Iceland at the point where its traditional way of life was starting to be threatened by the modern culture of mainland Europe. Alfgrimur has a simple ambition, to live in his village forever, fishing for lumpfish, but it doesn't look as though it will be that easy. Every so often the 'world famous Icelandic singer' Gardar Holm comes home to the island and the novel is punctuated by these visits and their effects on Alfgrimur and his friends and family. The book is moving and extremely funny in its portrayal of a culture tied to the land as it struggles with the forces of modernisation.

Halldor Laxness won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955.

Monday 28 May 2007

Common Ground

Common Ground is an organisation in England that celebrates the locally unique aspects of life in one small country in a globalising world, where the local is so often disappearing. One of their projects is to celebrate and support the development of community orchards. Many old traditional orchard have disappeared and along with them the old characterful varieties of apple. There used to be over 2 000 varieties of apple grown in England, now many people may not have ever eaten a Russet or a Cox's Orange Pippin, let alone anything so unique as a medlar. Now though community orchards are being planted and maintained in the south of England, including in and near Bath and Oxford.

pear tree blossoms fall -
fat pink bullfinches nip
the budding fruit.

brown hands pick apples
from leafy gnarled branches -
jugs of cider.

blackbirds feast on
wind fallen apples -
dawn chorus.

For information on English varieties of apple, including the Russett and Cox's Orange Pippin visit Ronnie Appleseed.

Common Ground for One Deep Breath.

Sunday 27 May 2007

Sea Horses

Inspire Me Thursday this week offers us the prompt 'copy cat' as in 'the use of photocopies, image transfers, tracing patterns, repetitive images in your art.' I've gone for repetitive images using a rubber stamp of a seahorse. The image on the left is say 1970, the image on the right is say 2007.
The paper is reused office paper, the colours are pencil crayon.
More about seahorses and their conservation at The Seahorse Trust.

Saturday 26 May 2007


More than swallows, you are
summer, coming May
burnished black by the sun
you spent all winter circling
or basking in across
Sahara sands.

Metaphor for free
you swoop, soar, swirl,
sharp joy in my heart as I
watch you roller-coast the sky,
sublime as operatic arias.

Summer end you flee
back to warmer lands, the sun.
Winter-long I see
memories of your shape
on colder skies,
your absence sharp
like ice.

Swifts are my favourite birds! They've been back for a week now so I've reposted this poem, which first appeared way back in the days no-one read this blog!

Thursday 24 May 2007

A Simple Post on Living More Simply

How can we make our lives more simple and in tune with nature? How much of the stuff we have do we really need? Simple living is not about living in poverty. Rather, it is about a life in which you have determined what is important for you and valuing these things, whilst cutting out those things that clutter up your life. Here are some links to start thinking about how to simplify our lifestyles:


Frugal Living in the UK

Wikipedia entry for Simple Living

Simple for Sunday Scribblings

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Cheap Tricks 2 - the Journal

The GPP Street Team Crusade this month is Cheap Tricks. I posted earlier in the month about my supplies of reusable materials that I collect to use in arts and crafts. I've now made a small art journal entirely from reused materials on the theme of Cheap Tricks, Green Tricks. It's made from a promotional CD and cover, with the collages made from office waste paper and cuttings from magazines and publicity fliers. It would be nice to think that the CD was a DVD of the wisdom of Crafty Green Poet but actually, underneath the collage, its still a computer company publicity CD!

Monday 21 May 2007

haiku - Edinburgh viewpoints

top floor flat window -
aerobatic swifts screech
across evening clouds.

jackdaws call from the
red crags above the city -
bagpipes in the gorse.

Viewpoints for One Deep Breath

Sunday 20 May 2007

Round Rabbit

Environmentally friendly marker pen on re-used office waste paper.

Circles for Inspire Me Thursday.

Thursday 17 May 2007

Humour and Poetry

I'm a great fan of humourous verse. Humour can be used to deliver serious messages without boring the audience, or it can stand alone for pure entertainment. Wendy Cope is my favourite humourous poet, she is very entertaining and many of her poems have a serious point too. Many performance poets use a lot of humour, many of them tour the comedy circuits. Many performance poets are a bit too aggressive in their delivery for my tastes, though Ash Dickinson goes for the rambling surrealistic route to humour and is often hilarious.

I don't write humourous verse. If I try it comes out false. However I have written some poems that have drawn laughter from audiences when I have performed them in public. One of these poems can be read over on my Alter Ego blog. Please feel free to read it and let me know whether you think its funny or not!

Wednesday 16 May 2007

Reduce the Use of Plastic Bags

There's an excellent article in the Guardian online about how a small town in Devon, England has banned plastic bags. Read more here. The town has its own Plastic Bag free website.

This initiative was inspired by the documentary Message in the Waves, which reveals the terrible problem of marine borne plastic waste in the Hawaiian islands.

I carry a fabric carrier bag in my handbag at all times and refuse plastic bags whenever I can. A fabric carrier lasts for years and means that you can avoid picking up plastic bags from all the shops you visit. I also try to avoid buying products with lots of plastic packaging.

Of course there are problems with paper waste too, but paper is biodegradable and certainly doesn't cause the types of problems for wildlife at sea as shown in Message in the Waves.

Monday 14 May 2007

haiku - nurture

fine dark soil
and a red watering can –
green shoots.


a fresh salmon
on a jumble of twigs –
squawking osprey chicks.

nurture for One Deep Breath

Sunday 13 May 2007

I've been tagged!

I don't usually do this sort of thing, but Marcia asked so nicely that here we go - ten interesting facts about me:

1). My first book of poetry was 'A Puffin Book of Verse' my grandparents gave me when I was 7.
2). I never had pets as a child but a neighbour's cat adopted me. My parents bought me a budgerigar as a present for passing my A levels. Two months later I left home to go to University. My parents kept the budgie.
3). I studied Botany at Edinburgh University.
4). I taught Biology, Chemistry and Physics for two years in a rural school in Malawi.
5). I can't drive a car.
6). I met my partner on a field trip with Scottish Wildlife Trust 14 years ago.
7). I learnt to ride a bike in France. I was doing a conservation project and was told 'we travel by bike here'. I had never managed to stay on a bike for more than two seconds before that but happily got on and rode 22 km every day for the next week and a half. I have rarely ridden a bike since.

8) I'm collecting my rabbit's shed fur to make felt.
9). The most unusual thing I've re-used in my crafts is the lace tops from an old pair of stockings, which I sewed to the top of some elbow length gloves.
10). I have never worn make up except for fancy dress purposes or when I've been on stage.

And now it's over to you. If you want to share ten things about yourself, consider yourself tagged!

Saturday 12 May 2007


There's the silence of peaceful contemplation, the silence of a quiet area of natural beauty, the silence of losing yourself in a good book. I wanted so much to post something positive about silence here, but the image of the bird with its beak tied shut wouldn't leave me alone so here it is!
Materials - reclaimed office paper (the textured recycled type), gold wrapping paper, photo of birds feathers. All 100% recycled and cut to size where necessary. Detail added in environmentally friendly marker pen (made by and available in the UK through the Natural Collection).
Silence for Inspire Me Thursday.

Friday 11 May 2007

Second chances

There are no second chances, not here
Technology is not waiting to fix
the future, and if it is, we may not
like what it gives us. Planets
elsewhere may support our grandchildren
but they are far away and uncertain.
Reincarnation or heaven give other
lives in different places,
there are no second chances here.

Rough notes on Second Chances for Sunday Scribblings.

Thursday 10 May 2007

Neon Silk City Lights

city centre neon signs
vie to make us buy
more stuff. Our eyes
hurt as we stare
at clouds that glare
dull orange. Metal
tangs our mouths
awake as the alarm
clock blares. Somewhere
else a spider spins
silk across branches
of a hawthorn bush,
a web that glows
in soft dawnlight.

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt was to use their new random prompt generator. This poem uses two words from the generator - silk and neon. I wrote another poem using the same two words, you can find it on my Alter Ego blog here.

Wednesday 9 May 2007

Cheap Tricks - Part 1 Materials

This month's Crusade from GPP Street Team is to share our cheap or free art materials. As I make all my crafts from reused materials almost all my art materials are free! All I buy are glue, paints, paint brushes and the occasional rubber stamp. The photo above shows one of my boxes of materials to reuse. The box itself is the box our wonderful second hand silver cutlery set came in. It's perfect for holding all my paper based materials - old wrapping paper, pictures from magazines, fliers, junk mail. I have another box full of fabric scraps, ribbons and bottle tops.
I'm going to make a special art journal using unusual recycled materials that I'm going to then post as Part 2 of the Crusade. So visit back soon!

Tuesday 8 May 2007

haiku - sleep

sleep soundly -
woken gently by birds
singing dawn chorus.


all day
walking along the river -
good night's sleep.

For photos, haiku and a description of the walk mentioned in haiku 2, please read
this post.

sleep for
One Deep Breath

Monday 7 May 2007

Bank Holiday River Walk

Walking along the River Almond away from Cramond and the Cammo estate. The weather is warm and cloudy, the path is narrow.
river meanders
alongside ancient woodland -
yellow fields of rape.
The trees are in bloom, the heavy pyramids of horsechestnut flowers, the perfumed lilacs. The path edges are full of flowers, vetches, forget me nots, nettle leaved speedwells. Dead trees are left where they fall for plants to grow over them and for beetles to make their homes. The branches are full of birds:
unseen warblers sing
from the hawthorn blossom -
airplane lands.
This area is incredibly rich in wildlife given how close it is to the airport. In the final bend of the river before the airport, there is a sandbank full of holes. Sand martins fly in and out of the holes and glide over the water.
From plant to plant


sunlight glows through leaves
to dapple the woodland floor -
seedlings emerge.

Foilage for Inspire Me Thursday.

collage materials 100% reclaimed - black chocolate box filler, old wrapping paper, picture from magazine, foil(age).

To learn how you can help to preserve ancient woodland and trees, please visit the Woodland Trust.

Sunday 6 May 2007


Ocean dark
to the horizon -
oil spill.


penguin dives
into the icy sea -
plastic bags.


white foaming waves
break on jagged rocks -
abandoned oil drum.


I love the vast beauty of the sea. I am heartbroken to think of the devasation humans cause through oil spills, inappropriate fishing methods, dilapidated sewage treatment plants and pure carelessness.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is a UK charity dedicated to caring for our seas, shores and wildlife. MCS campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, protection of marine life and habitats, and the sensitive use of our marine resources for future generations.

We can all play our part in helping to conserve our oceans:

Choose sustainable seafood - Visit for advice on sustainable seafood.
On holiday don't buy souvenirs made from sea creatures
When diving or snorkeling never stand on the reef, kick up sand or hang on to coral heads which can take over 100 years to grow.
When you're at the beach, put rubbish in a bin or take it home. Why not get involved in looking after a local beach? If you're in the UK you can find out more at:
Don't flush cotton bud sticks, sanitary waste or toxic products down the toilet - they will end up in the ocean.
Avoid over-packaged goods and reuse your plastic bags to help reduce the amount of plastic that finds its way into the oceans.

For more details on these and other ways to help conserve the seas and their wildlife, please visit this page.

The ocean for Sunday Scribblings.

You can read more of my recent posts about oceans here, here and here.

Saturday 5 May 2007

New city council for Edinburgh

The votes have finally been counted and Labour have lost control of Edinburgh City Council to the Liberal Democrats. This is great news as it should mean that several planned destructive, inappropriate developments for the historic centre of Edinburgh should not go ahead. It should also mean that Corstorphine Hill in its entirety is protected from housing developments. The old Labour administration was very keen on economic development at the expense of conservation of historic Edinburgh and the natural environment and the Liberal Democrats have always stood against this and now they have the power to halt it. The additional piece of good news is that we now have three Green Party councillors in the city, their first representation on the council. (I was delighted to see that in each of the English cities of Lancaster, Brighton and Norwich, there are over ten Green councillors and several other councils have some level of Green representation. Great news for the environment.)

The Scottish Parliament votes have all been counted now too and the Scottish Nationalist Party has the most seats, just one more than Labour. As suspected the number of Green MSPs has dropped from 7 to 2. I have heard that the Green Party are calling for all the 100,000 invalid ballot papers to be recounted. The future direction of the Parliament is uncertain as the SNP will need to form a coalition with someone, but whom? It will be interesting to see what happens, but the result was not good for the environment as I said here yesterday.

Friday 4 May 2007

A Crafty Sestina from Brian

I am delighted that Brian recently wrote a sestine for me. I gave him six words that are meaningful to me and he wrote this sestina! It is a lovely poem, it really dances along! Thanks Brian!

Environment and Democracy look to be the losers

The people of Scotland have voted for their local councils and the Scottish Parliament. The election has been dogged by problems. I know we live in a democracy and the problems are nothing compared to many countries across the world. However in the context of a Western democracy the following are very worrying:

Many people who registered for postal votes did not receive ballot papers in time;
The fact that the elections for the Scottish Parliament and the local councils were held on the same day using different voting systems was very confusing for the large proportion of the electorate who don't pay much attention to political process and resulted in a large proportion of ballot slips being declared invalid (a projected total of around a hundred thousand);
There are reports of intimidation at polling stations, including an incident in Edinburgh West where the ballot boxes were attacked by a man wielding a golf club.

There have also been problems with the electronic counting machines being unable to collate the votes in some areas and counts in the Islands have been delayed by transport problems.

When the problems have been addressed and all the votes counted, there is another serious concern. The Green Party over the last session of the Parliament have had 7 MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament). However because this election has been such a fight between Labour and the SNP, this looks set to fall to 2 MSPs. This is disasterous. All the main political parties now talk about the environment, but none of them genuinely prioritise the environment (though some individuals in Labour and the Liberal Democrats are fairly strong on environmental issues). This along with the general apathy of most Scots when it comes to environmental issues, means that the environment will lose in the Scottish Parliament, just when we need to focus on it as a defining issue.

Wednesday 2 May 2007

The Sea

Plastic floats on seas
to landfall on remote islands -
dead albatrosses.

Many albatrosses die from being caught in fishing lines. Save the Albatross campaigns to prevent these deaths. Many other albatrosses and other seabirds die from ingesting plastics, read more in this article from New Scientist magazine.

If you're in the UK, tonight's Natural World programme on the environmental challenges facing Hawaii and its wldlife particularly albatrosses will be repeated on BBC2 on Sunday at 6.10pm. It's a must see programme!