Friday 27 February 2009

Disturbances in the Field

Last night we went to see Disturbances in the Field at the nearby St Brides Centre, which as well as having a lovely theatre is a well used community centre. The show was a dance drama with some poetic dialogue. The characters are lost in a place that looks like a wonderfully eclectic second hand shop though they think it's an art exhibition. They are looking for someone to explain things for them but the only person they find is a poet who plays four types of musical instruments (including three of the four types of recorder!) and who seems to be as lost as they are. Its a lovely meditation on searching for meaning in art and in life and it's on again tonight at the same place then will be in Glasgow on 7 and 8 March.

Disturbances in the Field
St Brides Centre, Edinburgh 7.30pm, 27 February
Old Sheriff Hall, Glasgow 7.30pm 7 & 8 March.
The Elements World Theatre Company

Thursday 26 February 2009

Polly Clark reading at the Scottish Poetry Library

Last night I was at the launch of Polly Clark's new collection Farewell My Lovely. She read for an hour in total, half an hour from this new collection and half an hour from her earlier collections Kiss and Take Me With You. She has a lovely reading voice and an engaging manner. Her poetry is wonderful, very vivid and with an enviable ability to look at the familiar from strange angles, the behaviour of a dog described as an operatic performance for example. She has been a zoo keeper and her poetry often deals with the natural world, as in Elvis the Performing Octopus:

Elvis changing from spilt milk to tumbling blue,
Pulsing with colour like a forest in sunlight.

Elvis does the full range, even the spinning top
that never quite worked out, as the striplight fizzes

and the flylamp cracks like a firework.
Elvis has the water applauding,

continue reading this poem.

Her topics are wide ranging though and also include snooker and roadworks. If you've never read her work, I'd definitely recommend buying one of her collections (you can buy them from her website) or going along to hear her read if you get a chance.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Spring Haiku

The Spring Haiku blog has started! You can read one of my haiku (as previously seen on this blog) here.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Curator of Throwaway Art

From a box in her bedroom,
Lynn takes a favourite plastic bag,
smoothes it flat,
enjoys its sheen and texture,
sniffs a plastic bottle,
admires its pleasing curves.

Many people collect great piles of plastic –
you’re sure to have
a hoard of carrier bags -

But only Lynn appreciates
throwaway plastic as art.

(recycled from years ago, poetically not up to much, but there's an interesting idea in there that I may try to incorporate into a better poem).

Monday 23 February 2009

Alder catkins

Alder is one of my favourite trees, I love it at this time of year when the catkins and cones are out before the leaves come out. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you may be able to see some cones on this tree to the right of the photo (alder is quite unusual in having cones and catkins on the same tree). Thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend for the photo, which he took on Saturday at Arthurs Seat - you can see more photos of that walk in the post below.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Spring approaches

Yesterday we went for a lovely walk round Arthurs Seat. It was very windy but the sky was beautiful blue for most of the day. The gorse is already in bloom. Dunsappie Loch on the side of Arthur's Seat was more full of birds than usual, Crafty Green Boyfriend took this photo of a swan with a pair of tufted ducks (the female is the brown one). We walked home through The Meadows where the crocuses are already looking lovely. We also saw a flock of around 20 redwings flying around and running across the grass (but we didn't capture them in the photos!).

For those of you who asked, the snowdrops in the banner are from last year's February trip to Cammo Country park, the photo was taken by Crafty Green Boyfriend. There were some snowdrops in the snow when we visited Cammo last week.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Silver envelope

I drink far too much tea and struggle to reuse all the metallic foil bags that most of my tea is wrapped in. I have used scraps of this material in cards (eg see this card) but that doesn't really use up that much of the stuff. However I recently discovered a great way to reuse the material, by making envelopes for greetings cards. The foil package is just the right size for a fairly small greetings card, I cut off the ends of the packet, glue one end down and leave the other as an envelope flap. Address labels can be glued or taped on the front.

Silver for Inspire Me Thursday

Excellent article on reuse on the new Ooffoo website here.

Friday 20 February 2009

Garden update

I've not been out in the garden much over the winter, but I was down there earlier today. There was some litter to remove, as ever, but not too much. It was nice to see the green new buds and hear the birds - woodpigeons, blue tits and robins. I also saw a blackbird. I noticed in the pots that had potatoes in last year, the bulbs I got from my visit to the Hidden Gardens have sprouted:

green spikes through soil -
soon their blooms will remind me
what they are.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Urban Reflections

a photography exhibition at the Stills Gallery, Edinburgh

I was very impressed with this exhibition, which includes photos and films of urban spaces. The most interesting part of the show is the documentary video by Dan Graham, which purportedly discusses his New York art pavilion Two Way Mirror Cylinder inside a Cube, but which is in fact a wide ranging overview of the use of glass, renewable energy and garden features in urban architecture. Santu Mofokeng's photos of Billboards in South Africa demonstrates quite clearly how advertising can come to dominate the urban environment to almost disorienting effect. Sabina Hornig's photos of reflections in the windows of disues shops in Berlin are mesmerising as the interior and the reflection blend together seamlessly.

Definitely an exhibition worth walking across town to see. Urban Reflections is on at the Stills Gallery until 22 March. 11am - 6pm, daily.

Monday 16 February 2009

Mothers Day Card

22 March is Mother's Day here in the UK. Here is the card I've made for my Mum (who definitely doesn't read my blog!). It's made from office waste card and scrap paper with details drawn on in environmentally friendly black marker pen. I've made it so early to fit in with the prompt:

Sunday 15 February 2009

Snowdrops in the Snow

The walled garden at Cammo Estate is full of snowdrops now, though they're not all fully out. The garden yesterday was also still very snow covered.

We had a lovely walk round the Estate Grounds, it's a beautiful area and yesterday was full of birdsong. Long tailed tits, blue tits, great tits and chaffinches seemed to be everywhere, all chirping away. As one mixed flock of these birds flitted in the branches overhead a flock of what must have been waxwings flew above the trees, chattering. All this to the accompaniment of constant robin song and the occasional drumming of a great spotted woodpecker, or probably two, duetting. Plus a siskin flying over the frozen pond, muttering to themselves as a crow carefully skated by. We also saw blackbirds, magpies and a thrush (probably a redwing, but as is so often the way with thrushes at this time of the year, it wouldn't let us get the best view)

Saturday 14 February 2009

this collection

this collection is a collaboration between poets and filmakers to create a visual and poetic collage of Edinburgh. The poetry can be found at the this collection website. I have a poem up, it is not surprisingly about Gorgie City Farm and you can read it here. The idea is that I will then work with a film maker to produce a short film about the farm, what is it they say about never working with animals? Driftwood and Dexter will hopefully enjoy becoming film stars, but perhaps Daisy, who has so far been the farm's star bunny, will get a little jealous.... this collection should be appearing in venues across Edinburgh and beyond from this Spring onwards..... It's an exciting project and I'm delighted to be involved.

Claire Askew of One Night Stanzas is the poetic co-ordinator for this collection. Coincidentally, I'm interviewed today on her blog, as part of being her Featured Poet of the Week.

Friday 13 February 2009

Featured Poet and Lucky Bunny

Today you can read a wintry poem from me as part of me being the featured poet of the week over at One Night Stanzas.

Okay, since Sydney and Tyler's ears are twitching, I'll tell you that the lucky bunny who we are sponsoring is Driftwood! (Well done to Holly and Diana (sort of!) for guessing the correct bunny!) Driftwood is so adorable as he lollops around in the bunny enclosure at Gorgie City Farm. Not that the other bunnies aren't of course, they're all very sweet and well worth visiting or sponsoring. Apparently a new bunny will be arriving at the farm next month, a large black lop called Ebony, I'll try to get photos as soon as possible. And for those who may be confused, we're sponsoring Driftwood, paying money towards his upkeep at the farm, not bringing him home with us. Gorgie Farm staff have been advised to search my handbag when I leave work every day...

Oh and I wrote this week's prompt over on Read Write Poem, you can take part here if you want...

Thursday 12 February 2009

Jupiter Wildlife Centre

I was at the wonderful Jupiter Wildlife Centre in Grangemouth today for a meeting of the Garden for Life group, which is looks at how gardeners and the horticultural industry can be encouraged to garden for wildlife and health. Luckily as part of the meeting we had a guided tour of the centre, which is made up of 10 acres of wildlife gardens and habitats built on reclaimed industrial wasteland. The Scottish Wildlife Trust in partnership with local people and industry have created an area of wetland, woodland and meadow containing 100s of native trees and 300 wildflower species. As you can see from the photos above, it's looking pretty wintry at the moment. During the meeting, there were lots of blue tits, great tits and chaffinches outside in the trees - yes I did allow myself to be distracted....
Meanwhile, over on One Night Stanzas, I have a poem and a bio posted as part of being this week's featured poet (thanks, Claire!). More to come tomorrow!
As for which is the lucky bunny, you'll just need to be patient.....

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Featured poet on One Night Stanzas

I'm delighted to be this week's featured poet over on Claire Askew's One Night Stanzas. For anyone who doesn't know, One Night Stanzas is a very useful and entertaining blog for everyone who is starting out as a poet or who could do with more inspiration (which includes all of us I think!). Claire is currently running a Valentine's haiku competition, so if you're feeling in a romantic mood, you can join in here.

Today's post on One Night Stanzas highlights Bolts of Silk, the online poetry journal that I edit. Later in the week there will be some of my poetry and an interview, so stay tuned.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Of tortoises and bunnies

in the fridge -
two tortoises

Fred and Mr Murdoch the Gorgie City Farm tortoises are put in a fridge every year to allow them an uninterrupted hibernation. Somehow I think this year they may have been okay out in a farm outbuilding... Fred and Mr Murdoch are just two of the animals available to sponsor at Gorgie City Farm. Yesterday I asked, which animal are we going to sponsor at the farm. Diana from Qi Papers guessed a rabbit, but can anyone guess which rabbit?

Sugar (the little black one)
Daisy (the little grey one)
Driftwood (the lolloping lop)
Louie (the one with the magnificent ears)
Lily (the grumpy one, in this photo with Louie)

Monday 9 February 2009

Gorgie City Farm - a goat

The white goat poses by the goat shed, an animal that knows how to look at a camera (unlike the Ryland sheep!)!

You can adopt any of the animals at Gorgie City Farm! details can be found here. Sponsorship helps to pay for the animal's food and vet bills. It's the ideal gift for an animal lover!

Guess which Gorgie Farm animal I'm just about to sponsor!

Sunday 8 February 2009

The Gecko's Foot by Peter Forbes

This book explores the world of bio-inspiration, how technology can learn from nature. Peter Forbes is a poetry editor and quotes poetry throughout the book, in an illuminating way. He is also a beautiful writer and makes the complex scientific concepts in the book seem easily understandable without ever dumbing down.

The book is full of amazing facts about the natural world, including spider silk, the colours of butterfly wings and leaf unfurling and also reveals the secrets of how stealth bombers can evade radar and how people can lie on bed of nails. It also talks about technologies that have been inspired by nature including bridge building and irridescent fabrics. It also looks intelligently at the controversial world of nano-technology, outlining the potential benefits and pitfalls inherent in this discipline and maintaining a quiet scepticism about nano-robots.

It is rare to find a book that is such a wonderful synthesis of biology and physics let alone of art and design and science.

The Gecko's Foot by Peter Forbes

Saturday 7 February 2009

Friday 6 February 2009

More Green Lemonade

Many thanks to George at Lost Night's Scribblings for awarding me the Lemonade Award. The Lemonade Award is for sites that show great attitude and/or gratitude! I'm not going to list blogs here, I think all of you have great attitude!

Thursday 5 February 2009

Valentine for a Bunny Lover

This is the Valentine's Day card I've made for Crafty Green Boyfriend. I was going to wait before posting it but as it fits in with Arty Girlz this week, here it is... The card is reused from a business folder, the rabbit and heart were cut out of scrap paper.

Red and White for Arty Girlz Challenge

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Gorgie City Farm - Rylands sheep

These are the Rylands sheep, very fluffy, none of them though would look at the camera to show their ridiculously fluffy faces. Gorgie City Farm also keeps Suffolk sheep that have already started lambing this year - see here to see them.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Notes for a landscape poem

winter brittleness of marsh

sunglow white behind grey cloud

in a skeleton tree
a small bird calls thinly
indistinct beneath our words

written at my writing workshop, Vogrie Country Park

Monday 2 February 2009


a flurry of hail
clatters against the window -
bare cherry trees bend.

I wrote another haiku about the hail, you can read it on Winter Haiku here.

Sunday 1 February 2009

Birch Trees and Birds

The light in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens yesterday was perfect. The birch trunks glowed. They look pretty good close up too!
It was a good day for birds in the Botanics too - we saw great tits, blue tits, robins and chaffinches all coming close for the sunflower seeds we were scattering. I had a great tit feeding from my hand! The squirrels gathered round too and when the pigeons started flying in there was trouble with one squirrel repeatedly hitting the pigeons on their heads! The long tailed tits kept sensibly out of the way, flitting around, whispering to themselves.
At the pond near the Chinese Gardens we saw several mallards, a heron and two moorhens - their red beaks glowing in the low sun. On the other pond there were several mallards, the males fighting and splashing enthusiastically. Almost a feeling of spring in the air despite the cold...

The Snowdrop Festival is starting tomorrow at the Botanics, see here for more details....