Tuesday 28 April 2009

Save the Frogs Day

28th April 2009 has been declared the 1st annual Save The Frogs Day to encourage the appreciation and celebration of amphibians by people from all walks of life. You can find out more at the Save the Frogs website. Frogs currently face a series of threats including habitat destruction, diseases especially the chytrid fungus that is wiping out frog populations across the world). Find out more about these threats here and find out how you can help the frogs here.

Frog, Waving

The last wild golden frog
waves* from its rock
to attract a mate.

The biologist stops
and picks it up. She wishes
she could leave it here,

remembers the care needed
years ago to avoid crushing frogs
with every step along this river

but now a deadly fungus
advances, will reach this valley soon
and the frogs have no chance.

The biologist adds the frog
to her collection and walks down
the now less golden hill.

In the frog hospital
the last golden frogs in the world
sit in cages and wave.

* The male golden frog waves its front legs to warn off other males and to attract females.

Monday 27 April 2009

Spring Birthday Card

This is a card for an upcoming birthday. The card is recycled from some office stationery, the ribbon and cream paper came from a card making kit I bought second hand recently. The foil is from some yummy, fair-traded Divine chocolate.

Sunday 26 April 2009

Crafty Green Poet and social networking

white cherry blossoms for Weaver of Grass, who prefers them to yesterday's pink

The eagle eyed reader may have noticed in my sidebar links to an expanding web presence for Crafty Green Poet. I have set up:

A Live Journal, largely so I can post on local Edinburgh Live Journal noticeboards

A Facebook page, mostly so I can keep in touch with what's going on in terms of poetry events in Edinburgh. Other than that, I'm not a huge fan of Facebook to be honest.....

A Myspace page, for creative networking. Myspace is a much more creative space than Facebook and its a great place to discover new music (and gosh, am I discovering some great music!). If you're on both Myspace and Facebook, Myspace is where I'd be happier to 'meet'....

If anyone does want to join me as a friend on any of the above, please do! However, this blog is definitely still my major web presence and thanks to everyone who continues to read and comment!

Saturday 25 April 2009

Friday 24 April 2009


Lichen patterned stone, Black Wood of Rannoch

The Stone Radif issue of the ghazal page is now up. You can read it here.
I have a ghazal on this page, please scroll down to read it.

The Reformulation of Silence

Under a larkful sky
grasshoppers percussion
the soaring songs
of blackbird thrush and warblers

One day the soundscape changes

huge wheels crunch gravel
metal bars clang scaffolding
bulldozers fume and bang

memory reforms, normalises
this hot dusty summer of noise

that ends abruptly
in sudden silence

an empty concrete space
where airconditioning hums
anticipating office gossip
at desks where sky
is invisible.

Listen Up for Read Write Poem

Thursday 23 April 2009

The poetry of Nigel McLoughlin

I discovered Nigel McLoughlin's poetry at a recent event, where he was reading. I was impressed by the cadences of his language and the obvious inspiration he finds in the natural world. He also has a very engaging reading style.

You can read some of his work here.

Dissonances, McLoughlin's fourth collection is available from bluechrome.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Take Me With You by Polly Clark

I've just finished reading Take Me With You, Polly Clark's second poetry collection, which I bought at a reading I attended earlier this year. She is one of my favourite living poets and I really enjoyed this book. She writes a lot (though by no means exclusively) about nature and the relationships between humans and the natural world, from observations of nature to thoughts on recycling. This is an excerpt from Fairytale:

A kingfisher sparks
and flickers ahead of me
and of course, I follow it

though it leads me only
to where the ducks in formation
know the secret of what comes next.

There is always genuine insight in Polly Clark's poetry and she uses language beautifully. I'll leave you (specially all the bunny bloggers out there!) with an excerpt from Nibbling:


a crazed dictator, disappearing
whole families of scorching pinks.

The pin faces of forget me nots
giggle as she opens wide.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Painted Bottle

I bought a glass painting kit from a second hand shop recently and have been experimenting. The idea is to buy nice shaped bottles and glasses from second hand shops and then paint them up to give as gifts to people, with a few to decorate our flat and perhaps eventually to sell some. Here is my first experiment!

Monday 20 April 2009

Gorgie City Farm - goats

There are several goats on Gorgie City Farm and they have their very own playground overlooking the children's playground. One of the goats is an angora with a limp (see below).

Sunday 19 April 2009

Trees and bushes, central Edinburgh

Princes Street Gardens, magnolia with singing chaffinch, Edinburgh Castle in background

silver birch trees, Princes Street Gardens

elm fruits, St Cuthberts churchyard
More photos from St Cuthbert's churchyard on Over Forty Shades here.

Saturday 18 April 2009

Water of Leith Conservation Trust

Today I went to my first meeting as a volunteer for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. This was a fundraising meeting, discussing forthcoming events, such as the Plant Sale and Sponsored Walk. You can find out more about events here.

I hope soon to be able to start patrolling a section of the river, noting my wildlife observations adn keeping an eye out for things that need attention from invasive weeds to litter.

Friday 17 April 2009

Garden Haiku

wind in the trees -
the clattering wingbeats
of collared doves

searching for grubs -
a robin follows me
round the garden

the neighbour's fierce dogs
...........thank goodness for fences.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler

This is an account of the author's time in Antarctica as an official writer in residence. She writes engagingly about the pressures of life for the scientists who live on the bases on the continent as well as about the amazing landscape, wildlife and weather. The writing is sometimes very entertaining and sometimes very beautiful, especially in the descriptions of landscape and penguins. The whole book is very insightful and its definitely worth reading.

Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler, published by Random House

Best followed by a trip to the cinema to watch Encounters at the End of the World, Werner Herzog's latest film, in selected cinemas now.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Monday 13 April 2009

Canalside Walk

After our attempt on Schiehallion on Saturday we felt like a much more relaxed walk today so we wandered along the Union Canal through Edinburgh. Every time we do this walk we are impressed by the wildlife we see. Today the birds were singing loudly including robins, blackbirds, chaffinches, great tits and blue tits. We also heard a song thrush, which is always reassuring these days that their numbers are declining so badly. There were also lots of house sparrows, another bird in sharp decline. We also had our best ever view of a blackcap, a bird which has a beautiful song that I have often heard but that is relatively difficult to see. On the canal itself we saw mallards, a pair of mute swans (the male patrolling the water, while the female was building a nest on the far bank) and some moorhens.

We saw two peacock butterflies and a comma, which is a species that has declined but is now recovering quite dramatically. The new banner photo (taken by Crafty Green Boyfriend) shows a peacock feeding on ragwort with white dead nettles to the right of the photo. Below are some white dead nettles next to some stinging nettles for comparison.

There were also loads of dandelions and coltsfoot all along the banks of the canal and also several clumps of celandines (see below)

We walked down to a pub on the banks of the Water of Leith for lunch and there were saw two dippers and a heron.

Sunday 12 April 2009

Happy Easter

a view of Schiehallion, looking not as steep as it really is

Saturday 11 April 2009

Overambitious Weekend Walk

As many readers of this blog will know, we tend to go for walks at the weekend, usually local to Edinburgh, though we sometimes go for weekends away. Today, Crafty Green Boyfriend's brother took us up north to Pitlochry from where we travelled to Schiehallion, one of the famous Munros (highest mountains) of Scotland. I had insisted that with my vertigo there was no way I was going to get up the mountain, with its well known ridge with the steep slopes dropping away at either side. But we had to try a little bit and the views were magnificent. Then we went on to the Black Wood of Rannoch, which I remember from a trip years ago as a particularly wonderful piece of woodland, but we didn't have time to do it justice, though we did get some excellent views of buzzards and we saw some interesting beetles. The moral of the story is, don't be overambitious with weekend walks. We're now planning a holiday in Pitlochry so we can explore the area at our leisure and are moer than ever committed to local weekend walks, they make more sense for so many reasons.

Friday 10 April 2009

as seen in Blithe Spirit

bluebells haze
under the beeches

previously published in Blithe Spirit, the journal of the British Haiku Society

Thursday 9 April 2009

Shades of Green by Paul Waddington

This is an A-Z of advice 'for the reluctant environmentalist' but actually useful for everyone who wants to become greener. It ranges from 'don't fly, ever, if you want to be at all green' to the appalling advice that rabbits are greener pets than cats and dogs, because you can eat them. Now in my book this misses the whole point of keeping pets (which is for companionship, and for me rabbits are the most companionable of all) and also misses the point where rabbits genuinely are greener, which is they are vegetarians, which is not only greener in itself but also means their faeces can be composted. Other than that it is a thought provoking book, encouraging the reader to weigh up all aspects of issues to see which is on balance genuinely the greenest. However it is sometimes a depressing read as many of the 'deep green' options are just not realistic options for a lot of people, unless society and the shape of our cities change a huge amount.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Gorgie City Farm - Bunty the cow

Bunty is the oldest cow on Gorgie City Farm, she is named after a woman who played a vital role in the early days of the farm. In fact now, Bunty is in fact the only cow on the farm as her two companions Snowflake and Shadow were taken to market recently and much did they protest as they were pushed into the truck.... A new Jersey calf recently arrived on the farm to replace the two cows who left...
I love the expression in Bunty's face in this photo...

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Pot Pourri bag

This pot pourri bag is made from scraps of sheer curtain (we had to shorten the curtains when we had our rabbit Anya, as she would chew the edges that so elegantly puddled on the floor) and pot pourri from a second hand shop. The tag is recycled from a decorative cardboard box. The yellow string is from a curtain tie that Anya had chewed to pieces. You can see more of my pot pourri bags here and here.

I'm going to make several more of these as I have plenty of the right materials. I'm thinking of setting up an Etsy or Folksy (UK equivalent of Etsy) shop to sell things like this. What do you think?

Monday 6 April 2009


police dog training -
rabbits run nervously
around the field edge.

Sunday 5 April 2009


on rhododendrons -
doves gently coo.

I posted this photo and haiku last May, but it is perfect for yesterday's walk round the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. It was a very wet day but the rhododendrons and magnolia were beautifully in bloom and plenty of birds were singing. We found some very friendly great tits, who would have fed from our hands if we had had any food for them!

Saturday 4 April 2009

Corstorphine Hill

It was definitely Spring up Corstorphine Hill when we walked up yesterday! There was a light mist early on that lifted later, leaving glorious blue sky. The temperature was mild, though with a slight chill. The birds were all singing wonderfully, we heard blackbirds, robins, chaffinches, great tits and blue tits. It was wonderful to hear a song thrush in full voice, one of my favourite songbirds, it is declining in number hugely these days and is a much rarer sound than it used to be. We also heard a great spotted woodpecker drumming. A group of four jackdaws were testing out holes in a dead tree as potential nest sites and squabbling a lot as they did so. The gorse was in bloom, looking quite wonderful (see photo above). There were also celandines, daffodils, violets, primroses and a couple of speedwells. The trees were wonderful too, the ash with its grey twigs and firm black buds, the hazel with tiny leaves just starting to unfurl and the sycamores well on the way to being in full leaf.

We saw a couple of rabbits in the undergrowth and some kudu at the top of the hill (in the African Plains area of the zoo!).

Friday 3 April 2009


leaves unfurl -
the chaffinch's chest brighter
than yesterday

an earlier version of this was published in Blithe Spirit, the members' journal of the British Haiku Journal

More Spring for Read Write Poem

Thursday 2 April 2009


sound travels differently
blackbirdsong counterpoints
playground shouts

the air is gentler -
scarves become annoying
and winter coats are left at home

dead looking wood
buds, unfurling
of entire new worlds.

Spring for Read Write Poem

Wednesday 1 April 2009

New Job

I started a new job yesterday. You can read here about some of the reasons why I wanted to leave my previous job with Federation of City Farms. Sometimes a job that seems perfect beforehand, turns out not to be so in reality! My new job is with Evaluation Support Scotland, a charity that helps other charities to evaluate their work, both so the charity can learn how to offer better services and so they can report more effectively to their funders. They are increasingly helping environmental charities to evaluate their work. It's fewer hours which will give me time for more writing and crafting (and I'm also hoping to get some practical environmental voluntary work). It's a one year contract, which isn't ideal I suppose, in the current economic climate!