Friday 31 July 2009

Rainy Summer

There's no such thing
as bad weather
or so the Norwegians say
only the wrong clothes

But despite the trees'
green enjoyment
of constant rain
I long for something else

high blue windblown skies
sunshine warm on my skin
even a rainbow would do

Thursday 30 July 2009

Furry Butt Fursday

Furry Butts just lost Hans, their adorable grey Netherland dwarf bunny. Bunny bloggers across the world have joined together to hold Furry Butt Fursday in his memory, so here, from the archives, is Anya's furry butt. Anya will be waiting to meet Hans over the Rainbow Bridge..... RIP little Hans and binky free!

Wednesday 29 July 2009


Weaver of Grass has asked us to this week think about who and what most inspires us so here is a short list for me:

Nature - in all its forms, specially birds, even more specially swifts, which seem to embody the essence of bird for me, given they never land except to lay eggs and feed young.....

Poetry - Edwin Morgan for sheer inventiveness; Margaret Atwood for always saying something real with every word; Ruth Padel for electrifying stage presence and many others too many to mention.

Music - The Indigo Girls, who have been my favourite band forever and who can weave politics into their music without anyone even noticing; many others too though.

Visual Art - Andy Goldsworthy - children have been inspired by Andy Goldsworth too to create artworks along the Water of Leith - you can read more here and also see my recent post here, though this is earlier than the date these children were reported to be out, so who made that piece of artwork?

but there is inspiration everywhere if you know how to look and listen.....

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Queen of Green and creative too!

Angie of Woman Ask the Question recently awarded me the Queen of All Things award, thank you very much Angie! Now i have to say 7 awesome things about myself and pass the award on to seven other bloggers!

1. Awesome is Crafty Green Boyfriend
2. Awesome is our flat in Edinburgh
3. Awesome is watching the swifts flying outside our windows, even if its been too rainy to fit the nestboxes yet....
4. Awesome is the fact that it's almost the Edinburgh Festivals......
5. Awesome is my musical collaboration with Belvedere Mountain Express.
6. Awesome is also my secret poetry project that hopefully I can talk about soon.....
7. Awesome is the fact that people give me awards like this

I won't however pass this on, you're all awesome and its too difficult to choose. Just as it is with the Kreativ Blogger award, that Michelle from Poefusion has just awarded me - thanks Michelle!

Monday 27 July 2009


a breeze
across the waterfall
scent of lime flowers

(the lime tree, also known as the linden tree, Tilia vulgaris; not the tree that produces the citrus fruit lime)

Sunday 26 July 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

Thanks to Gerald at Ackworth Born, Gone West for alerting me to Shadow Shot Sunday, hosted by Hay Harriet. I had taken several photos of leafy shadows in the Meadows yesterday and this seems like an ideal excuse to post on of them!

Saturday 25 July 2009

the patience of monuments by Jack Henry

Jack Henry’s poetry is very much engaged with life and not scared to address issues that many of us prefer not to talk about. Many of the poems bring us encounters with people who are often overlooked by poets. There are many poems here about Los Angeles, its bookshops and pawn shops, churches, liquor stores and rivers. Poems about family, love lost and re-found, connections made, addiction, need and unemployment, US and world politics. He is sometimes angry, as in three lines in:

perhaps if you buried
into a mound of
red ants you might understand

though he can also be lyrical as in N’Orleans mornings:

houses where ghosts
play cards and remember
through trees whispering
on forgotten wind
Spanish moss plays
gentle tricks on my thoughts

A lot of the poems are full of rich detail such as the bookstore on Bleeker Street:

she had a one-eyed cat
with a bent tail and Tourettes syndrome
that ate tuna from the can and
old artichoke hearts on a chipped plate

Jesus appears in many of these poems, and in Jesus of Los Angeles has his own series of poems and he could be anyone, which is of course the point.

This is not poetry for those of a nervous disposition or those who are easily offended but I can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone else.

with the patience of monuments will be published by Neopoisesis Press in August 2009

You can read a couple of Jack Henry's poems on Bolts of Silk here.

Friday 24 July 2009

Exhibition - Three Scottish Photographers

I went to a lovely little photography exhibition today in the beautiful 17th Century Gladstone Gallery in Gladstone Land, a National Trust for Scotland property in Edinburgh's Royal Mile. The exhibition featured the townscapes, landscapes and wildlife photography of Ed Fielding, Paul Johnston and Hamish King. The highlight for me were Ed Fielding's stunning photos of arctic terns in flight.

The exhibition is free and lasts until 26 July so if you're in Edinburgh and need somewhere dry to spend part of your weekend, why not go along.....

Thursday 23 July 2009

Wild waters, Birds and Found Landscape Art

I walked along the Water of Leith today. The river was very high - the photo above shows the same weir that a few weeks ago the mallard ducklings were sliding down (see that photo here). The difference in water level is astonishing!

It was a good day for birds today, I had some excellent close views of two dippers (one of which I watched as it kept pushing its head under the water to look for food) as well as grey wagtails, a song thrush, more chaffinches than I have ever seen together in one place and a very young warbler that didn't seem to have learnt its song yet. I also stumbled across this lovely piece of minimalist landscape art, which somebody must have created recently....

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Five poets from Calder Wood Press

I've just got in from Wordpower Books where I was at an hour of poetry by five poets who are published by Calder Wood Press. Irene Brown, Anne Connolly, Jo Gibson, Mary Johnston and Jayne Wilding all read from their recently published pamphlets (you can find out more about their pamphlets and buy them on the Calder Wood Press website). There was a very good range here from Jane's quiet meditative work through Anne's lively renditions of her wonderful poetry to Mary's poetry in the Doric dialect of the North East of Scotland.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Summer storm

flash of lightning
-moment of silence-
thunder crash

clouds fray into rain
water shines slate roofs

gulls flash almost golden
in the low light

Monday 20 July 2009

Musical Collaboration

I was recently involved in a musical collaboration with Edinburgh based musical project Belvedere Mountain Express (aka Golebnik, who sometimes comments here). You can hear the first track of our collaboration on the Belvedere Mountain Express Myspace page (

The track is City Empire featuring Juliet Wilson. Two more tracks will hopefully follow in the near future. Always a challenge fitting short poetry to long musical tracks, so keep listening, I do start talking eventually.....

It was great fun working on this collaboration, it adds another dimension to poetry to hear it with musical accompaniment.....

Sunday 19 July 2009

Saturday 18 July 2009

Tree Fest

We went to Tree Fest today, Edinburgh's annual celebration of trees in Inverleith Park, run by the Four Winds Centre. It was drizzly all day but the rain never got heavy enough to drive people away, though there were probably fewer people there than usual. A lovely addition to the event this year was the display of working horses, brought up from Durham in the north of England. There was a lovely Shetland pony and a larger mixed breed working horse, both very friendly and busy demonstrating dragging wood and beating bracken. There were lots of nice wood related things on sale and stalls from environmental charities and lots of nice food stalls, including Bespoke Organic Events, who were also selling our favourite raspberry jam from the Cyrenians Organic Farm. There was a music stage and a beer tent, selling local ales, beer and music next to each other unlike other occasions. We both forgot to take our cameras so no photos, sorry!

Tree Fest continues tomorrow, when it clashes with the Gorgie Farm Fun Day and the Water of Leith Sponsored Ramble.

Friday 17 July 2009

Cleaning the Water of Leith

I went along to the Water of Leith today to join in a clean up. This replaced my patrol walk this week. There were 18 volunteers to gather litter up and downstream from the Water of Leith Visitor Centre. The weather was dull with a fair amount of rain, the river was running very high and it was muddy and wet underfoot. We gathered a lot of litter and were rewarded afterwards with tea and shortbread! There is a sponsored walk along the full length of the river on Sunday, if you're in Edinburgh, you can just turn up at 10.30am on Sunday, in Balerno, more information on the Trust website here.

The weather is so wet that the roofer hasn't yet been able to put up our swift nestboxes but we are hoping they can go up tomorrow!

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Art is Process

If we can create, shape, form
but be brave enough to know
what we do is incomplete.

If we dare to stand back, let go,
let water, weather, tides, life
take what we made,

Shape it restless again
until our art, our children
are no longer ours.

But to know that
we made their beauty

Tuesday 14 July 2009


dusk falls
on sun warmed trees -
the scent of rain.

Monday 13 July 2009

Tigers in Red Weather by Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel, who is best known as a poet, in Tigers in Red Weather travels through the countries where tigers live and those where they have recently become extinct. She meets the people who are involved in tiger conservation and discusses the situation around poaching, trade, deforestation and other issues threatening the future of the tiger. She also overcomes her own trepidation about adventurous hiking to climb into tiger territories to see the areas for herself.

This is a passionate and vividly described adventure but ultimately feels like a depressing exploration of one of our most beloved animal's last days.

Tigers in Red Weather by Ruth Padel, published by Abacus, £8.99.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Dunfermline Glen

We took my parents across to Dunfermline in Fife today, including a walk round the lovely gardens of Pittencrieff Gardens (Dunfermline Glen). There is a lovely stream running through a steep valley, formal gardens and more open spaces, with lovely views across to the Pentland Hills and Edinburgh.

Saturday 11 July 2009

Weekend Walk

the punk piglets, Gorgie Farm

My parents are visiting this weekend. Today we took them to Gorgie Farm then had a short walk along the Water of Leith then along the Union Canal. The weather was gorgeous.

Friday 10 July 2009

Swifts and rocket

The swift nest boxes have arrived! The contractor who was doing roof repairs for us (and who finished much earlier than expected!) is coming back on Monday to put the nest boxes up on the chimney as this is the only appropriate place that can be reached without scaffolding. (We live in a three storey tenement). I expect its too late for this year but next year I look forward to having our own swifts joining in with the local group that enjoy flying round here. If you're in the UK and you want to buy swift nest boxes, there is a good list of suppliers on the London Swift website.

I was in the garden today and noticed that the rocket I planted a little while ago was ready to pick, so that will go in the salad when my parents visit tonight! We'll have to wait a little longer for the lettuce and basil and something tells me we'll never see the chives.....

Thursday 9 July 2009

Water of Leith

Comma butterfly (above and below)
common spotted orchids (below)

all seen along the Water of Leith. Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

Tuesday 7 July 2009


As I mentioned in a recent post, there seem to be a lot of ladybirds around this year. They're such a lovely bright design, I thought i would use them to practice glass painting (on reused plastic!). So above is the real life inspiration (click on it to make it bigger!), below is the finished piece, I may make it into a mobile, if I can make enough of them!

Monday 6 July 2009

Some Forthcoming Events

If you're in Edinburgh, you may be interested in a couple of things happening locally.

THE RIVER RAMBLE 2009 is a sponsored walk along the Water of Leith Walkway on Sunday 19th July. It will start in Balerno at 10.30 am near the High School and finish on one of the boats at The Shore in Leith, the distance is a little over 12 miles, or if you prefer a shorter challenge walk from Balerno to Slateford (5 miles) or from Balerno to Stockbridge (9 miles) There is free entry for sponsored walkers or if you prefer you can register for £10 per walker or £20 for a family and not collect sponsorship. (entry includes lunch, water and a map) All proceeds are to help the Water of Leith Conservation Trust Charity No SC000015 Follow the ‘silver thread in a ribbon of green’ through the heart of Edinburgh and help to raise money to protect it.For more information call 0131 455 7367 or click here.

The Friday before that there will be a River Clean Up, meet outside the Visitor Centre at 10am. You can find out more on their website. I'll be there!

Meanwhile, on the same day as the River Ramble, Gorgie Farm holds its Open Day from 11-4. You can find out more on the Farm website. If you want to snuggle one of the rabbits, this is your chance, as Cuddle Corner will be open all day!

Sunday 5 July 2009

Open air poetry

It's summer, a perfect time for outdoor poetry readings. Here are some of my favourite places to listen to or perform poetry, along with some potentially great venues for poetry, where previously I've only ever heard music:

Meadows Festival - this is probably the best known of Edinburgh's several community festivals, happening in June. I performed on the main music stage at this festival several years ago. The year after that I co-ordinated the book tent, where various storytellers and poets read and performed, but that only happened the once, due to a lack of funding. This years Meadows Festival had plenty of music but no poetry....

Traquair House, just outside Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders has a wonderfully beautiful ancient orchard, full of apple trees dripping with lichens. It is a venue for music during Traquair Fair, every August (but not this year!). They have a stage in one corner and a tent selling Traquair House ales in the other, and if its sunny, its the most wonderful place for a concert, potentially also for a poetry reading.

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens - is used as a venue for various poetry and storytelling events,

Glasgow Botanic Gardens has a dedicated poetry garden and hosts Bard in the Botanics

Edinburgh Tree Festival - another community festival, happening next weekend, this takes place in Inverleith Park, just near the Botanics. They have a stage for music and poetry.

Friday 3 July 2009


heat haze -  

dragonflies silhouette  

against the sky  


previously published on Shamrock

Thursday 2 July 2009

The World and other Places by Jeanette Winterson

This is a book of short stories by Jeanette Winterson, best known for her novels such as Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Written on the Body etc. The first story here, 24 Hour Dog is wonderful, a perfect, heartbreaking story, in which the narrator takes home a new puppy:

He was a new beginning and every new beginning returns the world. In him, the rainforests were pristine and the sea had not been blunted. He was a map of clear outlines and unnamed hope. he was time before or time after. Time now had not spoilt him. In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.

All the other stories, though not quite reaching the same high standard are well worth reading and contain Winterson's trademark thought provoking content.

The World and Other Places by Jeanette Winterson, published by Vintage.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Bird update

grey gravel
city centre carpark -
a sudden goldfinch.

(Yes! The songs I had heard were goldfinches and now I've seen them there too!
And the latest on the swifts is that, after some uncertainty over whether there was a good site for a nestbox on our roof, the news is that there is, so I'm off to buy a nestbox! It's been exciting to watch the 15 or so local swifts flying round rapidly and raucously all evening!)