Monday 31 August 2009

Autumnal Hints

I walked along the Water of Leith today as I do most Mondays. It's definitely feeling autumnal, some trees having quite a lot of leaves turning colour and lots of berries, the yew berries still looking magnificent (see banner photo). The air was alive with robin autumnsong. It was lovely to see this season's first mixed flock of tits - long tailed tits, great tits and blue tits. There were probably some coal tits in there too, as the flock was just at the area where earlier in the year I saw coal tits breeding. There were four grey wagtails fluttering along the river, although I usually see these birds here, this is the first time since spring that I've seen so many - so it looks like all the young survived and thrived. I also had a very good view of a heron, it looked very hunched and grumpy, sitting on a grassy island in the river, but I was able to get quite close, though not an angle that would have been useful for photography unfortunately!

Sunday 30 August 2009

Honest Shadows

honesty plant seedheads collected from the Water of Leith
you can see another of my Shadow Shots on my Over Forty Shades blog here.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Art for Trees

Last weekend fires tore across mainland Greece. Thousands of homes were evacuated. Agriculture and pasture land was scorched, trees were burned, wildlife and nature were harmed. The worst tragedy is that the fire was probably man made. Manya and others within her community are working together to organise an exhibition of arts and crafts to raise funds to reforest the area. Reforestation is vital for ecological, environmental and economical reasons and to prevent desertificaton which is becoming a very real threat in parts of Greece.

You can help the 'Art for Trees' project by:
Donating arts or crafts
Following the 'Attika SOS' blog
Forwarding the blog link to people you feel may be interested in this project
Write a blog post about this project
Write suggestions or messages of support on 'Attica SOS'
Post the link to your myspace, facebook, twitter, bebo or other networking site homepage

Friday 28 August 2009

A Moment

Sunlight bright on the folly on the hill
vivid rainbow against a slate grey sky
people gather on the street below
taking photos on their mobile phones.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Black Satin Gift Bag

Another craft project from the archives. I made this gift bag from scraps of black satin left over when I had altered a skirt. It's lined with the old lining of another old skirt and I decorated it with beads from the second skirt. I can't remember where the ribbon came from! The design could be altered, by using a strong piece of black cord instead of the ribbon, to make a neck purse.

Monday 24 August 2009

Newton - the Making of Genius

This is a fabulous book, from Patricial Fara. It isn't a biography as I had originally thought, it is something much more than that. It looks at Newton's achievements as a scientist and thinker and then explores how his achievements affected science. It also looks at how Newton's ideas shaped the general public's perceptions of the natural world and how Newton was made into a hero, with statues being erected to him and his portrait being a popular addition to educated people's living rooms. I was very impressed by Fara's commitment to highlighting female scientists and the role of women throughout the book.

There is also a generous section devoted to heroic poetry written about Newton. This really got me thinking - back then poetry had a real function in terms of informing people about news events and achievements, nowadays we've lost this and I'm not sure that poetry has a real function any more, perhaps that's why in general poetry seems to need to struggle to find an audience. What does anyone else think?

Newton, The Making of Genius Patricia Fara, Picador
the river runs high -
two dippers chase each other
under the bridge.

Water of Leith, today. This is for Rabbit's Guy, I know how much he likes the dippers!

Yesterday, I was at a poetry reading as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Robin Robertson and Michael Symmons Roberts were the poets, they're both very well worth checking out (just follow the links under their names).

Saturday 22 August 2009

Godzilla in the Edinburgh Fringe

We saw One Eye Gone yesterday, an excellent, environmentally aware reinterpretation of Godzilla using video, cardboard cities, cotton wool clouds with tinsel rain and some amazing lit up jellyfish shaped things. It's beautifully made and engrossing but very short, just as we were really starting to love the underwater feel with the jellyfish it ended........

All the props and costumes are apparently made from recycled or environmentally friendly materials - though they don't use bicycle powered generators to pwer the lights as in Home of the Wriggler that I saw a few days ago.

It's the last day today and I think there are still tickets available, so if you're in Edinburgh and wondering what to do for half an hour or so, get along to Venue 13, Lochend Close at 4.15.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Tree Duet

Tree Duet is a short play from Singapore company spell#7. It explores our relationship with trees and how the roots of trees intertwine with the foundations of our culture. At the same time it explores attitudes to time and relationships. It's a quietly meditative piece and sometimes decidedly odd, but worth watching. It's only on until the 22 August and there are 2 for one ticket offers on for at least some of the remaining days.

Tree Duet by spell#7 until 22 August
11.30am New Town Theatre, George Street, Edinburgh

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Water of Leith

Crafty Green Boyfriend joined me for my walk along the Water of Leith, which I did today, having been at the Book Festival on Monday morning! We've got the week off work for the Edinburgh Festivals and its nice to have a walk to escape the festival craziness...

We enjoyed walking round the meadow area near the river, where the crab apple trees are laden with fruit, see above. Then we followed my normal route up and down the river. The yew trees are magnificent at the moment, see the new banner photo, what glorious berries! We saw a heron wading chest deep in the river and later Crafty Green Boyfriend photgraphed one walking along the green metal bridge.

We also saw either a lot of dippers, or one very determined one that followed us for our entire walk back down the river.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Home of the Wriggler

Striaght away I'll say that this is a really good show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and if you get the chance, do go and see it. But:

this is how it is described in the Fringe programme: 'A lo-fi sci-fi docudrama, investigators in a post oil world, powering lights with bikes, trace entwined lives of a community once built on cars.'

Sounds pretty environmental, ideal for a Crafty Green review? However when I got to the show, I saw that this is how it's described in the programme: Home of the Wriggler was provoked by the passion unleashed in Birmingham when BMW announced it was looking to dispose of MG Rover. It was to have been a documentary about a working factory but events caught up with us: Longbridge closed within a month of our first research visit.

Someone in the seats behind me voiced my own incredulity 'its about a car factory?'. The only environmental input is the fact that all the lighting is powered by generators attached to exercise bikes (which is incredibly cool by the way!).

So go, enjoy, be prepared to be moved by personal histories of people made redundant, be intrigued by the intertwining, often incomplete narratives, enjoy the innovative dialogue and staging, but if you're expecting anything environmental, just keep your eyes on the bicycles and the eerily flickering lights....

Home of the Wriggler by Stan's Cafe, Underbelly, Cowgate, daily 12.00 until 30 August.

Monday 17 August 2009

Migrating Birds at Edinburgh Book Festival

This morning I went along to a Book Festival talk given by Horatio Clare and Michael McCarthy on migrating birds. Michael McCarthy read from his book Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo which looks at the declining numbers of this species in the UK, and Horatio Clare talked about his book A Single Swallow, which recounts the story of his attempt to follow the swallows as they migrate from their wintering grounds in South Africa to the UK. There was then a wide-ranging discussion. The place that migratory birds hold in our culture as heralds of Spring was contrasted with the role that swallows have in South Africa as bringers of rain. As migratory birds start to decline dramatically as they are across the UK (though less so in Scotland it seems) we risk losing vital connections that we have to the changing seasons. There was also discussion contrasting the freedom that migratory birds have to travel, compared to the artificial borders that restrict human travel, though it was also pointed out that migratory birds face huge risks of being shot as they pass over the Mediterranean. It was a fascinating and sobering event.

These books are reviewed together in this article in the Independent newspaper here.
Read Michael McCarthy's article The Great Migration Crisis in the Independent here.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Saturday 15 August 2009

English Passengers by Matthew Kneale

This excellent novel follows an expedition to find the Garden of Eden in the unlikely location of Tasmania. The novel's many narratives are wound together beautifully so that the changing voices blend together seamlessly. Its a novel of adventure, smuggling and attempted mutiny on the high seas, but also a novel of the tragic fate of the aboriginal Tasmanian people, who have had their lands (their world) stolen from them. Quoting from sections narrated by Peevay, the main aboriginal character in the novel:

Truly it was a mystery to confuse how they could ever kill all my ones and steal the world, or even why they wanted it, as it was no place they could endure. Why, they couldn't live here just alone but had to carry some Hobart Town with them hither and thither.

Weather was bright as I walked across the world for the last time, trees getting lovely with autumn, but I was mournful to think I was the final Palawa here, and after me there would just be white scuts or nobody. This never could be their place, I did divine. Yes they could go hither and thither, thinking it is mine now, but they never would feel it like my ones did. How could they when they didn't know anywhere's name or how it got there? [They] would never have this place deep inside their breasts, no. They would just be dwelling here.

This is a profoundly moving and tragic novel though written with a lightness of touch and much humour.

Friday 14 August 2009


Bog grasses and lochans
Distant mountains where the woman sleeps
caressed by the moon low in the sky.

A circle of rocks dragged here
in response to a mystic power
we still feel today.

Distorted gravity.
A kink in the moon’s journey.

previously published in Moonstone

Callanais stone circle, Lewis, Western Isles.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Lavender Bags

I made this lavender bag a while ago and am reposting it because I think it deserves a second chance. I used some scraps of Malawian fabric to make lavender bags as gifts.
Its simple to make - just hem a piece of fabric, sew together two seams and fill with lavender, finishing it off with a piece of ribbon. The ribbon here is reused, but I'm not sure where it came from.
And for those of you who are wondering about my ladybird mobile, I'm working on it, it's just taking a while to source all the necessary materials!

Wednesday 12 August 2009


golden evening light -
even the gulls
look noble.

a version of this haiku was published in Haiku Scotland 21.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Downside Up - poetry by Anne Connolly

I heard Anne read at the Five Live event at Wordpower Books last week. She's a very engaging reader with a great presence. Her collection Downside Up doesn't disappoint either, the poems are all written with a real feel for language and understanding of how poetry works, line breaks etc. She has a great eye for detail, including the detail of the natural world, eg this extract from The Turn:

I love the darkening of June
when days tilt away from summer.
Lilt of birds mellow to a fuller sound
ripe with easy satisfaction.

Downside Up by Anne Connolly published by Calder Wood Press.

Talking of poetry readings, I'm doing a short reading/performance next Monday at Underword, Fingers Piano Bar, Edinburgh You can find out more here.

Sunday 9 August 2009

Monday Bunday

as seen on Arthur's Seat, photos by Crafty Green Boyfriend

Shadows in Photos and poetry

This is a wonderful little sculpture in the Dalmeny Estate, which we visited yesterday. Crafty Green Boyfriend took this shot and named it 'the Age Old Battle'.

Also on the Shadow theme, I have a poem Passing Shadow up on the wonderful journal Concise Delight, you can read it here.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Butterflies in Dalmeny Estate

We had a lovely walk today through the Dalmeny Estate to South Queensferry. Part of the walk is through farmland, the fields glowing golden; part through woodland, all dappled shade and rich in ferns; part by the shore. White butterflies everywhere and the occasional brown butterfly fluttering past, mostly teasingly not letting us identify them (though we did see a Meadow Brown and a Painted Lady) then we found a wonderful overgrown area with a few Painted Ladies and at least 10 Peacock butterflies (see photo below) all feeding on thistles. There were bees, wasps and hoverflies everywhere too and a few swallows, floating around, mostly in the distance. Out on the water we saw a few female eider ducks.

Lucy of Box Elder posted some gorgeous butterfly photos recently, you can see them here.

Thursday 6 August 2009

daytime moon
above the stone circle -
a hare in a ditch

This is for Weaver of Grass, who asked for a hare haiku.
The stone circle in the haiku is Brodgar, Orkney.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Nature Poetry Group on Read Write Poem

Some of you may know that Read Write Poem has now developed and expanded into a social networking site, complete with discussion forums and themed groups as well as regular prompts and articles. It looks great and promises to be a very exciting place for poets and poetry fans to meet online.

Due to popular demand, I've set up a Nature Poetry Group on Read Write Poem. You can have a look at it here. There are discussion threads to share your nature poetry, discuss eco-poetry and share your ideas for maintaining your connections with nature.

You can join Read Write Poem here - look forward to seeing you there.....

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Musical rabbit haiku

The second of my collaborations with Belvedere Mountain Express is now up at their Myspace page. It's worth browsing all the tracks there..... Our latest collaboration is currently the fourth track down and is called Aux Champs des Lapins (In Rabbit Fields). You can find it here. I think it will surprise no-one that my contribution to this piece is a group of rabbit haiku....

One of the featured rabbit haiku appears on Summer Haiku today - you can read it here.
I also have two other recent haiku on Summer haiku, here and here.

Monday 3 August 2009

Birds along the Water of Leith

I walked along the Water of Leith again today - it was a lovely day and there were plenty of birds out! Since starting to do this walk regularly I have been impressed by how many bullfinches there are along the river. Click on the photo above to see one of the ones I saw today. Today I saw a heron for the first time in a while, herons always look too big and flamboyant for a small urban river but they do like the Water of Leith. As I was watching the heron it was joined by a grey wagtail, which rushed around busily while the heron just stood quietly and patiently.

Weaver of Grass recently commented that I seem to walk along the Water of Leith rather a lot. Well that's because I'm a volunteer for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust and I aim to walk this stretch of river every week, noting the birds and butterflies I see, cutting back any obstructive vegetation and picking litter. It must be one of the best voluntary jobs in the world, particularly as I have the most beautiful section of the river to look after...

Sunday 2 August 2009

Shadowy Moss

I took this photo yesterday as we were walking along the Water of Leith. Close up the moss is full of wonderful small insects, including tiny orange ladybirds with white spots.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Weekend Walk

Today was lovely weather, hurray! so we walked to Inverleith Park, next to the Botanics.

sedges in the new wildlife area (above and below - I'll need to look up which species these are!).

Adolescent mallards too, not to mention aggressive coots attacking moorhens. Then we walked through Stockbridge (second hand clothes and books) then along part of the Water of Leith (not my usual part).
Bees everywhere, enjoying the sunshine. Then we had a snack and a drink in a riverside beer garden.....