Wednesday 31 October 2012

Ash trees threatened

The ash is one of my favourite trees. It is also one of the commonest trees in British woodlands. Unfortunately it is now threatened by ash dieback disease caused by the Chalera fraxinus fungus,. This disease has already done a lot of damage in continental Europe, killing up to 90% of ash trees in Denmark for example.

The British government has known of this disease for a while and logic and common sense would have dictated that we should ban the import of ash trees to prevent the disease reaching our shores. (Why do we need to import ash trees anyway? It's not as though we're short of our own!). Well, a ban is now in place since Monday, but that might be too late as the disease has already been found in trees in parts of England. The disease has been confirmed in a number of woodlands in England including a  Woodland Trust woodland in Suffolk and in Scotland too. Because of the delay in implementing the ban, it may be that thousands of trees near the sites of infection will be destroyed to prevent the disease spreading. George Monbiot writes in the Guardian about the politics behind the delayed ban, while Tobias Jones writes, also in the Guardian about his feelings about the ash tree. 

Hopefully the disease has been caught early enough to prevent it devastating our ash trees.

It was beautifully sunny on Friday so I wandered through Princes Street Gardens, in the centre of Edinburgh, to take photos of some of my favourite ash trees.

And a closer look at an ash tree in Dalry Cemetery, showing the ash keys and the distinctive black buds.

We don't want to lose these magnificent trees from our landscape.

Weaver of Grass also recently blogged about ash dieback.

Gabriel Hemery shares some lovely photos of ash trees in Yorkshire.

For Nature Notes

I am the contributing poet to Daily Haiku this week, you can read today's haiku here

I'm delighted to have a haiku in the Haiku News anthology which will be out soon, you can pre-order your copy here.

I'm also delighted to have a poem in the current issue of Misty Mountain Review.

As ever, text in red contains hyper-links that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Otters and Orange Ladybirds

On Sunday afternoon I was at a Water of Leith Conservation Trust volunteer meeting, where we passed round a jar which contained a piece of otter spraint (poo!) (as you do!). It actually smells surprisingly pleasant, sort of a fishy jasmine tea type of smell.

Yesterday I was at the Trust's AGM where the guest speaker was ecologist Melanie Findlay of Findlay Ecology Services. Melanie is an otter expert (though she didn't share the secret behind the jasmine tea scent of otter poo!) and a very engaging speaker. She shared a lot of information about the otters' family life (including some adorable video clips of young otters) and about their diet (mostly eels and other fish, but they also eat invertebrates and have been known to eat rabbits! She also showed photos of various signs of otters, not just spraint, but also a weird looking stuff that is formed when otters eat frogs and then spit out the unformed spawn - this is exactly what I had seen recently in Musselburgh (so there are probably otters there!). The otters are doing well on the Water of Leith but are generally elusive (I've only seen one once!).

Today was my regular patrolling walk along part of the river, that I do as part of my volunteering with the trust. I was particularly delighted to see two great spotted woodpeckers as well as dippers, a heron, a buzzard and a flock of long tailed tits. But the most unusual wildlife sighting wasn't a bird but about a hundred orange ladybirds (Halyzia 16-guttata), all gathered in groups in the tops of fence posts! I've never seen this type of ladybird here before and never anywhere in such numbers! The photo isn't any good, but it gives you an idea of how many of these insects were gathering together.

You can find me on Daily Haiku again! Today's haiku is about the Colinton tunnel on the Water of Leith walkway! 

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Monday 29 October 2012

Monday Bunday - & the bunny stars of my novel are

You may remember, quite a while ago I blogged about an exciting opportunity for your bunny or bunnies to star in my novel (a piece of speculative fiction set in a future independent and flooded Scotland) or in a related short story.

I received several entries. Choosing the star for my short story was easy, Humphrey of Cottontails Baby just fitted perfectly into the story, which is now complete and out looking for a publisher. This story will also be worked into the novel as was my original intention (though for a while I had thought they would become entirely separate things).

Choosing a bunny to star in the main storyline of the novel proved to be much more difficult. Largely because the novel itself is proving to be more difficult than the short story and I've been struggling with the main storyline quite a bit. It's still nowhere near being finished but for all you hopeful bunny bloggers the wait is over.

I would have loved to include all the bunnies, I really would, but the winners are:

Sydney and Tyler from The Qi Papers. I love the fact that these two bunnies were separated and then reunited, it makes a lovely sub-plot to the novel, where the long standing community of the Scottish island needs to integrate with the incoming population of climate change refugees. Tyler also has a number of character traits that I'll be able to work into the story nicely. 

But all you other bunny bloggers may still have a chance for a small amount of fame. My story about a family of rabbits Anya and the Foxgloves was published recently and I may write some more stories in this series. The other nominated bunnies may feature in these future stories!

Oh and a word of advice - if entering a blog competition, it really does help if you make it easy to contact you in case of success!

Meanwhile, not bunnies, but cats in my haiku on Daily Haiku today. 

As ever, red text contains hyper-links that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more.

Sunday 28 October 2012

The Cloud Spotters Guide

clouds between the trees near the Water of Leith.
I really enjoyed reading The Invention of Clouds (which I review here) but it left me wanting to know more about the cloud types themselves. So I immediately picked up The Cloud Spotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

This book takes each cloud type in turn and gives the details of what it typically looks like, where and when it can found and what type of precipitation (snow, heavy rain, hail, drizzle etc) it gives rise to. It also outlines some tips on weather forecasting by describing how one type of cloud can become another.

Alongside all the science the author makes it clear that clouds are to be appreciated for their beauty (apart perhaps from stratus, the low, dull, misty cloud that even the most ardent cloud appreciator has been known to describe as boring).

He also has plenty of stories to share about clouds, including that of Lt Col William Rankin a US Air Force pilot who had to eject from his plane above a storm cloud and spent 40 minutes being buffetted by the weather as he fell through a storm.

This is a totally fascinating book for anyone who is interested in our 'little fluffy friends' as Pretor-Pinney calls them. I think I'll need to read it a few times though before I can be sure of telling the difference between some of the cloud types let alone starting to forecast the weather!

The Cloud Spotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney published by Sceptre (part of Hodder and Stoughton) and available in several languages.

On a different topic, the first of my haiku on Daily Haiku has just gone live!

As ever, red text in this post contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more! 

Saturday 27 October 2012

Autumn in Edinburgh's wooded cemeteries

There are two lovely wooded cemeteries near where we live. They are particularly atmospheric at this time of year. We visited Dalry Cemetery this morning.

Then we went to Gorgie Farm for lunch in their lovely cafe. We wandered round the farm after lunch but were disappointed that the bunnies were all in little cages ready to be transported to an educational event, they work their bunnies hard on the farm!

Then we went to North Merchiston Cemetery.

I've also uploaded some other photos from the day onto the Visit Woods website. You can see my Dalry Cemetery photos here and my North Merchiston Cemetery photos here.

Friday 26 October 2012

Lochend Park

At the moment I'm teaching a creative writing class at the Ripple Project, which is based at Restalrig and Lochend Community Hub in Edinburgh. Just up the road is Lochend Park which is a park I've never really visited before, as I'm rarely in the area. So yesterday, I stayed on the bus for an extra couple of stops and wandered round the park a bit and took these photos.

 The dovecot
The loch

I'll get an even earlier bus next week and wander round the back of the park where most of the trees are and see what I can see there.I'll also try to find the bee cafe, which is a wild-flower meadow created by local schoolchildren to help bees! I'll need to go back in the spring to see it at it's best of course!

I also noticed that Lochend Park didn't have any photos up on the Visit Woods website, so now I've put that right by uploading some of mine!

Thursday 25 October 2012


As most readers of this blog probably know I love rivers so I was very keen to see the film Swandown, which had only one showing at The Filmhouse cinema. Thankfully I managed to get to that one showing and was very glad I did!

Swandown is a gloriously eccentric British film. Two men (film maker Andrew Kötting and writer / historian / geographer Iain Sinclair) travel from Hastings on the south coast of England to Hackney in London by means of a swan shaped pedalo. Along the way they meet anglers and dog walkers and talk about what rivers mean to them. Their journey is inter-cut with archive materials about the rivers of south east England and quotations from writers including Edward Lear and Samuel Beckett. It's a wonderfully odd tribute to the unique nature of rivers with a bit of a protest against the construction of the Olympics site added in.

Hopefully the film will be shown again at some point, and all I can say is, if you get the chance to see it, do....

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Hornbeam chandeliers

I've blogged about hornbeams before (if you want to read all the previous posts that have featured hornbeams, click here!). They're a British tree though native only to the south of England. They were planted along the Water of Leith when the area was an industrial power-house full of mills. Hornbeams have very hard and strong wood and were very useful in the construction of mill parts. Not only were they a very useful tree but they're also very beautiful. At this time of year their beautiful female catkins, that look like chandeliers, are changing colour along with their leaves.

I took these photos yesterday, you can see more photo from that walk here!

for Nature Notes

I'm delighted to have two poems published today at the eco-themed and wonderfully named Jellyfish Whispers.

As ever, red text contains hyper-links that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Autumn colours and more spiders webs

It was dull and drizzly this morning, but that didn't stop me enjoying my weekly wander by the Water of Leith. Colinton Dell is amazingly beautiful in the autumn!

Like yesterday on Corstorphine Hill, there were spiders webs everywhere, unlike yesterday I could capture them on film! This wonderful old yew tree is covered with spiders webs at the moment!

I've uploaded several of my photos of Colinton and Craiglockart Dells onto the Visit Woods website. If you're in the UK. you can quite easily sign up to the website, search for your nearest woodland and add your photos too! The website also has lots of ideas for activities to do in the woods!

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more.

Monday 22 October 2012

Sparrowhawks and spiders webs

I don't take my camera with me when I'm leading a birdwatching walk because I don't want to be distracted away from guiding the walkers and searching for birds! This morning though, I wished I had my camera with me, for as I was walking along the road to the meeting point, the fences and gates of the gardens were all hung in sparkling spiders' webs. It was a beautiful sight....

Later there were more spiders webs draping the gorse bushes on the top of Corstorphine Hill where we were walking.

It was very misty this morning, which added a wonderful atmosphere - the autumnal trees of the wooded areas of the hill look even more beautiful in the mist. It isn't ideal for spotting birds though! We were hearing birds much more easily than seeing them, though eventually we did see the large flock of long tailed tits that we heard whispering all around us as we walked.

As we stepped out of the woodland onto an open area of grass, we heard a call up in the air. I identified it as a sparrowhawk so we waited for a while and sure enough it soon swept into view, followed closely by several agitated carrion crows. The hawk flew to the top of a tree and settled down, seemingly unbothered by the fact that the crows all sat themselves in a circle round about! Then at some signal we weren't aware, of the birds all flew off and we made our way back into the woodlands to continue our walk.

Sunday 21 October 2012

From Climate Act to Climate Action

Stop Climate Change Chaos Coalition are holding a mass lobby of the Scottish Parliament, 12.45-2.15pm, Thursday 25th October. This offers a vital opportunity to show MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) that people in Scotland want to see real action on climate change. Perhaps ironically for a mass event, places are limited so book yours today!


Three years ago the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Scottish Climate Change Act 2009, the world’s strongest climate legislation. But legislation only works if backed up with action and unfortunately (and to some perhaps unsurprisingly), the Scottish Government failed to meet it’s first target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The lobby offers the chance for people to come together from across Scotland to show our politicians that we care about climate change and that the Government must deliver on the Scottish Climate Act. 


If you can't be there on the day, you can 'Get your Act Together' in the #gyat Twitter storm.  Simply tweet your messages between 12.45pm and 2.15pm on the day using the #gyat hashtag to show our politicians that we need them to do more on climate change.You can also use the hashtag in the run-up to the lobby to increase awareness of the event.


You can find out more on the Stop Climate Change Chaos Coalition website. Plus, EcoWarriorMe has written a detailed blog post on the event and Twitter storm.

As ever, red text contains hyper-links that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more. Much of the text in this post is in green for some inexplicable reason known only to Blogger.

Saturday 20 October 2012

The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn

 interesting cloud formation in the Dells, Water of Leith.

Richard Hamblyn's The Invention of Clouds is a fascinating book that looks at the history of how clouds were classified into the types by which we know them today (eg cirrus, altostratus, cumulus), It centres on Luke Howard, the meteorologist who first came up with a properly workable and universal cloud classification (there had been other attempts, but they hadn't been successful).

The book is an excellent biography of Howard, but it is also offers excellent insights into the long history of meteorology and the broader history of science around the time (early nineteenth century).

Volcanic eruptions in 1783 caused huge disruptions to the weather across the world (I'm guessing this year's poor summer would look relatively normal in comparison!). These events had a huge impact on scientists and artists, including the young Howard.

Howard became a prominent member of the Askesian Society, a scientific grouping organised by the Quakers. At that time Quakers and other Dissenters were barred from the Universities and had to fall back on organising their own education through societies such as the Askesians. Howard was later a founding member of The Meteorological Society of London, though this was a group much riven by disagreements in its early days and it only much later became the respected Royal Meteorological Society.

The book also looks at the relationship between science and the arts during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for example, attended scientific lectures to, as he said "renew my stock of metaphors" while the great German poet Goethe wrote a long poetic tribute to Luke Howard.

The book also manages to cover a brief history of the development of scientific journals and gives us fascinating nuggets of weather related information such as the Revolutionary French calendar that was used between 1793 and 1805 and renamed all the months according to their place in the agricultural year.

This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in meteorology or the history of science. After reading it, though, I felt I wanted to learn more about clouds themselves and so immediately picked up The Cloud Spotters Guide, which I'll review here in a week or so.

The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn, published by Picador

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Friday 19 October 2012

Are we still a nation of animal lovers?

According to leading pet charity, Blue Cross, the number of abandoned kittens, puppies and pregnant pets has reached troubling levels. Its re-homing centres around the UK are being overwhelmed as more pets than ever are being dumped and abandoned. As a result of this, the charity is calling on pet owners to support the Blue Cross Big Neutering Campaign which launches today.

In the past four years, the number of pets born at Blue Cross centres after their pregnant mothers were abandoned or given up has nearly doubled[i], and Blue Cross has also needed to rescue record numbers of homeless kittens and puppies. [ii]. Many of these are like puppy, Waffle, who experienced a miserable, short life after being left wrapped up in newspaper with his young sisters and dumped like rubbish on a country lane. The other puppies survived thanks to Blue Cross, but sadly Waffle didn’t.

The Blue Cross Big Neutering Campaign wants to stop this kind of thing happening by:
* making ‘neutering the norm’; 
* stamping out irresponsible breeding and 
* raising awareness amongst millions of animal lovers of the huge benefits of neutering their pets. 

Preventing unwanted litters can save pets from a life that’s often short and full of misery. Many pet rescues now in fact make it a condition of re-homing a pet that you neuter it. One of the first things we did when we adopted Anya from the SSPCA Animal Rescue was to have her spayed.

[i] Double number of animals born on site after pregnant pets given up (312 between July 2011and June 2012 and 161 from July 2007 to June 2008)
[ii] 41% increase in pets under four months old admitted to Blue Cross compared to four years ago (1991 from July 20 11 to Jun 2012 and 1403 between July 2007 and June 2008)

Thursday 18 October 2012

More beaded bookmarks!

Beaded bookmarks now have a section of their own in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop. I'll probably add more in the future. Meanwhile here is another selection of designs!

 This design uses pieces from broken jewellery including a clasp and discarded jewellery wire. The wing is detachable so you can replace it with another charm or use it as a pendant! This bookmark features in my Etsy shop here.

 This and the rest of the designs are made using discarded fishing line I found ion one of my weekly volunteering walks by the Water of Leith.

The book is my poetry chapbook Unthinkable Skies.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Wildlife Information Online

There's a wealth of sites on-line where you can find out about how to identify wildlife. So here's a list of some of the useful ones for the British Isles. If you notice any broken links or find a website that's not yet listed here but you feel should be, let me know!


 Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) has some excellent guides to British wildlife
 NatureSpot is a great resource too, with photo guides to most types of wildlife in the UK (focussing on Leicestershire and Rutland). If you can't see the group of wildlife you're after in the lists below, try Nature Spot.

Freshwater Species
Freshwater Habitats has a guide to creatures that may be found in a pond or river.  
 Microscopy UK has a guide to freshwater algae.
Marine Species
Countryfile has some useful guides:
a guide to British cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales).  
Marine Conservation has a guide to jellyfish.  
 The British Marine Life Study Society has an online guide to sea living molluscs.
 The British Marine Life Study Society has a page about seaweeds.
The Fieldguide to British seaweeds is here.

The RSPB website is a great resource for British birders, I link to it a lot in my blog posts. It has a very useful bird guide where you can browse by species or family and a bird identifier to help you identify what you've seen. The bird guide includes sound files, though only for songs, not calls.

You may also be interested in xeno-canto which shares sound-files of birds from around the world.

The British Trust for Ornithology has some excellent bird identification videos on its website.  

You can identify feathers from British birds on Featherbase here.

UK Safari has an information page with links to information about UK mammals.

Amphibians and Reptiles
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has an online guide to British amphibians and an online guide to British reptiles.  

First Nature has a guide to British and European fish


The Royal Entomological Society offer a free service to help identify insects

The UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme has a useful guide to telling the difference between bees, hoverflies and other groups of insects

UK Safari profiles some of the British species of beetles

A Guide to British Soldier Beetles.

Nature Spot has a useful guide to ladybirds here.

UK Butterflies has a page with links to identification guides for all stages of the butterfly life cycle, so whether you have seen an adult, a caterpillar, an egg or a pupa, they can help!

Butterfly Conservation has an A_Z of British Butterflies

Nature Spot has a good photographic butterfly guide

UK Moths offers identification guides to 2155 species of moths. Which is a lot.

Wildlife Insite has a useful site to help identification of caterpillars of moths, butterflies and sawflies.  

East of Scotland Butterfly Conservation has a Moth ID gallery.

The Nature Spot Guide to Hoverflies.
All About Hoverflies page.
Steven Falk's Flickr album of Hoverfly photos.


The Sawfly website is a work in progress, but does include an (incomplete) species guide. 

The Natural History Museum has a neat little guide to bumblebee identification.
Blooms for Bees clear guide to Bumble bees and Cuckoo Bumbles
The Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society has a beginners' guide to identifying these groups.
British Nature Guides guide to bees, wasps, parasitic wasps and wasp galls

British Bugs has an identification guide for true bugs (Hemiptera) of the UK.

Dragonflies and Damselflies
British Dragonfly Society has a guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of the UK.

UK Safari has a section dedicated to spiders.


The Conchological Society has an online guide to identifying snails and slugs.

There is a website dedicated to photos of earthworks here.

The Woodland Trust has an online guide to British Trees.

Wild Flowers
The British Wild Flowers website is a useful photographic guide to British wildflowers.

Plantlife is currently building an online guide to British wildflowers and fungi.  

Flora of East Anglia has a guide to the differences between Grasses, Sedges and Rushes.


 The British Pteridological Society has a photographic guide to UK ferns.

The British Wild Flowers website has a useful photographic guide to grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns.

Here is a guide to edible fungi in the UK and how to avoid poisonous species.

Mosses and Liverworts
The British Bryological Society offers an on-line resource for identifying mosses and liverworts.

British Lichens is a site to help you identify lichens.

There's a brief overview of foraging for wild food here with links to identifying species that you can forage.

and if you are a forager, you should follow principles sustainable harvesting to make sure there's enough left over for others (people and wildlife!). There are some simple guidelines for sustainable foraging here.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks which take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Monday 15 October 2012

Lovely day for birding

I went to Musselburgh this morning, it seemed such a lovely day for a birding walk (and given that it's school holidays my council birdwatching class wasn't happening today).

This is the view from one of the birdwatching hides at Musselburgh Lagoons. These hides don't have roofs so are quite chilly, though one of them was a suntrap this morning, so I sat there for a while. You can't see in the photo, but there were quite a few interesting birds on the lagoons today, including several lapwings (always a delight to see, particularly as their population is crashing across the country and they've become quite rare), several teals (males and females have a lovely turquoise speculum (stripe in their wings) which were really catching the sun today!) and wigeons (such pretty ducks!).

I walked along the John Muir Walkway and was amazed by the number of meadow pipits that had flocked together. They were flying about and calling to each other. Looking onto the sea by the Walkway I was delighted to see four velvet scoters (fabulously weird looking ducks), two great crested grebes and a red throated diver.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more

Sunday 14 October 2012

Rowan tree

I took this photo yesterday near the Water of Leith. The light was all wrong so I played about with the colour settings quite a bit. I quite like this effect, which gives an impression of the wonderful colour of the tree, though it distorts the colour of the sky, which in reality was just dull grey cloud.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Water of Leith

I took these photos today at the Water of Leith weir near the Galleries of Modern Art.

We saw our first redwing of the autumn and the goosanders are back on the river for the winter!

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Friday 12 October 2012

Hell and High Water by Alastair MacIntosh

This is a book about climate change, but one with a difference. While the first half of the book presents the science and facts, the second looks at how the human condition is tied in with climate change. McIntosh argues that we need to reclaim our spirituality and re-connect with nature in a meaningful way before we can have any hope of sorting out the challenges of climate change. While I can't argue with that, I was less than impressed by the second half of the book. Perhaps it's because I'm already well read on the issues and because I try to both live a relatively low consumption life and to maintain my connections with nature, but I felt that these arguments were too general. I felt McIntosh (who is a well respected thinker and activist in the environmental field) could have discussed more specific measures to ensure that people could find a way to directly combat climate change by reconnecting with nature. Instead I felt we're offered a general nice way of rediscovering a natural spirituality that might somehow rub off on helping reduce our carbon footprint.

If you are interested in climate change and natural spirituality, you may well find this book useful and interesting. It includes for example some interesting discussion of climate change and culture. Just don't expect to find a blueprint for how to reduce your carbon footprint.

When I picked this book up, I had hoped I would be able to give it a glowing review, but unfortunately not. My attitude in general is, if I can't be mostly positive about a book, I don't review it on this blog. However I felt that this book is at least starting to uncover a vital area that could hold the key to finding a solution to one of the most pressing issues of our time and so deserves a review, despite my reservations.

Interestingly this book doesn't contain any information on environmental criteria connected with its production. Equally interesting, the book, which, though second hand, is relatively recently published, is already starting to literally fall apart, so it isn't as sustainably produced as it could be.

Hell and High Water, Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition by Alastair McIntosh, published by Birlinn.

I also recently read and reviewed Marianne Wheelaghan's excellent The Blue Suitcase on my Over Forty Shades blog. 

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more.

Thursday 11 October 2012

World Porridge Day

I didn't realise it until after I'd already posted yesterday's blog post, but yesterday was World Porridge Day! So in belated celebration of Scotland's national dish, which is also one of the healthiest ways to start the day, here are some ideas for adding variety to your morning bowl of porridge:

chop up some apple or dates and add to the porridge as it's cooking
add a touch of cinnamon or mixed spice to the porridge as it's cooking
sprinkle some seeds (eg pumpkin or sesame seeds) on top of your porridge
drizzle honey over the top of your porridge
add a small amount of raspberry jam to your porridge

what are your favourite ways to eat porridge?

World Porridge Day aims to raise awareness of the role that porridge plays at Mary’s Meals projects in Malawi, where a daily mug of maize-based ‘likuni phala’ is an incentive for children to go to school. I didn't often eat phala when I was in Malawi, but I ate lots of the thicker form nsima which is usually served with beans and vegetables.

Meanwhile, the third in my series of seasonal nature articles has just been published on Lothian Life. You can read it here. You can access all my Lothian Life articles here

Wednesday 10 October 2012

More beaded bookmarks

A while ago I shared some of my very simple beaded bookmark designs. Well here are some designs that are more time consuming! The beads are from my stash and I've threaded them on discarded fishing lines that I found along the Water of Leith.

It's actually quite addictive making these, though it is very fiddly to thread all those little beads and it's much easier if the light's good! I have more designs to share in a future post!

I'll be adding some of these to the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop. The first one I've added is the blue teddy bear bookmark in the first photo in this post, you can find it in my Etsy shop here

The book in the background of the photos is my poetry pamphlet Unthinkable Skies. 

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more. 

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Snails and a crescent moon

We're having some lovely autumnal weather at the moment! Today was very cold first thing, with a frost, but it was beautifully sunny and did warm up later. I walked along the Water of Leith, doing my weekly voluntary litter pick and wildlife recording.

I noticed this snail, isn't it sweet, hiding away under the leaf like that?

I also noticed the crescent moon, up above the changing trees.