Wednesday 31 July 2013

Butterflies, birds and bees

It was lovely in Musselburgh this morning. These swans amused me, they're feeding above the small weir at the mouth if the River Esk, that is totally underwater at the moment because of recent heavy rain. Looks like it offers a nice patch of shallower water to feed from, or possibly food gets stuck at the weir....

There were plenty of insects around, here's one of the few ladybirds I've seen this year (a seven spot)

one of the many bumble bees that was buzzing around

and a lovely Meadow Brown butterfly, I took lots of photos of these, hoping to find a picture good enough to enter into the Big Butterfly Count photo competition. This photo didn't make the grade!

On the Lagoons, I found a group of birdwatchers who showed me where to see a wood sandpiper and a juvenile little gull, both of which were lifers for me. The wood sandpiper was quite distant and since I had to clamber up the wall of the hide to see it (the walls are concrete and quite used to being clambered on by birders), I'm not sure I quite fully appreciated the sighting, but the little gull was lovely and floated in circles on the water within very good viewing distance.

All in all a lovely day! 

For Nature Notes

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

Tuesday 30 July 2013


The harebells are in full bloom in small patches in Colinton Dell alongside the Water of Leith. There seem to be more of them than there were last year. They're very pretty flowers, sometimes known as the Scottish bluebell (or just as bluebell by many Scots).

 Meanwhile above my head the sparrowhawks were flying around, making lots of noise. I think their chicks had just fledged, I remember the same commotion about the same time last year.

I'm delighted to have two poems in the Birds Issue of Cyclamens and Swords

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

Monday 29 July 2013

Brooch from upcycled button

 I just quickly made this brooch the other day. I used a lovely vintage button, which has lost any sort of fastening from its back and a brooch fastener, that I have no idea where it came from. I just sewed the fastener onto the back of the button (see photo above, though it's a bit dark) and here's a nice, stylish brooch!
Meanwhile on Etsy I put together a 'Refreshment for a Summer's Day' treasury made up entirely of items from members of the UK Crafts Fair team, in reponse to a challenge in the team forum. it's the first time I've made a treasury to fit in with someone else's theme and I definitely prefer using my own theme! But anyway it was fun to put together.

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

Sunday 28 July 2013

Wooroloo by Frieda Hughes

Frieda Hughes is the daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Wooroloo, published in 1999, was her first poetry collection, with a stunning cover featuring one of her own artworks.

These poems are often, quite frankly, depressing. Beautifully written and with wonderful turns of phrase, but depressing with themes of ageing, destruction and death looming strongly.She has a keen eye for the natural world, but it tends to be a natural world of dead cows, feeding spiders and ominous walruses.

Ted HughesThought Fox prowls through his daughter's Foxes:

He appeared at hte floor-deep window,
A sudden little red thought.

Written soon after bushfires destroyed her studio in Wooroloo, Australia, not surprisingly, fire features strongly as a theme in this collection:

And now I treat blackened saplings 
With water drippers and a plastic tube,
As if the land were some mammoth animal
On life-support for a small cat.
And the last leaves of the tallest trees
Have this new death-voice
As their bloodless shells clatter.

(from Fire 1)

Words, which no doubt resonate strongly with everyone who lives in areas that have been devastated by forest fires. An increasingly common occurence.

Wooroloo by Frieda Hughes, published by Bloodaxe

Friday 26 July 2013

Buzzing Bees and Clashing Colours

We've had a few days of rain and cool mists but today so far has been hot and sunny (though it's clouding over just now). Crafty Green Boyfriend and I walked round Corstorphine Hill at lunchtime. I love the clashing colours of the rosebay willowherb and the ragworts which are both out in prfusion at the minute
Lots of bees, wasps and hoverflies were buzzing round, the first phto shows a species of bumble bee and the second is a honey bee. Both are feeding on ragwort.

Also plenty of butterflies, which we dutifully recorded for the Big Butterfly Count. We saw ringlets, meadow browns, whites and a small tortoiseshell.

All the insects seemed to be enjoying the hit weather. Indeed, this hot weather has allowed British butterflies to bounce back a little bit after their populations have been declining drastically over the past few years.

Finally, here is a photo I took last week of common spotted orchid, also on Corstorphine Hill. There are more of these orchids in the orchid field by the Water of Leith, but here on the hill, it's possible to get close and photograph the whole plant, showing the spotted leaves, which give the plant its name.

(Weather update, it's raining again now!)

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

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Fabric gift bag

 I just made a fabric gift bag from some very pretty scraps, I like the different designs and colours on the two sides (the two pices of fabric were already sewn together, I just hemmed the bottom and put in the drawstring at the top). I finished it off with part of an old shoelace and two matching beads from my stash. The beads nicely complement the colour scheme of the fabric.
You may recognise the fabric from the pot pourri bags (here and here) which I made a while ago and which are currently in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Monday 22 July 2013

Quiet Forest - an exhibition of poetry installations

I was very excited to hear about Quiet Forest - an exhibition of poetry installations to be held on 6 August at Forest Cafe by Inky Fingers.

I was even more excited to find out that my proposal for a series of poetry windchimes was accepted. I made my first poetry windchime a while back and will be making several more in the next couple of weeks!

So if you're in Edinburgh on 6 August, why not pop into the Forest Cafe and have a wee look round? Have a snack while you're there as well, they do very nice vegan cakes.

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

Saturday 20 July 2013

Lime trees and butterflies

We had a lovely walk this morning from Cramond Brig to South Queensferry, passing through the lovely Dalmeny Estate.

The lime trees (lindens) are in full bloom now, at this time of year they're definitely one of my favourite trees. Their flowers are beautiful and their lovely scent is everywhere.

The weather was perfect - sunny and warm with enough of a cooling breeze to stop it getting too hot. It was ideal weather for butterflies too and we saw lots of white butterflies, a few meadow browns and ringlets, a couple of small tortoiseshells and three common blues. Crafty Green Boyfriend got this photo of a female common blue. For all that they're common, it's a long time since I remember seeing one.

The Big Butterfly Count starts today and lasts until 11 August, so if you're out and about remember to record the butterflies you see and take part!

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

Friday 19 July 2013

Eco2life and refillable cleaning products

I entered a competition on Pinterest a few weeks ago, the idea was to put together a Pinboard with five favourite green ideas. I didn't win the competition, but I received a runner up prize of Eco2life bath and shower cleaner.

Eco2life products are made from 100% eco-friendly ingredients and contain no caustic ingredients, no phosphates, no parabens and no petroleum solvents. Each product comes in concentrated form, you then mix the concentrate with water in a spray bottle (made from longlife plastic and with a spray that has been tested for up to 10 000 sprays) and use. 

I have to say the bath and shower cleaner smells amazing! It has a lovely fresh scent, nicer than any other bath and shower cleaning product I've used. It cleans well too, though I can't say that it cleans better than other products.

Other products produced by Eco2life are: Glass Cleaner, Floor Cleaner and Multi-surface cleaner. 

I like the fact that these products come in concentrate form, which saves packaging as you just re-use the one spray bottle over and over.


Other eco-friendly products are also available in refill. The New Leaf Organic Shop in Edinburgh has always offered refills on certain cleaning products, but since being taken over as a workers' co-operative, they now offer a much larger range of refills, including shampoos and liquid soaps. Just rinse out your old bottle, take it along and refill it! A great way to save waste packaging and also save a wee bit of money too.

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

Thursday 18 July 2013

Ringlet butterfly

Ringlet butterflies are in flight just now! Last Friday, when we were up Corstorphine Hill, they were everywhere but moving far too quickly to be photographed. Similarly along the John Muir Walkway at Musselburgh today, they were flitting round at top speed with a few meadow browns.

This ringlet, which I saw along the Water of Leith on Monday was more co-operative, though it closed its wings as soon as I focussed the camera and refused to open them again! Still, the underside of the wing is very pretty too!

Click on the photo to enlarge it!

If you're in the UK, then over the next few weeks you can take part in the Big Butterfly Count!  From 20 July until 11 August, this project, organised by Buttefly Conservation, encourages everyone to get out and about to record the butterflies they see.

The warm summer this year is good for our butterflies, even though overall they have declined drastically over the past few years.

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

Wednesday 17 July 2013

New Fabric Wrist Cuff

I made another fabric wrist cuff! Well actually this is big enough to fit a slim ankle....

It's made from the same silver satin material (reclaimed from an old robe) that I used to make my previous wrist cuff and I've also made some chopstick bags from it.

I then added a scrap of deep blue fabric that has silver threads running through it and a scrap of silver net. Finished off with sliver moon and sun charms and a big blue button.

Now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

I'm designing and making several more similar items, which will all find their way into my Etsy shop!

Some of you may know that I recently put together a few Treasuries on Etsy. Bunny lovers may be interested to know that Bunnies Love Books is more popular than Curiosity Cats. Though neither is as popular as Blue Skies and Sunshine. (For those who don't know, Treasuries are selections of items made by other people on Etsy).

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

Tuesday 16 July 2013

The State of Nature

Recently, UK Wildlife organisations joined together to give our wildlife a health check. Although there were some elements of good news, the most basic overview of the statistics gives a grim picture:

60% of the 3,148 UK species assessed have declined over the last 50 years and 31% have declined strongly.

You can read more, including the full State of Nature report or the one page summary on the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) website

Against this background it is particularly shocking that the UK government seems to be making no attempt at all to fulfil their own promise when elected to be the 'greenest government ever'

A recent bitter disappointment for campaigners is the news that Oaken Wood, an area of ancient woodland in Kent is to be destroyed to make way for a quarry, despite two years of campaigning by Kent Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust and the Save Oaken Wood campaign

Meanwhile the Government is keen to press on with HS2, the high speed rail link between London and the north of England, despite the fact that 33 areas of ancient woodland will be damaged to make way for it. HS2 will only be of benefit in reducing carbon emissions if it forms part of a sustainable transport scheme. Also, any such scheme that damages irreplaceable biodiversity, such as ancient woodland, cancels out much of its benefits in reducing carbon footprints. The HS2 Action Alliance have produced a series of reports on how HS2 fails to produce its promised benefits on the economic, environmental and jobs creation fronts.

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

Monday 15 July 2013

The Wave Singer by Greg Michaelson

Given that I'm writing a novel set in a far future, independent (and much flooded) Scotland then I'm wanting to read books that already fit in this mini-genre. Not to steal ideas, but to get an overall inspiration and a sense of what's already out there.

The Wave Singer by Greg Michaelson is the latest such book I've found. Scotland is recovering from an unspecified climate Event and people have fractured into two opposing camps. The Arkists choose members of their group as Wave Singers to sing their landscape and the fragments of their history in a way very reminiscent of Australian aboriginal songlines meanwhile the Colonists hoard left over technology that can no longer be powered.

The nameless narrator of the novel is a young man from the Arkist who may be a future Wave Singer, but who wants to find his way into adulthood a bit before that choice is forced onto him. He finds himself building bridges with the Colonists.

The most impressive thing for me in this novel is how it builds a future world in which there are entirely new cultures (Wave Singing) but the author avoids putting in too much back-story and over-explanation of how the culture evolved. Around this specific element of the new culture are created new forms of family relationships and new attitudes to religion, all of which come together to create a believable future world.

There are also very telling little details, such as the community trying to use sheep to drive machinery, because they know that sheep used to be domesticated, but they've forgotten the details of how!

The Wave Singer by Greg Michaelson published by Argyll Publishing

Other novels about far future climate-changed Scotland include (follow the links to read my reviews)

But n Ben A Go Go by Matthew Fitt.

Writing in the Sand by Angus Dunn.

And I seem to be 'in the zone' with Etsy Treasuries, I put together another today: Curiosity Cats

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

Sunday 14 July 2013

Blue skies, bunnies and books

As everyone knows I love bunnies and books, so what better than to put together an Etsy Treasury featuring bunnies and books? There are books featuring bunnies, toy bunnies with their own notebooks and items featuring text from books about bunnies. Just follow the link to see them all!

Then as I seemed to be in an Etsy Treasury type of mood, I put together a 'blue skies and sunshine' Treasury featuring blue and yellow summery items from UK Etsy sellers to celebrate the lovely summer weather we're having.

For those who don't know Etsy, a Treasury is a collection of items made by other Etsy sellers, often themed or grouped according to colour.

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

Friday 12 July 2013

Corstorphine Hill

It was very hot at lunchtime today, which probably explained why Crafty Green Boyfriend and I were the only people wandering round Corstorphine Hill at that time.

Despite the heat though we managed to see a lot of wildlife! We were pleased to see several species of bees buzzing around, specially on the thistles (thanks Crafty Green Boyfriend for this photo, if you click on the photo to enlarge it you might even see the bee's tongue)

Lots of ringlet butterflies were flying about in the neadows.

Whitethroats were singing in the meadows, while in the woodland we got a very good view of a male bullfinch while two blackbirds were chasing a raptor of some kind (we never got to see the bird of prey, other than as a blur od large wings in the middle of the trees).

Most exciting though was seeing nuthatches high up in a tree, an adult feeding a youngster! Nuthatches have only recently started to move up into Scotland and this is the first time we've seen them in Edinburgh apart from on the bird feeder outside the Ranger Building in the Hermitage of Braid, where they seem to have spent the past four years or so.

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

Thursday 11 July 2013

more chopstick bags!

Although it's only small, my Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop sells a wide range of items, from vintage clothing to sea pottery and including quiet a lot of handmade items including beaded bookmarks. The most popular items though, in terms of sales are the chopstick bags! I've blogged about those I've made so far here.

Due to the 'high demand' for these products, I've just made another two!

The floral chopstick bag is currently in my Etsy shop and the silver one is here!

These chopstick bags offer an ideal way to carry around a pair of re-usable chopsticks so you can avoid having to use the disposable ones that are the usual cutlery choice in many Chinese restaurants. (Many disposable chopsticks are made from the products of forest destruction, though to be fair some are made from waste wood from the construction industry).


I was delighted recently to find that my paper hearts made out of a vintage French novel (which was, by the way, literally falling apart) were included in this Treasury on Etsy.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Red breasted merganser family

I saw this family of red breasted merganers at Musselburgh today. It was so sweet to watch them preening.

then they gathered closer together for more preening

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Summer by the Water of Leith

Very hot today! I made my weekly walk along the Water of Leith and was glad of the shade from the avundant trees along most of 'my' stretch of the river.

The orchid field isn't sheltered, though it's still very wet underfoot. The common spotted orchids are at their best at the moment, but they are well hidden away in the other vegetation! The field seems much more overgrown than last year.

 One of the things I'm trying to do with my photography is to perfect a technique for taking photos of insects and other small things. I'm quite pleased with this beetle, though I don't know what species it is! It very kindly stayed still for long enough for me to take a few photos. This is the best one.
 I love the chandelier catkins of the hornbeam tree at this time of year. It's not a tree that's native to this part of the UK (though it is native further south). It was planted during the time when the area was full of watermills, because the wood is very hard and was useful for building machinery and mill workings.
There were baby birds everywhere today. Young robins, just past the very fluffy stage, but still with only a speck of red on their breasts wandering alongside the paths and an adorable and tiny young coal tit, it's face all yellow, as they are when they're young, came right up to me and hopped round in the branches just above my head.

For Nature Notes

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

Monday 8 July 2013


For the last day of our staycation, we decided to visit Craighouse, the old Napier University campus that is currently in limbo as the Friends of Craighouse battle to prevent it being inappropriately developed. The old historic university buildings (which started life as hospital buildings) are surrounded by meadowland and woodland which borders onto Craiglockart Hill.

On a hot sunny day like today, one of the nicest aspects of the site is that you can wander round the hot sunny meadow

then retreat into the shade of the woodland:

We were delighted to see three species of bumble bees enjoying the flowers in the meadows, including common carder bees and this red bottomed bumble bee:

There were also some hoverflies at the edge of Craiglockart Hill

It's a lovely area for a wander and it's shocking that Edinburgh Council seems to be bending over backwards to enable developers to build on the green areas of the site as well as the built areas. The council recently changed the conservation and nature protection status of the area, so that it now seems that there is no protection against inappropriate development. This is particularly bad news for the pipistrelle bats which live in the area and are a protected species.

The historic buildings on the site need to be developed to prevent them falling into decay and disprepair. The problem is that whereas a century ago they were ideal hospital buildings and more recently ideal university buildings, the needs of institutions like that have changed and it's likely that the buildings will ultimately be converted into housing or offices.

The issue is, how to do this without damaging the lovely area round about?

You can find out more about the issues from The Friends of Craighouse.

If you're in Edinburgh, do make a point of visiting Craighouse, while you still can. The developers seem intent on trying to keep people away from the buildings, but at the moment there seems to be full public access to the grounds from all entrances.

Thanks to the Friends of Craighouse for including my hoverfly photo in their recent round up of photos of the site. 

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

Friday 5 July 2013

Gorgie City Farm

We had a lovely visit to Gorgie City Farm this morning. There's a group of delightful calves there at the moment:

 We also enjoyed these plants in the sensory garden, the leaves are as soft as bunnies ears!
 A group of chickens were having fun chasing this little moth around, luckily the moth escaped, but I've no idea what species it is, anyone have any ideas? (yes I know the photos taken from a strange angle, but the moth was flying round very quickly!)

Thursday 4 July 2013

Writing Maps

I was delighted recently when Jem of A Longing for the Impossible and The Sound of Splinters sent me a free copy of a Writing Map.

Writing Maps are pocket inspiration packs for writers. Jem sent me the City of Inspiration map, which can be used in any city and contains several writing prompts. each prompt is designed to make you sit down and pay more attention to your environment, whether it's a restaurant or a gallery or just a street corner and then to draw inspiration from it for your writing.

I was particularly pleased to see that the map includes a prompt to 'find a place to write by water'. Today, as every week, I walked along the Water of Leith through Colinton Dell and enjoyed all the wonderful nature in the area. I was totally delighted to see a kingfisher fly upriver, even more delighted when I was able to follow it and watch it catch a fish. I was also delighted to see that the orchid field is again full of common spotted orchids, they can be very elusive, so it's always wonderful to see them appear again. The field is very boggy so no photos this time, but you can see the orchids from two years ago here.

A couple of weeks ago, I took the City of Inspiration Map along to the creative writing class I teach at the Ripple Project and everyone there was very impressed and said they would definitely use some of the prompts!

There are several different writing maps to choose from, you can see the whole range here.

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

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Ducklings and Fungus

We wandered through Inverleith Park today and were delighted to see this lovely family of mallards (I think it's really nice too that the blue in the mother's wing shows up so clearly in the photo, often a feature that is hidden away)

then later on we wandered through the Botanic Gardens and were impressed by these fungi pushing their way through the soil, I don't know off hand what species they are, but I'll try to find out (if anyone knows, please feel free to let me know!)

Good to see lots of bees around in the Botanics, at least two species of bumble bees, the occasional common carder bee and a couple of honey bees. None of them permitted photos though.

For Nature Notes

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

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Bunnies, Bugloss, Birds and bees

I made the mistake yesterday of saying it had been sunny here. So obviously it has been raining for much of today...

We're having a staycation and spending the week enjoying Edinburgh's green areas. Today we were on Arthur's Seat. The viper's bugloss was in bloom, such an unusual and striking looking plant.

There were lots of bees around these flowers, but I couldn't catch any of them on camera... I was pleased to catch this bunny on camera, seeming to be eating the gorse flowers!

There were lots of young birds around today, we saw very young robins and blue tits. We were also delighted to see two ravens, we know they nest on Arthur's Seat but they are surprisingly elusive for such a big bird!

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

Monday 1 July 2013

Sunglasses case

I recently made this sunglasses case for Crafty Green Boyfriend. I made it from the same repurposed fabric as this pencil case but it fastens with a button and a ribbon buttonhole, rather than press-studs as I'd used in the pencil case. Given that we're having quite a lot of sunshine at the moment, the case is getting quite a lot of use!