Wednesday 30 April 2014

Tree Following Plus NaPoWriMo

I'm following a larch tree in Colinton Dell by the Water of Leith for Tree Following.  The tree has its own number, given to it by Edinburgh City Council. 

You can read more about how the council looks after its trees here.

 The larch is getting greener and its flowers are well past their best now, though still in bloom.

I was delighted, after waiting for a little while, to see the two long tailed tits fluttering around, seemingly catching small insects and then popping into the nest. They're very speedy little birds and that, combined with the poor light conditions, made getting a photo of them impossible.

The larch stands very close to the site of the old Bog's Mill, which is currently being made into a wildflower meadow by the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. I was delighted to see cowslips here for the first time today! (Though it will be a while before they're as prolific here as they are in Blackleach Country Park, near where my parents live!).


Well, NaPoWriMo has come to an end. I've written a poem almost every day this month, most of them very rough first drafts. My intention in taking part in the project was to try to make sure I capture moments of inspiration and make them into poetry rather than just putting them in a blog post or a Facebook status or a tweet. I think I succeeded in that. Given the number of haiku I wrote during the month, I think in future, I'll take part in NaHaiWriMo instead!

The other thing I did during NaPoWriMo was to produce an updated version of my first poetry chapbook Bougainvillea Dancing, which is now available in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop or you can order it directly from me and pay via Paypal or with a UK cheque. I'm hoping to have the book available on other platforms in the near future. Plus I'm still working on the giveaway I promised before I visited my parents!

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Blackleach Country Park

I spent the weekend with my parents. The weather was lovely and we spent a lot of time in the garden. We also visited Blackleach Country Park, which is just up the road from them.

The cowslips were in full bloom:

We saw a lot of butterflies, specially orange tips, peacocks and small tortoiseshells.

There were good numbers of birds on the pond including four great crested grebes. Lots of birds singing in the trees and bushes too.

My mother recently started whistling under her breath, which when I first noticed it, it reminded me of the willow warbler song, which my mother said was accidental as she's not familiar with the willow warbler's song. So when I heard a willow warbler at Blackleach, I suggested to Mum that she should do her willow warbler whistle, which she did, and the two of them enjoyed a short conversation!

for Nature Notes. 


and for NaPoWriMo


The crescendo crashes out of the radio
full blast as it to drown
thought and the constant ticking
of the clock.

Outside blackbirds serenade
an unlistening world.


and I'll be offering a giveaway here soon! 

Friday 25 April 2014

Supersized Salvage!

Kevin's Supersized Salvage on Channel 4 yesterday was totally inspiring for anyone interested in making things from 'waste' materials. A whole aeroplane repurposed into useful products including a garden office, rickshaws, coat hooks, lampshades. Also lots of interesting stuff about finding niche markets for these types of products. Fascinating too to see the evolution of the products from raw concept to final products selling for high prices in upmarket shops. Would have been nice to see more 'affordable' products but one of the aims of the project was to make more money than the aeroplane would have made if the metals were salvaged and the rest sent to landfill so aiming for the high end of the market was their best (and probably only realistic) option.....

If you're looking for more affordable upcycled items, there's a whole range in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

I scheduled this blog post in advance, writing it very quickly after watching the programme, which is why there's no poem for NaPoWriMo with it. I'm currently offline for a few days, will return soon and remember - there'll be a giveaway on this blog soon after I come back.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Grey wagtail

Today we walked along the Water of Leith from Roseburn via the Gallery of Modern Art (where we enjoyed some delicious cakes and coffee in the cafe garden) to Dean Village. Lots of birds along just a very short stretch of the river and Crafty Green Boyfriend caught this handsome grey wagtail on camera.

If you click on the image you'll get a better view.

The grey wagtail always seems too colourful for its name!

Much More than a Wall

great tits and bullfinches
and other small birds
gather the moss that grows in the wall

to line the nests they've secretly built
in the spaces between the stones
or in the ivy overhanging the wall.

Soon if you look closely
you'll see them carrying food
into the holes in the wall

and one day in late spring
the chicks will emerge
after a childhood spent living inside a wall.


today's prompt at NaPoWriMo was to write a poem about a wall.


I'm taking a short break from all things online over the next few days and shortly after I return I'll be doing a wee giveaway on this blog.  I'll still write a poem a day and will try to share them here when I get back!

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Jewellery display board

I got this lovely, but slightly worn piece of macrame work from a friend who was clearing out her Mum's house. I immediately thought of using it as an earring display board so I went searching in second hand shops and eventually found this frame that was going cheap as it had no back and no glass, ideal for my purposes. I soaked the macrame in a warm solution of salt and baking soda to remove the slight yellowness. I then cut a piece of contrasting red cardboard to fit behind the macrame and here you are, an eye-catching earring display board! The earrings themselves are notable too, as they're made from recycled plastic and they look very nice, but are too lightweight to wear on a windy day! The only problem with this type of earring display board is the earrings are liable to get more dusty than if they're kept in a jewellery box, which is where they've been so far. So I'm not sure whether to use this for earrings or find an alternative use for it.... (Suggestions for alternative uses welcome.....).

A season of change

buds bursting into bloom
birds coming out of hiding to sing
and lay eggs that hatch into chicks

Mixing and matching
things that are discarded
to make something new

a cycle continues.

for NaPoWriMo

Meanwhile I've added another digital photo download to the new nature photography section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Tree watching - larch update

The garlic mustard is coming into bloom under the larch tree, which I'm studying for Tree Following.

If you look carefully in the photo below you can see the long tailed tits' nest, a lovely hanging basket woven from lichen, spiders webs and other such delicate materials. We didn't see the birds yesterday, hopefully they're hiding in the nest, sitting on eggs.

Further upstream, it was lovely to see several harts-tongue ferns just starting to uncurl.

while some are slightly further out.

and the orange ladybirds (Halyzia 16-guttata) are still hibernating in the iron railings!

Today's poem for NaPoWriMo is over on my Shapeshifting Green blog.


And a reminder that the pdf of an updated version of my chapbook Bougainvillea Dancing is now available to buy in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop. 10% of proceeds from the sale of this book go to VSO for their work in Malawi and other parts of southern Africa.

I've also set up a photography section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop where you can buy downloads of some of my nature photos. The first photo available is the larch flowers.

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

Monday 21 April 2014

In an Edinburgh Garden

Under sun speckled pond weed
water writhes with tadpoles.

Suddenly a frog emerges, 
head draped in weed 


in Crafty Green Boyfriend's Mum's garden, yesterday

Sunday 20 April 2014

By the River Almond

Walking to Edinburgh Airport may not sound like the most appealing of Easter walks, but if you choose the River Almond Walkway to get there, it really is a wonderful walk. Specially at this time of year.

The river is beautiful and surrounded by lots of trees, opening out to fields further upstream. 

 The spring flowers are blooming everywhere, lots of wood anemone as in the photo below.
 The photo below shows bluebells, wild leeks and a celandine.
The birds were singing everywhere too, including blackcaps, chiffchaffs, robins and wrens in the woodland and skylarks above the fields. The sand martins were flying about above the river near their colony of  holes in a sandbank and we had a wonderful view of a kingfisher as it flew past us downstream. We were delighted to see two brown hares, distant views of just their ears sticking out above the grass, but still, lovely to see them at Easter! Plus there were a lot of butterflies about. Crafty Green Boyfriend took this photo of two peacocks

and this of a small tortoiseshell

though we didn't manage to get any photos of the orange tip butterflies, which weren't as numerous as they normally are on this walk.

heat haze -
a swallow dips down
to the river.

for NaPoWriMo

Saturday 19 April 2014

Ivy Shadows

Ivy has a shadowy side, although birds love it as a place to build their nests in spring and to roost in the winter, it can damage trees, though I recently read that the effect isn't as bad as we had been lead to believe in the past. These cherry blossom trees look slightly uncomfortable though.

for Shadow Shot Sunday.

choked by ivy -
the cherry trees

for NaPoWriMo.

Friday 18 April 2014


I was captivated by this moss which I noticed earlier this week growing on a fallen tree trunk in Colinton Dell by the Water of Leith. Look at the delicate white fruiting bodies. If you know what species it is, please leave a comment!

and I love the contrast betweeh the two species of moss in the photo below. 

Moss growing on the trunk of a fallen tree -
it must seem like a forest to this passing bee
or the beetle clambering its way
through the green, entirely unaware of me.

today's prompt at NaPoWriMo was to write a ruba'i  - a Persian form, of four lines with the rhyme sequence AABA.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Poetry pamphlet Bougainvillea Dancing now available to download!

I taught sciences in Malawi between 1990 - 1992 as a VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) volunteer. My first poetry pamphlet Bougainvillea Dancing, published 2002, raised money for charities working in Malawi. The original pamphlet is sold out now, but I was delighted that Chris Crittenden  reviewed it recently on Owl Who Laughs.

Most of the poems in Bougainvillea Dancing focussed on Africa, but many of them were unrelated to that continent. I've just put together an updated version of the pamphlet, removing all the poems unrelated to Africa and adding in more poems on African topics, plus a couple of prose pieces and some photos. This is now available as a pdf to download from the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

(If you don't want to shop via Etsy but are happy to use Paypal then let me know.If you don't have a Paypal account then please contact me for alternative payment methods.)

10% of proceeds from this publication will go to VSO for their work in Africa

VSO’s programme in Malawi concentrates on HIV and AIDS, health and social wellbeing, secure livelihoods (food security) and education in seven rural and remote districts. The districts were chosen due to their excessive poverty levels, high prevalence of HIV and AIDS, and low involvement of other international charities.

I'm hoping that editing a poetry pamphlet can count as the equivalent of writing a poem for NaPoWriMo.

Wednesday 16 April 2014


 mute swans on the River Esk, Musselburgh

piano music
from an open window -
swans on the river

for NaPoWriMo

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Baby Goats are Growing up!

I was at Gorgie City Farm this afternoon for the last of the current series of Pet Lodge Lectures. Dr Kieren Curran of University of Edinburgh gave a talk "Run, Run Reynard" on the fox and popular song and we listened to some of the songs he spoke about. 

As the weather was lovely (and the greenhouse too crowded!) we sat outside for the talk. As well as the invited animal guests of guinea pigs and a bearded lizard, we were visited by several of the farm's free-range chickens. The sheep and several species of bird (including a song thrush, great tits and wrens) joined in the singing. 

I also took the opportunity to catch up with the goat kids that I'd photographed last week when they were only 13 minutes old. This week they're looking more grown up already and have been joined by more kids! They were all very energetic!


And not at all related to the rest of the blogpost, today's poem for NaPoWriMo


I imagine the view from the windows of these cottages
when they were first built by the side of a then countryside road

fields and more fields over to the mountains 
and the occasional cyclist or horse drawn cart 

Now it's a busy road and the traffic roars past
through what has become a suburb

The cottages face rows of sheds in a industrial estate
and the only field in the neighbourhood is now 

a 'Prime Site for Development'. 


In other poetry news, I'm updating my 2002 self published poetry pamphlet 'Bougainvillea Dancing' (adding new poems!) and it will hopefully be available as a pdf to download from the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop in the near future. 

Monday 14 April 2014

Tree Following - the larch turns green

Even from a distance today I noticed that the larch is now starting to look quite green

Close to, you can see the new green needles. Lovely that the flowers are still out. Having only just noticed them for the first time this year I want to enjoy them for as long as possible!

I noticed today that this tree has a wound (or a growth or a canker?), which is oozing sap

Meanwhile, the celandines are in full bloom under the larch

and in fact everywhere, I don't think I've ever seen such amazing carpets of celandines

and though I've often seen celandines growing in trees, never before have I seen them as high up as this! 

for Tree Following.


Constellations of celandines cloak the ground
under the birch tree whose ochre catkins
echo the bright line in the head of the goldcrest.

Daffodils trumpet on the slopes
and the blackbird's orange beak opens
in glorious song.

for NaPoWriMo.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Nesting and Blooming

Lots of nesting activity in Inverleith Park yesterday. This coot's nest (above) looks like a piece of modern art, I think the coot used a floating stack of vegetation and added to it. Meanwhile, this mute swan is busy building her nest safely fenced away from the rest of the world.
Over in the Royal Botanic Gardens, it's the season for rhododendrons and azaleas. Here's just a selection:

and if you feel inclined, you can dance over to my Shapeshifting Green blog for my contribution to NaPoWriMo for today.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Dragonfly Gate

I love this gate by the side of the Union Canal towpath. 

for Shadow Shot Sunday.

in wrought iron and shadows -
none on the water.

for NaPoWriMo.

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