Saturday 31 October 2020

Kestrel on Easter Craiglockart Hill

 The weather has been very changeable today. The sun is shining beautifully at the moment but it was windy and rainy while we were walking round Easter Craiglockart Hill this morning. 

The autumn colours were beautiful

We spent a wonderful few minutes watching a kestrel as it hovered around hunting. It's amazing how these birds can stay almost in one spot while the wind roars around them (one of their old names is 'windhover'). This kestrel flew down onto the grass a couple of times, but I couldn't see whether it caught anything. Crafty Green Boyfriend took these photos of the kestrel

Easter Craiglockart Hill is one of many greenspaces in Edinburgh. We're lucky to live in a city with so many areas of natural beauty as COVID-19 restrictions are tightened again and for at least the next two weeks from Monday we won't be allowed to travel outside of Edinburgh (at the moment we're confined to the Lothians). 

Friday 30 October 2020

Autumnal Red Admiral

 Red Admirals are beautiful butterflies and the species most likely to be seen in Autumn in Scotland. Today we were lucky enough to see two red admirals in North Merchiston Cemetery (part of our Daily Exercise route). Only one allowed a photo, but isn't it lovely?

It was one of many insects enjoying the ivy flowers which are now in bloom (and quite smelly!). There were also several common wasps and at least three species of hoverflies.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Birch and Beech

Silver birch and beech trees are two of the most distinctive trees at this time of year. 

The silver birch leaves turn a lovely golden colour which contrasts beautifully with the distinctive white and black patterns on its bark. There are two birches in the photo below (taken in North Merchiston Cemetery) - the one on the left has a lovely straight trunk and is probably a lot younger than the one on the right with its wonderfully gnarled trunk. The leaves are just starting to turn from green to gold.

Very close to these birches are two beautiful beech trees, which are in the full splendour of their autumn colour

Are you seeing lots of autumnal colour in your part of the world?

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Drumlanrig Castle and Grounds

 For the last instalment of our recent trip to Dumfries and Galloway we visited Drumlanrig Castle and Estate. The castle itself 

was shut due to COVID restrictions but the extensive grounds were open to wander around.

There were lots of interesting fungi to look at, like these fly agaric (which are poisonous, so leave them well alone)

Lovely to see a rainbow

and this little summer house is a lovely place to sit and enjoy the views as well as a work of art 

the ceiling in particular 


We're currently waiting to find out which tier of the new Scottish Government Coronavirus restrictions Edinburgh will be placed under (expecting tier 3, which will remain pretty much like the current temporary restrictions).


Monday 26 October 2020

Fabulous Fungi

 It's a great autumn for fungi, there are various species growing all over the place at the moment. 

This is one of the most unusual fungi I've found this season (and one of the ones that has turned out best in its photos!). It is growing on a tree stump in Dalry Cemetery, I think it's purple jelly fungus (and am awaiting confirmation on that!) but if you are able to correct me, please leave a comment!

Have you seen any interesting fungi recently? 

For Nature Notes.

Saturday 24 October 2020

Autumn Colours in Saughton Park

 It's been dull all day and raining for much of the time but the autumn colours are spectacular. We had a lovely wander round Saughton Park over lunchtime,  I particularly like the contrast between these two trees. 

I find autumnal colours can be very difficult to capture on camera, this was the only photo from today that I'm happy with!

Friday 23 October 2020

Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth


Economics is broken. Outdated economic theories that prize economic growth above all other factors have increased inequality and led to policies that are degrading the living world on a massive scale, threatening our future. Yet these theories still hold sway in economics education and the language and thinking behind economics has moved into all aspects of life from medicine to conservation, making everything seem like a financial transaction.

Kate Raworth identifies seven critical ways in which mainstream economics has failed, and sets out a roadmap for bringing humanity to a point where we meet all our basic needs (the inner ring of the doughnut) within the means of the planet (the outer ring of the doughnut.) Currently we are out of balance on both sides of the doughnut.

The starting point of Doughnut Economics is to meet humanity's goals and to work from there. We need to stop thinking about trying to ensure an ever growing economy and find ways of ensuring we can all thrive without damaging the planetary support systems.

This is a thought provoking and fascinating critique of economics and how we have allowed ideas of the market and GDP to overly influence the way we live. Now however, it is clear that we are living beyond the natural boundaries of the earth while at the same time condemning many people to lives where their basic needs aren't being met. It's time to rethink economics and Doughnut Economics is a great place to start. 

You can read more about Doughnut Economics at Kate Raworth's website

Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth pubilshed by Random House Business Books.


Some thinkers don't think Kate Raworth goes far enough, this blog post from Deirdre Kent suggests some ideas that could be taken forward. 


If Doughnut Economics sounds interesting to you, you may also be interested in the new pamphlet from Global Justice Now, which outlines the implications of the proposed US-UK Trade Deal. You can read Trade Secrets online here

Thursday 22 October 2020

Early Harvest - a poem for Apple Day

In the Blushing Golden sunlight of autumn
they gather in the Parkland of the Garden Royale for the Gala.
Captain Kidd, master of ceremonies, conducts
Edith Smith, the Duchess's Favourite
as she plays Jazz interpretations of Greensleeves
and Lady in Red, enjoying her time in the Limelight
while a Jester juggles in the Grove.

Cardinal von Galen appears in his Flamboyant robes
to pray to the Saints Edmund and Everard
shadowed by Reverend Morgan his long standing Rival.

Doctor Harvey is close by in case of accidents
(the Flamenco and Polka can lead to collisions!)
and keeps a wary eye on his daughter
Annie Elizabeth, Sweet Sixteen, in a Silken gown
who's enjoying a Waltz with Johnny Voun.
After the dance, the young man gives Annie
a Red Bouquet as a Keepsake (oh what a Surprise!)
and is thanked by her sweet Maiden's Blush.
Karmyn de Sonnaville wanders round, nose in the air
and Pink Pearls in her hair, followed
by the Beauties of Albany, Sutton and Hampshire
all wearing sweet scented Garlands.
“This Porter's Perfection!” says James Grieve,
the Bedfordshire Foundling, who's Tickled Pink
as he lies by the Wayside and feasts
(as he so rarely can) on Scotch Dumpling with Cinnamon Spice.

They dance until the Rosy Glow of Sunset,
then watch the Splendour of the Northern Lights come out
and Saturn and Jupiter fall into alignment.

It could have been a State Fair! A Holiday! The Diamond Jubilee or even Christmas!
They agree as they go home. Everyone speaks in dulcet tones
and dares to hope for a Bright Future, Good Fortune and ultimate Victory!

Can we then think beyond Golden Delicious
and organise a Revival?

a poem for Apple Day.

You may also be interested in Apples and People, a website devoted to the global story of apples. 

Tuesday 20 October 2020


I'm still continuing to post photos from our recent trip to Dumfries and Galloway. On the third day of our visit we went to Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve and the neighbouring WWT Reserve, one of our favourite places to visit, a mosaic of arable land and coastal habitats. 

At this time of year barnacle geese are coming in in their thousands to overwinter and feed in the fields - here is a distant view of just a few of the geese we saw.  


Other wildlife highlights included wigeon 

several dragonflies, including this one, which I think is a common darter

and several stonechats (click on the phto below for a better view)

In fact at one point we watched about ten stonechats in the one place, which is more than we've ever seen together!

Back in the hotel that day we had great views of a nuthatch feeding on the sunflower seeds we had put out on the wondowsill 

For Nature Notes

Sunday 18 October 2020

Dorset Tea launches tea bags in fully sustainable packaging (Product Review)

 I drink a lot of tea, as any one who knows me in real life will know. Mostly green tea these days, but I still enjoy a good black tea after a main meal. I've drunk loose leaf tea for many years now as I'm very concerned about the plastic waste associated with tea bags, so I was very interested to hear that Dorset Tea have, in association with the Marine Conservation Trust, launched tea bags that are packaged entirely sustainably.

The outer packaging of Sunshine Blend Tea is 100% recyclable and sift proof, which means the tea bags don't require an inner layer of packaging. 


The tea bags themselves are bio-degradable and are made from sustainably sourced wood pulp and vegetable starch in a heat sealable paper that can be industrially composted.This means that the tea bags can be recycled via your council food waste collection, however, they won't decompose nicely in a home compost pile. 

The tea itself comes 100% from Rainforest Alliance  Certified farms, which means that the farmers and workers producing the tea have a good quality of life and are enabled to look after their natural environment. (You can read more about the Rainforest Alliance Certification scheme here). The tea is a blend of teas from Kenya, Rwanda and Assam.

 So how does it taste? It's a mellow, full bodied tea. Also, if you're thrifty and don't like your tea too strong, you can reuse each bag a second time for an equally flavoursome cuppa. 

Personally, I'm going to stick with loose leaf tea, it cuts down even more on packaging. However, if you definitely need a tea bag, then these are quite possibly your best option. Just remember to recycle them via your council food waste bins and not in your garden compost heap.  

So, now, I'm going to make myself a cuppa!

Disclaimer: I was sent a free box of tea bags in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday 15 October 2020

Threave Gardens and Nature Reserve

 The second day of our recent trip to Dumfries and Galloway, we visited Threave Gardens and Nature Reserve. We started our visit with a cup of tea and piece of cake at the outdoor cafe that gives wonderful views over the surrounding countryside (with the occasional red kite flying in the distance!).

The gardens are designated a special habitat for bats and there are sculptures of bats in some of the ponds
Threave Gardens include a walled garden, with glasshouses that contain a fish pond full of beautiful carp

The autumnal colours were beautiful

and we were delighted to get great views of two red squirrels at the feeders in the wild woodland area 

The contemplation garden is new since we last visited and is a beautiful place to sit and look at nature

the gentians are beautifully in bloom

and the decorative water features are as lovely as ever 

and it's always worth keeping an eye out for unexpected artworks like these poppy seed heads

Close to Threave Gardens is the nature reserve, which is lovely for a walk too with its riverside walk and views of Threave Castle (which is out of bounds at the moment due to COVID_19). 

Of course it's a great time of year fur fungi and they're everywhere!


Threave is a lovely place to explore when you get the chance!