Saturday 30 January 2021

Sunshine on mosses

We found this lovely array of mosses today on the wall up on Arthur's Seat. The sunlight makes the mosses look like a miniature forest

Later we saw a kestrel, which obligingly posed for Crafty Green Boyfriend to take a photo 

and the Salisbury Crags were looking lovely with clouds just behind them

For Nature Notes.

Friday 29 January 2021

Thursday 28 January 2021

The Lost Dances of Cranes

Your fields are empty now.
Only your ghosts dance
while cranes of another kind
dance cities into being.

All that remain of you are
a fading crackle of your energy
and some grainy video footage

that people in the new cities
will watch to marvel
at the wonders the world

once held.

The International Crane Foundation works to protect crane species across the world.


I'm reposting this poem, because I recently discovered some online educational resources relating to it! Several years ago, this poem was included in an English language and literature text book in India, which has recently been republished as New Gulmohar Reader 8. If you are an Indian student who is using this text book, please note - I cannot help you with homework questions that relate to interpreting this poem though I can answer other questions about my poetry in general. 

You can see the page of the text book with the poem and questions on the Big Slate website.

Read more about the poem

A line by line critique of this poem on the enotes website

A discussion on my poem on the Brainly website

A discussion of the poem on the Eye and Contacts website.

A 20 minute Youtube lecture on my poem here, though the accompanying biography of me is wildly inaccurate.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Snowy Scenes from the Cemetery

 Yesterday there was still a lot of snow lying in North Merchiston Cemetery when we went for our #DailyExercise. With the trees mostly bare, it's easy to see beyond the cemetery to the surrounding buildings, including St Michael's Kirk (seen her alongside the silver birch tree that I'm studying for Tree Following).

The snowdrops are blooming under the snow 

while the ivy is basking in sunshine! I always like the shadows the ivy flowers / fruit make on the leaves, 

A couple of days ago we had walked under a flock of goldfinches feeding in a tree and noticed the seeds all falling to the ground, obviously the birds had carried on the feast, given the number of seeds we saw on the snow yesterday  

This weekend is Big Garden Birdwatch, you can find out more here!

Monday 25 January 2021

Treed by Virginia Arthur


Maybelline visits her old town, Santa Rosa and searches out her favourite tree where she and her late husband used to picnic when they were young. Amazingly the tree is still there, but the land where it stands is for sale. Maybelline goes for dinner with the realtor (who happens to be an old friend) and finds herself  "the owner of a lot that used to be part of a 25,000-acre ranch, a 25,000-acre ranch covered in wildflowers, hawks, deer, bobcats, oak trees, all but two-acres of it now under somebody's bathroom"

Maybelline wonders why she allowed herself to be persuaded to buy the land, but as she meets children who play near the tree and finds out the connections their families also had to the tree, she comes to understand its value and the importance of what she can do to save the tree for future generations. She then finds herself in a war over the lot, which a company has earmarked to build a store, and finds common purpose with Oak and Joni, a couple of young eco-activists. Their battle to save the tree isn't easy, involving as it does endless literature searches, excess bureaucracy, greedy business owners and Joni and Oak's own personal arguments.

The story is engaging and by focussing on the details of trying to save one tree, highlights various aspects of a type of dispute becoming more common all the time and the tragedy of how small are the remnants of wilderness that are left to save in some places. The narrative also really brings to life Maybelline's conflicted feelings about getting involved in something so complicated at her advanced age and her intergenerational friendship with Joni and Oak. The story is lightened with amusing incidents too to prevent it feeling all doom and gloom. 

It's great to read a book where the protagonist is an older woman and inspiring to read of such a spirited environmental campaign to save a tree. The story would make a brilliant film! 

Treed by Virginia Arthur can be purchased by following the links on the author's website here.

Saturday 23 January 2021

Evergreens in the Snow

 Prompted by today's prompt on East Lothian Creative Club (to photograph something green) I focussed on the evergreens in snowy Saughton Park today. I'm not an expert on conifer trees i have to admit, but these two are handsome specimens

These lower branches on the yew look lovely in the low wintry sunlight

 and the hedges in the rose garden stand out nicely against the snow and the bare trees in the background looks great too

while there are some fading flowers still on the rose bushes

 There's also a fair amount of ivy 

and despite the sunshine there's still a lot of ice and snow around!

but that didn't stop this pair of blackbirds from having a lively argument! Though they seem to be quite happy in each other's company in this photo

Friday 22 January 2021

Spring Greetings Card

I blogged recently about the goodie bag that East Lothian Creative Club had sent me. It contained a lovely inspiring collection of small items to use in craft projects. A few days ago, I made this greetings card which includes the floral stickers from that goodie bag along with items from my stash and green card stock that I recently bought from a 2nd-hand shop in the brief interlude when such shops were allowed to open between last year's lockdown and the current lockdown. 

 The top right hand corner is blank so that I can customise it for the appropriate occasion, though it's probably going to be an Easter card.

Thursday 21 January 2021

Snow Cats

 This really made my morning today! There was a lot of snow last night and someone made these two snow cats outside our neighbour's flat. 

The snow cats are looking into the window of the flat 

The flat is home to our favourite local cat - I wonder if she appreciates the snow cats?

Meanwhile I'm very pleased to have a haiku included in this week's Haiku Dialogue Selection.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Winter Wonderland in North Merchiston Cemetery

It snowed last night and while in most of our local area, the snow quickly melted, it was still lying in the cemeteries when we walked round them on our Daily Exercise lockdown walk this lunchtime. The photos are all from North Merchiston Cemetery

The snowdrops continue to bloom, even as they're covered in snow 

Monday 18 January 2021

Tree Following - January Update

I thought I'd take a closer look at the silver birch tree that I've selected to follow for Tree Following this year. 

The tree stands in North Merchiston Cemetery in Edinburgh. The whole cemetery is covered by a tree preservation order, which means that no trees can be removed without explicit permission from the council and can only be removed for health and safety reasons.

Silver birches are very familiar trees of rural and urban areas in the UK. They're very easy to identify at any time of the year as they have very distinctive white and black bark. They don't grow very tall but as they age, their trunks become more gnarled. You can find out more about silver birches on the Woodland trust website here

Our silver birch is quite mature and has developed a gnarled trunk with a few fissures in it

 A holly bush is growing right next to the tree 

and there's what looks like the remains of some sort of fungus at the base of the trunk 

In common with all trees in Edinburgh, our silver birch has a number 

It also has a nest box that was recently attached by the council forestry officer (you can read about the day Friends of North Merchiston Cemetery put up bird boxes here). I look forward to seeing which species of bird will set up its home in this lovely nest box 

If you look closely at the twigs, you can see the buds and last year's catkins.


Edited to add: I just found this interesting article on the Trees for Cities website about the benefits of trees


for Tree Following and Nature Notes.

Sunday 17 January 2021

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell


 In the 1970s Tom Michell was a teacher in a boarding school in Argentina. One day when at the coast, he came across the heartbreaking sight of a beach full of dead penguins, killed by a huge oil spill. Amazingly he found one penguin that wasn't dead and rescued it, calling it Juan Salvado (John the Saved) and taking it back to school with him. 

This is the wonderful true story about a Magallenic penguin with a huge personality who won the hearts of everyone who met him, who became a swimming coach and the mascot for the school rugby team and helped shy students build their confidence. 

Interwoven with the stories about Juan Salvador are facts and observations about marine pollution and Argentinian politics and living standards in the 1970s. 

It's a wonderfully entertaining and moving read. With beautiful portraits of Juan Salvador drawn by Neil Baker.

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell published (2015) by Penguin.

Thursday 14 January 2021

Pretty handmade gift bag

 I blogged recently about the goodie bag that East Lothian Creative Club had sent me. It contained a lovely inspiring collection of small items to use in craft projects. Well yesterday evening I finished my first project including items from the bag - a little gift bag! 

The bag is made up of three items from the goodie bag (the plain turquoise fabric, the ribbon bow and the green pom-pom) the rest of the materials are from my stash. 

I already have some ideas for what I might make using some of the other items from the goodie bag! 


I've recently added a few pairs of handmade earrings to my Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop, you can see them here!

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Homemade Valentines Card

Given that Crafty Green Boyfriend is now working from home he may see this post, though I hope I can keep it secret as he rarely reads my blog.

East Lothian Creatives Club recently posted a prompt on their social media to create something inspired by hearts, so I made this Valentine's Card. 

This is the front 

and this is the back

All elements of the card came from second hand shops (including the 'Handmade by' stamp).

East Lothian Creative Club is a very inspiring group, offering regular inspiration for creative people in East Lothian (and Edinburgh!). You can catch up with them on Facebook (their page is here and the group is here) and Twitter.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

New Year, New Tree -Tree Following Update

 Last year I took part in Tree Following and chose a horse chestnut tree in North Merchiston Cemetery, which is part of our lockdown #DailyExercise route. Little did I know back then that still in 2021 we would be confined to a limited area for exercise. 

So this year, I have chosen another tree in the same cemetery to study. This is a lovely silver birch tree, all gnarled with age. It's also one of the trees that the forestry officer of Edinburgh City Council put a bird box on while we walked round the cemetery as part of our discussions about the new Friends of North Merchiston Cemetery Group (you can read about our meeting here). So hopefully while following the tree I can also keep an eye on any bird family that chooses to nest there! 

The birch looked beautiful today in the cold winter sunshine 

There are a number of graves around the tree, many of which have seen better days. 

Some of the gravestones will have been laid flat by the council after becoming unstable. Very few people have been buried in this cemetery for many years and there are no new plots left, though you can still be buried there if your family has a family plot there. 

I look forward to being able to watch the birch tree through the year, though I do hope lockdown restrictions can be lifted sooner rather than later!

Monday 11 January 2021

Creative Inspiration and the first snowdrops of the year

 Today I was delighted to receive a parcel in the post! A goodie bag from the East Lothian Creative Club, which is a group that started during lockdown to offer creative inspiration to people in East Lothian. I seem to have been accepted as an honorary member (Edinburgh is next door to East Lothian but not part of it, and current COVID restrictions mean we cannot travel there, which is a shame as I enjoy birdwatching in Musselburgh (see this post for unsettling news about a potential development in Musselburgh).)

This is what was in the parcel:

So I will need to start thinking and creating! 

I was annoyed recently when this lovely container, that I use to store the threads I'm using in current sewing projects, got damaged

but then I realised I could take advantage of the damaged area 

Crafty Green Boyfriend and I took our usual exercise route through the local cemeteries at lunchtime today and were happy to see that the first snowdrops are showing themselves!