Wednesday, 26 November 2014


I recently discovered Chichewa 101, the online course for learning Chichewa, the main language of Malawi. I've no intention of actually trying to develop fluency in the language given I would have very rare opportunity to ever use it and I struggled to learn it to any useful level while I lived in Malawi (particularly given that I taught solely in English and there was another native language spoken in the area I lived in).

However, it is a lovely language and I'm enjoying the regular Chichewa word with definition tweets. Yesterday, I learned what must be my favourite ever Chichewa word.


This translates as village chieftain.

I wish I'd known that while our adorable bunny Anya was alive. It would have been a perfect nickname for her.

She was after all very much our village chieftain.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

new bracelets in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

I made these bracelets recently. using upcycled beads and charms (from old jewellery that has come unstrung) which I've threaded onto brand new jewellery elastic.

 this bracelet is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

this bracelet is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Tree Following and a Late ladybird

The larch tree (in Colinton Dell by the Water of Leith) which I'm studying for Tree Following is now looking very yellow indeed and has lost many of its needles (for those who don't know much about larches, this isn't cause for concern, the larch is the only deciduous conifer).

this year's cones are looking very mature though they've not yet opened as far as I can tell.

Meanwhile this seven spot ladybird was still scuttling around

I would have thought it should be hibernating by now as its orange ladybird cousins are starting to do in the fence posts near Colinton village, as they do most years.

Lots of birds around today, there seemed to be flocks of long tailed tits everywhere, such adorable birds.

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

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Late Autumn by the Water of Leith

Beautiful day today for an autumnal walk along the Water of Leith between Roseburn and Dean Village.

vivid green moss on the wall

candle snuff fungi on rotting wood

velvet shank (?) fungi on rotting wood (above and below)

autumnal reflections

a river of leaves

a young grey heron

Friday, 21 November 2014

Between Dog and Wolf - New Model Army

Between Dog and Wolf is an excellent documentary about New Model Army, following the band from their early days in Bradford to the current day and with many of their best tracks packed into the soundtrack.

I'm always struck by the band's refusal to compromise their artistic or political integrity and their ability to channel their anger about social and environmental issues into powerful, engaging music that keeps winning them new fans 30 years on. Their sound, which started off as post-punk rage in the 1980s has mellowed over the years, though the political engagement is as strong as ever.

After seeing the film the other day at The Filmhouse, we bought the CD album Between Dog and Wolf, which proves very clearly that this is a band that is not content to rest on their laurels but who are continuing to produce brilliant music, most notably the title track and the powerful protest against environmental destruction Tomorrow Came 

As we slashed and we burned and laid waste to it all
to the glory and the vanity of rock and roll
Saying I want it all, give me more and more
As our children stood in silence and watched us
And now pray God they'll forgive us

And given that I'm reading a lot about wolves at the moment, I just love the whole concept that is summed up in the phrase Between Dog and Wolf - the space between domestication and wildness, between our best friend and our greatest enemy.

Excellent film and a great album from one of the best bands around. 

The film is showing tonight at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle. For future screenings, check out the New Model Army website and scroll down.

New Model Army are also a great band to see live (we saw them a couple of years ago) and if you want to see where they're appearing next check out this page.

Worth also mentioning the band's close collaboration with Joolz Denby, poet, tattoist and artist, who creates all the wonderful artwork for the band's CD sleeves.

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

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Teal on the lagoons

A small group of male teal circle each other on the lagoon. In turn, each raises his front body and flicks his head forward then flicks his tail upwards, showing off the beautiful teal green flash that normally is hidden under the wing. All the time they're making a melodious squeaking sound.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Passenger Pigeons - haiku and links

feral pigeons flock -
shadow passenger pigeons
darkening skies


I like the idea of Fold the Flock, an origami project to remember the passenger pigeon.

You may be interested in my previous posts that relate to the passenger pigeon:

Yesterday, I reviewed 'A Message from Martha'Mark Avery's remarkable book about what we can learn from the extinction of the passenger pigeon.

On 1 September 2014, the centenary of the death of Martha, the last ever passenger pigeon, I reviewed  'Pigeon' a wonderful book by Barbara Allen.

You can read my poem Passenger Pigeon here.

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