Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The scent of fennel

I had a couple of hours between my dental appointment and a meeting just round the corner from the dentist's, so what better to do than pop down to nearby Cramond for a spot of birdwatching?

First passing this lovely sight in a now cleared area of derelict housing near the dentist's

and there were plenty of goldfinches flying round here, attracted by the thistle seeds.

Actually there weren't many birds around at Cramond (apart from four great crested grebes floating round and a lot of gulls and crows). The black headed gulls are already losing their summer black heads



These umbellifer plants were all in seed, filling the air with the subtle fragrance of fennel. I'm pretty sure now that they're sweet cicely, though I'm sure I've misidentified them in the past (umbellifers can be so confusing!).



Tuesday, 19 August 2014

upcycled packaging for earrings

I made some earrings for a friend recently and wanted to package them in an eco-friendly way for her birthday which is in a few days. So I glued some nice paper to a small matchbox and lined it with pieces of felt from my fabric stash.

The earrings in the box are the pink ones that I showed you in this post.

Meanwhile I've listed another pair of earrings made from vintage green beads in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Snow Tourist by Charlie English

Essentially Charlie English's book is a travel book, in which he aims to find the deepest and softest snow around the world and investigates the extremes of snowy weather. Consequently there are plenty of stories of avalanches and ski-ing accidents. More interesting for me were the chapters on how the Inuits survive in extreme snowy conditions and on the shapes of snowflakes and the occasional nature observations.

The first chapter of the book focuses on the Inuit lifestyle, including details on how to build a perfect igloo (with accompanying illustrations in the appendix), A well made igloo shouldn't collapse under the weight of a polar bear.

The second chapter offers a brief overview of the history of scientific investigations into the shapes of snowflakes and concludes that there is much still to be learnt about the growth of snow crystals.

When researching the Scottish chapter of the book, the author found out from Adam Watson, a biologist, that ptarmigans "could fly straight into a snowdrift, kicking snow behind them so that they filled the entrance of the hole and were sheltered from the wind, and how they stayed near enough to the snow's surface that they didn't become buried, but could see when the morning light appeared and when to leave their burrows." 

Throughout the book, English catalogues the changes in snowfall over the years, both during the historical periods (such as the Little Ice Age from 1520-1560 or in the current period of climate change. So much is changing, from the lifestyles of the Inuit people, the prospects for the ski-ing industry and the very surival of snow specialist speciessuch as the ptarmigan.

This book is a recommended read for anyone who likes snow.

The Snow Tourist by Charlie English published by Portobello Books.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Art in the City


I love these two sculptures by Aliisa Hyslop in the grounds of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh's west end. They move in the breeze and glint in the sunlight. The exhibition is curated by the Arusha Gallery.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

West End Craft Fair


The West End Craft Fair is happening now! The fair will last throughout the Edinburgh Festival and offers a showcase for local (and some not so local) crafters and artisans. There's a wealth of beautiful crafts to admire and buy and all in a beautiful leafy setting. An essential part of the Edinburgh Festival experience and a perfect place to start your Christmas shopping!




Wednesday, 13 August 2014

(Don't) Arrest that Poet!

Danny Chivers is an environmental activist, the type who gets arrested for climbing onto power station chimneys and shutting down the station for a week. He's also a poet, the type who will march into a tax-evading upmarket department store and perform poetry about tax evasion.

He's also performing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with a sell out show "Arrest that Poet!".The show, which I went to last night,  takes the audience through a history of Chiver's involvement in environmental campaigning, in a fast paced mix of humour and performance poetry.

The set moves with ease from ridiculous humour (including a vision of Martin Luther King advising the poet on composting) to information on UK energy policy and concerns about policing tactics, including the use of undercover police officers to infiltrate climate camps with the express instruction to seduce members to get close to them and find out the group's secrets, referred to by Chivers as 'state sponsored stalking'. After being arrested for his part in one climate change protest, Chivers was invited to speak to police at the riot police training headquarters. 'Riotland' is a poem imaging this centre as a theme park.


Arrest that Poet is showing tonight, Friday 12 August at Stafford Centre, Broughton Street. The show is part of the Edinburgh Free Fringe, but for a donation of £5 you get a CD of Chiver's poetry.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Musselburgh in the wind

It was very windy at Musselburgh today!


It was a great day for birdwatching though. In the grassland area, I saw a family of stonechats. This is a delightful little bird, which before this year I hadn't seen at Musselburgh, so it's lovely to see that it's bred here successfully this uear.Hopefully it will continue to do so!

Over the sea wall I spied the first velvet scoters of the season, the black drakes have fabulously odd looking faces!

Meanwhile at the Lagoons, there were over 50 lapwings, taking off and wheeling round then landing only to repeat the whole thing over again. Always a lovely bird to watch with their wide black and white wings in flight, it's even more lovely to see them these days that they're in decline (though thankfully numbers seem to be holding up in Musselburgh, though they don't breed on the lagoons and I've never found out where they disappear off to for the breeding season). Also lots of dunlin (pretty in their summer plumage) and seven female ruffs, who were trotting around in a little group, looking quite comical. Apparently years ago ruff used to overwinter on the Musselburgh Lagoons, now they're just an occasional visitor, but it would be lovely if they started spendong longer periods here again.

Lots of other birds too, it's a great area for birdwatching!

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