Friday, 29 April 2016

Gorgie City Farm needs to raise £100,000 to stay open

Gorgie City Farm needs your help to raise £100,000 to stop the charity from closing

I've always loved Gorgie City Farm and when I worked at the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, I was lucky to be based at the farm, getting to know it's daily routines and the farm animals, particularly Dexter the cat and the rabbits including Driftwood, Daisy and Sugar. The photo below was taken at my leaving party, the lamb in the photo was at the time appearing in a theatre show in Edinburgh and was quite a celebrity. 

I've run creative writing workshops at the farm and judged the farm's poetry competition a few years ago. You can read all my blogposts about the farm here.
Gorgie City Farm has been a much-loved part of the local community in Edinburgh for the past 38 years. The farm offers a range of courses in agriculture, gardening and handicrafts for adults and children and hands-on, exciting activities involving farm animals, gardening and exotic creatures. The farm works with over 100 volunteers every week through training, work experience, social opportunities and personal support. The Farm supports adults and teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds from across Edinburgh.  

Rising costs and serious cuts to funding means the City Farm is now asking its supporters to help keep the Farm open. Despite cost cutting measures, including closing the loss-making café, and the award of a three-year grant from City of Edinburgh Council, the charity urgently needs public donations to continue its vital work.

As the main funders of Gorgie City Farm, City of Edinburgh Council, and Councillors Donald Wilson (Lord Provost), Cathy Fullerton, Eric Milligan and Denis Dixon are backing this urgent appeal to safeguard the charity’s future.

To donate to save Gorgie City Farm, please text “FARM44 £5” or any other amount to 70070, visit or send a cheque to GORGIE CITY FARM, 51 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh, EH11 2LA.

To find out how else you can support the farm, click here

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Everything is blooming now

Yesterday was a beautifully sunny but chilly day. Colinton Dell is beautiful at the moment, full of Spring flowers. The wild garlic is coming into bloom now

while the few flowered leeks are well on,

 parts of the Dells are carpeted with them, including the site of the old Kate's Mill

They are very pretty, but few flowered leeks are invasive, non-native species, that are gradually pushing the wild garlic out of the area. One way of controlling them would be to selectively forage the leeks in place of the wild garlic, the leaves of both make good pesto.....

The first cherry trees are in bloom in the Dells

and, for the first time that I remember, there are cowslips in the wildflower meadow that the Water of Leith Conservation Trust planted on the site of the old Bog's Mill

And the larch flowers continue their progress towards becoming cones

and let's not forget the beautiful wood sorrel, which is just coming into bloom, a lovely flower, indicator of ancient woodland, growing here amidst mosses and ivy on top of a stone wall.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A Rainy Day at Blackleach

On Sunday, my parents and I went to Blackleach Country Park - the local nature reserve. It was dull and wet in contrast to the beautiful sunshine of the day before

The birds didn't seem to mind the weather though, numerous swallows were flying low over the reservoir and we heard blackcaps, willow warblers and chiffchaffs singing from the trees.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Scenes from a suburban garden

I spent the weekend at my parents' home in suburban Manchester. It was lovely to see them again and the weather was beautiful on the Saturday morning, so we enjoyed some time in the garden

I loved this skeletonised sycamore seed

but aware my parents don't want sycamore trees in their lawn, I removed it from the grass after I'd photographed it!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Happy Earth Day!

 'Changing the world starts by changing your own little corner of it.'
Changing the world starts by changing your own little corner of it. - See more at:
Changing the world starts by changing your own little corner of it. - See more at:
Changing the world starts by changing your own little corner of it. - See more at:

Today is Earth Day!

You can find out what's going on in your local area here.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

I was immediately intrigued by this novel, featuring Chief Inspector Chen, a detective in China, who is also a poet. He sets out to solve the murder of a communist 'model worker', along the way quoting ancient Chinese poets  and stumbling upon political obstacles.

The novel is very insightful into the politics of China and how it affects individuals, particularly the increasing contradictions between traditional communism and the emerging capitalism in the country. It is also very entertaining in places. I particularly liked the way it explored the tensions in Chen's life as he juggled his police work and poetry, with the latter constantly treading the line between politically acceptable and unacceptable, a line that seems to change quite frequently.

I was struck by this paragraph, it's talking about poetry of course, but you can sense its relevance to detection too!

'...a waft of the jasmine blossom fragrance from a blue tea cup, or a particular rhythm in an attic, with a train rumbling into the distant night, and he would have the feeling he were on the verge of producing a wonderful poem. All this could turn out, however to be a false lead and he would end up crossing out fragments of unsatisfactory lines.'

All in all, well worth a read.

Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong, published by Sceptre.

Qiu Xialong is a poet himself and has written a total of four novels about Chief Inspector Chen as well as editing anthologies of Chen's favourite T'ang dynasty poetry!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Norway Maple

 definitely one of my favourite trees at this time of year, Norway Maple
and the first willow warblers have landed and are singing their hearts out!