Thursday, 30 October 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award

I'm very honoured that Moonroot nominated me for this award! Many thanks indeed! I now need to nominate 6 bloggers and name six things I like. There are actually so many creative blogs out there its very difficult to choose and i could give this award to anyone on any of my links lists. However, my nominations are for these four blogs:

Weaver of Grass for her photos and writings

Bond Bloke for his various creative blogs, but especially Edinburgh Day by Day, full of wonderful photos of the city I live in and A Brush with Art, full of musings about art (and who has co-incidentally given me the Blogging Friends Forever Award, which I'm delighted by!)
Gordon Mason of Catapult to Mars, with its poetry in English, Scots and Spanish and always a carefully chosen image to complement the words.

Arthur Durkee of Dragoncave, a blog of beautiful poetry, prose and photos. He also has a poem up on Bolts of Silk today, which you can read here.

Six (seasonal) things I like:
autumn leaves
geese skeining across the sky
snow on distant hills
the five different shades of rowan berries
the magical glow of the low sunlight
the sparkle of frost

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Jellyfish or Plastic Bag?

To You: a convenient way to carry your vegetables

To a seal: it looks like a jellyfish, gets eaten and could choke the seal or if the seal eats a lot of plastic bags, its gut will be so filled with plastic it has no room for real food and it will die.

To avoid this happening:

shop in shops that use paper produce bags

take along your own fabric produce bags

avoid using produce bags of any type, where possible

talk to the managers of the shops where you buy fruit and veg and get them to reduce their use of plastic, move to using cloth produce bags or at least paper.

reuse all plastic bags you get - this size of plastic bag for example is a perfect fit for our bedroom bin.

Paper bags are not entirely perfect, it needs possibly even more energy to make paper bags than to make plastic bags but sea creatures don't die from ingesting or becoming trapped in paper bags and as Yowlyy points out in the comments below, paper bags can usually be composted. Cloth bags, on the other hand, are very long lasting, you can see two of mine here.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Gorgie City Farm - More Sugar

When I previously posted about Sugar, and her mother Daisy two of the Gorgie City Farm rabbits, Furrybutts had asked for closer shots, so here we go, its not perfect because Sugar's behind the wiring in the shed. Sugar will now quite often come running to me when I walk past the shed or the outdoor runs.

Frog, Waving

The last wild golden frog
waves* from its rock

to attract a mate.

The biologist stops
and picks it up. She wishes
she could leave it here,

remembers the care needed
years ago to avoid crushing frogs
with every step along this river

but now a deadly fungus
advances, will reach this valley soon
and the frogs have no chance.

The biologist adds the frog
to her collection and walks down
the now less golden hill.

In the frog hospital
the last golden frogs in the world
sit in cages and wave.

* the male golden frog waves a front leg to attract a mate and to warn off other males.

2008 is the International Year of the Frog.

Many species of frogs and toads around the world are threatened with extinction. You can read more about the problem and how you can help save the species concerned at Amphibian Ark (and follow the other links in the post too).

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

Why would anyone want to introduce salmon fishing to the Yemen? That is the question that pesters Dr Alfred Jones, a government fisheries scientist, when he is asked to oversee a project, bankrolled by a wealthy Yemeni, to do just that. The climate, landscape and ecology of the area are all wrong for salmon. British salmon fishers and scientists are rightly reluctant to let their fish be taken away to stock rivers that can't support the fish. The required fish are eventually taken from a fish farm, oh the sadness of the conditions in the fish farm, where the wild fish are imprisoned and enfeebled.

This is a clever and entertaining satire of government, exposing the cover ups, the hubris, neo-colonialism and the lack of cultural understanding, the total lack of understanding of ecological principles, the way that policy can be dictated by wealthy individuals, etc. It's entertaining as I say but it's also very sobering, particularly when I've heard from people who work in governmental agencies that things really do work like this....

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday, published by Phoenix, 2007.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Friday, 24 October 2008

Hidden Gardens, Glasgow

Earlier this week I went to the Open Day at the Hidden Gardens in Glasgow. This is a lovely, and surprisingly large garden behind the Tramway Theatre. It has a wonderful wildlife area, with a specially built high rise bug house (I'm particularly annoyed that I didn't have my camera with me at the time to take a photo of that!) and lots of bird houses, feeders and water bowls. At the Open Day there was a wonderful lunch made by the Garden's volunteers and everyone came away with a gift of seeds and bulbs - I got nasturtiums and daffodils.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


first frost -
greenfinches glow emerald
in the undergrowth

previously published in Blithe Spirit, the journal of the British Haiku Society

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Gorgie City Farm - Driftwood - a rabbit with a past

Here is Driftwood, with Daisy and Sugar in the edge of the photo. They have to be confined to the shed sometimes because Driftwood will attack the other bunnies (Louie and Lily) if he gets a chance. Driftwood is the cutest bunny to look at, beautifully patterned and often running about, lop ears flopping. He rarely stays still and is very difficult to photograph.

Driftwood was found abandoned on a beach a couple of years ago and then when he's settled down with a pretty little bunny wife, she had baby bunnies, only to eat them in front of him.

So Driftwood has had a traumatic life and its not surprising that he has a few personality problems. Luckily he loves Sugar and Daisy and they are all happy in each others' company and Gorgie City Farm is a lovely place to be a rabbit.

The SSPCA Animal Rescue Centre is currently overflowing with rabbits and we're seriously starting to think about getting another bunny (or two!). But we have a problem, there are mice in our building (quite normal in an old Edinburgh tenement!) and in the last year of Anya's life they cottoned on to the free food supply in her cage and became real pests - any advice on how to mouse proof a bunny cage?

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Writer as Kestrel

The prompt this month at Applehouse Poetry is to write a poem that parallels the world of flora or fauna with the human experience, and which also marks or explores the end of something? It doesn’t have to be a season. It could be a relationship, a journey, a way of thinking… there are endless possibilities. This is my piece - what a writer could learn about concentration and reaching a goal from the hunting kestrel I was able to watch for several minutes recently.

In the Zone

flying high
buffetted by winds


............falling course
then back again


then the ecstatic


as the goal is reached

A poem that I read recently I think suits this prompt perfectly is Susan Richardson's Who's Afraid which was commended in the recent Frogmore Poetry Prize. Susan's collection Creatures of the Intertidal Zone was one of my favourite books of last year and a definite recommendation for anyone who hasn't yet read it.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

collage for Japanese Inn

I made this collage from an old Japanese postcard, a scrap taken from a Japanese poetry journal and a photo of my childhood Japanese penpal. It's currently sitting in the copy of Oliver Statler's wonderful Japanese Inn that I'm reading. I suspect that neither book or collage will actually leave my possession.....

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Second hand furniture style

Yesterday, I blogged about second hand clothes. Most of our furniture is also second hand, I love browsing second hand shops and the best furniture in my eyes is the old fashioned, attractive, built to last sort. Admittedly some of our second hand furniture is more modern and less attractive than the two items shown. Also because we have a narrow hallway and awkward spacing we have got some flatpack furniture because it was the only way to get what we need at all. I still remember the beautiful second hand blue and pale wood wardrobe that just couldn't fit into our flat.....

Buying second hand when you can find good quality furniture that meets your needs can help to reduce pressure on the rainforests, which are being chopped down at an alarming rate to make cheap furniture, chopsticks and paper.

Second hand furniture often has more character than new furniture. It is usually cheaper, which is an important point in these times of economic uncertainty.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Woodlands near Oban

Glen Nant Forest

Oban is in the middle of a beautiful part of Scotland. There are a lot of woodlands around, including Caledonian pine forests, Atlantic rain forests and birch woods. The weather was wet most of the time we were there and in fact it had been a particularly wet summer so the lichens, ferns and fungi were doing particularly well.

fungi in Glen Nant forest

fungi in Inverawe Country park (above and below)
I don't know the names of any of the fungi, unfortunately, but I do know that the fern below is Blechnum spicant (also in Glen Nant Forest)

Green Style

I have various styles of dress, depending on the occasion, but I always try to source my clothes in an environmentally responsible manner. I buy most of my clothes from second hand shops - Edinburgh has a great selection of stores selling used clothes to raise money for charity. This is a great way to recycle! Also charity shops in the UK are seeing an increase in custom during the current financial downturn as more people see second hand as a way of saving money (though admittedly some charity shops in Edinburgh are quite expensive when compared to discount retailers!). I always give my clothes back to second hand shops as well, unless they actually fall apart in which case I reuse the fabric to make a purse or something. I buy underwear from the Natural Catalogue, which sells nice organic cotton items. I buy shoes from the high street, good shoes that will last a while (though sometimes fashions mean that good shoes are hard to find!). My favourite pair of boots has lasted so far over five years (probably longer) and has been repaired three times. So whatever I'm wearing, whatever colour it is, it's sure to be green...

My Style for Sunday Scribblings
If you're here from Sunday Scribblings, why not browse the rest of my blog here?

Thursday, 16 October 2008



turnstones scurry
grey white movement
against grey white pebbles

the shush of the sea

the skirr of stones
turned by probing beaks

Inspired largely by the lovely bird, the turnstone, which we saw on the coast at Oban, and partly by this post on obscure words on Write Anything

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Poverty and the Environment

The theme of this year's Blog Action Day is Poverty. It used to be said that environmentalists didn't care about people. However, all the time it is becoming clearer that environmental issues are closely bound with poverty. In many countries poorer people are driven to destroy their environment, eg a need for farmland and firewood driving people to cut down forests, at the same time many environmental injustices are disproportionately borne by poorer people - eg in many richer countries including Scotland, toxic waste dumps are more likely to be located near poorer communities. Many issues connect the environment and poverty - eg biofuels made from maize and other food crops are accelerating rainforest destruction at the same time as causing food crises in several countries.

It is becoming clearer too that to ensure a future for the human race, we need to take better care of the natural environment. More and more charities and governmental agencies are now realising this. There are a lot of resources out there, but to start to find out more, why not browse some of these links (please note I've not read everything in the links and don't necessarily agree with everything said there, but they are good resources to start reading about the issues):

Oxfam Climate Change Resources
World Wildlife Fund pages on rural poverty and environmental degradation
UK Department for International Development Document on Poverty and Environment
United Nations Poverty and Environment Initiative
Poverty Environment Partnership

and if you only read two other Blog Action Day posts, make sure it's Melissa's over at Poet with a Day Job and Beth's at Fake Plastic Fish.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Seil Island

Seil Island is a small island off the west coast of Scotland, near Oban. it is reached from the mainland by the Atlantic Bridge, a terrifying single track hump backed bridge. It's a lovely place, we went for a long walk along the coast and there was a new wonderful view round every corner. The weather was perfect too, sunny and still. We saw some interesting lichens and fungi in the woods and plenty of birds too.

Monday, 13 October 2008


Kerrera is a small island just off the coast from Oban, on the west coast of Scotland. It's a very short ferry trip from the 'ferry port' on the mainland (see the first photo). The day we were there it was raining steadily but not too heavily and there was no wind and it was quite warm so it was okay! The scenery is stunning and we saw loads of birds, including herons, cormorants, black guillemots (in their winter plumage, not looking as spectacular as they do in summer as seen in the photos in the link), loads of blue tits and great tits, and a large number of goldfinches. When we were waiting for the boat back to Oban, we saw an otter, just poking its head out from the water then diving down and showing its tail then back again. Lovely sight. I've never seen an otter before, despite all our trips around the Highlands, Islands and West Coast of Scotland, so this was a very exciting moment, especially as it stayed round for a while. No photos, sorry, I was more interested in watching than snapping, though my partner is pretty sure that the otter can be seen somewhere in the second photo.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Loch Feochan, near Oban


We had a lovely time in Oban, a small town on the west coast of Scotland, in the middle of glorious countryside, a confusion of lochs, mountains and islands, all in muted autumnal shades at this time of year. We stayed at the lovely Thornloe Guest house, complete with sea views, good veggie breakfasts and two delightful rabbits, Bernard (the grey one at the front) and Hoppy.
The weather was very mixed, but we got out to explore the area whatever the weather. We saw a lot of wildlife, including red deer, red squirrels and an otter (which was very exciting as we've had so many holidays in the Highlands, islands and West Coast of Scotland and this was my first otter!) I'll post more in the next few days.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

In Oban

We're off to Oban for a few days! Back soon!

Of Monsters and Dinosaurs!

The latest Read Write Poem prompt, which I put together, is Of Monsters and Dinosaurs. Write poetry inspired by dinosaurs, other prehistoric creatures or monsters. Here's a haiku I wrote on the theme:

strange light
above the volcanoes -
pterodactyls swoop

If you have any poetry on the theme to share, remember to take part in Read Write Poem this week!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Crafty Green Boyfriend & the Venus Flytrap

Our Venus Flytrap is very healthy just now, its enjoyed the damp summer and the occasional snack of unsuspecting flies that come in through the open window. It's even tried to eat a wasp but that seemed to give it indigestion. Now its time for it to be put into a miniature glasshouse to keep it warm and moist over the colder months. My partner is busily working on something involving a plastic bottle donated by his parents, last year's model featured two plastic boxes on top of each other but wasn't tall enough for the flower stems. I'll post a photo of the completed contraption when its made, but for now, just enjoy this beautiful plant at its best...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Festival of the Trees is up

Festival of the Trees 28 is up at Arboreality and it focuses on Art and Trees and includes one of my recent posts.

Bees' Knees

bright yellow
on the knees of the bees

the secret
flower to fruit

golden harvest

the quiet
at the heart

of our world

for Read Write Poem

Co-incidentally, Melissa, Poet with a Day Job had a poem about bees (and two others) published recently in this Joy and Ride, why not pop over and read them here, you'll be glad you did!

More Bees Knees here and here.