Thursday, 24 December 2009
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
The Smiling School for Calvinists is an entertaining look at life in the poorer parts of Dundee in Scotland, made up of short stories and snippets, mostly written in a form of Scots (for more about the language used in the book, see this post on my other blog Over Forty Shades). It's mostly a very urban book, but from time to time a character will take time out to go for a walk or to sit on the roof of the multi-storey block of flats to watch the geese fly by.
Both these books show writers who are in touch with the environment and environmental issues, but who are not willing to focus entirely on the environment. I wonder though do people who are not engaged with environmental issues notice these aspects to the books they read? What do you think of the way nature and environmental issues are portrayed in the novels and short stories you read?
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Friday, 18 December 2009
for Weekend Reflections.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
The train journey from Edinburgh to Bolton is lovely, passing through the hills of Lanarkshire and the English Lake District. I love bird watching from trains and saw several buzzards, a large skein of geese, swans that had started to swim on flooded fields and a small flock of lapwings. There were also a small number of deer and rabbits in some of the fields.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Paul Kingsnorth is one of the founders of the Dark Mountain Project, a new cultural movement for an age of global disruption that aims to question the stories that underpin our failing civilisation, to craft new ones for the age ahead and to write clearly and honestly about our true place in the world. You can get involved in the Dark Mountain project here.
I'm away for a few day and won't be blogging but will be back on Tuesday.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Dog Latin by Kevin Cadwallender - Kevin is one of the most entertaining poets in Scotland and this is an excellent pamphlet of his poetry, published by Calder Wood Press. There's a lot of humour in this short book and some moving poems too. You can read two collaborative poems written by Kevin over on Bolts of Silk here.
My Heart Draws a Rough Map by Howard Good - this is a beautifully illustrated dreamlike short book about the adventures of a heart. Published online by Blue Hour Press. You can read some of Howard's poetry on Bolts of Silk here.
The Woman: In a Box by Susan Culver. This is a beautifully written, thought provoking and sometimes disturbing online collection of poetry and prose poems.
Monday, 7 December 2009
The greatest challenge was how to fit short poems into long musical tracks! We're both very pleased with how it all turned out, and judging from comments here and on Facebook, so are several other people! While you're visiting Belvedere Mountain Express on Myspace, do listen to their other music, they've got some excellent tracks!
Sunday, 6 December 2009
some handmade gifts from my archives (just follow the links to find out more!):
black satin gift-bag
pot pourri bag
and some of last years' cards
Creatively Green is sharing eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas every day this month and they're doing giveaways too! You can see their projects and sign up for the giveaways here.
Several charities these days offer the option of donating to the charity and giving this as a gift to someone. In the UK these charities include Oxfam and the RSPB.
It is also nice to give gift vouchers for experiences (eg a cinema pass; tickets to the theatre; restaurant gift vouchers) instead of things.
More and more people are seeing second-hand gifts as acceptable - my Mum and I regularly give each other second hand books as gifts. Secret Santa in the office where I currently work specifies that the gift be second hand..... This won't work for everyone though and obviously the second hand item needs to be in very good condition if you're choosing it as a gift!
Saturday, 5 December 2009
More than half the world leaders will meet next week in Copenhagen with the aim of securing a new deal to tackle global climate change. Read more at the Independent newspaper website.
You can find out how to get involved in the climate change campaign on the new, revamped Friends of the Earth Scotland website here.
You can visit the UN Climate Change Conference website here.
Friday, 4 December 2009
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
The Book Of Hopes And Dreams has been re-launched as an e-book and is available for a minimum donation of UK £1 or US $2 (though larger donations will be gratefully received). For more information on how to buy the book, please visit: http://www.rimbaud.org.uk/bookofhope.html.
All funds raised will go direct to Spirit Aid, a volunteer run charity that works in Afganistan. To find out more about Spirit Aid go to: http://www.spiritaid.org.uk/afghanistan.html
Meanwhile the latest issue of the Festival of the Trees is up at Via Negativa. There are lots if interesting links about trees to browse through, including my post about Almondell Country Park.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Sunday, 29 November 2009
We visited Dunbar's Close Garden, off Edinburgh's Canongate, yesterday as part of the Bank of Reason walk. This walled garden is laid out in a 17th-century design, with yew hedges, clipped hollies and fruit trees. In those days, all the rich people lived on the Canongate. They had land and created formal gardens.
The garden is named after the Edinburgh writer, David Dunbar, who owned buildings on either side of the close in the 18th century. These days, Dunbar's Close Garden is looked after by Edinburgh Council's Park Service and is open to the public.
Green Yonder Tours is a company that specialises in tours around the hidden green areas of Edinburgh, including a tour devoted to the Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile (including the Dunbar's Close Garden). You can visit their website here.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Friday, 27 November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
If you can’t be at the Wave you can make a Copenhagen Pledge at the Christian Aid website. Or you can join the 10:10 campaign – visit its comprehensive website and sign up here.
Thinking Green - you can find out more about how to participate in this weekly meme of Green Thinking here.
I'm delighted too that Michelle of Rambling Woods has awarded me the Green Thinker Award
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
down the narrow street -
privet hedge -
and Dave at Via Negativa sums up why those of us who love birds don't always love wind turbines.... you can read his post here.
for Nature Notes. You can find out how to join in here!
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Jane Urquhart beautifully evokes the landscape of the area round the lake and the tragic loss of the once vast woodlands that fuelled a huge timber trade until the trees disappeared and barley was planted until the land was robbed of its fertility.
The novel also beautifully studies artistic practice, Jerome's own work as an earth artist, his partner Mira, who is a performance artist and the tactile maps Sylvia makes for Julia, her friend who is blind.
It's a beautiful, rich book and as its that time of the year it may well be one of my books of the year!
A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart, published by Bloomsbury
Monday, 23 November 2009
Saturday, 21 November 2009
The woodland is one of the few areas of ancient woodland in West Lothian and covers an area that was previously used as a shale mine (or so we were told by a cyclist who stopped to chat with us for a while). Large parts of the area are covered in very old birch trees like the one below.
The paths through the woodland were very muddy! We saw lots of birds, including a group of redwings flying about, a couple of bullfinches, a crow mobbing a buzzard then later four buzzards circling overhead with a possible fifth calling off to the side. Also a flock of around 30 lesser redpolls flying from birch tree to birch tree to hang in the branches to feed. On the way back into Edinburgh we saw a young swan sitting on a grass verge by the main road, with a police officer making notes by its side. That would have made a fun photo..... (Crafty Green Boyfriend took the photos in this post as my camera batteries ran out!)
Friday, 20 November 2009
Many areas of the UK have seen huge amounts of rain over the past day or so. It has reached an emergency situation in some areas of the north of England. In central Scotland we've got away pretty lightly. The train line between Glasgow and Edinburgh was flooded yesterday and trains were moving very slowly and there was a lot of flooding in the fields (which is where I saw the ducks!).
I took the photo above at Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve, back in September. You can see some more of my photos of Caerlaverock here. It seems to fit though!
for Weekend Reflections.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Talking of green shoes, my everyday winter boots, which I've had for many years, resoled them and re-heeled them many times, now are reaching the end of their useful life. I am looking for lace up ankle boots with a medium height sturdy heel. As a vegetarian, I am keen to at least try to find an alternative to leather but I can't find hemp boots in the style I want and am reluctant to replace leather with fake leather derived from petrochemicals so what are my options? Any advice welcome! Preferably that I could source from within Europe, even better within the UK.....
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
1. I'm left handed but only with writing, with most other things I'm ambidextrous or right handed.
2. I can't knit.
3. I've never had a pet cat, though I grew up with the neighbour's cats preferring me to their own family.
Monday, 16 November 2009
At the farm we were sad to learn that Red, the horse, has been very ill and cannot be fed by members of the public.
All the animals at Gorgie City Farm are available for sponsorship. You can pay a set amount every year to go towards the animals' upkeep and in return you get a certificate and photo and news of your sponsored animal. You can found out more here.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Friday, 13 November 2009
Thursday, 12 November 2009
For 1mile² Edinburgh, Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich and the Collective Gallery invite you to join them in forming The Bank of Reason. Working with an ecologist and an economist Zoe and Neil will lead tailored walks to explore the diversity of Edinburgh’s city centre. The walks will be followed by discussions that will feed into The Bank of Reason – a repository of ideas for a sustainable future.
The walks will take place on Saturday 28th November and Saturday 5 December. There will also be activities on the Sundays of these weekends too. You can find out more and sign up here.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Monday, 9 November 2009
A dog walker stops me. 'You've not got a dog!' he says surprised. I nod and smile. 'But everyone who walks here has a dog!'. He walks on shaking his head, his dog trotting along after him.
A dipper calls loudly and flies quickly upstream.
along the Water of Leith
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Friday, 6 November 2009
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Monday, 2 November 2009
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Curled up and asleep lies a quietly snoring cat
The birds in the garden gather at the feeder
Watched from the window by an alert furry cat
The autumn evening streets are lit by orange lamps
that light up the rushing groups of rain blurry cats
Here come the groups of children tricking and treating
One of them is dressed up as a sweet furry cat
In the barn there is a scattering of rodents
being chased by a family of hurrying cats
The poet sits at the desk in her small study
On her lap for inspiration her purring cat
Inspired yesterday by the resident cat at the Salisbury Centre, where I facilitated a ghazal workshop
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Friday, 30 October 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
are filled with their presence
the wheeling cries
diving through tenement canyons
the boomerang shapes
rising to invisibility.
(from The Last Swift)
There are also poems of the Scottish islands, including Corncrake on Iona which captures wonderfully and humourously the search for this most elusive of birds. Humour also in Sheep:
No free thinkers here.
We go with the flock,
never stick our scrag ends out,
always do what's expected of us.
Bunny bloggers will be happy to find here the poem Rabbits in Glen Cova:
We point and point
in all directions
counting and losing count
until the last white tail
Waiting for Zebras by Nancy Somerville, published by Red Squirrel Press, £6.99.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Since joining Myspace I've found it much easier to keep in touch with whats happening in the local music scene, just as I have strangely not found it to help me to keep up to date with my favourite artists from abroad. As I've been going out more regularly to small venues, listening to local bands I realise that there's something environmentally friendly about this. The local band is likely to travel a relatively short distance in a minibus rather than halfway across the world in a private jet or even in a regular plane. Small venues can't afford energy intensive lighting and special effects. Many small venues in Edinburgh serve a selection of local brewed real ales rather than just imported alcoholic drinks.
Going out to see music means you can switch off your heating and music centre at home and share the venue's heating and sound system. It's even better if you walk to the venue or get the bus.
I then got to thinking about other aspects of the music business, these thoughts come straight from the top of my music collection, I'm sure there will be many more artists out there doing similar things:
Some bands (such as Sigur Ros and Indigo Girls) have packaged CDs entirely without plastic or have greatly reduced the amount of plastic in their packaging
Some bands (such as Indigo Girls and Bruce Coburn) sing environmentally themes songs
Some bands (such as Sigur Ros and Green Day) are involved in environmental campaigning.
for Think Green Thursdays
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
This evening I was at the Shore Poets, a regular evening of poetry and music that happens at The Lot in Edinburgh. The highlight was definitely Nancy Somerville who read a few autumnal poems; a selection of poems from her collection Waiting for Zebras (published by Red Squirrel Press) and a very sobering poem about a struggling albatross colony in New Zealand. I bought a copy of her book and look forward to reviewing it here within the next few weeks.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Friday, 23 October 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
On Monday of this week, the Water of Leith was lit with a yellowish glow as the pale sunlight filtered through all the autumnal trees. The dippers were flying about, busy as ever.
for Nature Notes
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
I knew I was losing you that day at Brooks Camp
where we walked to see the salmon leap
into the bears' open mouths.
(from To Alaska and Back)
As the school bus took the cornerwind lifted
the birch tree branches, shifting the light's angle.
(from The Shillinged Birches).
though my favourite poem is the starkly simple Image, which begins:
That dwarf lilac bush
is bouncing with long-
...doing a jig for
the first day of spring
This collection covers a lot of topics including family, allotment gardens, wartime and a series of translations from Mao Tse-tung.
Chasing the Hoopoe by John Weston, published by Peterloo Poets, 2005
Monday, 19 October 2009
Abundance Edinburgh has an apple identification chart here. We think that Crafty Green Boyfriend's parents' wonderfully delicious apples are either James Grieve or Laxtons Fortune (scroll down the chart to see these varieties!).
It's great to see a resurgance of interest in old apple varieties, they generally have much more taste than the bland supermarket varieties.....
I've just been asked to link to this article about local food in the Boston Globe. I've also been asked to advertise the Bioneers by the Bay event, October 22-25, in New Bedford, MA, USA, which looks like it might be worth going to if you're in the area.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
The Meerkats is showing at The Filmhouse in Edinburgh until Thurs 22 October.