Thursday, 31 July 2014

Colinton Dell

Very mixed weather today for our walk round Colinton Dell!

These harebells looked wonderful in the rain

the yew berries are at their best too (though they're poisonous to humans so don't be tempted to pick them!)

the hornbeam chandeliers are still very green at the moment and so difficult to see

the larch cones on the tree I'm studying for Tree Following haven't changed much since last week

and the wildflower meadow behind the larch tree is in full bloom

and we saw a red legged shield bug

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Butterflies and other insects, Dalmeny Estate

We had a lovely walk today from Cramond Brig through the Dalmeny Estate to South Queensferry (where we had started our boat trip yesterday!).

This is always a good walk for spotting butterflies and other insects and today was no different!

Lots of butterflies flying around, though only this meadow brown posed for a photo:

(We'll enter our butterfly sightings into the Big Butterfly Count

Also we saw lots of bees, including this handsome creature, too busy to stop to pose, which I think is a male bombus lapidarius and I've added my sighting to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's BeeWatch site, which will confirm my identification as well as adding my sighting to their database!

Plus lots of hoverflies, of which I only got a devent photo of this one (and I don't know the species, so any ideas, please let me know in the comments!)

and interesting wasp species too, but no photos of the insects, only of this nest, which has been dismantled by something, recently too as there are still grubs in there.

Plus we saw this green bottle

We walked along the beach for a while, it's beautiful with shells

Click on the images to see them enlarged!

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

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A boat trip to Inchcolm island

On the second day of our staycation we took a boat trip from South Queensferry to Inchcolm Island

Inchcolm Island is a small island in the Firth of Forth, home to a mediaeval abbey

and lots of sea birds! There is a huge colony of lesser black backed and herring gulls and at the moment the grassy areas of the island are dotted with gulls of all ages.

The young gulls (the brown ones) are getting to the stage where they are starting to be able to look after themselves, but they still like to be looked after by their parents, here they're begging for food.

It's quite an experience to be surrounded by so many gulls, and earlier in the breeding season, people are advised to avoid the gull colonies as the parent birds can get very aggressive in defence of their young!

The island offers lots of beautiful views

The boat trip is very scenic too, with views of the iconic Forth Road bridge (in the foreground) and rail bridge together

there is also plenty of wild life to be seen on the boat trip, including these grey seals which seemed to enjoy bouncing around as the swells moved this navigation buoy.

Monday, 28 July 2014

North Berwick

We had lovely weather for the first day of our staycation. We're spending this week on holiday in Edinburgh, visiting nearby places of interest. Today we went to North Berwick, which has a lovely long beach to walk along, which is almost empty as most people stay on the main central beach. 

Lots to see, including lots of shells and seaweeds

evidence of lugworms everywhere - these little curled piles of castings in the sand

we saw several of this species of jellyfish, which we can't identify, so any help appreciated!

and Bass Rock in the distance, white with the gannets that nest on it. Many of these birds come quite close to shore as they dive for fish.

I made a good collection of sea pottery and sea glass

When we got back to Edinburgh we saw lots of flying ants around town. So I filled in the Society of Biology's Flying Ant Survey.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Frogs and a Sleeping Cat

Crafty Green Boyfriend's Mum has two ponds in her garden and at the moment the whole garden is full of frogs.

There are tiny frogs

and larger frogs

and hidden away in the undergrowth is an old sleepy cat, Purdey who lives in the house next door

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Greyfriar's Kirkyard

I had a wander round Greyfriars Kirkyard yesterday evening before the Walk on the Wild Side literary salon at Golden Hare Books and took these photos in the kirk's wildflower meadow.

 the thistles are mostly seedheads now
 there were several common carder bees around (such a lovely colour!), I managed to get this one on a scabious flower.
Earlier in the day I had been walking through the Marchmont area of Edinburgh and found myself surrounded by about 50 swifts, flying low over the tenements and back green gardens. Lovely to see so many of thme! 

If you're in the UK and enjoy taking photos of nature, you may want to join in BBC Springwatch's 100DaysofNature challenge - take a photo of nature every day between now and the start of the Autumnwatch series and share it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #100DaysofNature.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Busy making jewellery!

After attending a jewellery making workshop on Wednesday, I spent a lot of time yesterday practising the techniques! I made these earrings for myself, these were really easy, I just took put the charms on earring hooks.

I'd actually wanted to make these into earrings for a long time.....

Next I made an elasticated bracelet using some gorgeous beads from a broken vintage necklace

The only challenge with an elasticated bracelet is getting the knot right and hiding it away neatly.

I then tried earrings using the same beads. I have to admit that making beaded earrings had been the most difficult part of the workshop for me. You need to put a pin through the beads, cut it and then manipulate it into a nice loop that fits neatly into the earring hook. Easier said than done and it will be a while before I can do this easily.

However, I made a few pairs of earrings yesterday with those lovely vintage beads and one pair is now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop along with that bracelet.

I'll be making another bracelet and earrings set and then using the remaining beads to make more earrings.

At the jewellery making workshop we had the chance to buy a beginners jewellery making kit at a much reduced price. It includes pliers and cutting tools and a supply of beads, earring hooks and necklace fasteners. I also ordered a jewellery making board which arrived yesterday.

It let's you design and organise all kinds of beaded jewellery and is really quite useful!

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

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Jewellery Making

Yesterday I went to a jewellery making workshop at Edinburgh's Number One Bead Shop. I've made a lot of beaded bookmarks but wanted to learn how to do the fiddly bits - necklace fastenings and attaching together the different parts of an earring.

In the two hour workshop I made this bracelet and earring set for myself

and this necklace, which is for Mum, if she wants it (she specifically wants a pink necklace, but I'm not sure this is exactly what she's looking for!).

I enjoyed the workshop and I've now got lots of ideas for making jewellery for myself, as gifts and to sell in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

I would have liked a bit more time in the workshop to perfect those fiddly little techniques and also to spend longer on choosing beads and designing. But overall it was a very inspiring workshop and the shop is a treasure trove of jewellery making supplies (though a lot of their beads are a bit garish for my tastes). They also have branches in Glasgow and Nottingham.

So now I'll need to put my weaving aside for a while and make some jewellery before I forget all those fiddly techniques!

Meanwhile I've just added a photo of a family of mute swans to the downloadable photo section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Of Horses and Men

Of Horses and Men is a beautiful, eccentric, sometimes disturbing and sometimes very funny film about the relationship between people and their horses in a rural part of Iceland.

The film is made up of several interweaving stories following individual people. Everyone in the community is very close to their horses, but like all close relationships things can be marred by misunderstandings, stubbornness and anger. So things don't always go well for humans or horses. (Warning for animal lovers, there are a couple of scenes in this film which aren't easy to watch.)

The horses are beautiful and they are the real stars of the show - the most enjoyable parts of the film are where herds of horses are running through the stunning Icelandic scenery. And really I came out of the cinema wanting to find a horse and go riding into the hills.

Of Horses and Men is showing at Edinburgh's Filmhouse Cinema until Thursday 24 July

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Small tortoiseshell in disguise

At first I was annoyed that this small toirtoiseshell butterfly waspartly hidden by the grass, but then I realised that the grass is almost perfectly lying along the butterfly's body and it's really quite a cute effect!

If you're interested in butterflies andhow they're faring in the UK, why not take part in the Big Butterfly Count, which is happening from now until 10 August.

I also love how the thistle seed head in this photo is just at the stage of looking like a paintbrush! You can see the same effect better in this photo, which also shows how the thistle heads on one plant are at different stages of development.

Meanwhile I'm continuing to add more photos to the downloadable photos section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

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

Monday, 21 July 2014

Tree Following - guest larch

These photos for Tree Following are of a larch in the Pentlands, seen on our weekend walk.

The young cone on the right is almost mature now! I don't know why this cone has a spike of green needles sticking out of the top - anyone have any ideas?


Meanwhile, I've been adding more photos to the digital photo download section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop and will continue to add more in the next week or so. 

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

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Pentland Hills in mist

We had a lovely walk in the Pentland hills today. It was very atmospheric with mist everywhere.

The scenery here is lovely and the mist only made it more so

The route we took was the "City View Path" which shows how close to Edinburgh this lovely areas is, though of course the mist obscured Edinburgh too!

We made friends with a small herd of Highland Cows, who are I think part of a grazing experiment on the hills, though I couldn't find any more out about that. They're very handsome animals though.....

I've just put another photo of one of the Highland Cows in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

And on a sunnier day earlier in the week I took some photos which are now over on my Shapeshifting Green blog for Shadow Shot Sunday.

As ever, red text in this post includes hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Harvest by Amanya Maloba

Harvest is the debut collection of vignettes from Amanya Maloba. Each piece in this collection focuses on a different aspect of our relationship with food and drink.

Harvest, the title vignette of the collection looks at how the whole concept of harvest has been poisoned by both slavery and by Monsanto:

"Is it the duty of the ex-slaves to defend the land we were brought here to cultivate, systematize, bleed and die on? Even now the stolen land is controlling us. Master Monsanto is poisoning our breast milk."

Taking us back to a simpler relationship with the land and the food it produces is Dirty Roots (Angst):

"when I buy vegetables and get home to find dirt hiding in the crevices of sweet potatoes or clinging to dark, leafy greens, that makes sense to me. Then I feel perhaps I have an iota of a clue about things that happen every day"

I was certainly nodding to myself as I read that passage and the vignette ends wonderfully:

"...a dirty potato to admire, stretched out in front of me in my palms, ceremoniously, welcoming it into the world to be forever cherished".

Of course, some foods may be simple for some people and not so for others. In Termites, Maloba visits Kenya and finds it difficult to eat this local dish:

"my father eats one last critter, still giggling at my self induced horror."

On a much more wide reaching level, Perfect White Rice explores our relationship with rice. Rich white people just enjoy their dish of white, but in this powerful pieve Maloba teases out how rice production is intertwined with the history of slavery.

Slavery and the stereotypes often placed on slaves are explored in The Watermelon Man, a piece that immediately appealed to me as I too, like the narrator, cannot stand to eat watermelon!

Not that all these pieces are weighed down with serious issues. There are pieces about people drinking coffee and wine, eating chappattis, the comfort of food, how some books make you feel hungry and comparing people to fruits.

There's also some beautiful writing here. In Beignets and Trumpets, which weaves food and music together, Maloba describes an ear-worm thus:  

"The music is pond water you cannot shake out of your ears"

And this is a collection that you can't shake out of your head, and yes, some of the vignettes may make you feel hungry.

Harvest by Amanya Maloba is available in paperback or as an e-book from Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Walk on the Wild Side

I'm delighted to be on the panel for Walk on the Wild Side, a literary salon at 6.30, Friday 25 July at the Golden Hare bookshop in Edinburgh.

The main speaker for the evening will be the brilliant Scottish environmentalist Clifton Bain, Director at IUCN UK Peatland Programme and author of The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland - a travellers guide (available from Sandstone Press).

I will be talking briefly about nature and inspiration and probably reading a couple of poems too. 

The event is free, but places are limited so reserve a spot in store or on Eventbrite to avoid disappointment!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Woven Mug Cosy

I wove myself this mug cosy from some left over black wool that Crafty Green Boyfriend's Mum had given me. I added a nice button from my button collection and now my tea stays warm for longer! I may also add an extra bit to the top so I can tie the two sides together over the mug handle.

I'll be making more of these as gifts and possibly to add to the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

Talking of Etsy, after yesterday's beachcombing at Musselburgh, I've added a couple of items to the beach finds section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop you can see them here and here

Also over on Etsy, I've just put together a treasury of crafts from or inspired by Scottish Islands. For those of you not familiar with Etsy, a treasury is a themed collection of items made by other Etsy sellers.

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

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


It's been a while since I went beachcombing so that's what I did today after a birdwatching walk at Musselburgh. This is what I found:

Some of these I'll give to a friend who is collecting sea pottery for a mosaic project, some I'll hopefully make into jewellery. I'm going to a workshop at the Edinburgh Number One Beadshop soon to learn some of the tricky techniques needed for making jewellery (bookmarks are simpler!) but the workshop won't cover sea pottery! I may need to buy a hobby drill ....

Some of these pieces from the photo above will of course find their way into the supplies section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop, in fact you can see some of them here!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Tree Following

The larch that I'm studying for  Tree Following is wonderfully green at the minute and this years flowers are well on the way to being proper cones, though they're changing slowly now that it's summer. 
Beyond the larch, the wildflower meadow is just now a mass of meadowsweet (the creamy whiet bloom you can see in the photo below). 

Elsewhere in Colinton Dell I took a close up of Meadow sweet, and if you look carefully you can see it's popular with small black insects.

To catch up with my observations of the larch over the past month, just click on the links below:

16 June, 1 July and 8 July.