Thursday, 20 April 2017

More sea glass crafts

I have lots of lovely sea glass and sea pottery at the moment! I've donated some of the sea pottery to Gorgie City Farm and the Lochend Secret Garden for their garden mosaic projects and I have lots of ideas for using the sea pottery in various crafting projects.

Meanwhile I've filled some bottles with some of the sea glass, like this

The middle bottle isn't full as a piece of sea glass has lodged and stuck in the neck of the bottle! All three of them though make pretty decorative features. I like the variety of the colours of sea glass in here.

Earlier I had used some sea glass to make a pretty candle holder, which you can see here.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

News from the Crafty Green poet Etsy shop

These I think are my favourite earrings that I've made recently

and they're now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here. I made them from chain from a damaged vintage necklace along with brand new nickel free earring hooks.

Also recently new in my Etsy shop are this necklace (in the shop here)

and these earrings (in the shop here)

which as you may be able to tell are made from parts from the same original piece of jewellery, with the round charm in the necklace coming from a second original item. The earring hooks are of course brand new. I'll be adding more similar earrings to the shop in the near future so watch this space!

I've also made some new chopstick bags recently, including this one made from a lovely orange satin that doesn't look as nice in the photos as it is in real life! (you can find it in the shop here).

Monday, 17 April 2017

Wood Sorrel

Wood sorrel is a lovely flower of early Spring, it's an indicator of ancient woodland. Ancient woodland is defined as land that has been continuously wooded since 1600 or earlier (in England. Wales and Northern Ireland) or since at least 1750 in Scotland.

These plants are growing on a mossy wall in Colinton Dell, along the Water of Leith which is an area of ancient woodland. This area isn't entirely natural ancient woodland as some of the trees (particularly the hornbeams) were planted for use in the construction of the mills that used to line these riverbanks and other trees were planted as ornamentals by the country estates that also used to own much of these lands.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Along the River to a Teddy Bears' Picnic!

We walked along the Slateford to Saughton stretch of the Water of Leith today

and into Saughton Park

where the flower beds are looking wonderful 

especially the tulips

the topiary birds are in great shape

and teddy bears have been hidden around the gardens in preparation for the teddy bear hunt which is part of this afternoon's Easter Eggstravaganza.

Saughton Park will close for a few months soon as it is going to be upgraded, the old buildings that used to be used as stables are going to be brought back into use and a new cafe created. You can read more in my blogpost from a few weeks ago.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Birds in the Meadows

The famous cherry trees of Edinburgh's Meadows aren't fully in bloom yet but we were delighted to see two treecreepers today, here's just one of them

and great views of a mistle thrush too

We'll need to go back in a few weeks to see the cherry trees in full bloom, it's one of the seasonal sights of Edinburgh. You can see the trees in full bloom a few years ago here.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The first rhododendrons of the year

Lovely to see these beautiful rhododendrons in bloom in Princes Street Gardens this lunchtime!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Edinburgh Garden

We had supper at Crafty Green Boyfriend's Mum's yesterday and before eating we had a look at the frog pond, which is surrounded by marsh marigolds at the moment

No frogs though, it was probably too cold and windy for them! So we'll have to do with this

Also yesterday, I went to an excellent talk at the National Library of Scotland on 'from commonplace books to Facebook' which I reviewed here.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Green Promises?

The local elections are drawing closer. So far we've had two election leaflets through the door:

The first one promises:

Push for the whole ward to be designated as a Rent Pressure Zone, which would cap rent rises.

Fight for local groups to temporarily take over the growing number of empty retail spaces, providing free space for community purposes.

Work to make the area more accessible for everyone, seeking improvements to our streets, parks and public spaces.

In the more narrative part of the leaflet his candidate also : speaks out on child poverty, supports community enterprise and promises action on cleaner, safer streets (including more recycling facilities and more frequent emptying of the rubbish bins).

The second candidate promises to:

work hard to reduce anti-social behaviour
continue the flight against domestic violence and hate crime
work hard to keep our streets safe and clean
continue to work to improve waste collection times
continue to promote recycling and work to reduce fly tipping
prioritise efforts to protect our parks and green spaces.

So the question is, which is the Scottish Green Party candidate? You may think it's the 2nd, who includes three obviously environmental priorities in his list, but no, the 2nd candidate is the Scottish National Party candidate. The Scottish Green Party is represented by the first candidate! Now I totally support the three things that he has chosen to highlight as his main aims and in a broad sense two of them are environmentally aware - better use of retain spaces reduces the need to build new retail spaces on green land and he does mention parks plus the more in depth part of the leaflet becomes more obviously concerned with the environment.

But if the SNP is going to highlight some of the obvious green ideas (promote recycling! protect our green spaces!) in their key manifesto pledges then why should we vote for the Green Party? Both parties support Scottish Independence too, so that isn't a defining feature either.It's good that the SNP are taking on board the environmental message, but that gives the Greens even more room to become more overtly environmental.

We need a Green Party that not only genuinely stands up for nature and the environment but that puts those issues and concerns right at the forefront of their campaigns. Most people don't read the party manifesto, most probably don't even read part the three priority statements on the front of the party leaflet. So the party needs to make its eco-friendly stance obvious and bold. The overtly environmental statements should come first, with the other ideals following on with an explanation of how they support the environment in a broad sense.

We need a political party that will wholeheartedly stand up for nature and the environment, but is the Scottish Green Party as yet this party? Or are they just a green tinged left wing party? (Not that that is a bad thing in itself, but it doesn't go far enough for me or a lot of other environmentalists).

(Disclaimer I used to be a member of the Scottish Green Party and left for various reasons and have never been tempted back).

Monday, 10 April 2017

Spring in the Dells

Spring is a wonderful time of the year with all the flowers and the birdsong. The Dells along the Water of Leith are always a great place to experience nature and today was no exception, though it was a little chilly!

Some of the flowers develop very fast, the larch flowers are already larger and darker this week

than they were last week and the needles have developed a lot too in the past week (larch is the one type of conifer that loses its needles in the winter)

Some of the cherry trees are beautifully in blossom already

and the first ransoms (wild garlic) are also in bloom

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Tulips and the first hoverfly of the year at Gorgie Farm

We visited Gorgie City Farm today! The tulips are beautifully in bloom

the sheep are sleepy

the bunnies in the pet boarding lodge are relaxed

the staff have hung up bundles of sheep's wool and other natural materials for the birds to use for nesting material

and I was very happy to see my first hoverfly of the year, Episyrphus balteatus

Friday, 7 April 2017

Yellow and blue

I joined Crafty Green Boyfriend for a lunchtime walk round Corstorphine Hill today, as i often do on a Friday. 

I love the colour combinations of yellow and blue in spring flowers, here are forget me nots and a dandelion

and here in a more subdued colour scheme are some elm fruits (they develop very quickly, you can see the flowers of the same tree in this post from just a couple of weeks ago)

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Reusing old socks

I try to repair my socks before they get to the unwearable stage but sometimes they become impossible to repair. So what to do then?

There are lots of ideas here at this link, I particularly like the idea of using socks as dusters or filling them with catnip and using them as cat toys.

I have recently taken to cutting the elastic part off the top of the sock and using it like this

which is very useful, better than an elastic band! Then I cut up the rest of the sock fabric to use as stuffing for cushions etc.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Hidden Figures - a film review

I try to limit my book and film reviews here to those that deal with nature or environmental issues with the occasional review of media on other sciences (otherwise this blog would overflow with reviews). I'm stretching my definitions a little by reviewing Hidden Figures, but it's such a great film I can't not review it!

Hidden Figures is based on the real life stories of three amazing black women who worked as mathematicians in NASA in the 1960s, starting off in the 'coloured computers' section of the agency and working their way up to more specialised and responsible roles - Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P Henson) to become (after much fighting) a supervisor leading the 'coloured computers' to become the programmers for the first IBM computers installed at NASA, Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) to become the key mathematician who enabled the first manned spaceflight to go ahead safely and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) to (after much fighting) become the first black woman to attend a local college to get the qualifications to become the first black American to become a NASA engineer.

The film follows their participation in the work that helped to get the first USA astronauts into space. It shows the everyday double discrimination that they faced as black women (from thinly veiled insults to separate 'coloured coffee pots' and of course the notorious 'coloured toilets') and how they worked to both overcome and overturn some of these.

The film is also a fascinating insight into the advancement of space technology and how the thought of the Russians getting an astronaut on the moon first was a huge spur to the American efforts. Above all it is a brilliantly dramatic, totally inspiring film with a great sense of humour.

You know when there was all the fuss about the Oscar for Best Film, with the wrong envelope been handed to the compere and La La Land incorrectly being hailed as winner instead of Moonlight? I think there must have been a second lost envelope somewhere, one that had Hidden Figures written in it.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Birdwatching with your Eyes Closed by Simon Barnes

Spring is the time when birds sing to mark their territories and to attract mates. Spring is therefore the best time to read this brilliant book by Simon Barnes.

This book introduces the reader to the joys of listening to the birds as well as watching them. There are articles about different aspects of birdsong (from whether singing a better song guarantees a male bird will find breeding success to an outline of how birdsong evolved) and outlines of the some of the most commonly heard birdsongs of the UK. The descriptions of the birdsongs are imaginative, descriptive and helpful: 'I found that the alleged blackbird's song was too quick, the phrases too short and the whole thing wasn't really blackbird-like at all' (part of his description of the song of the mistle thrush).

The book is entertaining and informative, including snippets of information such as the fact that sedge warblers never repeat exactly the same phrase twice and stories such as the relationship between Mozart and his pet starling. 

Each chapter is very short so it's an ideal book to pick up and read a little bit of just as you want, ideally with the window open so you can hear the birds near your home (here in the middle of Edinburgh we have constant blackbirdsong, with dunnocks, bluetits, woodpigeons, collared doves and chaffinches joining in.)

Simon Barnes is a great nature writer, he is full of information and enthusiasm and never gets caught up in the painfully self conscious poetic prose that affects so many nature writers these days. This book (which comes with a free podcast) will make you listen more carefully to the birds you hear around you and will make you want to know more. It's probably worth reading every Spring!

Birdwatching with your Eyes Closed by Simon Barnes published by Short Books (2011)

Monday, 3 April 2017

More Spring Flowers

The wood anemones are in bloom in three areas of Colinton Dell at the moment

Such pretty flowers! I think they're spreading too!

More tricky to find are the flowers of the larch tree. I don't think every tree flowers every year and I only discovered the flowers at all three years ago. I found this flower today

Three years ago I took photos of the flowers regularly through the year as they developed into cones, you can see these photos here.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Easter Craiglockart Hill

It's a lovely Spring day today and we enjoyed a wonderful walk round Easter Craiglockart Hill this morning.

The trees are leafing beautifully, like this sycamore

and this horse chestnut
We had wonderful views of a couple of mistle thrushes (thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend for these photos)

and from the top of the hill we had these wonderful views of Edinburgh, framed by the gorse

We then walked along to Craiglockart Pond where we were delighted to see a mute swan on its nest (though less than delighted to see the amount of plastic in its nest!)

We were even more delighted to see a pair of little grebes, though they are very elusive

we then walked home along the Union canal. The coltsfoot is in full bloom now

and the daffodils are out in Harrison Park