Monday, August 31, 2009

Where I roam

At the weekend my husband and I walked part of the coastal path south of Pease Bay. This photo is an HDR shot, with a little "cross processing" applied. I've been visiting some other sites too and I have a short poem published today on A Handful of Stones. It was inspired by walking by a barley field and seeing all the wild flowers at the margin. Heartsease is our native form of the pansy, and seeing it always makes me smile.

I also treated myself to Leonard Cohen's Book of Longing, which contains a huge back catalogue of his poems, including Because of a Few Songs, which he has since turned into a song. If more men were to say, "Because of a few songs, wherein I spoke of their mystery, women have been exceptionally kind to my old age" I think we would probably forgive them anything. He is 75 in the next few weeks and his fans are making a massive photo mosaic for him using their own faces. If you want to take part - today is the last day to do so - just click on the link.

And the qarrtsiluni "economy edition" closes today. So thanks to everyone who submitted work to it, I think it is a strong issue. I really enjoyed working with my co-editor Pam Hart and I'm grateful that the experience put us in touch. So lots of thanks go to her too, and to Dave and Beth, who are both wonderful managing editors.
If you get the chance to edit an edition I can highly recommend the experience. Our closing piece and the final image will be posted later today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Last year I fell heir to an old galvanised tank and wanted to turn it into a pond, but I didn't have the muscle-power or the expertise to do it on my own, so I applied to BBC Scotland's gardening programme for some help - on the basis that I wanted to recycle the tank to create a better habitat for the frogs and toads that frequent my garden, who were having to make do with two old glazed water trough for their ablutions

I was really pleased and surprised when the programme's production company contacted me to say that they were willing to help. They came on Monday, with plants, liner and hard landscaping bits and pieces and a crew of five to help me make it happen. All I had to do was make lunch for us all and to pitch in and help at various stages of the work. I knew TV did a lot of takes, but it was really amazing to see how much they need to keep track of continuity between shots, and how much the poor sound man was picking up - including the mechanised street cleaning cart and the road works a quarter of a mile away!

It is obviously very late in the season for the plants and therefore they don't look like much now, but I have a mixture of native grasses and sedges, including the twisty form of juncus, as well as Japanese iris and Gunnera magellanica, the tiny Chilean cousin of that big beast of a plant, and a gorgeous water lily, that will not put in much of an appearance until next year.

We moved my water troughs over beside the new pond and in the process evicted this frog in one of the photos here. He kept going back to where they had been, and we found him looking at this old stone frog, which the old lady we bought the house from had in the garden, and I've never had the heart to throw out.

I'm really delighted with the results and I now have my morning cup of tea outside so I can enjoy seeing how it is bedding in. I've had my lymphodema sleeve on my arm for the two days since, but it was worth it! The crew even brought me some water from their own production garden at the Beechgrove, so that the water would immediately start to develop its own bio-diversity of wee beasties. And I hope to keep you all posted as it develops.

The programme airs on BBC Scotland on 16 September, when you can see me covered in mud and looking a complete fright!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heap - but not Uriah

Just for Now.

Report on my fab new pond to follow..........

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Too many riches

Yesterday was a perfect day.

In the morning I had complete peace to do a photo assignment in the house. It meant setting up my white board and photographing one of the small woolen blanket that my friend knits for the neo-natal unit in Edinburgh. I had great fun folding and refolding the thing to try and get the shot I wanted and then spent a happy time in Photoshop editing images and overlaying the text her concrete poem.

We hope they will be able to sell a postcard of it to raise more money for the unit. I'd show it here, but it is not my poem........

In the afternoon N, my Spanish friend, brought over B, her oldest friend, who is visiting from Bilbao, and we had a lovely time together, despite my poor Spanish and B's poor English.

I stayed with B in Bilbao once, and her apartment in an old part of the city is full of the most beautiful orchids. So she happily spent about an hour giving my few pathetic specimens a bit of much needed TLC and giving me hell for the state they were in. (I can grow anything outside or in the greenhouse, but houseplants rarely do well with me.)

And I love hearing N speaking Spanish, she seems to come to life.

This weekend I'm getting the garden ready for the big adventure on Monday, when a TV crew will come and help me build a pond, from an old zinc tank that I've acquired.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hotch potch

Sorry I've not been around, it has been a hectic week for me and my back problem has meant that I haven't been able to stand sitting still for too long. It has also left me feeling extremely grouchy and as with any persistent pain it had started to quietly feed my ever present fears of a recurrence.

What have I been up to?

Well I went to see the Eva Hesse exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. It is a modestly sized show, but the works on display are quite extraordinary, words like visceral and temporal have been used to describe them. I loved the materials she used, things like cheesecloth, papier mache and latex. There were a series of breast-like forms that I found particularly moving, as well as a latex box with a long umbilical like cord that hangs down to the floor with the weight and curve of an enormous burden.

I also saw a couple of the women who where on the Fielding Programme course with me earlier in the year, and got the benefit of seeing Katie's new hairdo, "The Amazing Quiff" in all its glory.

And I had my mother-in-law for a few days. She was in quite good form and we had fun talking about the bits and pieces she is going to buy for her new sheltered flat.

On Monday I took my turn with the School of Poets courtyard readings at the SPL and enjoyed some amazing readings from the young men that turned up. Yes it was all men! They have all been reading at Utter. I particularly liked a poem by Richard Tyrone Jones, on the subject of some noisy unborn children, who live in a biscuit tin. It was good to hear a poem like this from a young man.

The photo is from a hike I did last night with some other photographers, out to the site of two WWII mini submarine wrecks -scuttled to provide target practise for the RAF. They are only accessible at certain tides and we had a long hike, that ended in a downpour on the way home. But while everything else hurts today, wonder of wonders my back doesn't!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Again:Karima Francis

I love this song! It popped up on shuffle on my overloaded i-pod, it was a tune of the week a while back on i-tunes. It is a good summer song I think. Be back soon, real life is intruding again..........

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Guinea Pigs to Munch........Arrrgh

I hurt my back yesterday watering the greenhouse. I stupidly stretched with a heavy watering can in one hand and something popped. So I'm eating painkillers and anti inflammatories like Smarties and feeling rather grouchy.

As luck would have it I also have to look after a friend's guinea pig from today, for a week. So I had fun this morning trying to clean out a hutch, while not bending and then trying to catch the wee bugger to put it out in its run! There will be a repeat performance tonight, when I have to catch it again to put it to bed in its nice clean hutch. We're on a rota and the last person looking after it said that it wasn't eating all that well, so I hope it doesn't croak on my watch, as it is an elderly critter.

Tomorrow I'm escaping to Glasgow for the day to see the Munch exhibition at the Hunterian.
I have liked his work for a long time, so I am really looking forward to seeing some 40 examples of his prints "in the flesh". I'm going with two poetry pals, so it should be a good day.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Harry Patch

World War I veteran Harry Patch will be buried tomorrow. The former plumber, who fought at the battle of Passchendaele in 1917, gave a memorable interview to Today reporter Mike Thomson in 2005.

Thom Yorke, lead singer of the band Radiohead, was moved by the interview to write a tribute to the veteran, inspired by Harry Patch's words.

The song can be downloaded from the Radiohead website - all profits will go to the Royal British Legion.

The lyrics are:

Harry Patch (in memory of)

I am the only one that got through
The others died where ever they fell
It was an ambush
They came up from all sides
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves
I've seen devils coming up from the ground
I've seen hell upon this earth
The next will be chemical but they will never learn

I'm so sad that the last three WW1 survivors have all died within weeks of each other, I feel like I've lost a last link with my grandfathers and great uncles who all fought in The Great War, one, a footballer, came home minus a leg, another lost part of his skull and survived early brain surgery.

Will we never learn?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Yay, got tickets for.........

the Indigo Girls in Glasgow in October. I can't wait to see them live,as I have loved them for so long.