Zen and the art of the Big Garden Bird Watch

Stay still sparrows, I’m trying to count you. 

Cup of coffee on the table, notepad and pencil in hand and I’m set for a happy hour looking out the window.  Make it two hours.  Settling down for the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch I wondered if it would be cheating to do the count over the whole day.  (more…)

Add comment January 29th, 2015

Let’s get weaving

It feels good to be weaving again, even if only to mend the border of an old log basket. New green willow cut from the edge of a Scottish stream gives a rough and ready handmade look to a shop-bought basket so evenly woven it could have been made by machine.  But hands-on, head-down weaving brings another benefit to a weary online worker. (more…)

2 comments January 8th, 2015

Are Edinburgh’s Christmas lights sustainable?

It’s not much after four in the afternoon and the winter sun has set way to the west of Edinburgh castle. At the end of November the city is ready for a long dark night but birds are singing in East Princes Street Gardens as if dawn was breaking.  And no wonder. The sky is ablaze with 200,000 Christmas lights. (more…)

Add comment November 29th, 2014

Time to end the social injustice of the council tax freeze

Perhaps I should be grateful to John Swinney. Since 2007 Scotland’s Finance Secretary has spent £500 million on freezing council taxes. “By the end of the current Parliamentary term, [Band D] households will have saved £1,200 since the freeze was introduced in 2007.” So says the SNP press release which conveniently skates over the cost of this ‘saving’ and the cuts it has imposed on all local authorities.

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Add comment October 19th, 2014

Let Scotland flourish

After a momentous night, a new day.  In every street of every town and city in Scotland there is likely to be a mix of deeply conflicting emotions. Relief, anger, grief, disappointment, jubilation, maybe even despair as the reality of the referendum result sinks in.  It will take time to recover a sense of balance after such a long, passionate and often divisive campaign. But hope has not died. Today, the day after Scotland’s historic decision, brings a dawning reality: we have woken in a different country. Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom but both are changed forever. 19 September 2014

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Add comment September 25th, 2014

What sort of Scotland?

Should Scotland be an Independent Country?  If we were asked that question in a school or college exam and we gave only the positive case for creating a new nation we would surely not expect to pass.  Yet we are being asked to vote YES on the basis of only the most optimistic forecasts – on the pound and pensions, on oil revenues, the economy and the constitution, on welfare, education and defence, on speedy entry into the EU.  All will be well according to the Scottish Government. (more…)

Add comment September 17th, 2014

Aye we can – but why?

“When Scotland is told you cannae dae that,  you know what our answer’s gonnae be.  We’re just, like, saying, ‘Aye we can.’”
There was an almost touching naivety about that smiling young face to camera on the news last night.  Or it would be touching if it wasn’t such a chillingly simplistic rejection of all the complexities, all the cavernous unknowns, implied in the momentous decision Scotland will be making on Thursday. (more…)

Add comment September 16th, 2014

Cry the divided country

If you are visiting this blog post for the second time you will notice that I have changed the heading. If you have just arrived, I should explain that the original heading said In a state of hysteria Scotland risks making an irreversible decision based on the fever of the moment. I apologise for careless use of an emotive word (you will see from comments below that I have been criticised for implying that everyone voting Yes is acting out of hysteria and in blind faith).  If you read my argument I hope you will see that is not what I intended, or said.  But I do not think I was wrong to express alarm at the mood of the country which seemed to me to reach fever pitch with yesterday’s demonstration outside the BBC.  Enough. Here is the post which has attracted more attention than most of my thoughts. It starts with a quote from an article in the Financial Times magazine. (more…)

17 comments September 12th, 2014

In memory of Kerry Napuk

I am very sad to report the death of a good friend, Kerry Napuk.  He was the inspiration for a community venture in Leith which survives as a testament to his vision, leadership and constant cajoling. This is one of those times when there is no clear dividing line between my private and public worlds so I am recording my memories of a remarkable man. (more…)

4 comments September 7th, 2014

Sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story

An odd story caught my eye yesterday. A photograph posted on Facebook claimed to prove that Jim Murphy, the Labour MP  for East Renfrewshire was ‘egged’ by his own ‘minder’. According to rumours flying round Facebook this was a set up intended to smear the Yes campaign whose tactics had forced him to abandon his soap box tour of Scotland campaigning for a No vote. (more…)

3 comments September 4th, 2014

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