Phew! Great relief as mother swan appears round a bend in the stream with four cygnets in tow. We had an anxious half hour after arriving at Pond Cottage when only the dad and two young ones appeared at the bank to be fed. It’s not easy being surrogate swan parents!
June 6th, 2014
Why did we do it? There are quicker and easier ways to get from Edinburgh to Istanbul. You can fly direct from Edinburgh to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in just about four and a half hours. But where’s the romance and adventure in that? (more…)
May 15th, 2014
Raindrops smear a blurry, bleary view of the Borders. I’m on the train, hurtling through what is still (so far) UK countryside, crossing the invisible line that divides Scotland from England. A red mist gathers as I flick through the Guardian, headlines on every page proclaiming why the independence referendum is (to me) such a dangerous, indulgent distraction from the real issues.
May 1st, 2014
At first I find it hard to choose a poem from Judi Benson’s, Hole in the Wall. She became Writer in Residence at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary just a year after the death of her husband, Ken Smith, and there are lines in this book which I find painful to read. (more…)
April 14th, 2014
No fear of sleeping in these mornings. By 8.30 there’s a lusty knocking on the bedroom wall, nothing personal you understand, just a purposeful hammering and banging, drilling and pounding. I’m not complaining. They are knocking the old house into new shape and it’s good to hear sounds of life next door again. (more…)
April 11th, 2014
Another Monday. Another Poem of the Week and by good chance a brand new poetry book recently arrived in the post. Look out for Richard Ings. His first collection, Occasional, is bursting with good things. Some wry, some sad, some playful, some serious, some simply beautiful. (more…)
March 31st, 2014
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
Just over a month ago I posted a poem on Facebook for Valentines Day. It wasn’t my poem and I had gone to no great trouble to seek it out, in fact I pinched Wendy Cope’s beautiful If We Were Never Going to Die off the front page of the Guardian. To my surprise within a very short time I had clocked up a lot of Likes. (more…)
March 24th, 2014
The news went more or less unnoticed last November. I heard it with some surprise but it sounded thoroughly good news to me. Edinburgh was preparing for a bold step towards becoming a modern city centre, a European city with a little more room for people and a little less room for cars. Since the Living Streets conference did not attract mainstream media attention, Lesley Hinds’ announcement to a crowded room did not make it into the press. Given The Herald’s gloomy interpretation of a bright idea, it’s probably just as well. (more…)
March 10th, 2014
Sunday Sunset over the pond. It’s around 5.30 pm, and I see from my handy weather app that we’ve gained more than an hour and a half of daylight since the beginning of January. For some reason I always find the longer days of February bleaker than the twinkly darkness of midwinter.
February 25th, 2014
Scottish floods 2006
Sustainable flood management enables communities to adapt to the realities of climate change. Restoring natural defences against flooding brings social, economic and environmental benefits to the whole community.
Pity the people of Somerset Levels. The last thing they need as the weather report threatens more rain and gales, is a rush of politicians anxious to pour blame on the other party. And they certainly don’t need some smart-arse copywriter at the other end of the country blowing the dust off an old manual on natural flood management in Scotland. (more…)
February 8th, 2014