That jiggery-pokery thing called life: Poem of the Week 3

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…)

Add comment April 14th, 2014

Knock knock: who’s there?

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…)

Add comment April 11th, 2014

Poem of the week: 2 (Richard Ings)

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…)

Add comment March 31st, 2014

Treading softly: Poem of the Week/Number One

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…)

2 comments March 24th, 2014

Is Edinburgh finding its feet at last?

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…)

Add comment March 10th, 2014

Survival of the fittest at Pond Cottage


Sunset on the pond

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.


2 comments February 25th, 2014

Slowing the flow

Scottish floods 2008

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…)

Add comment February 8th, 2014

The song is older than the sorrow

Breakfast on a wintry Edinburgh morning to the background melodies of South Uist.  I woke this morning with tunes from last night’s show dancing a jig in my head.  It’s a sign of a good performance when both the singer and the songs follow you home. (more…)

Add comment February 1st, 2014

The ghost of Christmas present

Food banks are brimming with good will this Christmas. The Trussell Trust has delivered food parcels to 60,000 people in desperate need of help during the festive season. While the government resolutely denies that welfare reforms are causing a dramatic increase in food poverty, the Department for Work and Pensions admits that delays to benefits payments have affected 32,000 people over the Christmas holiday.  What would Charles Dickens make of it all? (more…)

Add comment December 27th, 2013

Poetry, politics and pedestrians

I’m walking home along Rose Street when writing on the wall catches my eye. Ron Butlin’s Recipe for Whisky. Perhaps not many people know it but this is the poem that launched Edinburgh’s Poetry Garden in St Andrew Square a full five years ago. It seems significant as I’ve just been to the Living Streets conference (Walking and the Urban Environment) which produced a few poetic surprises of its own. (more…)

1 comment November 21st, 2013

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