Fay Young

curiosity about the ways of the world

Category: environment (page 1 of 5)

our built and natural world

Pioneering women gardeners: visible at last

Girls will be boys?  The terms of employment were simple, if a little strange. The first two women admitted to the staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1897 were to be known as ‘boys’ and had to dress like boys too. Continue reading

The revolutionary power of simple pleasures

What kind of times are they, when

A talk about trees is almost a crime

Because it implies silence about so many horrors

Bertolt Brecht

A catalogue in the post. Not so very long ago that would have brought a promise of armchair gardening. Happy hours leafing through pages of plants I was unlikely to grow, winter evenings plotting summer crops; neat rows of common garden stuff in exotic colours: purple beans, black carrots, blue potatoes. I’d mark the pages diligently and forget to send my order until it was almost too late to sow the seeds. Continue reading

Winds of change at The Botanics

With rich irony the latest exhibition at Inverleith House is titled I Still Believe in Miracles. But no miracle is likely to save the art gallery from closure after the doors shut on a show celebrating 30 years at the heart of contemporary art in Edinburgh. Continue reading

Life on the edge

View of cloud-fringed Cuillins of Skye, from Soay, photograph by Jemma Cholawo

Soay bay: photograph by Jemma Cholawo

Because it’s Friday…a trip to another world, not so very far away as the seagull flies. Anne Cholawo’s   YouTube film about her life on Soay which led to a top-selling book Island on the Edge: a life on Soay Continue reading

Are we inviting the storms?

Oddly, almost eerily, quiet today. For nights over the last week the house has rocked with angry sound. First Gertrude then Henry came rattling at the windows, hammering on the doors, playing merry hell round the chimneys. The latest storms have blown over but surely Imogen will not be far behind? Continue reading

Look to the islands for pragmatic politics of hope

It’s not everyone’s idea of escape. A force 7 gale lashed the boat as we crossed the stormy Sound of Eigg. But we were leaving all visible signs of the general election on the mainland and I welcomed that thought even as I closed my eyes and got my head down, praying I wouldn’t need the poly bag thoughtfully provided by the crew.

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Bridge of sighs

Crossing the Forth Road Bridge beneath a dramatically cloudy sky, you can just see one tower of the new bridge over to the right.

Towering ambition

No fuss, no fanfare. Without a tweet or a peep from the press, an invisible shift in the Scottish landscape took place in the early hours of this morning.

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Blood on the tracks

“Many of the smaller ones perched on my hat, and when I carried my gun on my shoulder would sit on the muzzle. During my stay I killed forty-five all of which I skinned carefully.”

 

dawyck.jpg

I really wish I hadn’t read that extract from David Douglas’s diary describing the birds he killed during his few days on the Galapagos Islands in 1824. Douglas happens to be a bit of a hero of mine. I get a powerful kick looking up into the huge trees he brought back from his travels in what was then the wild woods of the Pacific North West. He went to such trouble to collect seed without destroying the forest it is sad to discover he was blasting eagles and owls and other grand feathered things off the face of the mountain. But I guess no-one is perfect. Continue reading

Can democracy deliver in time for climate change?

Is the NHS equipped to deal with floods, gales and heatwaves of extreme weather?  A deadly serious question is posed in a quiet corner of the Houses of Parliament.  While the media fulminates in a flash storm conjured by David Cameron during Prime Ministers Questions, the Environmental Audit Select Committee contemplates a more fearful threat than Ed Milliband ‘crawling to power on Alex Salmond’s coat tails’. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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