Eleanor Livingstone is a Scottish poet and editor who lives in Fife. She was Festival Director of StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival from 2010 to March 2021, after five years as the festival’s Artistic Director. This year StAnza was voted Best Literary Festival in the UK Saboteur Awards. Before StAnza Eleanor worked as a paralegal … Continue reading Relaxing
Our modern world is very stressful, and we make it more so by valuing busyness and ‘doing’. We are bombarded by subtle and not-so-subtle messages that the harder we work, the more we do, the more we own, the better. We need to remember sometimes that the world is like this because we made it … Continue reading John Burns on Relaxation
61-year-old Lee Randall is a freelance writer, presenter and festival programmer. She can be found on Twitter as @randallwrites. I am a champion relaxer. Except when I’m not. I love sitting still. I will sit on a sofa; I will sit in a bed; I will sit on a barstool blethering away; I will sit … Continue reading Champion relaxer
After you’re done reading we’d love for you to leave a comment at the bottom of the page, like this post on Facebook, or retweet it on Twitter. It really helps more people discover our work! During an early morning trawl through new emails in my various accounts, I was intrigued to find an interesting … Continue reading Relaxation
Whether you’ve got a large garden with a greenhouse or a third-floor flat with a window box, growing your own food can combine better nutrition with a healthy and absorbing hobby. I’ve always been the cook in our family, and my wife’s always been the gardener. When we first came to the Scottish Highlands back … Continue reading Grow your own
Cooking as outreach Food is fuel, there’s no getting away from that. But beyond that, one of the most compelling aspects of feeding ourselves is when it brings us together. Some years ago, now, Highland Council recruited me and a colleague to do cookery demos as part of their ‘Healthways’ initiative. The idea was to … Continue reading Give and Take
For some people, the Covid pandemic has cultivated strong feelings about what they see as violations of their bodies. For some, wearing masks in public was bad enough. Then, vaccination rollout aroused suspicions about what the vaccine might contain. Perhaps the most visceral concerns simply arose because vaccination isn’t like a mask – easily discarded as soon as we’re out of the store. It’s something injected into our bodies.
Cooking for one… or two. I’ve always been the family cook. It’s less unusual these days for dad to be the one expected to put something on the table come the end of the day – and that’s a good thing, but, back when our boys were small, it was definitely still considered odd. When … Continue reading Cooking for one… or two
I was very lucky in my working life. I couldn’t put it better than Mary Poppins’ friend Bert the chimney sweep: ‘I does wot I likes, an’ I likes wot I do’. As a girl I liked books. I liked libraries. No, I loved books and I loved libraries. I volunteered in the school library, in the local public library; I trained as a librarian, I studied, and qualified; I worked in public and university libraries, until one fine day I found a niche where my profession met and matched another passion: poetry.
Life has changed immeasurably for many of us since the arrival of Covid. Not only have we had to properly examine how vital and indispensable our essential workers are, and finally understand who they are, but we’ve come to appreciate more than ever the role of unpaid labour and the things that don’t get done … Continue reading Not Giving Up Giving Back
If I offered you a slice of bread smeared with goo which had been regurgitated by insects, would you accept? Does bread and honey sound more appealing? I’ve been reading about cleptoparasites, inquilines and parasitoids: exploiters of bees. Technical vocabulary can be as off-putting as explicit descriptions of food production. Put simply, in the complex … Continue reading Noticing nature: writing
Yesterday, I listened to the clamour of wintering geese and watched Swallows preen hard-used flight feathers. Sometimes, it’s enough to delight in sound and sight, but often, questions come to mind, unbidden, persuading me to listen more carefully, look a bit longer. Watching birds, I automatically ask, ‘What’s it doing?’ ‘Defending territory? Nest-building? Feeding itself? … Continue reading Noticing nature: asking questions
Ken Cockburn is a poet, translator, editor and writing tutor based in Edinburgh. After several years at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, he has freelanced since 2004, working in schools, colleges, care and community settings, and collaborating with visual artists on book, exhibition and public art projects. He runs Edinburgh Poetry Tours – guided … Continue reading N is for noticing
‘At least one good thing has happened this year,’ said a friend, ‘I’ve got to know my neighbours better.’ It’s important, isn’t it? If neighbours greet us by name and stop for a friendly chat, it can cheer us up. What about our non-human neighbours? Can you name the trees you pass? The birds you … Continue reading Noticing nature: by naming
A healer with a unique understanding of the human mind told his worried followers to consider the ravens and the lilies of the field. Roll on 2,000 years and Phil Hammond, an NHS doctor, prescribes CLANGERS: eight habits for a healthy life. N is for noticing the beauty around us. ‘Try to be as still … Continue reading Noticing nature: sitting still