Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jutland to Junkyard by S C George

When we last visited one of Crafty Green Boyfriend's aunts, she had just come back from a holiday touring some of the Scottish Islands. While talking about Orkney, she told us how she knew someone who had made his fortune from salvaging the German navy ships drowned  at Scapa Flow. (All of us have seen the remaining ships that stand as memorials in Scapa Flow to this day and our aunt used to live in Rosyth where the metal from the ships was ultimately salvaged).

Later that afternoon, in a second hand shop, I found this book, which is the story of how those very navy ships were salvaged. It seemed such a wonderfully serendipitous finding that I immediately bought the book and will have finished reading it by the next time we see this aunt and I'll give it to her as a gift!

In May 1916 the German Navy surrendered after the battle of Jutland. Their boats were towed all the way to Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands, to the north of Scotland, which was the base for the British fleet. On 21 June 1919, the German navy scuttled (deliberately sank) their ships. At first the British Admirality left them there but eventually (due to the ships causing obstructions in the shipping channels and a lack of scrap metals) the ships were brought up from the sea floor and towed to the shipyards at Rosyth, in Fife where the metals were salvaged.

The bulk of the book looks at how each individual ship was salvaged, often with quite a lot of technical detail. There are some fascinating stories woven into the overall narrative

"Next day Hindenburg was beached in Mill Bay. Mrs McKenzie, wife of the salvage officer, found the crow's nest of the ship a delightful place to occupy for her reading and knitting"

The salvage was a long, painstaking process that lasted years and resulted in the loss of several lives.
A fascinating part of history, which I had only been vaguely aware of.

Jutland to Junkyard by S C George published by Birlinn.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Freedom of speech

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” 


Something both sides need to remember in the current debate around the forthcoming Referendum for Scottish Independence. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg

Subtitled the Biography of a Language, this brilliant book traces the development of the English language from it's earliest days as a dialect of an obscure tribe in northern Europe to its current day status as global language.

Bragg is excellent at weaving the history of the language in with all the strands of history around it. He traces for example how English more or less went into hiding during the French speaking days after the Norman conquest and how the adventurous nature of the American Wild West lead to an adventurous period of development in the English language. He explores how the use of English changed church history in the British Isles and how Shakespeare changed the language forever.

He looks at different Englishes spoken throughout the world, including Australian English, Indian English and American Englishes as well as the pidgins and creoles that have developed particularly against a background of slavery where people with various different native languages would try to create something mutually comprehensible from a common (though poorly known) language. Also the way that English has affected the other languages it has come into contact with.

I felt the book cound have benefited from a section about the forms of English spoken in Africa and that in general most sections of the book could have been extended. I just found it totally fascinating and wanted to find out even more about this amazing language we speak! 

So anyone who's interested in the English language, how it's developed and ow it fits into the general history of the English speaking world, should read this book.

The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg published by Hodder and Staughton .

Friday, August 15, 2014


I was delighted to win these Godzilla coasters in a recent Twitter competition organised by Dosankodebbie. Debbie shares her wonderful etegani artwork at Dosankodebbie's Etegami Notebook.

The coasters are still in their packaging as they're a gift for Crafty Green Boyfriend, who is a huge Godzilla fan. He'll love them of course! So thank you Debbie!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bridge Shadows

Pedestrian Bridge over the River Esk, Musselburgh.

For Shadow Shot Sunday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Giveaway of Bougainvillea Dancing

I'm running a giveaway of a copy of my updated book Bougainvillea Dancing over on the Crafty Green Poet blog.

Follow the link above to find out more.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Calton Hill

the well known folly on Edinburgh's Calton Hill

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


texting her friend
about her swimming lesson -
she strokes her guide dog.

for NaPoWriMo.


And a reminder that the pdf of an updated version of my chapbook Bougainvillea Dancing is now available to buy in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop. 10% of proceeds from the sale of this book go to VSO for their work in Malawi and other parts of southern Africa.

As ever, coloured text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.