Posts Tagged ‘tourism’

The Hoot and SPLIT: Poems by Juana Adcock

April 28, 2020

Members of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) receive a seasonal online newsletter entitled The Hoot which is put together by Rosie Filipiak, the Communications Officer at SOC. The Hoot’s heading shows a different bird each season and this is the one for this Spring.

The Hoot edited by Rosie Filipiak (Click on all photos to enlarge – recommended)

On of the birds featured in this issue is the bullfinch (link includes bullfinch song) which has the wonderful scientific name of Pyrrhula Pyrrhula. Rosie Filipiak’s description is “Bullfinches are such lovely birds, both sexes with their smart, clearly defined colouring and the male with his gloriously-coloured chest in a difficult to describe bright red/pink/orange hue” and that is as good as I could do. The photo below – Rosie Filipiak gave me permission to download her photos – shows a bullfinch with perhaps some nesting material in its beak – or a captured insect? This is a very graceful looking bird which looks comfortable in its own elegance and I like the contrast between the delicate pink of the chest and the dark blue of its head. The female bullfinch (video) also has different shades on its plumage but the colours are less pronounced.

Bullfinch by Rosie Filipiak

The Hoot includes brief articles and photos by a range of authors. The second one featured here is the eider duck which has the rather serious sounding scientific name of Somateria Mollissima. The name comes from the Greek for body and wool, so the eider duck is seen as having the softest wool. The photo below shows both male and female eider duck and there are no prizes for guessing which is which. We regularly get sets of eider duck in the water at the back of our house and sometimes, when you walk along to Dunbar Harbour, there will be up to 30 male and female eiders in the harbour water. From the harbour side, you can clearly hear the clucking of the females and the whoo-whooing of the males, the latter being quite a comical sound.

Eider duck by Rosie Filipiak

Male eiders have a beautiful light green colour on their necks and this is quite visible when they swim away from you. The photo below hints at this colour but when the sun is on the bird’s neck, the green becomes lighter and more prominent.

Eider duck by Ross Elliott and produced here under the Creative Commons Licence.

The Poetry Book Society’s (PBS) Winter 2019 Choice was Juana Adcock’s debut collection Split. The Guardian reviewer found this collection “unnerving, moving and engrossing” and I would agree with that statement – in parts of the book. Adcock can be a beautifully lyrical poet. In a poem about the Italian Cinque Terre, the land describes itself as “cut into terraces my earth/ hugged together by roots my water/ inking through gaps my stones/ holding together neatly my walls/ tidy in vineyards and olive groves”. The poem – no punctutation – regrets that this pristine land has become a tourist destination in modern times. One of the themes of the book is migration and Adcock adds a very modern aspect to today’s Cinque Terre – “And as the dinghies sink/ and those fleeing from war drown/ wordlessly in my picturesque sea” the Tourist Board is examining how to increase visitor numbers – of tourists that is, not refugees.

I found some of the writing self-indulgent and was not as impressed by the opening section, which is a dialogue between a woman and a snake, although other, and I am sure much more qualified, reviewers raved over this part. The book is also overtly political in parts – and none the less effective for that. In Letters to the Global South, the richer northern hemisphere tells the South “Thank you for sending us your choicest foods/ …. In exchange, please receive these trade agreements/ you never agreed to/ These weapons for small and large-scale kills”. This is of course, a generalisation of the whole northern hemisphere but it is certainly relevant to some countries.

There is also humour in the book and Adcock, who is Mexican and has lived in Glasgow since 2007, amusingly but tellingly compares different languages – Spanish, English and Scots dialect. The poet reflects “Reading Scots on the page, to me/ a non-native of these lands/ is a bit like trying to read an architect’s plans”. The poet listens to Scottish people talking with ” their ars rolling around the muirs/ their els liltin and birlin over the water/ … their ees stretching my face bones higher/ … their liquid ues in the muine-moon” – very clever. It reminded me of living in Australia and doing timing at Wagga Wagga Road Runners, with people mimicking my accent and asking “Where’s the booook James?” as they came to sign in. So I would recommend Split – just don’t believe all the hype.

Trip to Tokyo (1): Imperial Gardens and Asakusa Temple

September 2, 2016

All last week, I was in Tokyo, having been invited to be one of the keynote speakers at the International Association of School Librarianship conference, following the translation (and updating) of my last academic book into Japanese. One of the most pleasing, and I guess rather strange, things I saw was when I went into the large lecture room where my talk was to take place. Up on the big screen was my picture and my profile – in Japanese – and it looked like this.




The conference was very good and very well organised and I went to some interesting papers e.g. on school libraries as learning spaces. I was the last cab off the rank, speaking on Friday morning just before the closing ceremony. There was a packed house and several questions about my talk, which was rewarding.

I did have some time to see some of the sights of Tokyo and my first venture was to the Imperial Palace Gardens (good photos) which was the site of the original Edo Castle, originally built in the 15th century. Part of the castle walls and the moat survive and they are an impressive site as you enter the gardens.


Walls and moat at the entrance to the Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo

The gardens are extensive and it is a very pleasant quiet area in the hugely busy city of Tokyo. It was 32 degrees and 70+% humidity on the day I went so I did not cover the whole gardens but there are some interesting buildings in the gardens such as the one below with the extensive mosaics.


Mosaics I the Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo

My second visit was to the famous Asakusa Temple (good photos) and it has a very colourful entrance, with a huge balloon like structure in between two Buddhist statues.


Entrance to the Buddhist Temple at Asakusa, Tokyo

This is a very popular visiting spot for both Japanese and for tourists and there is a 200m long market area, which sells food, clothing and various Japanese artefacts such as fans and kimonos. The pagoda which houses the temple is very imposing and impressive and is honoured as a holy place by Japanese Buddhists. In the photo below, you see the pagoda but also get an impression of how busy this site was.


Temple at Asakusa, Tokyo

As you walk towards the temple, there is a metal orb which contains a fire with incense in it and people fan the flames on to their bodies, to ward off evil and bring them luck.


Fanning the smoke at Asakusa Temple, Tokyo

The temple itself is inside the building and while you can go in, after taking off your shoes, no photographs are allowed. The temple itself is very ornate with many statues which appear to be made of gold. There were clearly devout people in the temple praying and Buddhist monks welcomed them.