Monthly Archives: September 2011

corrugated way of thinking

in the name of the wood.

We tend to forget where we’re from. 
However glamourous cities may feel – tinsel-style glow from out of space or simply concrete-convenient – magnets from the material (artificial) world somehow distort perspective from a realer world.
The notion of a simple life – off motorways, double-glazed, lockable windows and other peace of mind security devices – closer to the world we can feel, see , touch, smell from dawn to dusk, as vibrant as a dawn chorus, sometimes feel like a distant dream.
In the name of money making, we lock ourselves in our own jails and lose sight of a richer life.
 Before man became a city dweller, he was a woodsman and he belonged to the world of country folk.
However precarious his place in this world might have been, his sense of wealth was not much different to today’s urban world.
He knew the meaning of red;
could read danger in what he collected from the woods for survival, and build shelters in harmony with his surroundings.

Glasgow erected by the Celts. 

Carbeth, only some fifteen minutes from today’s town centre, has kept this sense of living among the grandeur of the woods. On my very first visit in early September, I fell in love with, not only Carbeth Guthrie, but the entire estate – hutters’ world.

Hut, cabane, that currogated way of life, of thinking, has always inhabited my heart. I still remember my very first hut, in the backyard of my grand parents’ rented accommodation, Rue de la Libération in Gisors, Normandy, was nicknamed by my maternal grand mother as “la cabane au Canada“. A simple shed turned into a cosy hut by my Mamie, with my grand father’s help, enchanted my early childhood. It was a place where imagination could roam free and safe at will. During summer, we would spend all our days… Countless lunches, afternoons and early evenings behind the high walls of our secret world. Safe from the incessant traffic and other urban chaos. A safe haven, in which we could smile and live as ourselves.My grand parents were tenants and lived at No. 18, just underneath the attic of a building that had survived Nazi bombs from WWII. Every spring, swallows would return to their respective nests just under the edge of the slate roof. At dusk, I still remember the blackbird calling and performing its majestic song… To walk around the Carbeth Estate with my friend and boat builder, Ruth Macdougall as my guide, made me reconnect to this notion of currogated world. 

Simple life, Thoreau Style

A hutter’s way of thinking and lifestyle is by no means an easy one.
American essayist, poet, philospher and individualist, Henry D Thoreau, has devoted his sense of geopoetics around a pond and wood near Concord, Massachusetts. To be a hutter is to accept a more modest, close-to-the natural world. Thoreau was a “pirate” in many ways, notably by rejecting the comfort of the urban life for a comfortable socio-economical member of a society dictated by so few through money and laws… He belonged to a league of men who saw their place in a world free of artificial frills so very few folk actually enjoy.  The faces I met on the Carbeth Estate were those of happy common folk with smiles. Some huts look really trendy and cosy, whereas others, dilapedated… To live inside the wood is not necessarily a priviledge exclusive to a few in our day and age.

To be a hutter is to accept our place in a material world in which rocks do not need to shine in terms of monetary value. My material world is full of rocks, shells and pebbles, I usually encounter when walking the shore of my island.  To be a hutter is to accept that the wind can whistle through the walls of your home, or shake floors during a storm, or even a leaking roof. To live at one with the world as it is known free of monetary mirrors… Ten years ago, I fled the fever of the city and came closer to this less comfortable way of life (as this may be perceived by some). My wealth is my freedom as well as my hutter’s way of thinking, as taught by my maternal grand mother initially when I was a child. My “cabane shetlandaise” remains my castle. Such way of life has brought me closer to the natural world, the real world as well as a simpler life. I am proud to be a hutter on my island and feel at one with fellow hutters from Carbeth! 

Haiku string
huttersworld (1) –
in every corner of the wood,
free to live at one with the world.
#haiku fae 60N

huttersworld (2)
magpies’ delight,
Chinaman’s hat shines inside wood.
#haiku fae 60N
huttersworld (3)
not quite the barn or the byre,
currogated way of thinking.
#haiku fae 60N


Filed under 60N, geopoetics, Humblyband, images, project, world, writing

view from the side of the boat

In the name of the blue

I do not leave the island very often. 

I like to smell dry rotting kelp along my shore, watch hog-weed dry in evening sun and catch rollers splash in light blue. Yet I relish raw adventures every time I flirt with sand! One year ago, I met a girl in a carpark, who loves to tame water and waves. So we gathered at The Marlex and began to share boat stories… One year ago, she spoke of yowl and coracle. Too easily new ideas fashioned in my head.

One year on and her new nomadic craft takes to water. 

Miss Macdougall can be proud of her achievements. With the help of her mentor, John Miles, and surrounded by curach lovers, she learnt to tame oak, deal and red pine; the best nails and pure calico to fashion her curach o Carbeth! Oh, yes, and tar!

Within twelve months, she packed her bags to the shore of Lake Victoria, where she pioneered the very first African-style coracle with  Ugandan visual Artist, Sheila Nakitende of @rtpunch studio…

 Returned home to work on her boat; flew south to Norwich for a Conference, where she brought in her coracle and spoke about her Humblyband. And as avid as she is with her world adventures, she visited Ireland to learn about this Irish maritime tradition, through the wisdom of experts. In between Check-in desks, the boat shed sheltered her dear nomadic craft.

Within that year, I fed her e-box with poems as a direct response of boat building stages. That creative flow of words, from my shore had somewhat turned in a lifeline! Sometimes geographical distances can hinder many things. Our geopoetical one closed such distance. From North Atlantic shore to shore of Carbeth Loch, there is only one flight! So, on the 3rd of September, I left my edge of the island and joined in the celebration. She named it Curach & Candles. What a weekend it proved to be! Ruth and her clan opened me their door with such open heart in the grand tradition of Scottish hospitality.  Within seconds, I felt at home among such uncharted surroundings. Carbeth Guthrie, on the very edge of huttersworld, felt somehow so familiar… 

By the shore of Carbeth Loch, we gathered and celebrated the beauty of Sunfish – her sheer elegance on water and shared poetics in action.  At Ruth’s request, some selected verse was shared at this great gathering. Poetry specifically written on my side of the shore, and, from Donald Munro Graham, aka Donnie, Carbeth’s own local bard. Wordsmiths gathered for Humblyband. Ruth Macdougall smiled and jumped on her boat after she unveiled the golden letters on transom! Her eagerness to hold both oars has now become legendary! 

I first came to Carbeth with my Moleskine and standard lens. Among this forested new world, I forged new bonds, met with Lindsay, our remaining crew member and re-united with my friend & boat builder. There I have found a bit of my dear Arcania.


Filed under 60N, atlantic, boats, celebration, geopoetics, Humblyband, north, shore, spirit