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C’est la vie

Marcel Proust had his madeleine in France, I have mine in Lerwick!

Falling in love with an island (or any place on Earth) will make you shift mountains and turn a dream into reality.

This certainly happened to Valérie and Didier Pîquer, today’s proud owners of C’est la vie, located in Commercial Street opposite Harry’s Department and the Fort Café (the town’s best Chippie). 


An authentic French experience guaranteed from the moment you step in. The décor, atmosphere and a welcome with a smile invite you to a very convivial establishment. Your eyes are drawn to the myriad of treasures ranging from le comptoir to the brioche and other delicacies displayed under glass bells on a table in one corner. 

Whereas Valérie comes from Paris, Didier is Basque. A magic blend that brings an amazing 3-page menu on a clipboard! There is something for everyone. 


From the famous Croque Monsieur family  to the platter of charcuterie, they offer you the best produce. Brioche, madeleines, cookies, gauffres and langues de chat are homemade. If some dishes are directly imported, Didier confided they came from the finest Basque (from either side of the Pyrénées) or French supplier – local artisans. 


Each plate feels gastronomical – each bite, an exquisite moment your senses will memorise for a very long time!

Valérie shared her deep delight as clients shared smiles and even their appreciation in French, as it feels such a heart warmer.


Although they only opened to the public on the third day of April, locals and visitors are already flocking in, sampling what C’est la vie has to offer, and the menu has so much to offer. 

It is the start of a great adventure! 

If you are a fine gastronome in search of some culinary and traditional Gallic delights, just come along and push the door. You will be in for a real treat! 

Book your table to avoid disappointment. 

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Skydiver

Six wonderful days in the great Scottish city of culture. 

Reconvening with friends, meeting old and new ones – treading on flagstones and cobbles uncharted till then…

Book launch, Open Mic’ reading… Now Compass Head introduced, well received and since well shelved in Renfrew Street. 


With gracious thanks to Christie Williamson and Hazel Frew for rolling the ball, Chris Tait for a great crack, Basil for homing the verse at tell it slant and orchestrating that marvellous night at the Project Café, and to E for being here all along. 


So lovely to meet up with Elizabeth Rimmer at the Clutha Bar for Jim Ferguson’s book launch and blending with Glasgow poets that same night.
So chuffed to share such precious slices of life with precious friends. 

Felt so welcomed at the Project Café as well as any public place treaded into. Glasgow shines through the folk who make the place!

Till my next visit, Sláinte, Glesga! 

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echoes

 Image result for sitting bull image Image result for red cloud image Image result for crazy horse image

 When you are passionate about something, you voice it.

It is exactly what I penned – a poem – inspired by a History lesson yesterday- a reminder of how folk can be treated, and wondered why a great democracy like the US is still treating some of her people the very same way it did in the 1830s… Canada has led the way with her First Nations. Then, in 2009, President B. Obama made an apology via a Bill. A step forward, even though footsteps got lost inside politics… As history obeys circles.
Featured Image:  Cherokee Indians are forced from their homelands during the 1830’s. (Credit: Alamy)

America was built this way…
Native folk pushed by aliens in the name of money…

Trail of Tears

Rounded at gun point to force you…
Walk through the path of
the un-
known, un-
wanted, un-
humane
track,
as
others
needed your
home, land to grow cotton and
make their
gold off
what they felt
lushest of
earth.
So
they
pushed you away from
your ancestral ground, where
you,
the one who
occupied
this land;
and
made you walk across meadows, mountains and snow that
lied
across
others’ nations, on the other
side of
the
gigantic river, where
Sitting Bull,
Red Cloud and
Crazy Horse
lived by…
For every four, one of you
died.

© Nat Hall

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go hálainn (#wearewoman 5)

preening whoopers [2] 22 Oct 2017

We are woman, we are beautiful

When it comes to Irishness, the world is our oyster. So many magical voices, celebrated throughout the world. The ones you know are household names… And the list is by no means exhaustive. I could have selected a few that have really struck chords in my heart; but, there is one, one, anonymous, living and breathing by River Lagan, who devotes her time and care to vulnerable people, hence double-touched my heart.

Don’t ask me for a photograph, as I have yet to immortalise her smile, and, light in her eyes. Her name too remains anonymous, for it is wished this way.

So, for you, beautiful Irish one,

a first poem.

 

Homebird

 

Every rose hip has a meaning.

 

Of all the dreamers in

the world,

your

walled garden

has always been your sanctuary,

fog lit at night,

the orange

glow

I sometimes see here

inside mine…

The firecrest deep in your eyes.

In between lush and

Irish sky,

every

morning has a meaning, like

a tattoo on shoulder

blades; and

you wander between feeders;

behind the back of every leaf, there is a heart

ready to pounce, between

the rose and the

fuschia.

 

NH 2017

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Lovers’ Loan

 Our school flag shines inside a gale, as we are about to abandon the Old AHS for brand new walls at Clickimin….

This morning, one single thought dawned on me: our final day with our pupils at our familiar street address, Lovers’ Loan.

I share a common blend of feelings, like so many of us – torn with leaving a great headland and the Old Institute Sir Arthur Anderson had built in the name of education (1862) and shifting into a state of the art 21st century building.

To mark such move, I penned a piece now with the New Shetlander for a future issue.

Cheerio, Lovers’ Loan

We pile boxes upon boxes, whilst our

sky 

lashes tears in rain – 

for this last 

day,

bairns fill corridors with voices only 

a ghoul 

will

memorise…

The green and gold of our

old flag

flap

in

a

gale 

we cannot stop.

Speckled swaabies in search of toast some pupil

parted on

wet grass –

they know the restaurant

will close, 

watch silhouettes behind

lit glass. 

October signals 

departure from granite walls,

shiny square slates…

Our final day at Lovers Loan 

wi bairns

an aa.
Lerwick, Old AHS, 4 Oct 2017


I will miss our “Hogwarts”.

From one era into the next. 

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tilbake

flying norge Back with eight bairns/ åtte barn

I never thought I would be back with eight pupils and a member of staff, leading them all to twelve days of Norwegian experience in families and school.

It took just under a month (from our new term in Shetland) to land back at Flesland, and wander back in my now familiar Bryggen i Bergen, Vågen, via Bybanen – Bergen’s Light Railway that links BGO to the great sentrum – only this time for a pioneering trip to 62N.

bryggen 1

I love school exchanges. I still reminisce that in Germany three years ago, led by my colleague and friend Peter Haviland. This one, however, had a couple of twists: back to familiar territory, and, unique in its nature, for it encompassed four Shetland schools with that in Måløy, Sogne og Fjordane, on the island of Vågsøy. It felt such a great honour to be vetted with both such leadership responsibilities and setting a precedent by both the Association – under the helm of Graham Nicolson and Per Kåre Nybakk – and my school. Three years earlier, I was asked to find host families for a small party of young Norwegians by friend and Shetland-Måløy Twinning Association… This time, I would return with a small group I affectionately christened “the Shetland Gang”. That first term at my High School in Lerwick would prove both hectic, challenging and exciting!

The trip proved to be epic! A two-day trek that would require two boats (Shetland-Arberdeen and Bergen-Måløy) and an aeroplane (ABZ-BGO). And what a saga!

on the fast boat norge

Back in the mythical land, back in what I have always called heim since I first stepped onto Norwegian soil… Where I feel home on this other side of the North Sea.

Back in Måløy, Anita’s homeground… The one who opened the door to it all – NYBAKK, more than a boat, a clan, now my Norwegian family. My first visit there would prove the stepping stone to this year’s voyage and exchange. The great Norskie jigsaw is shaping up with flair and grace.

The ride would prove long and tiring for us all, as we arrived long after dusk on 14 September and engulfed ourselves inside the ferry terminal. Arve was there, with such a huge smile! Our host families, ready to welcome those young Shettis, as the school’s Rektor (Headmaster) Kåre Bakke nicknamed us all, for a good night sleep before our very first day at his establishment. Happy but exhausted.

62N sign

Some stories to write and share! A brand new taste of Norwegian life began for all. And each of us – pupil & staff – experienced our own along the way. For my part, I was reunited with Anne-Mabel, Arve and Jarl Eirik at Gate 6. And my temporary Norwegian home life was rekindled with unbound joy. Immersed in norsk (with flings of English to relieve my brain!) inside their home, with family and friends, would help me improve my humble knowledge of Nynorsk, and local dialect. Challenged by so many voices, including that of a friendly story teller on the first Friday night at Kraftstasjonen Restaurant! What a night! Anne Mabel and Arve ensured I would have a memorable time, and that they managed effortlessly. I really felt home; helped out Jarl Eirik with homework, felt an integral part of the clan, especially once Sam (their dog) accepted me fully… Hmmm. I knew that leaving them would mean tears in my heart, and it did. They ensured I would explore this wonderful island called Vågsøy.

brig brua to M

heim (home) with a view

sunrise fra heim

to each sunrise, new adventure!

skog trening 24 sep 2017

skog trening (forest hiking) with Anne-Mabel, Jarl Eirik and Arve for fun!

The Educational Experience

Up at 0630 every morning – each school day began at 0830 and finished at 1410. The Norwegian system encompasses different ethics, which would either make smile or terrorise any British teacher! Some differences – from the day structure to the more informal working relationship – we all tasted for five full days. Our Shetland Gang was challenged every day, and undertook a blend of private study, assembling and delivering their Shetland presentation (as requested by the Association) which they delivered on nearly 10 different occasions to a myriad of class groups – as well as start preparing their own for Shetland, and they even cooked for their Norwegian counterparts & Rektor. Colleague and friend Tanya Myhre would keep us smiling every morning. The In-School programme shaped up for such pioneering experience, and, every single member of staff made us welcome and fully supported. My Deputy Leader would also prove invaluable on a daily basis. What an eye opener!

But we did more than this.

Whereas Tuesday was spent visiting four different local businesses around Måløy, the final Saturday would be felt as the ultimate prize: sightseeing in and around Geiranger , where we also celebrated one of our pupil’s 14th birthday. I believe he will never forget.

fjellet 2

trekking through the mountains

Geiranger fjorden

Geiranger at water level

perspektiv norge

stepping out at snow level on the roof of Western Norway

Per Kåre Nybakk and Kåre Bakke worked hand in hand all all levels, and employed a gang of host drivers for such unforgettable experience. I cannot thank them and everyone enough for enabling this entire trip.

An experience our young Shettis and us, team, would never forget.

our sihouettes at the top of the mountain

Some extraordinary stories to tell about their Norskie life chapters, as well as to share with their families & friends back home. Our journey back to our islands’ shore proved as epic as the inbound adventure, as we had to overnight in Aberdeen because of flight and boat timings… But we made it, and now we are resettling into our Shetland lives, we are barely beginning to share our tales.

 

Thank you, Graham, Per Kåre, Valerie, Mandy, Peter and Lewie, for all your support along the way – Marina, for accompanying such pioneering trip, Tanya, Kåre and everyone at the Vågsøy ungdomskule for all help and friendliness, Anne-Mabel, Arve and Jarl Eirik, for having me at home – as well as all our host families and friends. But foremost, to you all, dear Shetland Gang. You were awesome 🙂

kannesteinen

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wunderhübsch (#wearewoman #4)

 We are woman, we are beautiful.

When it comes to the Nordic connection, the web widens as we network. This is exactly what happened with a kindred spirit from Hamburg, as we began to mingle via Instagram, followed by Facebook. Northwhile, alias Diana Lukas-Nülle, is a lover of all things north, wild, sheepish, travel, design, hearts carved by nature and write. I love the way she speaks about the light, north, snow, Norway or Fair Isle…  Whilst she insists how I would love Iceland. Funny how we eventually met in Shetland on her way to the Hebrides.

Diana Melby Aug 2017.jpg

Photo by Nordicblackbird

This intrepid north wanderer returned to an island she loves and has a pied-à-terre, as she had a contract with a knitting designer and Misa Hay to design this year’s WoolWeek Magazine.  On two occasions, we met and shared by the water – in Melby, where we watched an otter playing in the bay whilst we savoured some homemade cake we found and bought from a local box; and at Ninian Sands, where we marvelled at the magic of the Atlantic, a wondrous sky, changing light and the shape of clouds… We spoke deep words, found some hearts fashioned in stone and felt the wings of the maalie, my favourite seabird the Fulmar (Petrel) I love to nickname “Jonathan”, for this long distant relative of the albatross seems to fly for fun – and sometimes at very close quarter!

Some enchanting evening we pursued at my humble hut for a splash of homemade lamb curry and a hope to see Northern Lights after twilight. Of all those moments shared, the one that prompted a poem was triggered as we walked along da shoormal  (that area in the shallows…) on that bridge of shell and sand. Diana was combing in search of something specific, whilst I was gathering my own pocketful of treasures.

This prompted the following poem.

For you, D. L-N.,

for your friendship & cunning eye.

 

Heart Hunter

 

On the great bridge of sand and shell,

she untied her shoes and

walked free to

feel the pulse of each sandgrain,

blue of evening and

Atlantic;

by the shoormal where dark sand shifts,

she imprinted her higher self,

eyed washed off

stones

spewed by

vile tides, hunting for

hearts molten in

rock,

hearts in shingle, or tidal shaped, among

plovers and sugar kelp –

what the Moon pulls in between

stars, thin waterline,

polished

nacre.

She came to walk to an island,

she entangled time in

rollers,

smiled at the world’s greatest tiara,

gifted my hearth with two

new stones,

her heart and mind still in

sandgrains.

 

NH, 2017

dianas heart

She said one day she will own sheep… She’s still to find her home island. In the meantime we share that passion for the Nordic realm – Norway, Norge – island life, light, wild & remote, hearts molten in anything natural and photography.

 

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