Category Archives: Humblyband


15 young Shetlanders, learners of Norwegian, learnt about the meaning of ancient democracy, Viking style.
For this, they were invited to visit a sailing exhibition on board a boat I associate with summer, friendship as well as a powerful lifeline with my own ancestors.
This ship is called M/S NYBAKK .

On a 2-day visit to my side of the North Sea, this floating museum reached the last leg of an epic journey through both North & Irish Sea & Atlantic, even sailing across the Caledonian Canal (from SW to NE) to reach out to the Northern Isles.

At each stage of the voyage, NYBAKK anchored in ancient & deeply rooted democratic sites. Some are called “things”, others, “dings” or “tings”, depending where you stand on the old Viking map.
Now, last month, on 17 May 2014, Norway celebrated her 200th Anniversary as a democracy. It is also known as Constitution Day, and since the Northern Isles were once part of the Viking realm (for much longer than it has been Scottish), such Day is celebrated on this side of the North Sea. It makes complete sense, as this corner or edge of the kingdom remains above all Scandinavian.

The islands indeed belong to a network of ancient parliament sites, which, in the eyes of NYBAKK, had to be mapped and celebrated. For this, Foundation Leader, Per Kåre Nybakk, contacted Shetland Amenity Trust and offered to sail through those ancient sea trails from the North Atlantic with a formidable exhibition.

The project is called THINGProject

Over the course of today, Wednesday 25 June, NYBAKK was involved with various events, including a civic reception at Lerwick’s Town Hall, a visit to Scalloway & Tingaholm, Shetland’s most famous ting, or Field of Parliament and special presentations at Scalloway Museum.

Among the speakers, Per Kåre Nybakk delivered a powerful message of friendship he carefully included in his speech. Placing high values on our shared cultural heritage, the importance of such network as well as friendship between us all. Needless to say education is high on his agenda.

Today, young Shetlanders learnt about such project, history, shared heritage and bonds from both sides of the North Sea. Our northern isles are very special.
Today, we celebrated a fantastic human adventure as epic as the Norse Sagas.





More is to come 🙂

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Filed under 2014, 60N, atlantic, boats, celebration, geopoetics, home, Humblyband, images, island, lerwick, life, norman, north, project, shetland, shore, spirit, world, writing

geopoetics in action

Funny how a cold can keep you out of bed.  Here, here, a final post before Dreamtime,


with a concept deeply rooted in my head. That of geopoetics in action. Whereas Humblyband has kept me alert a great part of the evening, poetry submission now lies in the very good hands of friend & fellow poet Elizabeth Rimmer, c/o the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics for the next issue of its yearly journal, Stravaig.

But other verse has now found its curator within ArtiPeeps as part of Transformations for the next instalment of contemporary poetry inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

And, as my eyes & heart wanders across the Atlantic, I discover this. 🙂

Wow, geopoetics in action!

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Filed under 2013, 60N, Arcania, atlantic, Canada, celebration, geopoetics, home, Humblyband, images, island, life, north, poetry, poets, project, shore, spirit, winter, writing

Hello, Timespan – Artists’ Community :-)

Nat 2_RB AVATAR[mini] It’s official – have joined my northern Scottish community, north of the Caledonian Canal – and am chuffed about it! Ruth, Patty, Rachel, Laura, Paul, Lindsay and Anne will be chuffed |:-)

It makes complete sense, especially with my involvement through Humblyband. We are now even more united.


Please click and visit! Thank you 🙂

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Filed under 2012, 60N, celebration, december, home, Humblyband, life, north, poets, project, spirit, Uncategorized

Yule upon us

Time for reflection & celebration

Yule, upon us. Most of the day was devoted to reflect upon loved ones, far and wide, scattered around our world, as well as those who changed world and follow us from the sky. Since I have the silly habit of missing out postal deadlines, wishes have been flying around via the internet. So practical and easy to reach out in such a way. Trees remain treasures, time is precious and however wishes come to you, it comes from the heart.

Snow & ice have returned to the island. Days continue to shrink and this Arctic maritime air drifts everywhere. This morning, Peewit the cat hesitated to get his paws wet again, and walked on ice as if he would on eggs (!) The garden, once frozen in ice, attracted our regular squadron of starlings that have learnt to avoid our felines. 

We are getting accustomed to a pale sun on Sunday morning, so low in our Nordic sky. Soon, it will dip even lower. Yule, which coincides with the winter solstice , signals both the longest night in our northern hemisphere and a rite of passage for the gradual return of the sun. Yule light, so precious on our high latitude. Sunrises and sunsets will stagnate a little before precious seconds are regained. Meanwhile, the spirit of Yule has entered our home. Pine, holly, mistletoe adorn our walls & front door. More candles are lit on the chimney mantelpiece. The hearth glows on a daily basis and our larders are stocked for the festive season. 

Peace in our hearts, 

2011, a year of change & adventures

with a few highlights, a summer packed with a myriad of smiles, eyes, languages through The Tall Ships & visitors setting foot on the island; a flash visit to the home of Humblyband at Carbeth Guthrie, new eyes & pens through Serpentine Drama & Writers… And current creative projects in the making, including podcasting. Joining in has enabled joint showcasing of photographic portfolios as well as connecting with the natural world further and making new friends. (See 4 December entry below). Our profile page grows with grace.

My Nordic home feels peaceful, as night unravels serenity. No hissing gust or gale tonight. 

My wish to you,

thanking you for following, leaving feedback this blog and wishing you, each & everyone, a peaceful & joyous Yule, Christmas, Weihnachten, Navidad, Noël, Nollaig Shona Dhuit,  Yul, Natal, Nollaig chridheil huibh,

with all the very best for 2012.


Filed under 2011, 60N, Arcania, celebration, colours, geopoetics, Humblyband, images, island, shetland, shore, snow, spirit, winter, writing, Yuletide

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

in the boat shed


To enter a boat shed is like… Just ask any boat builder and their world suddenly becomes a wondrous oyster – a cave of wonders among all the marvels from our world!

As soon as you push the door, the scent of wood freshly chiseled fills your nostrils just like perfume! It has a special scent. Dust jigs through sun beams like May flies and tools litter inside and all around works in progress. A bit like a session musician inside a studio or a poet at the writing table! Your senses feed your imagination without effort. In this boat shed, Robbie Tait and his mates repair Shetland traditional boats, such as Ness Yoals… In the last few years, they even built a sixareen – or six-oared fishing boat complete with sail – that is moored inside Hays’ Dock, just outside our Shetland Museum & Archives. Shetland Museum Photo Gallery

Robbie Tait is very humble about his work. He is happy to share words with visitors and smiles with humility. His love for wood, rivets and tools shines outside the building, as finished works are proudly displayed in the Boat Hall and outside. His shed speaks for the talent of the boat builder. 

I came to find Robbie Tait to share a few words about Humblyband. Ruth has the ambition to tie another string to her bow and experience the art of Shetland’s craftsmanship in terms of traditional seafaring crafts. Her love for sheds, wood and tools is unbounded! Her very capable hands will feel at home on this latitude. 

So we spoke for a while. Yet Robbie Tait does not hesitate to mention Willie Mouat, Unst’s boat builder, Shetland’s most northerly master of their craft. 

My next visit to the most northerly edge of the realm – the Island of Unst – will focus on the Gardie Boat!

the meantime,

 I’ll stick to my Ness Yoal 🙂 

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Filed under 60N, boats, geopoetics, Humblyband, images, island, writing