Category Archives: migration

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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swallows

 

 

 

 

 

On the topic of migration, hirundines – the embodiment of summer – and swallows in particular have always captivated my heart. I remember them nesting under the roof in rue de la Libération in Gisors as a child; and their return every year throughout life – wherever I have settled – remains magical.

Today I watch them return on the island, so far away from my grandmother’s home, and every time they rekindle that moment of discovery as a child… They fly from West Africa to reach us. Their journey feels incredible – travellers without papers across our northern hemisphere. They come to create the next generation – they have two homes, they are the product of two worlds, and they embody with so much grace many of us, humans, who have been blessed with more than one home…

A powerful allegory.

 

Here, to celebrate those amazing avian wanderers, a string of micropoetry, first written in French, then, translated in mirror.

 

Les hirondelles

1.

Furtives,

des anges habillés bleu et noir,

avec dans leurs yeux, du courage;

l’iris riveté au soleil, avides d’amour hors des nuages, sous

les génoises, elles font un voeu.

1.

Furtive,

they, angels clad in black & blue,

with courage in their eyes;

iris riveted to the sun, avid to love in cloudless skies, under

a roof they make a wish.

2.

Intrépides,

elles traversent déserts, champs et mers,

se confient aux cours d’eau, les chansons de la terre

pour retrouver enfin une once du berceau.

2.

Intrepid,

they fly across deserts, meadows and seas;

confide to waterways, the many earthly songs, to

find at last an ounce from home.

3.

Je les entends venir enfin,

leurs longues plumes dans mon ciel,

s’arrêter  sur un fil de fer, entre iris et mur de pierres,

un rebord de gouttière,

la latitude de leurs ancêtres.

3.

At last I hear them come,

their long feathers inside my sky,

to perch on a wire, in between iris and stone walls,

the edge of a gutter –

their ancestors’ latitude.

 

 

 

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outcry

It’s all about adding and substracting… In the artist’s own words.

Paul Bloomer’s latest exhibition ar the Shetland Museum & Archives in Lerwick, Scotland, UK, feels an epic saga in charcoal, cladding the whitest of walls inside da Gadderie, that non-static space devoted to the muable world.

The huge pictures felt they had been tailored to perfection. Paul needs to create his own creative time at his Bigton studio when he is not lecturing at the Shetland College at Gremista, or travelling to Europe with (or without) his students. 

My top favourite picture – swans’ flight –  was inspired by a recent trip to Vienna…  A regular visitor to Spiggie Loch as a visual artist or devoted angler, I was both surprised and amused to hear it on Sunday as Paul spoke of each charcoal on paper gigantic pictorial metaphors. 

Originally from the Black Country, Paul anchored his heart &  art  on this symbolic latitude where time and space are regulated by light and darkness in that perpetual dance of seasons.

However, as an islander, he too looks at the world in a unique perspective. 

And he works like a poet or a writer, with a pocket size sketchbook, to capture moments he will later reproduce on a gargantuan scale… 

Paul makes parallels between people and avian migration. His dreams transcend through circles… Black versus white.  

He constantly reminds us how mankind generates that poisoning world, itself pictured as a leitmotive throughout and in various ways, metaphors, as Paul reflects on each throughout that Sunday afternoon stroll in his presence.

Paul the environmentalist – politically engaged… Raged by a poisoning world, in which political disciples hide, such as those deduced by populism. His charcoal stick does not fail to challenge the viewer…

He nonetheless searches for lightness through nature, to find love and sensuality among geese, swans or starlings, Shetland’s commonest and yet captivating birds.

Sensuality expressed though the oneness of entangling whooper swans.

Paul very aptly entitled his exhibition a prayer for the healing of nations.


A must see. 🙂 

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storm

17758260_1918308821789640_5518149941787951843_o

Provençal Sakura

I always associate the coming of cherry blossoms at the foot of the Luberon with my grand mother’s change of world. To me, she flourishes every spring, and this year, I arrived just in time, for the season is precocious.

Already most fruit trees had shed most blossoms… Only a few quince and cherry trees gave me that joy. The kitchen garden well ahead for April. I landed back at Marseille-Provence in soaring temperatures, thanks to a twist of luck that allowed me to to fly direct from Edinburgh the very morning I left my northern roost.

And what a trek across the sky 🙂

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My favourite mountain, Luberon, so majestic, as we descended into Marseille… Giono’s blue whale so bright and clear by afternoon.

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Marseille, gate to the East and Africa, Massilia-Massalia, founded by Greeks, grown by Romans, with les îles du Frioul and If in the foreground, minutes before landing. La Grande Bleue, plain and magic.

 

I shan’t forget such moments. Always a thrill from my humble seat inside the fuselage. This year, I reconvened with JJ and Monique, whom I had such pleasure sharing with again. JJ fell in love with my poetics and he is very sensitive to artists and poets. As a matter of fact, he invests in art as a benefactor. We shared beautiful conversations and he is becoming to know me much better now. Let’s see what is going to heave out of those moments of sharing. 🙂

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Ten days inside blue could be called a fantastic symphony. I reconvened with Les Huguenots, where life turns out immoveable, but also with relatives and my close friends from Pertuis, Isa and Michel, who hosted me for two days – sheer moments of pleasure.

17917445_1923534981267024_3738406616763180615_o

Two days with my lifelong friend and her clan, including her grand children. We had lots of fun jam-packed in and around their home. Moments of pleasure.

 

L’orage

Out of ten days, an afternoon tainted by grey and rain, as April strikes in any form. That heat heaved thunder and lightning in one afternoon.  Not surprising as the thermometer had soared a bit too quickly to my taste.

17807477_1919296731690849_7935469456301580544_o

The air turned more breathable, colours vanished and the whole of the sky blackened to unleash its madness. That palm tree and flowers suddenly yielded to its wrath and felt the weight of freak clocking rain.

It prompted a poem, entitled l’orage / the storm.

 

L’orage

 

En un éclair,

le ciel est devenu métal, nuages de

charbon et d’acier.

Fort de ton flash, ciel

photographe,

tous les oiseaux se sont cachés, entre les fleurs du cognassier.

Sous les tuiles je t’entends gronder,

glisser les gouttes de ta colère sur toutes

les feuilles de l’olivier.

Et sous le poids de ton humeur,

toutes les tulipes se sont courbées – robes d’or et

de rouge, leurs pétals protègent

le trésor…

Le vent fait frétiller les palmes toutes luisantes de la pluie;

nettoie ce ciel chargé de cendres,

décharne un peu plus le vieux chêne.

Tu montes le ton et vide

ton sac…

Et maintenant tu t’envenimes et te déchaînes!

Son et lumières, tes perles tombent

drues, s’écrasent sur tout

ce qu’elles touchent;

sacageur de bleu provençal, dans la maison

je trouve refuge, et me souviens

du mot  frisqué.

 

The Storm

 

This sky

turned metallic in a flash, with clouds tainted

charcoal and steel.

Fully charged

blitz,

photographer,

all the birds hid between the flowers of the quince.

Under that roof, Provençal tiles,

I hear rebuke land & heat;

let slide raindrops

from your own

wrath on

the

leaves of the olive tree.

Under the weight of your temper,

all tulips bowed to protect

the treasure clad inside gold and red petals.

The wind animates every palm of

the date tree

drumming snipe

style…

And wipes a sky

charged up with ash,

unloads the old oak of dead leaves.

Now, you raise your voice, spill the beans…

Unleash your wrath, torrential

style!

It felt epic, equatorial.

You, Provençal

blue

saboteur,

against my will, I seek shelter, and

remember that word,

frisqué*.

 

© Nat Hall 2017

 

Note:

frisqué (Provençal) meaning “chilly”/ “cold”)

 

 

All in all, nine and half blue days, moments of pleasure, and every time, that same feeling about where I really belong.

My trek back home – to my northern roost – proved even more epic. A story of mechanical failure miraculously took me home A LATER than scheduled, but am back hame, and am happy.

 

 

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worldwide

Excellent news from Nordland Publishing! A few days ago, I received a message from a blog reader regretting not to be able to order Compass Head directly from her own island-continent, Australia. I relayed the message to my publishers in Norway, who, not only were concerned, but have now made for amends. And they did more.

Now, this geopoetics in action and in full motion. That peerie yoal has already travelled far and wide. Let it reach YOU.

“Row, row your boat” as the tune says…

compass-head-book-cover From now on, dear reader, you can now reach out to Compass Head DIRECTLY from practically WORLDWIDE, including Australia, China, India, Brazil, as well as other amazing places on Earth! So jump on the boat and, fair wind, sailors, and join in all those who have already enjoyed the ADVENTUROUS journey from The Songs from the North 🙂 Just CLICK ON the LINKs!

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nomad in vestlandet

hame-heim-home-e October belonged to Norway in autumn gold

Never have I dared to think to see the magic of West Norwegian fjords in such crystalline light during autumn… According to my Norskie friends, this happens only “every thirty years”. One of them even called me a hildigris (lucky devil) when the tenth month of the year remains (with November) the wettest month according to statstics… I had to alter the content of my backpack before I flew.

Magic names, warm welcomes and koselig slices of life awaited my eyes and heart. The term koselig, too often translated in English as “cosy”, does not feel adequate enough. It is deeper than this. It transcends into much deeper meaning that notably includes “warmth of the heart”. If you want to make friends with Norwegians, the simple phrase of gratitude for a shared time and their hospitality – Tusen takk. Det var kjempe koselig –  could help you a great deal in that way.

Back to magic names that have animated my heart for quite a while now.

 Hordaland,Bjørnefjorden, Hardangerfjorden, Kvinnherad, Fanafjorden, Bergen, Bryggen i Bergen, Sognefjorden, Måløy… Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjordane… 

vestlandet-map

To the nomad that I am at heart, my sense of home turns into a linguistic triptych – hame, heim, home – that takes all its dimension. I have long learnt that home is not necessarily a place, but a feeling. Hame on my side of the North Sea, heim on the West Norwegian side, and home whenever I find my way back to the Scottish Highlands.Three places where I feel happy and safe.

Amusing, amazing, as the tongue adapts itself to such feeling. On my initial voyage, time felt far too brief, even as an appetiser. And yet, it fed my appetite for this facet of Scandinavian culture that seems to be fashioned by the ruggedness of both sea, land and climate. Only now am I beginning to appreciate the Norskie way. And I love it.

Six years ago, when Anita O. led me on board M/S NYBAKK, was I exposed to a brand new world. Nynorsk spoken – the “Viking tongue” as Per Kåre chants with such pride – the official language from Vestlandet (the Norwegian Westside that comprises Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogne og Fjordane) and although Stavanger is still uncharted in my life journey, the other two districts now taste like honey in my heart.

AND what a journey it has been!

From Flesland to the shore of Hardangerfjorden, via the E39 and a ferry… Magic ride in by ethereal autumnal blue. As majestic as last June!

October, the hunting season. As a result, red deer is mostly visible after twilight, as they come to feed on roadsides… Some also seek asylum in private gardens or meadows. This was notably the case when I arrived back in my first fjord. Since R has an orchard, they come not only to find sanctuary, but to crunch through fallen fruits…

from-the-slate-table

The poet returned to the slate table at R’s secret place to enjoy once again the magic of the farm in Hardangerfjorden.

There, my first host offered me the space I needed to sharpen a little more the forester’s way of life at her place. I sat under one of her birch trees and watched leaves fall in a warm breeze, woodpeckers and jays off the old pear tree, blackbirds feed off fallen apples and listen to the tawny owl after dusk. On my arrival, I was welcomed by a white-tailed sea eagle flying over head.  an encounter with a red squirrel animated further my pen. Veldig koselig! 

da-farm red-squirrel-ekorn-at-da-farm-oct-2016-e sunset-in-kvinnherad-oct-2016 And in between, Bergen, the gateway to the fjords.

dscn9455 To the islander and maritimer that I am, a harbour is above all the heart of it all. Last June, I walked it with Aneta, this time, solo. And reconvened with Vågen, Bryggen i Bergen, the very labyrinth of wood and salt that links Bergen to my island from Hanseatic times. The story of the fish, barrels, sailors and gold that could be made. A whole day in the great city to explore a little more. I stepped back in now more familiar gater (streets) and explored the rich culture Bergen offers. I lost myself inside several museums, incuding The Hanseatiskmuseet” and Kode. Whilst the former allowed me to peep into the local wealth woven by the trade of fish, the latter made me discover Norway’s Greats in fine art. Astrup, Dahl and Munch to name but a few. Bergen deserves so much more than a day or two! Friday night life proved both delightful and colourful in many ways, especially in fine company.

bergen-at-dusk-e

Back to the peninsula for a slice of delight,

oseana-oct-16 I first photographed Oseana in June, and now in October. The Arts’ hub, coupled up with Restaurant and cinema really mirrors my one in Gutters’ Gaet… There, we walked from the heights of Os to reach water level, and enjoy a Saturday treat, a delicious prawn sandwich from heaven! R really relishes it :-).

prawn-sandwich glacier-from-oseana The stroll down and back keeps you fit, and lunch there is worth all its kroner! Very homely place too.

Fanafjorden, the other one south of Bergen

And there, I stayed with my second hosts, Anita and François. They too said to come back, and I would feel “heime”. I did! And we shared so many delectable slices of life.

fanafjorden And what a magical place! Privileged to share their home, before they move to their next one in

løy… Vågsøy. Anita’s home town!

To that effect, François offered me the ride to their new home. The ride north of 60N. Epic journey through tunnels and fantastic scenery that included Astrup’s country, Jølster, on the way. Unforgettable. Mesmerising.

Hello, hei, Sogn og Fjordane!

jolster-1  jolster-2

Mighty Sognefjorden and amazing land and water scapes awaited us in sheer splendour. Really unforgettable. We reached our destination in early evening and stayed overnight at Anita’s parents, Ingrid and Magne. Third fabulous koselig welcome. Accentuated by Ingrid S Nybakk and Tanya Myhre with whom I reconvened since their last trip to Lerwick! We left before dawn the following morning to drive back to Fana. Tusen takk, venner!

sognefjorden

Mighty Sognefjorden

EPIC initial exploration of Anita’s county, and now I know my next visit will have to include a return to her homeground as well as the Bergen peninsula and fjords.

And if I did not meet everyone from the Nybakk clan on this occasion, there will be time for a reunion soon. Meantime, I was lucky enough to reconvene by Anne Mabel and Arve Nybakk in Bergen for a day. Another precious unforgettable moment..

Hmmm. So much happened in October. So much love felt on this side of the North Sea. There is now poetics unfolding, brand new pages to be written, as well as a collection of verse to fashion.It has begun last June. It is now flourishing.

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