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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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quantum leap & back flip

That tunnel ride across mountains, under water (as I once left Måløy on the first time…) has left a mark indelible, and illustrates how I feel at the start of 2017.


2016 proved to be one of those truly extra-ordinary years, tainted with hues of paradoxical emotions on the the principle of the kaleidoscope. So much happened in those twelve months.

Here, the highlights back in limelight.

On the making and soft release of Compass Head, joint editing with Nordland lead to let this first solo collection fly at a time dear to my heart, 30 March.


From winter into spring, as I rolled back in Provence for a short while, bringing Compass Head to the last survivor of that trio of women to whom the book is dedicated. Symbolic journey in itself… However, there was another reunion as important with a lifelong friend, artist and Art restorative Artisan, Isabelle Foriat, who took me to Manosque to meet with Jean Giono’s surviving daughter, Sylvie. Marvellous encounter.

Prior to that trip to the foot of Le Lubéron, a night at the Library to meet with Liz Lochead, Scotland’s former makar; and a much cherished reunion with a friend and fellow poet, Emma van Woerkom, who will pen, among others, an eloquent review of my peerie book of verse.

20 May 2016, launch of Compass Head at the Shetland Library. Full house, for a memorable night I will treasure all my life. I really felt humble and touched.

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Mid-June, my first crossing across the sea with a close friend to be reunited with da Norskie Clan.

A dream come true for the first time. I knew this was my early gateway to Vestlandet. Unforgettable and tattooed in my heart forever.

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Throughout summer, wrestled with a boiler without a suit. That techno-joust cost two plumbers who worked wonders, though at some cost I cannot regret…

July, with an event at the Peerie Shop Café for the purpose of a mag launch by Shetland Create. Great fun and pleasure to share selected verse from Compass Head in a place where I come to write. 🙂

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Summer, spent around those wild islands with the world, come rain or shine. I love its magic and blue nights; that sense of freedom, colour saturation and overgrowth… And in between May and July, friends & fellow writers – Marsali Taylor and Laureen Johnson – will pen their respective & eloquent reviews for the Shetland Times and the New Shetlander. Both are trilingual like me. A blessing.

August, invited to read at Sumburgh Head, as part of a unique project, Extreme Light North, led by Carol Duffy. Friend, playwright and Shetland Library Book Champion Jacqui Clark is a magician! I will share verse broadcasted to the whole world via the Internet from the great height of my favourite headland that first made me dream some 19 years ago… Tout un symbole et une histoire, from which Compass Head derives and was born.

jacquis balloon writing 18 june 2016

Whereas mid-August rhymes with a return to class and school bells, September reminds us of a slow return to darkness and a trade of wings, as avian visitors perform that orchestrated seasonal ballet…

But by October, the deal is struck. Winter visitors found around, and I would marvel at those Norwegian White-tailed sea eagles again around Kvinnherad and Fanafjorden! What none expected was a twist of fate from the sky! Crystalline, diamond blue, with only one hour of rain, as I set foot in Krokeide… Out of this world!

from-the-slate-table

Reunited with some of my Norskie kinsfolk for my October break. Magical, ethereal, as we had so much to share. All would also provide me that space to write, develop what I started in June – namely, that second collection of poetry. Furthermore, François took me further afield, across mountains, the Sognefjord to Vågsøy and Måløy, Viking country, where friendship grows so beautifully since 2010 and a certain encounter with the NYBAKK . La boucle est bouclée. Full circle, past-present and future sealed in one stone.

November, Lerwick Book Festival, and, on a less happy note, saying goodbye to [another] close friend resettling in Glasgow at the final Open Mic Night Chris Grant co-hosted with passion with friend & artiste Lisa Ward. What I did not know would be the taking part in a creative project with Chris and his two musical buddies, Andy Kinnear and Cho Johnson before the end of the year. That was great fun. Chris recorded me inside his tiny office at the Anderson High School on his final day…

Yule – stormy and filled with lights, Compass Head has a readership on both side of the Atlantic AND the North Sea, in Scandinavia. Chuffed 🙂

December, and a final accolade for the poet, as Compass Head features in the annual review of the Shetland Times, the long printed island newspaper. In addition, and on the last Wednesday of December, a special Singer/Songwriter “Cabaret style” event takes place at Mareel. My verse has a new home. It was warmly welcome by both organisers and the audience present that night. Magic within the great vessel of glass continues. 🙂

compass-in-st-dec-2016

Thank You all for a marvellous 2016, both in Shetland, the UK and Norway. It has been a fantastic journey, and I can only wish 2017 to be a year of growth. Storms may be raging round my hut and my island, there is so much to look ahead, on either side of the North Sea.

Very best wishes to YOU all from my breezy 60N latitude! 🙂

sumburgh light

 

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