Tag Archives: school

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. 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 2017, 60N, Arcania, autumn, blogging, colours, community, earth, education, geopoetics, hairst, home, images, island, lerwick, life, migration, north, poet, poetry, scotland, shetland, shore, spirit

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

5 Comments

Filed under 2017, 60N, Arcania, autumn, blogging, celebration, colours, community, earth, education, geopoetics, hairst, hamefarin, home, humanity, images, island, life, light, metasaga, migration, norman, north, norway, roots, shetland, shore, spirit, vikings, world, writing

Armistice Week 2014

IMG_7443.JPG
One hundred years on,
10 million dead,
another 10 million crippled, too many headstones… Vanished hearts – brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins… My great grand father, Pépé Duval, was a stretcher-bearer on his country’s battlefields, lunar landscapes… He, like millions of men, was thrown into a carnage, brain-washed by a propaganda led by warmongers. He was lucky enough to return home, twice gassed and deeply scarred for the rest of his life, shell-shocked…

One hundred years on,
How can we forget?

Some politicians (at least in France) attempted to “turn the page” by declaring we should drop the bucket… Sorry, we have a duty to honour those who were sacrificed against their full will. Nobody wishes to endure what so many million men endured in horrid conditions… I recently read that, in some cases, 1 1/2 mile recovered in No Man’s Land cost well over 200,000 lives. That is more than sacrifice, this is a crime against humanity.
IMG_7443-0.JPG

Over the course of such week, leading to Remembrance Day on 9 November around the UK, the Anderson High School, my school, has honoured all those fallen in and around Western Europe.

1200 North Islanders on the Orkney & Shetland respective Rolls of Honour…

One hundred years on.

No one wants a return to hatred & carnage, deep bleeding of nations.
My recent visit to Northern Germany with 22 pupils from the AHS reconnects ties between peoples, hence breaking down barriers, ignorance, fears.
We are all connected through various ways – sea, fish, herring, history, heritage. Our own language alone has been forged inside an incredible melting pot – metamorphic, enriched by words that included old German ones, brought over by the people who came to settle and trade on the land in the first place. We must not forget that either.

IMG_7340.JPG
We commemorate our own, however, with one hundred years on, my heart also feels for all those who perished in blind madness (war of attrition).
Military, civilians, irrespective of colour, religion, gender, or island -ethnic origin, continent, nationality.

IMG_7475.JPG
On such occasion, I was invited to contribute to two events – a creative writing project within a collective, and, reading my own work from such project on the school tannoy.
And so I did.
I therefore let Wildred Owen’s Dulce ET Decorum Est for my own piece entitled Ricochets, a poem which sits within a suite of verse & flash fiction created during this autumn thanks to a project called “1914 and all that”, a joint partnership between the Shetland Museum & Archives and Shetland Arts.

Ricochets resonated in the hearts of many 21st century AHS pupils, who shared their reactions throughout the day.

IMG_7446.JPG
Touched & happy they could reach out to one another, pupils & words.
One hundred years on,
let us all remember.

IMG_7433.JPG

IMG_6669.PNG
So, in honour of all victims of the conflict, as well as a “taster” to the event at Wordplay 2014, here is the piece I shared a hundred years later.

Ricochets

Devil’s in the trench,
scavenging round the Earth –
against sandbags,
school, chapel walls or parapets, through cloth of brand new uniforms, grey, khaki, blue –
across cornfields
somebody ploughed in hope for bread,
where boys ventured to kill
boredom away from home in
a bull-ring*,
they remind me of
skimming stones,
light on the loch,
summer, crane flies…
Sleek impromptu or
intruder,
hum-buzz-quick hiss,
whizz, woosh and plop,
to find their way deep inside mud or
in between innocent eyes,
an unknown name
turned animal inside a trench,
who dreamt of blackbirds and angels…

© Nat Hall 2014

Notes: Bull-ring: the famous infamous Bull-ring, training camp in Étaples, where harsh conditions were common place. (Source: Robert M Creig, Doing His Bit, Shetland Times, 1999-2003)

IMG_6583.JPG
I think my great grand father would approve of not only my verse, but my thoughts as a whole.

Thank you,
Donald, Brian & Jon.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2014, fire, home, images, island, museum, north, poet, poetry, poets, project, shetland, spirit, verse poetry, wordplay, world, writing

Ailleurs

IMG_5824.JPG

Somewhere else…
Today is a PJ & blanket day on my latitude, as October shows its more familiar face – rain & gale filling a titanium sky. I shan’t complain, as Hairst (that wonderful Shetlan word for autumn, and more accurately the “time for harvest”) has been exceptionally dry, with a sky that would make a jeweller proud!

Time to rewind life’s clock and look again at September.
September, a strange month in many respects – the “go-betweener” – Equinox, halfway though light & darkness… A time when I wish to clone myself to be in different places at once, including Hanse House in King’s Lynn to help launch a book of poetry & art for the Transformations’ Project…
Yet this September was different, for I spent it in between Lerwick & Lübeck.

Dates are fascinating.

1814, Norway begins to taste democracy… Sir Walter Scott lands in Lerwick at Robert Stevenson’s (RLS’s grandfather) invitation.
1914, Western & Central European nations slide into total war, entailing the peoples from their respective empires, and which they believe will finish at Christmas, fleur au canon… An old order crumbled into the vacuum victors wrote as History.
On a more personal level,
1984, second (and last) participation to a school exchange with Herborn, Hessen, Germany. Fantastic experience as a pupil to learn & understand about culture from the “other side of the Rhine” and first-hand experience (eye witness) to the impact of land occupation when traveling to “die Grenze”, the frontier – no man’s land area created by the bi-polar world since 1949. A world, Europe, country divided by a “Cold War”, itself a by-product of WWII. The sight of barb wire, watch towers & tanks, respectively Soviet & US, with guards armed to the teeth remains forever tattooed in my memory.
2014 – Germany reunified (since Oct 1990) in a more homogeneous and harmonised Europe (although a world which still bears the scars of the Cold War in some respects…) and a formidable opportunity to help empower 22 young Shetlanders to experience a slice of life with their respective German partners in Schleswig-Holstein, in & around Reinfeld, thanks to a well established German Exchange, the brainchild of my Anderson High School colleague Peter Haviland. This time, I would go as staff, together with my other accompanying colleague, Stephen Arnold.

And what a fabulous opportunity it has been to empower our pupils, equipping them with a very valuable life experience, developing life skills, enabling them to taste continental life in a thriving culture – making them aware of cultural as well as linguistic differences, and, maybe inspiring them in a way in developing language skills at some point in their life… I still remember some of our young participants expressing frustration when communicating, and realising how unfair it felt “not to speak as good German as their German counterparts could speak English”… Serious awareness. Come think of it, and not (too) too long ago, when Shetland was part of a Hanseatic world, with Lübeck as its capital, Shetland fishermen had found a linguistic compromise to understand and be understood by the German fish merchants with whom they were trading; and develop it later on with the Dutch merchants… Shetland’s own dialect borrowed many words from the old Frisian tongue – not only Norse words from the Viking world.

IMG_6359.JPG

Our pupils were formidable ambassadors for our school, community and ultimately, Scotland. The guests of Reinfeld’s school, KGS, or die Immanuel Kant Gemeinschaftschule, for their 10th Anniversary, our young Shetlanders put to the stage their own spirit & dancing skills, which, in turn, encouraged German participation and applause from the Reinfeld community.
Watching them dance, smile, explore, discover new things, new places, and listening to them sharing their reactions to daily challenges, their emotions throughout their respective voyage of discovery has contributed to a fantastic human adventure.

Schleswig-Holstein was, like Berlin itself, uncharted territory to me. Returning to a (re-) unified Germany with a unified capital proved to be a wonderful slice of life. So great to bathe into such culture and language – to “switch” again into the Germanic way of life, weaving new bonds with colleagues from Reinfeld and reinforcing existing professional bonds with my Shetland ones. Affectionately, I called us Les Trois Mousquetaires, after Alexandre Dumas, very aptly so.

We – pupils & staff – returned home with a collection of stories & fabulous memories to treasure.
Proud of our young generation 🙂

Here, selected images as illustration.

IMG_5923.JPG

IMG_6100.JPG

IMG_6679.JPG

IMG_6289.JPG

IMG_6502.JPG

IMG_6505.JPG

IMG_6157.JPG

IMG_6178.JPG

IMG_6636.JPG

IMG_6583.JPG

Poetics came through words too.

Tattoo –
Brücke, Glocken und
die Amsel,
Königin der
Hanse
#haiku #micropoetry
da brig, da bell an
da blackie,
queen oda
Hanse

———————–
Die Glocke – bell
die Amsel – blackbird
—–

Peerie Fat Man
(an icon fae old Ost Berlin)

Tiergarten,
Tauentzienstraße KaDeWe,
du, peerie fat
man;
Pariser or
Potsdamer Platz,
Check Point Charlie,
Karl Marx Allee,
Peerie fat
man;
bear & eagle as your guardian –
I noticed you in
red & green,
peerie fat
man –
short-legged with a
felted hat,
on either side,
plump,
iconic –
peerie fat
man in
the
traffic.

© Nat Hall 2014

—————

To my German Exchange AHS S4 Pupils

Flying Lasses

Travemünde,
terminal
line,
where
foliage chimes
in between light & Baltic Sea,
and acorns ripe in
September,
you dare and dance,
harnessed to
life –
hooked between
clouds & gravity,
against bark of
greenest
forest,
your
heart beats
fast,
metal cable
will keep you high;
high as a kite amid branches,
velocity veils frantic
wings of
butterflies that
spread across in
your stomach, as you glide from
helm to oak tree.

From
forest floor,
you look a spider in
my eyes,

Sur le filin, l’épeire diadème.

———
For Kelvin A., S4 AHS Pupil in Reinfeld, KGS’s 10th
Anniversary.

Star Dancer –
sleek on his feet,
meticulous on every step,
even the wind embraced his whirls, as he showed
everyone the
way,
Boston Two Steps.
He made us
proud.

© Nat Hall 2014

—-

 

All words, images and verse © Nat Hall 2014

And, oh, to avoid any confusion, “Peerie Fat Man” is that little red/green man from the German traffic lights, as photographed below 🙂

IMG_6224.JPG

2 Comments

Filed under 2014, 60N, colours, earth, geopoetics, home, images, island, lerwick, life, north, shetland, spirit, world, writing