Tag Archives: stevenson



The buildings, impressive – the view, so unforgettable.

Mariners’ life saviours,
towers of light.

Sumburgh Head, a grand father’s concept, architectural wonder – a grandson’s dream playground… The Stevensons, whose name breathes through headlands, skerries and battered rocks, have left a mark through times.

You must reach it out on foot to deserve Sumburgh Head.
You may feel a complete adventurer. At each level, North Sea & Atlantic offer different treasures.
I still remember my first time.
Each breath weighs its own gold.

It attracts a whole world. Sailors, nature lovers, historians or poets, on the trail to pleasure.
In the eyes of the wanderer, it is a magnet painted white surrounded by deep blue, jade or titanium grey… All depends on the sky.

Today, I walked through my own steps, always uphill to reach its top – marvelled one more time at the view, retraced steps of old light keepers in between boilers & fog horn… Pointed my spyglass to known wings, immaculate crests of ocean, and felt at one with the island.

It even holds new gems, with a brand new visitor centre, where folk of all ages will gaze at such technological wonder, as well as its environment. The jewel in the crown will take your breath away.
And if you are curious, just click at the link for sumburghhead.com for your own induction.
It is scheduled to open doors on 2 May 2014.

No doubt visitors will love it.

And if the Northern Lighthouse Board still own those towering beacons, Sumburgh Light, the first of our islands’ towers perched at the very southern end, built in 1821 by no other by RLS’s granddad, stands proud on this headland.








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treasure fae da north (1)

From the hand of RLS, Robert Louis Stevenson,
father of
Treasure Island…



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writing the north


I love my local museum & archives.
It is a place of treasures, a temple of wonders & records – a time machine, a cabinet of life, past and present.
As my love grows deeper in time for da auld rock, such a temple feels a familiar place where I find inspiration, knowledge and understanding of my island world. It is a place where I collaborated with other poets for different literary projects, including The Hanseatic Project, with Bremen based poet Michael Augustine a few years ago.
But something very special was expecting me this afternoon – something of a different kind.
At first, all looked perfectly “normal” – Barbara’s smile behind the imposing desk inside the flagstone paved foyer.
A quick look around the gift shop & bookshelves led to a voyage of discovery. “Da Gadderie” looked a bit darker than usual at first sight.

Whereas my friend sat at the old typewriter, my heart pounded at the first manuscript, that of Robert Louis Stevenson… A magical extract from a journal, illustrated with a quick sketch of Sumburgh Head, dated June 1869, a hundred years before my birth (!) How exquisite to discover your literary hero’s own handwriting. I was suddenly in heaven.
And this magical literary journey continued with other great literary heroes – Sir Walter Scott, whose only visit to Shetland dates back to 1814, two hundred years exactly this year, had a best seller purpose, The Pirate (1822), where the story begins in Sumburgh… Jarlshof was born.

Here, before my very eyes, Scott’s original manuscript of The Pirate.
So ethereal.
The team behind the entire project worked over the past year to bring us all a formidable collection of priceless literary artefacts, including, books & manuscripts, to celebrate the literary saga from the Northern Isles.
Hugh MacDiarmid & George MacKay Brown stand side by side…
Naturally the exhibition celebrates the linguistic history of both Orcadian & Shetland dialects. I notably marvelled at the glass cabinets dedicated to them, and savoured a moment before Jakob Jakobsen’s linguistic wonder.


My heart also bowed at John & Lollie Graham, but also Stella Sutherland & Rhoda Bulter among the 20th Century greats from the Shetland pantheon of poets. Their faces beam at you.
What a feast for the reader and writer that I am!
I certainly need to return to sample and digest better this phenomenal literary showcase. Thank goodness, it is running till 11 May 2014.

it is not to be missed.
All Museum staff involved in such exhibition, as Barbara smiled, deserve a pat on the back.
Please click on the link for full details on that formidable literary journey at:
Writing The North
The final day of events planned for Saturday 10 May includes a series of talks as well as an evening of poetry reading.
Free tickets available from Shetland Museum & Archives. I will certainly reserve my ticket :-)>


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