Tag Archives: Viking

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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Vagvísir

Now, to a darker one…

Have you chosen your place of death?

Is it in the shade of blossoms, 

where the 

wind 

blows to carry words

no 

one will 

know? Or 

is it outside a

lighthouse – where 

whiteness stands so 

close to

gold,

where

maalies* glide,

the great wild bairn* 

free and 

shameless?

Now, in

the 

eye of

the compass,

you see the meaning of

your birth –

your talisman 

in between breasts,

the 

tattoo of

staves in circles;

what’s left of

It lives inside you,

deep inside

the womb of the dead, and 

yet you need me

as a

guide – as

no one points to

their last 

breath.
Notes:

(From Shetland dialect)

maalies: fulmar petrels 

bairn: child 
© Nat Hall 2016 

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veritas 

  
What do we know of a people sheltered from old Roman dogma?

Isolated from old scriptures that shackled man off his own heart?

The Norsemen  lived under such terms, lived their own lives, free as the wind, so unafraid…

   
They treasured beliefs to the sea, where they would reach their Valhalla. To them, death had its own meaning, glorious to their reputation. 

Immortality through men’s songs… 

Here, as a song to their greatness, 

some brand fresh verse, in time for bed and your own dreams.
Viking 

They say

history down to us…

Like a

river of fire, 

they never feared alien God – 

whatever raid was meant to be, 

in the name of

skin trade & gold, what mattered 

was reputation.

Swing an axe or

a heavy oar,

everything done, 

forever written in your bones. 

© Nat Hall 2016

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nor, north, northern

Three, 

Always a trio of filled thoughts, poetic worlds – three books are gracing my Nordic bookshelf during long stormy winter nights.

  
One I know well, as a project curated “south” and yet so close to the tip of my fountain pen, inside which some of my heart flows, tattooed in black on blank pages… It is a world close to my home.

And yet I delve back inside time, familiar names without faces from a family of writers. The editor harnessed our verve inside a long house for nine months that would allow us to tie gods, Giants, dwarves, elves within stanzas, prose or music. How I loved each of those nine realms.

  
And then two more about the north.

   I feel avid and yet humble to discover two fellow poets from the house.
My every night filled with their words, universes bound inside pages so distinctive – songs from the north. You too can discover their realms, travelling prints through sun & snow.

  
Delectable through my northern edge, 60N. 

Both titles found on  Amazon 🙂

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blue

20150827-002036.jpg

blue on the orange cloud

blue

Isa,
rune of ice,
written as I,
in prey to time, there,
motionless;
found in blue boreal forest,
rooted inside depth of winter,
where frost records
prints of our souls in icicles.
As you descend into
our world,
trees bear homage to
your static sense of ego –
they may recite those words for
snow, so many eyes
deep in cold air,
born of lone
clouds in
a blind
sky.
That woman’s voice in
the forest, with
a piano,
calls
for
her child
somebody
turn in a snowflake.

© Nat Hall 2015

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August 26, 2015 · 11:20 pm

smuha 

There’s a tremor in the island.

A she-jarl emerged off a long line of masculine “tradition” of guizer jarls… She made headlines in newspapers, and I hear even in London.

She made us dream last Friday night.



Here, to celebrate such event, a humble triptych of poetry.

SMUHA 2015

For Lesley S., first ever woman jarl in Shetland history.

Acrostic

Skeo Clett,

Music inside sand,

Undo twilight to let us sing,

Hold torches high for a galley & a woman,

Aud, unafraid of world’s fire.

—-

Free Style

By the Atlantic we gathered,

blue-eyed dragon looked to Venus

inside a night fit for

a realm, where

folk marched 

as one with

fire,

down to

the edge of

shells and sand, to

celebrate Aud The Minded

who captained her boat

till its end –

brandished her axe

before our world,

stars 

assembled 

inside a

sky

fit for 

a Jarl & her

people.

—–

Avant-garde

Sleep

in 

the 

arms of the

dragon, by Skeo Clett, 

wild Atlantic, where stars gather

above our heads, home of 

the human fire snake

that comes to die

in boat’s belly –

woman,

child, 

man 

march

by your side, 

through day and

night around da Ness,

fire unites kindred

spirits, fills cups

with mead

after

twilight,

animates hearts

till final reel.

Now

you have

stood among its flames,

led your own crowd

to edge of waves,

and sang the

song of

the

Norseman, 

wake 

in the arms of the dragon.



Notes:

SMUHA is Shetland’s South Mainland Fire Festival, held annually South of Lerwick.

A “jarl” is a viking chief.

“Skeo Clett” is the name of the rocky feature on the northern side of St Ninian’s tombolo (sandbar that links the Isle of Saint Ninian to the mainland). 

A “galley” is a viking longship. 

“da Ness” is the way folk call the Parish of Dunrossness (the southern part of Shetland’s main island, itself known as “South Mainland”)

© Nat Hall 2015

Programme image courtesy of smuha.org where more information can be found 🙂 

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poets in arms

auld enemies 1They came, they shared, they went…

Let’s re-phrase.

They came, they spoke, we shared, they went… We are now connected.

Visiting poets on our home turf – Mareel, Lerwick, Shetland for a few hours – met with familiar faces, thanks to Shetland Art’s Literature Development Officer, Donald Anderson. On a particular trail, that of “Auld Enemies“, the brainchild of Steven J Fowler and Ryan Van Winkle, who notably brought along Colin Herd and Ross Sutherland in the Green Room where a few dared to step for an hour of poetry. Their six date tour around Scotland – taking in Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Lerwick, and Kirkwall – concluded in London.

So we, the featured Shetland poets, L.J. Friedlander, D.S. Murray, J.A, Sinclair and I, joined our visiting poets in some battles of the spoken word before we ceased fire, chatted and smiled. Unique, electric, unusual & memorable event which enabled us to share in a different format, and, for James & I to actually write together for the first time since we have been united by literature. My thanks go to Steven and Ryan for providing such an opportunity. With very best wishes for the upcoming Auld Enemies – Ireland!!! 🙂

auld enemies 2014  friedlander auld enemies Murrayauld enemies hall + sinclairauld enemies 2014 herd + fowlerauld enemies sutherland + van wrinkle

Auld Enemies, Shetland 2014 - Photo courtesy of Steven J Fowler

Auld Enemies, Shetland 2014 – Photo courtesy of Steven J Fowler

What a trek! Before they came to us, they had pit-stopped in Aberdeen, where they blended with other familiar faces & voices, including those of Catriona McLeod and Haworth Hodgkinson – then they stayed a couple of days, to ensure Mr Melville was okay again – and then they joined in other familiar faces in Kirkwall, notably including Pam Beasant.

My thanks go to Steven and Ryan for providing such an opportunity, as well as to Donald Anderson & Shetland Arts for making it happen on our latitude.

With very best wishes for the upcoming Yes But Are We Enemies? -an Irish Enemies Project

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