We are 60 Degrees North

It's a bit windy today!

                          Well finally the sun is battling its way past the dark vestiges of the wintery weather which has seemed reluctant to release its cold grasp on the snow scarred hillsides. Right enough of that poetic crap! It really has been a ghastly winter though... 

              The main thing that I had to look forward to was the Scottish Ballet arriving in Shetland mid-April and that was really exciting for all my pupils as a lot of them had not yet seen a ballet company before. There were sessions done in schools and with my ballet groups as well. I reviewed the show for our paper which was thankfully not as hard as I thought it might have been. I quite enjoyed writing it in the end. It was a bit nerve wracking as you are having to dissect someone’s work which in this case is by someone who is rather ‘weel kent’ in the ballet world, Matthew Bourne! His Swan Lake for an all-male cast of Swans set the bench mark and he has done a series of other pieces including Cinderella which we got to see on Boxing Day TV last year. Plus getting to watch the professional dancer’s class which the Intermediate and Senior pupils thoroughly enjoyed. I think it made quite an impact on them! See more about that below


            Well the five days with Scottish Ballet certainly went by in a whirl! I had to go and meet the Education Manager of Scottish Ballet at Mareel to give them my piano and accessories, so the pianist had something to work with. She was a lovely pianist, they were all very nice. They bought me a very nice bottle of gin and the Scottish Ballet '40 Years On' as a thank you for my help on setting up things. I already have the book so when we went to watch the company class I asked the company manager if she could get all the dancers to sign it and I will use it as a raffle prize for later on in the year. On the Wednesday night I went along with some of my older students and did the Absolute Beginners class. I did quite well actually considering my poor old ankles! One of my students said it was quite interesting to see me doing a class instead of teaching it! I thought I would have been sore the next day but fortunately it wasn't too bad!  Thursday, I didn't have much to do but organise a few classes and get people in to do them. Friday morning was a bit disastrous as my client was all geared up to do the special Parkinson’s class but as fate would have it we couldn’t make it at the last minute as we had to stay at home waiting for the doctor and District Nurse to come around. So, we missed out on one of the really notable events of the week, but it couldn't be helped. I think we were both equally gutted at this happening! As it turned out when we did the session in the evening with my Adults it was rather a bit like that which they had done in the morning with the Parkinson’s class so I got some idea of what they had done.

            My Adult Ballet classes have proved rather successful this past few months and I have had a good take up including a husband and wife who went to the ballet and enjoyed it so much that they enrolled a couple of classes ago. I have really enjoyed teaching them and they have gone out and told all their friends so its catching on! I am going to do some Tap classes in July just for Adults on Saturdays as well Adult ballet on Tuesdays so that will keep me relatively fit hopefully!

I am still waiting for my referral to Aberdeen Orthoptics for my shoulder as it is still painful, and I am not happy with it like this as it impacts on my work and driving sometimes. Once I get the appointment it necessitates a flight down to  I also have to go in for a colonoscopy at the local hospital which I am not looking forward to either though my lovely doctor assured me that up here they give you a mild sedation and fill you up with some kind of gas and afterwards when you come around in the recovery room the surgeon comes in and tells what they found, so to speak! So, fingers crossed eh?

             I am also building up my gin collection, another hobby apart from playing the Trombone! A friend of mine invited me to join a group they have formed whereby they order their spirits from a website in Europe for minimal postage costs and the price of the spirits, a lot that we can get here, is considerably cheaper. It shows just how much tax we must pay here in the UK and of course once we head out of the EU in March 2019 people will swiftly realise what an incredibly bad deal we have been sold by our present leaders! Local council elections are on in England and Wales today, so it could very be the end of our ‘present Westminster administration’! Still after Brexit we are to 'get back control of our country' innit?  Oh, and the all-important blue passport which is going to be printed in the EU, taking the work for that away from the De La Rue company that normally prints all this stuff having a highly specialised staff to do it. Of course, the real reason behind this is that it is a cheap deal for those fat cats who have their fingers in every pies!


So, we had been looking so forward to very much meeting some of the dancers as well as seeing how they worked in class. It reminded me that Scottish Ballet and NZBC both have a similar rural geographical area to cover as well touring internationally which can be quite demanding but immensely rewarding and educational for the audience and company both. Scottish Ballet were up in Shetland last in 2009 I think and the programme they put on wasn’t really one that grabbed the audience by the short and curlies. ‘Highland Fling’ which we saw last month certainly blew every one’s preconceived ideas away. They most certainly did not see girlies on pointe and floating around in tutus! This piece was a remake of the story of La Sylphide, using the original score, but set in a modern Glaswegian setting. It was to be blunt a balletic sex drugs rock and roll romp! It was funny yet tragic but had a fulfilling ending! really if you blinked you missed it...Some allusions to drug taking but hey that happens. It is a piece that appeals to audiences, lots of humour, the dance content pleased and there were two love angles, one between Gurn and Effie and James and the mystical sylph which in the end is doomed to fail with sad consequences.  There was a bit of sexual content, but it went over the heads of those younger ones whose liberal minded parents did take them and made my slightly older more aware students suddenly giggle and change the subject! I watched the matinee which was just as good as the Saturday night and then said farewells. Headed home to sit down and write a review of the show which for me was the toughest thing I've had to do for a long time! In all honesty there were no real negatives. Everyone worked well in their parts and the corps work was well placed and they danced tightly and in sync with each other. I did enjoy this as it was just the right length and the humour in it really appealed to the audience even the raunchy bits! Some of my younger pupils were taken by their parents and I was told that there were no awkward questions afterwards! I know some of my old colleagues in the dance world are either for or against Bourne’s work but this piece I really did enjoy. It was very well done.


Saturday was the big day for the ballet school. The pre-ballet session was a lot of fun and the littlies really enjoyed working with their parents using scarves and being snowflakes. Beginners had a similar experience and one of the company dancers came in and performed a piece from Highland Fling for them which was the bees knees for them! They really enjoyed their session too and Lisa and Annabelle from Education were brilliant. Intermediate had a bit more of a balletic experience and the Seniors and some of the Shetland Gymnasts who joined got a rather dashing Australian dancer called Ewan taking their class and that went down very well with the young ladies. I was very proud at how they all deported themselves and they did well. I got a lot of very nice compliments from the instructors and they were very interested in some of the youngsters!


On the Sunday morning we were privileged to be able to watch a company class taken by Director himself, Christopher Hampton. It was supposed to start at 1045 but he and some of the dancers had gone over to Bressey on the ferry and the return one didn't leave until 1030! One of the principal dancers Constance came and did an impromptu talk with girls which went down very well. The class was fun to watch and bought back a few memories. A group of dancers on tour are like a small family really and because you are all lumped together for a long period of the year you really have to get on. This bunch were all relatively young people and at the peak of fitness. I think my pupils got quite a lot out of watching this class. I had made it a priority when Scottish asked me what sort of things we would like to do as I felt that would have the most impact. You can learn a lot by watching!


As I had previously said, I ran some Adult Ballet classes over Easter which were quite well attended, and I am going to run some more in July when a lot of my pupils are away on holidays though I will have to try and take a little break for myself. One of my ballet mums lives in Orkney now and as I must go there anyway for something she said I could go and stay at hers and I could take Low C with me. Low C has exams in May, so a little break afterwards would do her the world of good, and me as well! The down side though is that I had to get my car serviced and fixed, as I er forgot to get it done last year! I got the bill this morning actually; £685.00! so I will have to pull the belt in a bit tighter for the next couple of months! Then in August, I am planning a small workshop bringing in some guest teachers, so the school pupils can work with a different ballet teacher and do some contemporary classes with one of my pupils who is back on holiday. She has done almost a year away and I think she will be more than capable of teaching a class or two in this style!

             Of course, we have the Shetland Folk Festival as well at the beginning of May and this could only happen in Shetland, I walked into the local fish shop yesterday and a very well-dressed man held the door open for me. I said thank you then looked at him and it was only Nigel Clark, a very well-known jazz guitar player – slightly world famous (we brought him up here in 2012 for the last Shetland Jazz Festival that we did) and he remembered me which was really nice. Fabulous musician too! I am going to see him and his band play tomorrow night then on Saturday night I will be going to see another gig at Islesburgh and then the Foy on Sunday night when you get to see ALL the visiting acts, the ones that you missed and then realise ‘darn I should have gone and seen them!’

             Monday was back to the normal routine of work! I went in for band practice in the evening and my tutor hadn't been very well. Had had a nasty reaction to antibiotics! At our coffee break I was handed a huge hamper of goodies from The Shetland Fudge Company! "What's this?" "Well you won it!" About eight weeks I had bought some raffle tickets which I had forgotten all about, I had won the main prize!! Well chuffed! I can use the basket for my shopping! 


          I was supposed to get my grass cut today but it has started raining again and the ground is very damp still, so I guess it will have to wait just a little bit longer. So I had better get this rambling piece of writing out there. TTFN!

The Web Cam


This is the Da Neuk webcam set up for people who might like to sit and watch a Shetland sunset. We cannot always guarantee fine weather as the weather in Shetland can change very quickly and dramatically even in Summer. With the volcanic eruption earlier this year the weather patterns have been extremely erratic to say the least affecting crops and sunlight levels. However during August and September we do experience some rather sensational sunsets and if you tune in to that address above around 20:45 to 21:30 GMT time then you should see something! Enjoy


This webcam is on the house of our local satellite dish installer. You can see the bay of Spiggie from his camera and Reawick, the small hamlet where he lives. Feel free to log onto this. A very much different view to ours!



All the music played on this website is performed by Shetland Artists. If you are interested in purchasing any of Shetland Music CDs then please do contact me.