We are 60 Degrees North

It's a bit windy today!

                So far this month I have had to put up with a rather sore neck, an old war wound from being a professional dancer, but it has actually all resulted from me being a very difficult birth. I was telling my Dad that I was thinking about getting some manipulation as I was desperate about getting this sorted. He sent me an email back dictated by my mother!! Apparently, I was almost two months overdue, something which wouldn't be allowed to happen today and I was born with a wry neck (known as Torticullis for some reason!) So when I was born my mother massaged and manipulated my neck daily while I apparently screamed very loudly! Later on in life I had an operation to tighten up a very loose muscle on the side of my neck which resulted in me having a very large lump on the side of my neck which gradually slimmed out as I grew older. The C5 disc in my neck always cracked a lot and that eventually stopped when I was in my late 30's. Nowadays I can innocently just even turn my head or bend down to pick up something, as I did in the supermarket about two weeks ago to pick up a child's toy that they had dropped on the floor and there was a little click and a spasm and by the next day when I woke up my neck and shoulders were incredibly sore. Now normally after a day or so this would wear off and I would be ok. However, this time it hasn't worn off so I went to the doctors (something I rarely do) and she prescribed me Diazepam and something called Gabapentin, which is for epilepsy in Children and also helps nerve damage pain. Takes a while to kick in but it seems to work but I really don't want to have to take it for a long time! I've been doing exercises for my neck every morning which helps keep it reasonably flexible but it then stiffens up again. The annoying thing is that I have had it x-rayed and spoken to a consultant and he said it was perfectly alright and nothing to do with the disc!! One of my friends said I need a small person to walk up and down my back!! So please form an orderly queue as I might well need something like that!!


My son came to stay with me yesterday so we popped into the Co-op to get food for the weekend and they had some very large crabs in the fish section! 'Ooh shall we get one each' I said 'no one that size really will be big enough for two people' 'No I can eat enough for five people' (tell me about it!!) so he insisted on buying one of the biggest crabs, I got a small one. He said he had never had freshly cooked crab before so I showed him how to prepare, i.e. open it and get rid of the dead man's fingers and crack the claws. Well actually because this really was a big crab, I got my hammer and wrapped the head of it in a plastic freezer bag and cracked the claws for him and showed him how to get the flesh out of the carapace with a special metal pick that I had bought back from France and left him to it. Two hours later after having got a mountain of crab flesh out of it he sat down to eat it with some vinegar and salad. He admitted defeated after having eaten just over half of it! So I had a very nice crabmeat sandwich for lunch made from some of our fresh Walls Bakery Puckle Bread, a brown bread with fermented grains in. Very nice indeed!


Sadly, I am on my way down to Kent in the first week of August for my dear friend Mark’s funeral as he passed away in his sleep last Wednesday morning. I'm glad he is at rest and in peace at last but also extremely sorry that he's gone. It's annoying that our local airline enjoys racking up the prices of its flights because it's Christmas for them in charging exorbitant prices to take vantage of people’s situation in the school holidays! Again, I am currently sitting outside the doctor's surgery waiting for a client to see the doctor so have some time on my hands to write this. It's been a busy old month. We had our show on Friday night at the local venue, Mareel, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The only comment from the audience was that the music was played too loud and having seen the rough DVD I have to agree. I think the sound guy is slightly suffering from a hearing loss. 


Yesterday was a lovely sunny day and we had lots and lots of killer whales visiting Shetland. Large pods of them swimming around the coastline hunting for seals and there were some spectacular photographs posted on Facebook of these unfortunate things being tossed in the air by these big predators. There was one bull orca which was an immense creature. The experts were saying that its dorsal fin was six feet tall so it's body length must have been pretty big! 

I was in the pharmaceutical aisle Tesco's the other day and it struck me how comical it was that the constipation tablets were right next to the diarrhoea ones! My neck has been sore for some time now and the doctor put on a drug called Gagapentin which is for damaged nerves and it certainly seems to have helped. Only downside is that if you increase the dose then you have to decrease it slowly in order to come off them. 


I have been getting up regular updates from my youngest daughter and her holiday adventures and one evening of popped an item from my ex. They were all at Sunderland dog races and Low C was the only one who made a profit on every race! She bit a pound on each dog based on how many races they had one and she won all that money back plus made a small profit. Sounds like she has the knack like her old man!


So we got a little bit more of rehearsals done yesterday and we started on snowflakes which is the other major dance piece in nutcracker. Of course it is a little bit difficult when lots of girls are away on holiday so we were working with anyone who was available. I am conscious of the fact that come Tuesday it is the beginning of August and we will have three months in which to get all the dances together the scenery sorted out and the actors and other parts worked out and rehearsed and then put it all together with the orchestra. 


On Friday night last week, I went to see a British Columbian group of native Indians dance. It was part of a ceilidh organised by a friend of mine who is people I teach and I must say it was the most superbly entertaining evening of my life for a very long time. This group of young Indian people had to come over as part of an exchange from British Columbia and here in Shetland there has been a large Indian canoe in storage for some years. It was bought over by a gentleman who had been over to British Columbia many times and this clue is periodic Lee taken out for a paddle in the summer. I saw a little bit of video of it on Facebook and it certainly looked like a lot of fun albeit somewhat exhausting too. Not at all like the rowing yawls but they use here in Shetland! This canoe for about 20 brothers and has the capacity to go quite fast in the water I think the last time it had been paddled ride around Shetland which is pretty amazing when you consider what a dangerous coastline we have.


Anyway, to go back to the dancers we also had the chance to get up and dance some Canadian dances that a dance at normal functions like a wedding as in Shetland. Then we were treated to a display of the Indian native dances. Some of these dances go back or can trace the history back to 5000 years ago for example there was a dance about grizzly bears with the male dancers came on in their costumes with a type of bear head on and they have black in their fingertips to look like claws. There were numerous dances about the weather and birds and elements of the landscape and Indian history it was fascinating collection of dances and accompanied by a soul drama tapping out a rhythm on an instrument like an Irish Bodrum and chanting in the local Indian dialect. There was one young girl, she was the youngest in the group being 12, and she was a superb dancer. When she danced you sense that she wasn't there but in her own bubble and completely involved in what she was doing and her movements were smooth and delicate yet mesmerising to watch and she had the most involved intense look on her pretty little face and in her native costume, all of which would beautifully made, she really portrayed whatever character she was dancing at the time. It was a superb evening and I'm only sorry that more people couldn't have witnessed this amazing display of cultural exchange. It's a pity that we couldn't have had some form a couple of their numbers at the show we did last Friday but hey Ho that's just the way it goes.


I took my car down to Hendersons Motors last week to get its MOT and it passed again, perfect for which I'm very grateful as we are so dependent on cars in Shetland. It is a bit alarming to see comments on the news that the Tories are considering raising fuel duty which would be a real crush on many many people who rely on vehicles for their work all running a business.

Certainly, it would have a huge impact on rural communities like Shetland and Orkney as even though the local bus services are quite good, cars are still an essential part of island life. Once again, the Westminster government only thinks about protecting its rich pounds and hitting the middle of a class where it really hurts, in the pockets. Prices of food and consumer goods are going up. I noticed this when I go into a local supermarket which is not the Co-op and you look at things and find that suddenly the price has been rounded up just to buy 5p or even 2 pence. Silly trivial things like sweeteners or Asian goods which people don't buy all the time such as a curry sauce, and it's now gone up 20p. Where is it all going to end? Wages in my line of business certainly are not going up. I must drive around trip of 40 miles, five days a week, to get to one job that I do in the morning and the second job I do in the afternoon subsidises the cost of driving to the first job as I get paid mileage for my second job. Something must give at some point as people won't be able to afford to live. It's already bad enough with the amount of people on benefit cuts who are suffering terribly and the increase in zero-hour contracts which are absolutely no good for anyone. I think High C, my eldest daughter has done the right thing in moving over to New Zealand has at least she has a steady job and is able to save money something which I have found most impossible to do over the last year.


High C is planning with her fiancé to get married in about 2020 and she rang me in the morning to inform me that they had decided apart from the legal marriage in New Zealand to also have a second wedding somewhere in the middle of Europe where both families could get to relatively easy. When I asked her where we were going to be meeting up she said Switzerland! Couldn't have chosen a more expensive country to my mind but I suppose it will make a subtle change as on the plus side I could make a holiday of it and stop off in Dullier to see my New Zealand friend and her family. They have lived there for nearly 20 years and I haven't seen her for a while so I could make a stop off there and then travel down to where ever it is that High C and her fiancee are arranging their nuptials.


I have been invited to my first Shetland wedding explanation mark it is on the Friday when I get back from Kent so I will have to see if my youngest wants to come with me as I don't really want to go by myself. Been living here in Shetland now for nearly 12 years and this is the first wedding evening I have been invited to so it should be fun with a bit of dancing to do though I have got rehearsals in the morning so will have to be relatively bright eyed and bushy tailed. It is the mother of one of my pupils who is getting married.


Several of my pupil’s mums have just got married but I didn't get an invite to those! Not that I was expecting to. It is a strange system in Shetland whereby couples seem to live together and have children and then decide to get married! It all seems to be done in reverse! The only time I know all remember friends in England who is been living together for years and then decided to get married and literally six months later got divorced because I didn't like being married but they are still living together!! Very strange! Anyway, I'm going off to a Sunday tea is later on so had better do a little bit of work on Nutcracker and some trombone practice that we have a rehearsal tomorrow night and I won't get any practice over the next week because I'll be away so I will just have to practice my lip buzzing when I have the opportunity!!





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.