North Mainland Notes

Listen to a Stage Invasion

Recently I had a chance to catch up with Shetland-born singer/songwriter Terry Balfour. Terry now lives in Glasgow, but still enjoys visits back to Shetland to spend time with his parents, Alan and Wilma, who live outside Brae. For the past year, he has been busy writing songs and has recently released Stage Invasion, an eclectic unplugged EP that showcases his voice, his guitar and his talent for song writing.

Over the years Terry has tasted success with various bands on the Glasgow scene, but felt it was time to strip things down and get back to what’s really important to him – the music. He explains: “I wanted to become more focused in what I was creating, and how I was going about it.” He adds: “I’ve spent lots of time writing new material, so now I have around 30 songs that I’m really happy with.”

Some of the new material features on the EP and Terry has been gigging around Glasgow to promote the CD. At first he was a little apprehensive appearing on stage alone, with just the guitar for company after being part of a larger band, but any anxieties slipped away after hearing the reaction of the crowds to his music. A recent concert at the Recital Rooms in Glasgow’s City Chambers was a real success and Terry thoroughly enjoyed performing in such an elegant venue to an enthusiastic audience.

Terry’s love of music is clear during our yarn. He’s driven by the excitement of exploring music and has worked hard over the years to perfect his craft. He’s inspired by a wide range of musical talent from JP Cormier to Death Cab for Cutie; anything melodic. Terry describes his current cache of songs as “melodic, energetic and upbeat with a touch of mellow undertone”. There’s something for all moods and tastes.

With a focused musical direction, Terry is keen to build a band around his work and begin gigging with a group. He has already begun a search for musicians and has a clear vision of how he would like the future to evolve. He is also really enjoying the solo gigs with his guitar, and plans to continue his solo performances.

Finding time to concentrate on song writing is difficult when the rent still has to be paid, but Terry has always found jobs to support him and plans to start teaching the guitar around the Glasgow area, which will offer more flexibility. Terry also appreciates the support he has had from his family over the years, especially his parents. This support also extends to supplying creative talent for the artwork on the EP cover. His sister Gemma created the “Terry” figurine and the “set”, while dad Alan sculpted the guitar and many of the accessories.

Stage Invasion is available in Brae at Brae Building Centre or can be downloaded from itunes. For more information about Terry, and clips of his latest material, log onto

Kenny lifts Da Spaegie Trophy

“What a great night of darts.” This proved to be the catchphrase of the night by the commentators at “Da Voeside”, Hillswick hall, on Saturday night. Colin and Ivor provided a silver-tongued, often hilarious, dialogue for the 16 invitation darts players who fought it out for the honour of winning the Sandison Spaegie Tonic Trophy and the “cash” prize.

After a fantastic battle of arrows, the coveted trophy was raised by Kenny Abernethy, with Shane Laurenson as worthy runner-up. Competition between the ladies proved even fiercer when an eventual play-off resulted in Nort Roe lass Jackie Manson winning the ladies title.

A spokeswoman for the Hillswick hall committee said: “We would like to say a special thank you to all the competitors who took part, the markers (who were so suitably attired), the commentators and everyone who came along to support the players. A great night was had by all, and it looks like this could be another annual event for the hall.”

The monthly quiz night takes place at the Hillswick hall tonight at 7.30pm with a maximum of four folk per team. Snacks will be provided, the bar is open and a raffle will be held.

Those still trying to perfect the art of 500 are welcome along to the hall on Thursday night at 7.30pm for a “learners session” for keen amateurs.

Ice cream with chopsticks?

Two pupils from Brae High School were part of a fantastic five-night adventure towards the end of last year. Lucky Primary 7 classmates Reece Thorn and Caitlin Craven travelled to Japan to sample the way of life experienced by their fellow pupils, as part of the Global Classroom international schools project. Teacher Jo Dunlop accompanied the pupils as chaperone. As part of the project, Reece and Caitlin gave a detailed report of their experience to fellow pupils back in Shetland. Here we catch up on their adventure.

The trip formed part of class study into Japan and Japanese culture. In order to decide who travelled to the Far East, pupils were asked to write essays detailing their personal skills and what they hoped to learn and experience in Japan. From the essays, Reece and Caitlin were chosen, and travel preparations began in real earnest. After a long, but exciting, journey the group reached Japan and stayed with a family in Hanamaki City, a three-hour bullet train journey north of Tokyo. Reece and Caitlin spent the trip enjoying firsthand experience of life in modern Japan.

In addition to comparing and contrasting Shetland with Japan, Caitlin and Reece were also looking out for examples of renewable energy as part of their class project. During their flights over both Japan and the Netherlands, they saw large numbers of wind turbines along the coastline. Recycling and energy conservation also play a large part in Japanese life with a large amount of domestic recycling being undertaken and many families owning cars that are powered by hybrid fuel sources.

Reece felt the trip was an “awesome experience”. He explained: “We stayed with a family of six in a modern house in a suburb of Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture. It was more of a cultural visit; we were taken to temples and museums – the Bishamon Statue, Kenji Miyazawa Fairyland Park, the Geibi Gorge and had a go at traditional rag cloth weaving.”

Caitlin was also thrilled with her insight into life in Japan. She commented: “We visited Tase Elementary School and took part in preparing for their harvest festival. They played the traditional Japanese drums for us.”

Caitlin was especially impressed by the food the two had eaten during the visit, and the utensils! “We all ate full on Japanese food using chopsticks, eggs and bacon Japanese style, cherry tomatoes and even ice cream!”

At the local leisure centre Reece had the opportunity to show the Hanamaki High School boys a few soccer skills. ”We also watched our hosts playing Indiaca and volleyball,” said Caitlin.

Reece explained a visit to an after school English lesson: “It was not like our English lessons, it was more like learning how to speak and say it.”

Chaperone Jo Dunlop said that Reece and Caitlin were perfect ambassadors for Shetland during the trip. She added: “They got on well with everyone they met, tried out some Japanese phrases and threw themselves fully into everything they did. Our hosts, the Kikuchi family were wonderful – Caitlin taught the girls clapping rhymes while Reece bonded with the son over soccer skills.”

Everyone at Brae High School would like to say a huge thank you to Stuart Hay, Davy Cummings and John Thorne for organising travel to and from Japan, and Mitoku Fujiwara and his assistant Kanae from Hanamaki for looking after their visitors so well in Hanamaki.

Both Caitlin and Reece agreed it was an experience never to be forgotten.

Shetland fayre at Sullom

Anyone in need of a winter-warming Shetland feed on Sunday should head to the Sullom hall. From 2-5pm there will be a delectable menu of Shetland favourites, featuring tattie soup, reestit mutton and bannocks. For anyone with an appetite left after the main course, there will also be a selction of puddings washed down with tea or coffee and accompanied by a homebake or two. There will also be a raffle and all proceeds will be used for planned hall improvements.

Final week of Hillswick PO consultation

The consultation period for plans to relocate the current “hosted” post office service at Hillswick from the local hall to the newly opened community-owned shop in the village is reaching the final week.

Post Office Ltd is seeking feedback from customers and other local interest groups, prior to a final decision being made. They are particularly keen to hear views on access and facilities at the new location, the proposed opening hours and any local issues specific to Hillswick. Friday 29th January is the closing date for any correspondence.

Anyone with any comments or concerns should write to Kenny Lamont, c/o Post Office Ltd, National Consultation Team, PO Box 2060, Watford, WD18 8ZW.

Auld eens on cue

An annual pool tournament held in memory of honorary Brae-man Neil Jones once again raised hundreds of pounds for North Haven Hansel fund and saw da auld eens win the honours for the fourth year running.

Neil Jones was eart kent for his crofting knowledge and expertise. His working life was dedicated to improving croft life and crofting standards, something he continued into retirement. Neil was always a familiar face at the Northern Lights and enjoyed taking on all-comers for a game of pool – especially da young eens. After his untimely death, a pool tournament was organised at the Lights in his honour. It was fitting that the match should be a team competition between da auld eens – the Stallions – and da young eens – the Young Colts. The match is played every year between Christmas and New Year.

Despite being the victors for the first competition, the Young Colts went on to lose for the next three years in succession. This year the Stallions decided to give the young guns a bit of a chance and raised the young age limit to 35. Did this turn around young fortunes? No. It’s now four in a row for the Stallions! Players would like to say a special thanks to management and staff at the Northern Lights for the superb hospitality shown to everyone and the complementary curry.

Wintry weather on the evening of the tournament meant that some of the regulars were missing for the charity event, but the collection bucket still raised the fantastic sum of £515.51 for North Haven Hansel fund.

Staff and residents at North Haven are delighted with the addition to their fund that helps provide additional comforts for everyone at the care centre. Funds raised from last year’s pool tournament helped provide a large, flat screen television for the residents’ lounge and suggestions so far indicate that a Wii may be purchased with the money raised this year.

Residential unit manager at North Haven Christine Brown said: “Folk are very kind and generous in contributing to our Hansel fund and everyone here really appreciates it.” Recently the centre has also benefited from money raised at the Scatsta Christmas Party and this has been used to purchase three CD players, six back massagers, three foot spas and wall brackets for wall-mounted televisions. Staff are also overwhelmed by the generosity of families whose loved ones have been cared for at North Haven and would like to say a special thanks them.

House! at Vidlin

It’s eyes down at Vidlin hall tonight. Bingo begins at 7pm with an interval break for refreshments and ice-cream and a chance to recharge the dabber.

Cheerio Kit!

The start of a new decade can bring many changes. Last week brought a significant change for staff and pupils at schools throughout Northmavine. Kit Mowat, visiting teacher of art, hung up her paintbrush. After a long and happy career Kit retired from her post on Friday.

After qualifying as a teacher she taught in the North Isles before taking classes in the North Mainland. Over the years the work she had carried out with pupils was inspirational and exceptional, being recognised at a national level by the HMIe. A spokeswoman on behalf of Northmavine schools said: “Kit’s affable, generous personality and love of Shetland wildlife and culture will also live long in the memory of generations of pupils. We want to wish her a very happy retirement.”

Maree Hay


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