On Bergen

Bergen is a beautiful city. It sits nestled between mountains, fjords and islands. Known as ‘the city between the seven mountains’, it is actually surrounded by nine in total. The name Bergen means ‘the meadow among the mountains’. The mountains protect the city, keeping its climate relatively warm considering its northern aspect. The water is clear and blue. The many lakes and fjords are like glassy mirrors reflecting pure images of the forested surroundings. Up in the mountains, if you are lucky, you can see goats living wild. (OK, so this one isn’t really wild – but they are there!)

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Bergen is an old city. It was founded about 1070. In the harbour, you will find the ancient district of Bryggen. These beautiful wooden buildings now house shops, museums and eateries. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, they are crowded and popular with tourists. Bergen’s narrow cobbled streets are lined with picturesque, clapperboard houses.

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Bergen is a city of fires. Its history contains a trail of destruction. Many of its buildings are wooden and in danger from the flames. In 1248, eleven churches were burnt down. In 1702, ninety percent of the city was reduced to ashes. Bryggen has burnt on more than one occasion, including in 1476 in a fire started by a drunk and in 1955 when many of its buildings were destroyed.

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Bergen is a clean city. It is a city you can breathe in. The mountain air is sweet and fresh. Bergen has an excellent public transport system, including trains, trams and buses. Much of it is electric. This transport system keeps cars out of the city centre. The few cars you do see are mostly electric. The Norwegian government subsidises the purchase of electric cars, so Norwegians drive more electric cars per capita than anywhere else in the world. It is a green and environmentally friendly place.

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Bergen is a wild city. Bergen residents like to party on a Saturday night and this includes indulging in some heavy drinking! Luckily, alcohol is very expensive, so drunkenness seems to be limited to once a week. People in Bergen love to enjoy the outdoors – swimming in the fjords, walking the trails, sailing around the islands. There are trekking trails everywhere. It is easy to get up into the mountains and explore, especially the two most popular ones. Floyen has a funicular railway and Ulriken has a cable car. There are cabins hidden in the mountains and forests where you can stay after a long day trekking. There are places to set up camp and get your fire going all over the mountainsides.

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Bergen is a beautiful, old, clean, wild city. I recommend you go and visit.

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Here

To sit on a World War II gun battery,

crumbling tumble-down shelter to shaggy sheep,

symbol of war, hate and death.

To watch the early summer sun sinking

behind bold distant hills,

spilling fiery colour across clouds.

To listen to the last birdsong of evening,

eerie calls of pheasant hiding in wavy grass,

maniacal cries of horned beasts.

To see that blazing ball of flame

drip amber, pink and gold upon the settled sea.

To experience a moment of peace

removed from this world of madness, fear and sorrow.

Life-affirming minutes;

we exist now, at this time,

we are here.

An unexpected sight

Summer is at an end. September has arrived in watery bluster and the holidays are over. Soon children will make the slow, sad trudge to school, tummies full of butterflies. My son will begin college and my daughter will be off to university; both looking for new, exciting adventures. My heart goes with them; wishing every happiness and success. I will be left alone at home, a little bereft, with plenty of empty time to fill with writing my novel. Well, that is the theory.

Today, in memory of summer, I post a final holiday poem from Ireland about some rather unexpected animals I met there living in the lush hills.

 

Emus in the Irish countryside

Walking cool

damp lanes,

quiet morning in

cleansing rain,

gleaming hedgerows

jewels of amethyst and

emerald, air

crisp with birdsong when,

alien in early

stillness,

booming of African drumming

vibrating, resonating,

deep throated thrumming.

Rhythmic pulsing,

nature’s heart

beating.

Life rising from the

Earth.

Holiday poems

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Holidays are a fertile time for writing. Away from normal routines, in peaceful, beautiful surroundings, there is opportunity and space to breathe; to allow time to think and to open our minds to creativity.

I recently made a trip to West Cork in Ireland and wrote some poetry whilst there. The landscape, wildlife and animals surrounding me provided wonderful inspiration.

Here is one of my poems:

 

Mountain view in Maughanaclea June 2017

Cloud on mountain

tops, misty fingertip

touch.

Shaded slopes sage

green, golden yellow hues

fold under sharp stone,

jagged crags of purple rock.

 

Sweet breath of fresh

silence, suddenly stirred;

jarred by strimmer

hum and moan,

slice and slash.

Vegetation smell,

sugary in nostrils,

catches thick in the

throat.

 

Poem for National Dog Day

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We can learn a lot from our dogs  – how to live in the moment, how to relax, how to have fun, how to accept ourselves, how to feel satisfied with what we have, how to be loyal, how to be dependable and how to love unconditionally.

If we were more like dogs, we would be better human beings.

Here is a poem I wrote about a dog I met on holiday in Ireland recently:

 

Ode to a corgi met in Ballyrisode

Sausage roll dog,

fluff ball of caramel pastry,

stumpy squat legs,

stub of tail,

bottom wag,

sat on the pebbly shore

staring from us to sea.

 

Do you want us to

throw a ball in the

still ocean, so

splashing and dripping you

retrieve it?

 

Do you want us to

launch a boat on the

wide water, so

dashing and yipping you

sail away?

 

Eager eyes, patient

panting friend,

sadly, I feel we have

disappointed you.