A Place Beyond The Priory

 "A Place Beyond the Priory " This is a story about Life in North Shields during the 1900's-1920's Tom Farrow is a third generation coble fisherman, Who meets and falls in love with a young herring girl who has travelled from the isle of Barra in the outer Hebrides looking for work. Margaret Linnie, her two friends Kerstin McDonald and Beth Munro all end up on the gutting line in Tyne Brand - their unscrupulous foreman Albert Mortimer treats all the girls on the line like animals including his wife Lizzie who bares him 11 children. forced into a marriage she did not want, Lizzie is abused by Albert for his own sexual gratification. She was in love with a young Greek boy called Leonidas Kostalas whom she had known from her days at school and lost her virginity to but her father will not allow them to marry- this is a story of love and betrayal and will keep you riveted until the last page is read.

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Tom decided to sail around the Cape that evening as the sea was relatively calm.

The wind had dropped as he looked out at the Jagged rocks on the shoreline he moved the tiller so that the boat went wider. They had travelled over two hundred miles now. The three women were asleep under the tarpaulin; oblivious to the night sky.’

“Do you want a spell skipper said Steve?’

“No I’m fine, look you two get your heads down; I will call you if I need you.’

The two men went inside the canopy and lay down using the spare life jackets as pillows.

Tom looked at his watch; it was just after one in the morning and the only sound was the gentle swish of the sea against the side of the boat and the sound of the puffins that flew around the cape. Some had two or three small fish in their beaks; whilst others dived for the small fry. It was a full moon and the silvery glow from it illuminated the sea.  Tom put up the sails to catch the sea breezes again; he was making good time he filled a bucket with sea water to pour over the crabs and lobsters to keep them alive. He had gone another five miles when something very large caught his eye he steered towards it. What ever it was, it was cruising. At first he thought it was a leopard seal but as the boat neared the flukes of the animal splashed the surface and he realised it was a huge whale shark feeding on krill and plankton. He had never been as close to a fish as big in all of his life and he remembered his grandfather telling him how they hunted whales for their oil when he was a lad. The right whales were hunted to near extinction. And it had taken near a hundred years for the species to recover.

“Whale oil was not seen as a commodity now so most of the whaling industry died out. Seal hunting persisted and Japan and Norway still hunted the whale as a meat source. These gentle majestic creatures should be allowed to roam the seas and oceans so that future generations could gaze upon them thought Tom. He looked at the eye of the whale shark as it looked back at him. It seemed unperturbed by his presence then with one flick of her tail she dived down and was gone from sight. Tom continued on his journey throughout the night. The morning sky broke the horizon, yellows and reds slowly turning grey.

The men woke first and both stood and urinated into the sea before asking Tom to go have a kip.

He didn’t realise how tired he was until he lay down; ten minutes later he was snoring away. The women woke and they saw Tom lying there oblivious to the world.’

How long has Tom been asleep asked Margaret?’

“He’s not long gone off.’

“He must be shattered.’

“I asked him to wake us but he’s a stubborn bugger is Tom.’

“Well we will have to drink water as there is no hot tea to drink. There are some oat meal biscuits for if you’d care for one for breakfast.’

“Go on then I need something on my stomach; what time is it.’

“Just after five thirty.’

“How are you feeling today Kerstin.’

“Better than yesterday Steve; I think my sea sickness has gone.’

“Where are we now, said Beth Munro half asleep.’ 

“About fifty miles from the Isle of Skye.’

 I feel as if I’ve been on this boat forever said Beth.’

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