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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Like on the Isle of Skye there were some cattle but mostly sheep; the crofts on the hills housed the shepherds smoke billowed from the chimneys of every cottage house from wood burning stoves. The simple cottages looked picturesque; like all those fancy toffee tins with the boats and houses you’d see on them. There were also white horses kept in the paddocks. People travelled around by horse and cart mostly; there were very few cars on the Island.

They passed the observatory where all the weather conditions were reported daily. Then the local pub came into view. It was more like a large hut than a pub but it served a purpose. Steve and Kerstin got dropped off first, then Beth and Chris.

“See you tomorrow morning skipper down at the pier.’

Aye; good night lads.’ Steve and Chris grabbed the bags with all of their clothes then walked up to the two nearby cottages.

“I don’t think the skipper is happy do you whispered Chris into Steve’s ear before they parted company. It started snowing again as Tom pulled his bags and a big brown suitcase from the red coloured van.’

“Welcome to our humble home said Richard as they went into the cottage.

“Here Tom, this will be your room; get yourself changed into something more comfortable.’

“Thanks Richard,’ Tom set his clothes bag on the bed then took of his oilskins.

Isla his wife was a small but pretty looking woman which was surprising given the size of Richard who was a man mountain. Richard competed in the highland games in Edinburgh in his youth. He was a fair Hammer thrower and was in the Scots guards during the First World War. There was a photo of him and his wife who he had met and brought to the Island in 1886 in a small table. The sturdy chairs were hand made and had to be to take Richards immense size.

“Are ye hungry asked Isla to Tom?’

”We stopped off at the Isles of Skye this morning Craig Johnson and his good wife Helen kindly gave us Breakfast.

Come and sit yersel doon and I’ll make you’s something.

So Margaret how’s your Job going asked her mother as she busied herself in the kitchen.’

Just like any other place I’ve been to mother but the people are very friendly. The work is long and hard.’

“How did you two meet then?’

“We were chatting and having a drink in a local pub when Tom came in. “He came over and started chatting and we got on straight away.’

“Nothing to do with his good looks then aye hen, her mother laughed.’

Margaret cut some fresh bread and her mother had heated up a pan of stew with tatties in for them to eat.’

Richard and Tom were talking about the fishing on the Island.

“I nearly forgot said Tom as he got up and went to a sack that he’d brought in and pulled out the lobsters and crabs that he’d caught off the Northumberland Coastline. “ I’ve had them purged in fresh sea water and kelp to keep them alive.’

“I will cook them tomorrow Tom thank you; Ritchie is partial to a nice lobster.’

“They make a nice soup too.’

“I’ve never had them in a soup before.’

“Isla makes a nice soup said Richard, wait until you try it.’

“We make soup every day on the island to help stave off the cold weather.’

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