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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worse when the sheep wondered off to give birth and they would have to deliver them in the field so to speak. Many lambs died which would lose the farmer money.

Willie the collie dog led the sheep back down the mountain and back to the farm where they were housed in barn until the storm cleared. After laying down fresh straw and feeding them with soya bean hulls and creep feed grain for the young lambs. The lads returned home when they were done to some hot soup to warm them up. Tom’s feet were cold as ice as the snow had gotten inside of his rigging boots and his socks were soon wet through. He took them off in the passage and then wrang them out in the sink.’

“Here give me those said Margaret.’ who kissed him then told him to go and sit by the fire for a bit. Drying wet clothes in the winter on Barra was very difficult because you couldn’t hang it outside, it would soon blow away. A line was constructed across the sitting room and the washing hung up to dry from the heat of the fire. This caused condensation and dampness in the walls. They had to be treated every year to stop the rot.

After dinner they sat around a table playing cards; Margaret was very good; she ended up winning the most match sticks.

Tom was missing Margaret in his bed; he took a book from the small collection that Richard had then went to his room and got inside. Tom was not one for wearing underwear for bed but here he went to bed wearing long Johns and bed socks and a bottle heated up. The bottle made of clay lasted for a few hours and it kept his feet warm until he got off. Beth Munro waited until everyone was asleep before she crept into Chris’s room and climbed into bed beside him. The sound of the cattle being milked from the nearby farm woke her up and she slipped back to her room and got dressed.

The wind and snow were relentless and over the next week there was very little that they could do but wait it out. The following week was Christmas day and everyone gathered in the church to give thanks for the birth of Christ. Afterwards the large church hall and barns across the Island were used to feed everyone. There were over three hundred people all sitting together sharing a huge feast. The meat was supplied by the farmers as well as the vegetables. Cakes, pies, spiced buns, and tarts were put out and Steve had never seen as much food in his whole life. The men supplied home brew and whiskey. The music was supplied by the Vatersay Boys who played until the early hours without even a break. They consumed a lot of alcohol which was very potent and never dropped a bum note. Tom was just taking his time and he was surprised at how much his bride to be could drink. She was drinking two pints to his one; she danced the night away and had Tom exhausted by two in the morning. There would be no rest for them later when they would have to get up to milk the cows and feed the animals. Farm work was bloody hard he thought. It was one of the best Christmases that Tom had ever had. Even when his parents were alive nothing compared to this. He only wished they were alive to see it as well as his brother Jack

He went outside for a moment and looked up in the starry sky and said “Merry Christmas Mam and Dad and Jack, I hope your behaving yourself.’ God bless you all.’

He wondered back to the house then went to bed. Margaret had left out clean long Johns and heated his water bottle for him. He smiled as he hung up his clothes.

He had asked a friend that he’d made to get him a nice present for Margaret and her parents. He also asked for a bottle of good whiskey to give Craig Johnson the farmer on Skye upon their return.

 

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