Listening to: Jacqueline (Franz Ferdinand)
Reading: Farm and Smallholder Fencing (Michael Roberts)
There's big excitement here today. We're getting a new cooker! Not an Earth-shattering event, you may think, but (appropriately for Orkney) it's been a bit of a saga.
For the last four-and-a-half months, we have been making do with an old two-ring camp cooker that dates back to Mrs Trainee Pig Farmer's childhood holidays, backed up by a neat combi oven we were given as a wedding present.
It has been OK (just) while there's been only one or two of us in the house, but we have both admitted longing to cook a proper meal without having the desperate battle to keep things warm. A Sunday dinner is almost impossible.
We have been trying to get a proper cooker here ever since our arrival in July. We fancied one of those big range jobs and picked out a really nice-looking stainless steel job on the website of a firm based down south.
I made the call, handed over my details and sat back, waiting for the cooker to arrive shortly (the proud boast of the company being that they would dispatch 24/7). I received an e-mail a couple of days later explaining that they had none of 'our' cookers in stock, but we could keep track of our order (and I assume our money) by logging on to the website. Hmmmm.
July turned into August and the new date for the cooker to arrive in came and went, replaced by a new target date. This happened twice more before even Mrs TPF started moving into harumph territory.
As September came, I got on the phone to ask fairly firmly whether there was any chance of the cooker being delivered before Christmas. "Next week," came the answer.
When next week came and the range cooker-sized gap in the kitchen remained empty, I sighed and called again, cancelling the order.
This was the end of September, so Sal scoured the websites for an alternative and found it, of course, on the Boots site. That's right, Boots the Chemist. "I'll have 24 paracetemol, a bottle of shampoo and a dual-fuel range cooker." I was surprised too.
So, we put the order in and were told straight away that the cooker would be made for us and it would take some time for delivery. That's fine, I thought, as long as we know and it arrives before Christmas.
Boots have been on the phone to give us a progress report every week and to apologise for any delays. Last week, they called to say the cooker was finished and would be going from the manufacturers to the delivery company ready for dispatch to Orkney. Boots seem to have no part in this whole transaction, other than acting as some sort of agent.
Then yesterday afternoon I got a call from the delivery company to say the cooker would be here between 8am and noon. I'm not convinced it will arrive today. It's very hard to get it through to people exactly where we live. The 'go to the far north of Scotland, catch a ferry, drive 25 minutes, then catch another ferry and you're there' thing rarely seems to sink in.
I'd already explained twice that most goods for Westray are left at the depot in Kirkwall and brought over by the island's freight company, and I went through it again, but the very helpful woman on the end of the line seemed convinced the delivery would be to our door. I'll believe it when I see it.
Anyway, it's on the way and Mrs TPF and myself are already jostling for position for 'first go' on the six burners and two ovens - can't wait.
UPDATE: The cooker didn't arrive, of course, but Mrs TPF did the impossible and rustled up a roast chicken dinner on two burners and a small oven. Impressive stuff.