Monday, 7 January 2008

To be fair, the girl's done good

Listening to: Please Read The Letter (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss)
What's for tea?: Sal's swede soup and apple crumble
Reading: An Utterly Impartial History of Britain (John O'Farrell)

We've been hit by a wave of girl power here on Westray and we're all feeling very much the better for it.

Mrs TPF has been in impressive form since her return from the West Midlands at the beginning of December. While I was away attending to family responsibilities and drinking vast amounts of beer with Reg Pither, she turned our tumbledown house into something resembling a home - a very Christmassy home.

The roll of podge around my middle stands testament to the quality of the Christmas cake, mince pies, soups, chocolate pistachio fudge, chocolate truffles and other goodies she had 'put together in a spare moment'.

When it came to compiling the (very long) list of jobs we need to do to make the house decent (we pay no council tax as the house is officially 'uninhabitable') I had a few ideas, but Sal had a truckload of better ones. She's got that natural feel for what makes a house a good place to live.

Now she's sorted out another problem for us - where the money comes from. We've always known that one of us at least would have to get a 'proper' job, if only on a part-time basis. We're not daft enough to expect to make money from farming.

Sal's a get-up-and-go kind of girl and she got up and went. . . for an interview with Orkney Council last Friday and was offered a social work job that very afternoon.

The snag is that she will have to spend four nights a week in Kirkwall, but it's only until the end of August and who knows what opportunities will present themselves then?

We skived off today and went to Kirkwall for a celebration lunch (and to buy animal feed, look at gates and fence posts - exciting stuff!). "What do you fancy," I said, with visions of chilled white wine and seafood. "Something with chips and a couple of pints," came the reply. You can take the girl out of Wolverhampton. . .

To round off a good day for the ladies, I went to shut the hens in and - you've guessed it - there was an egg! The first for four weeks.


Ginni Dee said...

Malc, you're a lucky man! Sal sounds like a dream wife and a hen that lays...well that's something special too! Just be sure to give Sal all the chips and pints she wants and keep a light burning in that chicken coop at night and you'll keep them both happy!


snailbeachshepherdess said...

Sounds idyllic up there even if it is classed as uninhabitable...loved the'you can take the girl out of Wolverhampton...'
was working with Russell M from the Chronicle today! There thats taken you back to your youth I bet!

Arabella said...

I've missed reading this during the holiday. Lots of catching up to do...with a slice of cake I think.
Happy New Year to all, four legs and two.

Z said...

Excellent - except for the four nights a week in Kirkwall. Who ate the egg?

Dave said...

An uninhabitable house in the depths of a northern winter. You paint an attractive picture, sir.

Malc said...


That's what Sal keeps telling me.


Blimey! Is he still alive? Give him my kindest regards next time you see him. It really has been a long time.


Cake and maybe a glass of something interesting. Glad you made it home in one piece. How was Merry Hill?


Nothing's ever perfect, but it's a well-paid job and it gives us an excuse for a night out in Kirkwall every now and then. We have kept the egg in the hope another will appear today. Other than that it's going to be the usual - arm-wrestling. Bet I lose.


Sun's out, sea all blue and shimmering. Bloody lovely today.

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

Congratulations on the egg -- let's hope it's the first of many more! :)

Anonymous said...

Those chickens are just playing the system, blatantly. Keep an eye on them - THEY'RE ORGANISED you know.

Uninhabitable? I now have an image of trainee pig farmer living beneath a tree...

Malc said...


What's that worth at Scrabble (bet you haven't hear that before).
And thanks, but I live in hope rather than expectation these days.


We used to dream of living under a tree.

Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

In English Scrabble, BWLCHYRHYD would be worth 30 points, but as it's a Welsh name, really it should be scored using a Scrabble yn Gymraeg set, which would give it a point value of only 23 -- so you can see that uncommon letters in English are in fact more common in Welsh! (I used to play Scrabble competitively back when we lived in London!)

Malc said...


That's my favourite comment of the year so far - maybe ever. Thank you.

ziggi said...

my god I have oven envy - that's a fine looking beast and no wonder Sal can cook so many things at once!

Puffincentral said...

Happy New Year! Took me ages to read all yr posts since I got back - no pc in London. Blimey - it's all happening innit?
Item on the World Service mentioned that pigs have the mentality of a three-year-old child, with a similar degree of ability to plan and organise: that makes them about equal to Lennie in 'Of Mice and Men.' When they start requesting rabbits to tend, I'd start worrying.

fiwa said...

Congratulations to Sal on her job - that's great! And an egg too... I still think you need to think about mink wraps for the ladies. No? Wool mufflers then?

And now, because I'm female, I must ask. IS THAT WHOLE THING YOUR OVEN? In the picture behind the lonely sentinel? What are the four different drawers or handles for? That thing is huge!

homo escapeons said...

Wow this place is great!
You have made a fabulous life for yourself in an uninhabitable house surrounded by livestock on an island that looks like Italy.

I would find Welsh Sbckrkabbldlyllle as hard, maybe even harder, than chinese math.

If the BBC was making a sitcom about your little piece of heaven, then one of the American Conglomerates would steal the idea one week later...which Hollywood Star would they get to play you?

Malc said...


Thought you'd like the Behemoth 2008. It truly is a beast. eight burners, two ovens, a grill and a storage chamber. My ambition is to cook a meal that uses them all at the same time - think that'll be next Christmas.
There's considerable competition to use it here, both myself and Sal being competant cooks. That's going to get worse tomorrow when The Boy arrives for a fortnight. He's a trainee chef and has some recipes to road test. We're going to have to organise a rota.


Welcome back to Orkney. Who needs a rabbit when you've got a trainee pig farmer to play with?


Sally says 'hi' and thanks. Yep, it's all oven. Isn't it a thing of beauty? Sometimes size does matter.


Hello there! The weather isn't very Italian right now. It's the competitive Scrabble I'm still trying to get my head round.

Thanks for starting a little game that's going to keep us amused for hours here. I'd love to say Liam Neeson, but Sal has just given me a funny look. I'll report back.

fiwa said...

my god, no wonder it took so long to get it! It's HUGE. Don't get me wrong, I like it. In fact, I have oven envy and if I lived near you, you'd probably wake up to noises in your kitchen in the middle of the night and find me there baking something and whispering sweet nothings to it.

Malc said...


Feel free, but be prepared to take your turn on the rota. Competition is reaching fever-pitch.