Thursday, 7 July 2016

Feeling put upon

Feeling put upon 7.07

Feeling physically isolated and ignored, I withdraw further into the corner and take out my journal, writing by hand feels like coming home.
I'm unsure what display of wealth we have just been subjected to and for what reason but lunch on board the Sir Humphrey after a 10 minute trip across from Tórshavn harbour to Nolsoy has been unremarkable.

Sir Humphrey, copied from a marine traffic website.

We eat with the diesel engine running, noisy and unpleasant. Having a reasonable quantity to eat, of anything other than refined carbohydrate and fat, has not been a possibility for the last few days. Crumbs from the table have been sparse, our swiss team of referees eat avariciously, everything that is put in front of them  (except that is, for the endless cakes) despite us giving them more and more. I'm sitting on the other side of the glass partition on the boat, no room at the inn, but Marit laughs over loudly with her guests. 

Marit surveying the pretty village of Nolsoy

Left alone in peace with the sunshine, as they go to find coffee, I walk around the harbour and sit watching the water. I 
feel a tinge of regret that I have not learned a single word of Faroese beyond hello, goodbye and thank you but the old lady who approaches and sits beside me, speaks a little English. she is the second old person I have met with whom I would've liked to have conversed more freely. 

Starlings have nested in cracks in the concrete wall beside us, parents glean from the sandy rockpools and feed the noisy chicks. They amuse us both and give us a focus that we can talk about, without it mattering that we know not what the other says. We laugh when sometimes it appears that they leave again with their offering still in their beak, but perhaps they are doing their housekeeping and taking out the rubbish. She wears an unusual coral and cream, with a stripe of baby blue, knitted hat and I wonder where my hat is. My phone battery has died (taking photographs challenges it terribly) so I am unable to ask if I may take one of her. Beneath her gentle hat, a soft face with watery eyes, long brown coat and two little legs with crocs on. I think she must be in her nineties. She was born here, has three daughters and one son, lives in a house with a green roof.  I loved that despite her difficulties in doing so, she sat down on the wall beside me.

The sun is warm but the wind cool with the water 7 to 8°. Interesting how this little harbour draws people when that at Midvagur does not. From my sitting position across the bay, Sir Humphrey looks brash, ostentatious amongst small working boats. A family fishes with nets in the rock pools, an older boy turns stones and picks small crabs, popping them with glee into a container for his younger sisters. His shoes are very wet. Hikers walk by and stop to say hello, unlike the empty shores of Midvagur. 

I have concluded that the absence of any waves on the beach in Midvagur is caused by the extensive rock breakwaters that alternate across the fjord, calming the water but robbing the beach of personality. The tide comes in, the tide goes out and green slimy rocks and sand appear but for the water itself there is little movement, nothing to draw the ear or eye or give character, only a calming, gentle ripple. Perhaps too though, Midvagur lost any personality when the road to the airport was driven straight through it.

Torshavn appeared something of a disappointment, smaller than I expected, a collection of similar buildings to elsewhere, beautiful here and there but generally uninspiring. Surprisingly, a scattering of low, high rise development appeared as we descended into the capital town, but once at the harbour they can no longer be seen. 

The harbour itself was pretty much like any busy harbour except there appeared no busyness. We were the only craft that came in or out while we were loading and boarding. Seemingly over-large Smyril line ferries sit and wait, a huge grey battleship in dock I am told is the fjord watch, guarding fishing grounds and checking for illegal entry. The latter sounds bizarre given the nature of the coast and the lack of security at the airport. An enormous vessel sits in dry dock with rusting hull. The contrast between these huge craft and the collection of small fishing and leisure boats is extreme. Suddenly the wind picks up and terns arrive to swoop and play above the water. The old lady moves on but the starlings continue to feed. 

I am weary and in the sunshine could easily sleep with my eyes heavy, the sun warm and the birds cradling a lullaby. Without my phone though, I must watch for the others returning, although being left here could only be a joy.

I wanted to ask the old woman to teach me the circle dance, (Marit says there is no point in learning the dance unless you understand the words, ever helpful as always) but instead I asked her about the angelica. In the olden times she said, not today. I want to search out a recipe for pickled angelica. Did I mention the rhubarb beer the other day, I think I missed it off my list. We've just eaten carrot bread. I thought it sun-dried tomato when I chose it, shopping much more confidently this time, but it turned out to be carrot gratings. Marit was unimpressed by my selection but the guys ate it and enjoyed it. I told her it was good for I don't think they will have seen carrot bread before.

Yesterday disappeared in a whirl of kitchen cleaning and phone calls home. I've been here long enough now to turf out many things, to say, they do not belong in the kitchen. Ancient dried coffee pots and mouldy shrunken teabags in the bottom of flasks took some cleaning but the place is now worthy of its name and the floor tolerably clean. She tells me I will do the rest of the cafe and I agree. Better than bed making. She will go away for four days I can work long hours one day and then disappear. Soon I will have seen what I need to see here. 

She says she wants a Spanish girl next year who can cook Tapas, yet when I suggested Spanish chorizo and chicken dish she scorned, saying referees did not want spicy food. I asked what was the point of asking me if she always disagreed with my thoughts, why not just tell me what to do. She says she does not know what she thinks until she hears my thoughts and then by a process of elimination she decides what she does not want and therefore what she does want. My understanding grows.

I could usefully have been using my iPad sitting here. Being on a boat for the second time and not having a positive experience carrying it last time on a boat I left my iPad at home. I am enjoying writing in my journal but will have the tedious task of transcribing or talking into my iPad to get my words on paper. there were no waves or anxious swell just a pompous luxury cruiser, the biggest in Torshavn harbour. I imagine several million pounds worth. This was her ex-husband kindly taking us on a tour tour over to nolsoy. it very quiet and short uneventful boat ride

I've lost my hat. My beautiful hat knitted by Neet. It is nowhere to be seen. I think I must go to the petrol station and return to north of Bour where I sat wearing it. I wish I had my iPad. Recording once and being able to edit and slot information back in is a joy. 

The starlings are my company now the old lady has gone. I think I need a friend, someone to have a real conversation with. It does not need to be deep and meaningful but just open and exploratory., I know her act is a performance, a show, her whole body movements are designed to say,look at me, and she has every right to do as she pleases this is her business but we have little to connect us. Offering a service from seven in the morning, until gone 11 at night requires more than two people particularly when that involves the cooking of three meals and serving of coffee three times a day, with endless cakes.

I am whingeing again. the Swiss, unlike last weeks Irish, eat everything that is put before them. However although she knows this, tonight she has given them two and a half large portions of salmon each, two large platefuls of salad and a gallon of roast old new potatoes,leaving us yet again with nothing to eat. They loved the salmon so very much, he's says and she does not like salmon. She offers me soggy, roast potatoes. She says she is expecting two further guests who need to eat arriving at 8:45 PM tonight. I say no, I'm not starting to cook again, I'm off duty. And I open a tin of tuna which I eat with some tomatoes.

I am fearful of being too familiar with the referees I would like to ask questions about corruption and FIFA but it feels inappropriate. Had I thought, the Irish guys would have engaged in such conversation. I know her act is a performance, a show she has said as much, that she is play acting a 1950s game describing it as Downton Abbeyesque! As well as being an IT business woman she says she is a psychotherapist, a sexologist, yes that's right, that's what she says and a yoga teacher yet she practices none of these.

I did not make much progress trying to tell her that bottles of beer should not go in the fridge, she couldn't understand that they might be dirty and might introduce germs. We have both agreed that the fridge and the foodstore need a thorough clean. Trying to ask about different coloured chopping boards on my first day met with a blank look. I persist about the beer bottles and suggests that should inspectors arrive, she might be in difficulty. She told me that she will never be inspected, her guests are private, no members of public here so she does not need to be inspected.

I watch over the harbour waiting for the Swiss to return from coffee. My thoughts are desultory. This reminds me of a quiet corner of an Irish or Cornish beach, empty and alone. My ankles are cold. A minute ago my trousers were rolled and my white legs basking in the sunshine. Heavy clouds have stolen the sun, I miss my gloves, left on the boat. I zip my fleece, wind my scarf tighter around my neck and regret once more the loss of my hat.

I wonder what it might be like to live here. Marit talks of it being a scary place to leave your husband when parents have been together for 65 years and all of your siblings are in stable relationships, what's it like to be the first, she says. And it's such a small place. She says there was nothing wrong with her relationship she just grew tired of it, bored, they were very good business partners for 25 years but miles apart in manner and lifestyle.

Interesting here how black rock makes a pale buff sand, why do black rocks sometimes make black sand and sometimes light sand?

The rooms have yet to be cleaned, if they are to be cleaned, but it must easily be 3 PM and we are far from home. Supper will be baked salmon and new potatoes roasted and must be cooked, served and eaten before 8 PM so the Swiss can watch the football. Time to return, I see stragglers wondering back.

The rest of yesterday, after my assault on the kitchen, involved endless phone calls home. Thankfully I had spent time the day before getting my mobile to finally work. It turned out that it was fixed on 4g but I need 2g here to connect. I was annoyed but also interested that Apple does not seem to extend any service support here, my attempts at emails or online chat their website were just met with ' there are no services in your vicinity'. My solar panels at home are not reporting and despite Carla rebooting my system yesterday there has been no change. I make slow progress with the help of my neighbour, an ex airbnb guest and Kevin, a solar expert and in doing so, receive an invitation to a swoosh (river bore tidal wave) party on 18th September. Coming home early seems more of a likelihood than I thought it might. My solar panels continue not to report but they are working and feeding in to the grid. I have an online instruction manual and someone who, when I manage to finally tie together all the ends, will go to remedy the situation for me.

This has not been easy, reading my words and recording them. There are too many words it does not understand, and too many words where my pronunciation clearly is ineffective. I have also wandered many times, causing confusion for any reader I'm sure. I had hoped that thus might prove a satisfactory way of working and that my previous travel journals might also be recorded in this way. But I fear that it could be more laborious then I think. Learning to type without looking at the keyboard might help.

I do so wish I could add the shipping forecast each time I end a piece but my writing is mostly off line and time on line too short to search, copy and paste. I wonder if there's an archive of shipping forecasts I might explore and extract from one day.