Eleven thirty pm on day one and we have just finished setting up breakfast for the morning. I will keep tally. If I’m being generous I have given ten hours labour today. It’s hard to quantify whether sitting entertaining guests counts. It should, but I’ve only given it ‘half’ hours and I wonder why.
I’ve mastered the car. Not only are doors left unlocked, car keys sit in the door pockets. I guess when you can’t leave the island easily it makes car theft less appealing. Navigating the supermarket was less easy than roundabouts!
Tomorrow I’m charged with baking four large quiches in an industrial oven and was sent to purchase ingredients. It was harder than it might have been, not only because I don’t speak Faroese but also that many things are only labelled in Danish. the young supermarket assistants, whilst speaking good English, don’t understand Danish. That’s helpful then!
The Iceland football win continues to be a popular joke.
‘Another Escape’ authors had a disappointing day, climbing to a viewing spot only to be suddenly shrouded in fog. Their guide had to use sat nav to get them safely down. No photos for them today then and a lesson for me in the dangers of exploring off piste alone.
The Irish referee group arrived and clearly don’t like salad but the fish pie, cake and biscuits went down well. I’ve inched my mattress a foot further into the dimmest corner of the room and at midnight, I will now try to sleep to the sound of an annoying little wooden man turning the handle of his windmill, he must’ve been off duty last night.
Disenchanted. Fed up. Filthy industrial kitchen without requisite cleaning or safety equipment. Disingenuous at best is the only description for my host. Telling me less than a week ago that she had no guests yet now tells me these referees booked two weeks ago. Apparently there is a European football cup going on and these guys are here to referee the match tomorrow. I don’t understand why she told me there were no guests when she was full. That’s not just about being chaotic. But why would you do that? I dislike not understanding. Dislike anything that is not straight talking. She has asked whether I might consider staying longer than two months. I think I’ll be lucky if I last two weeks!
There, I’ve let down my guard. I’m whinging, this may have to become an invite only blog. In fairness I’ve been ready to walk since that first evening when there was no one here to greet me. No, those I’ve been around in the last few weeks,mknow I was ready to go walkabout before I even got here. I’m unsure I care even enough to hang on until I get the two days off with her car.
I’m unsure why I not packing my bag and clearing off. I feel sorry for her but don’t understand why she is not employing someone for there is much work to do. And I don’t understand that she seems to have few standards. She said she would clean the rooms today while I cooked. Yet one of the guests has just told me that the wet room with the shower is about to overflow into the hallway, this doesn’t surprise me after seeing the state of it from just two people yesterday morning. it seems she has not mopped it. I find her to tell her they have just asked for it to be cleaned but I’m now going back to prepare the meal . Yes she says she will do it. It’s another issue, like the outside balcony where the water drains away from the drain hole, not into it.
I need to go to torshavn to explore options, stay in a hostel, meet some travellers. really I just need a good nights sleep. I know these positions can be like this, it’s either all or nothing, draining and then incredibly rewarding. Situated on the main road to and from the airport I’m tired by the constant stream of traffic from early morning until late at night and worn down by being consulted, ignored, decisions being made that were not my suggestions and then being given the responsibility of overseeing something, being asked to make further decisions only for them to be wrong. It’s wearing.
For example and this just one of many examples.
What shall we give them with the flan?
Potato wedges I proffer?
Ah, I have lots of new potatoes from last year we could use those, what would you do with those?
Boil them and serve with butter I say.
I think you can roast them she says, boil them first, cut them in half and roast them in the oven.
Ok I say.
I clean them but being kept in an earthen clamp for many months they are soft and badly marked. I trim and cut away, she clearly thinks I’m taking too long, I point out how much preparation they need. She gives me a filthy, very over used sponge scourer from the washing up sink and says use that to scrub them. this, after telling me that I can only wash my hands in the sink (that’s unusable being full of dirty cloths), can only wish up in the sink full of rancid unwashed pans and can only prepare food in the sink where I now am, yet she picks the greasy sponge scourer from the rancid pan sink. I no longer care enough to argue or point out health and hygiene, all my other points have been laughed at, we don’t do that here she usually says.
The scourer is now binned, I didn’t even like touching it left alone putting it on food. I digress, can you tell I’m tired and disgruntled?
So I prepare and halve the old new potatoes, as instructed and boil them for five minutes in preparation for roasting.
Do you think they are small enough she says?
Yes I think so but if you want them cut smaller, I will, it’s up to you.
No she says i want you to decide if they should be cut smaller before roasting.
I repeat that I would have left them whole and boiled them.
she asks, will they cook?
Yes, they will cook I say.
she asks what I plan to cook them in, a little oil, I say and some salt.
Nothing else she says?
Smiling nicely, I say I’ll cook them in anything you want me to cook them in.
she says no I want to see what you might do with them.
I again reply that a little salt and some oil will be good.
she hands me a container of ‘Aromat’ seasoning, tells me to use it and again starts asking after the size.
I say I’ll cut them smaller.
No she says leave them we shall see.
When I bring the four large flans and the potatoes from the industrial kitchen, up the uneven, loose stoned, half formed steps, to the first floor kitchen, I say are the guests ready, the meal is cooked.
Are the potatoes crispy she asks.
No, I don’t think last years stored new potatoes, will go crispy easily but they are good.
The Irish referees (funny every time she says referees, and she says it often, it sounds like refugees and takes my head wondering what’s happening with the brexit chaos back home) enjoyed the meal, especially the potatoes, thank goodness!
This must be very tedious reading. I apologise but at last my writing is back to the way I would normally write. Get it out of my system.
She wants me to choose a chicken and pasta recipe for tomorrow’s lunch. Google helps me do so. She doesn’t like my choice, I read out several other recipes, she likes the sound of one, I read the list of ingredients. Yes that’s good she says. We have six guests for lunch tomorrow, I suggest making a quantity for eight. No she says make for twelve as we have seven tomorrow. I write the list of ingredients, now she no longer likes her choice and asks me to choose a different one. I choose a very simple straightforward one that I think will go down well with out Irish guests, no she says it is too simple, find something more interesting.
Did I say I was struggling? Did I say I’m tired? Did I say I want to walk away? The twenty eighth of July feels a long long way away but when I get on that aeroplane I can’t see me returning. She says we are busy until the seventh of June and then there are no bookings, we can have a rest, we can go and have some fun. In between times she told me how lucky she is that I am here and rubs her hands at all the money she is earning, how she can pay some bills. I don’t believe there will be no guests and down time. What will I take for me to trust her I wonder. She clearly likes me.
That’s another five hours so far today but I’ve made the point of saying that, whilst I cleaned the surfaces of the industrial kitchen so I could cook, and whilst I emptied the sink of the filthy industrial pans soaking with what looked like the remains of an ancient bolognese sauce, cleaning the rest of the kitchen must be a job we do together. Ive put all the filthy cloths to wash and left the surfaces safe to be cooked on tomorrow.
Back to finding another chicken and pasta recipe! A Croatian UEFA official has just arrived. He is unhappy. He was expecting five star luxury. Where is the desk in his room, where can he work? Where is the adaptor for his plug? The latter I can help with and reassure him that his plug is exactly the same as those here and he does not need an adaptor. He plugs in his laptop and goes for a shower.
I have written out a list of ingredients for the chicken pasta. I’ve abandoned google and made one up that I think she will like. I give it to her and say, I am going for a walk. Oh, she says but I am now going shopping and I need you to stay here. Then she complains about the earlier flooded shower room, saying she does not understand the flooding. I tell her it was the same yesterday. She admits that this is the first time in years that the building has been used and says she will go check the floor after the UEFA official’s shower.
It seems my circumstances may have changed, my host has decided that she is not going to Norway on the seventh and eighth of June and nor will we be going off having some fun. her offer of me having the car also seems to have changed. Her son and his family are now coming here, she says they will all go to a nearby island for some time together. She says she will not take bookings but she can employ someone to help me clean the industrial kitchen while she is away. I point out that I have already worked many hours and that I will also need time off. She says ‘yes’ but I’m unconvinced. chaotic, total chaos.
So I’m sitting here writing, in this stuffy, horrid 1950s concrete building instead of walking and exploring my surroundings. Nope, the Faroese guide for the football officials tells me the UEFA officials shower has flooded the wet room and water is overflowing into the hall. So she didn’t check it then before going shopping.
I leave my words, roll up my trousers and paddle, mopping water for the second day in a row. I then return to my writing but my host bursts in, she went to the shops but did not take the list so can I tell her again what she needs to buy and she will go and get it. In a more firm manner than I’ve used at all up to now, I say that she needs to get the shower dealt with and she is now on the phone beside me.
She wonders if I am writing my faroese memoir, I say no I’m just reassuring friends and family that I’m ok as I don’t get much chance to get on wifi. I’m pleased I have security locks on my iPad.
At last, I go walking.