Isabella Irvine was a maid on Clashnoir Farm in Braes, near Tomintoul. She started this job in 1937 when she was 14. She had no choice about working here. She had to do it. She was given a room in the Garrett. She had to scrub and cook from 5 am-7pm. She had to prepare breakfast for four every morning. Breakfast was a pot of porridge, bowl of brose (oatmeal) and then added salt. She had no days off or holidays and earned £1 a month. Her uniform was her normal clothes with a big apron over it. Later in the day she had to see to the dinner. Supper could be fried tatties left over from dinner. They also ate lots of milk puddings.
Sheep’s Head soup
She had to scrub a sheep’s skull then boil it in a pan and put the empty sheep skull into the soup pan. It was just the empty skull with no brain in it. No skin on it. Soup was made with carrots, barley and mixed peas and lasted two days. They stored it in a cold safe and they had mesh on the door that the milk went behind. They also enjoyed the knap bone (knee) sucking the marrow out of the bone.
At the weekend she got a penny. She bought 2 chocolate crunchies for a ½ d and a lucky tattie for ½ d (type of sweet). There was also crunchy tablet made with sugar and baking soda. When she stopped working on the farm she worked at a hotel in Tomintoul. Here she had to wear a cap, apron, collar, cuff and a dress she had to buy herself.
Memory contributed by Isabella Irvine, Tomintoul
Sheep’s head soup– Many nations share the use of sheep’s head soup. A google search wll bring a whole range of recipes, nationalities and cultures which still enjoy this delicacy.