Frank Pollard and Mary Spence Watson diaries | Trip on the Griffin, 1897  

MSWP (& FEP) diaries

Trip on the 'Griffin'

by Francis E. Pollard (1872-1951)

August 1897

[with a few notes by Mary S.W. Pollard]






1897 (FEP)





1904 (with FEP)



















A Pollard  J H Pollard W H Pollard
F E Pollard Miss Hayward Miss Grace
Miss Sewell Miss Scott G J Fowler
M Spence Watson E F Hill Mr West
F W Grubb J T Wigham E W Rowntree
B Procter    

July 31st.

At 11 p.m. Will and I reached Oban—famished. Met by JWH and Miss H. Miss Sewell on same train. On yacht—Miss Grace, Joe Wigham, Mr West. Slept on deck.


Sunday Aug 1st.

Fine, lazy day. Row to Dunstaffnage Castle

Monday Aug 2nd.

Bought provisions. AP, JHP, GJF and Miss Scott by afternoon train. Started south. Delightful. Stopped at Charsaig Bay. Pitched tent on sharp rocks.

Tuesday 3rd.

Most rowed to see Grays. GJF and I lounged on deck. Grays came and we steamed round to head of Loch Sween. Delightful place. Fairy Islands. Songs. Camped there.

Wednesday 4th.

To West Loch Tarbert. Jolly pitching. Called on Thompsons (JWH, Miss H, JTW & I)—tea. All came across to yacht. I attacked both re A.J.—utter failure. Camped on island.

Thursday 5th.

Some of party of Thompsons on board—down loch and back. MSW finally. Away to Jura. Broadside to waves—rolling. A few ill. Most enjoyed most of it, but glad to land. To Lowland over Bay. Ladies to sleep in house. Walk—bogs—Mary, JWH and I.

Friday 6th.

Some a walk. AJ, M & I lazy—coffee. To Oban. Walk.

Saturday 7th.

Grubb came to breakfast. To Ballachulish—splendid place—hot. M & I began diary. Hot. Walk up hill. JWH and I across for milk. Camped on island.


Mary Spence Watson and others aboard the Griffin, August 1897; taken by Frank Pollard

Mary Spence Watson and others aboard the Griffin, August 1897; taken by Frank Pollard

Sunday 8th.

Rowed up Loch Leven and walked over to Glencoe and back. Tremendous. Scones and milk. Heather in hair and shoes and hat.

Monday 9th.

General bathe. Went for milk. Grand concert on deck. Row—Ballachulish—cemetery—Glencoe. Camped as before.

Tuesday 10th.

To Fort William early. Supposed to meet?—muddle.

Bottle-nosed whale. Walk—GJF, Miss Sc, Miss H and I in town. Scones and games in station. Camped.

Wednesday 11th.

Soaking wet. Walk. All wet. WH, M & I. Games in cabin. Row. Camped as before.

Thursday 12th.

Ben Nevis. Splendid views on way up and on top when clouds broke. Tea. Knapsack. Lost the way a few times. Back very late. Songs.

Friday 13th.

Up Loch Eil and back. Bottle-nosed whales. I wrote M's letter. Public diary. GJF left us—all in tears. To Loch Creran. Row. Sunset. Camped.

Saturday 14th.

To Oban—fine, pitching sea. J, M and I sat in a delightful heap, while waves broke over me. EJH by steamer. E. West left us.

Sunday 15th 5 a.m.

JTW, JWH and I met B Procter—Bovril and biscuits. Games. M.S.W. spent morning at church—nobody saw anything of her. Afternoon—sat writing diary for M—by the mast—on her knee. Bathed—songs & Basil.

Monday 16th.

WHP off by 9.40, and Miss Sewell later. Started for Sound of Mull and Loch Sunart—roughish—M asleep all the time. Wet walk and night. Played old maid, and impudent questions.

Tuesday 17th.

Stormy day. Went to post. Played old maid, pounce patience—catches practised.

[in MSW's hand:] "Ten years hence on this date (1907) what shall we all be doing?"

Wednesday 18th.

Long, splendid steam (with sails set) round Ardnamurchan Point, between Muck and Eigg, to Kinloch in Rum. Cold, colours. Managed /by careful rudeness/ walk with M.—up valley—talked about Arnold, cookery, teaching, EFH & AJ. Dalton Hall, Norway visit, Stream. Hid. Rain. Whale & bear. dark holes. soaked. back after 10. no scolding! Bovril.

Thursday 19th.

Started for Balmacara and Loch Duich. Songs. Long row.

Friday 20th.

M and BP early walk, managed with difficulty. Pounce Patience , Kings and Fan with M. Down to Balmacara. EWR's steamer late—left AP at Balmacara Hotel; back late—horrid journey back—ended nicely.

Saturday 21st.

made M. blush at breakfast. Down to Balmacara. Met EWR. To Skye—Sligachan. Put tent on hill. Some a walk. M & EFH in small boat—pursued.

Sunday 22nd.

We were late for breakfast. Ladies (especially M) in a tremendous rage,—especially with me! No idea why. Long walk round by Loch Coruisk. M & EFH stayed at home—wondered why the dickens? AJ and self back at 8.0. Fine tea,—eggs, coffee etc. Hymns etc. Had had great views of mountains in the mists. Rest back at 1 am except BP and Miss Grubb who stayed night at other end.

Monday 23rd

Fished for jellyfish, too hazy for Sgurrnangillean. To Portree in the afternoon. Nice place for tent and bathing—sand. Illuminated concert on deck—BP, TWG etc.

Tuesday 24th

Glorious day. Drove to Uig—played 'genteel lady' , the 'hatchet' etc. Walk to (?—possibly Creag a' lain?)—M, EFH, JWH and I played 'cap verse' , and 'guessing authors' . Extraordinary place—rocks, needles etc—climb up screes. Walk back—splendid light, coast views etc. Lovely tea. Drive—songs—back after 12.0.

Wednesday 25th

JWG went. Writing diary by mast, on way to Stornoway—splendid day and calm. Lost hat—M—boat rowed. Landed. To Loch Shell—dark—hours to find place and pitch tent.

Thursday 26th

Bought herrings, jolly place. Long, rough sail. Miss Grace swamped in hammock, M dowsed two or three times—we sat in bowspit—drenched. Ate biscuits—fed M. Dinner about five. To Dunvegan. Wet. Impudent questions.

Friday 27th

Breakfast at 8! Big gale—had to stay. Most to Castle. Walk in afternoon—games in forest glade. Diary in bowsprit. M's finished later by mast with flickering lamp. Slept under tarpaulin on deck in stern to be ready to start.

Saturday 28th

Still weatherbound. Waterfall walk. Pole game. Trial by jury. I was judge—M accused of chucking EFH into sea, A.P. of ? mattresses, Miss G of whisky and tumbling down. Songs. Slept on deck again. Wet.

Sunday 29th

Breakfast at 7, expecting to start. Started at 8.30. M. and I by mast carefully covered—when round corner, immense wave completely swamped us, sweeping deck 2 or 3 feet deep. Failed to go round Neist Point, back to Dunvegan. Afternoon, some on shore. AP, J, M, JWH, EWR and I stayed—coffee. Calm. Whistled madly for skipper and rest of party. About and started again. Auction on deck. I bought teapot (1/-) for 6/3. BP bought 8 mattresses (?) Still by sea—wind and rain. Again failed Neist Point—back. M, JWH, EWR and I made toast in galley—'perfect' . Back after 12, supper at 1.0—tent, bed about 2.30.

Monday 30th

10am M and Miss Grace came and looked at us in tent. 12am breakfast. Weather worse than ever—pouring. Did Hiawatha diary, Frizzler, Spoof. Violin. Evening wet—JWH, M and I lay on boiler in rain, then sat in engine room, then made toast in galley for hour and half! Night in laundry—fire, cigarettes, AP. JWH, BP and I sat round fire and talked till about 1.30.

Tuesday 31st

Coffee and cocoa in bed. BP in macintosh to shop for scones, quaker oats etc. Breakfast 11.0. Packing and discussing. 'Griffin' at 4.0. Miss Hayward and Miss Grace away by Mailcart to Portree about 5.0. Set 2 mattresses afloat. All went with AP, J, and BP to pier to Flowerdale, and back after them, waving and singing. M, Miss Scott, EJH, JWH, JTW, EWR and self left. Supper—porridge made by M, Miss S and Angus. Shopped. On deck—songs till late. Bed about one—all in cabin, expecting to start early.

Wednesday Sept 1st.

Started about 5am—got up and shaved. Long and rolling sea. Talk to M in bed. Passed Loch Scresort. Pitched belongings into sea. Dinner in Sound of Mull—in front of the 'Gael' from Portree.

Diary in unusually comfortable position by bowsprit. 4.30 writing 'it is horrid' , when I looked at watch. Finis.


Written August 28th

Time as a whole tremendously jolly, weather very fair.

Most complete holiday possible, a splendidly lazy time—mixture of delightful lounging on deck, occasional splendid walks, rows, tenting, often under fearful difficulties either of weather (as in Sunart), or sharp rocks (as Charsaig Bay), or landing (as Loch Creran), or the dark (as Loch Shell); games, singing, etc etc.

Finest places were Loch Sween and the Fairy islands, Ballachulish, Loch Duich, Balmacarra: in a different way, Sunart, Shell, Creran, Tarbert.

Many splendid sails:- calm ones from Oban to Charsaig, Portree to Stornaway, Oban to Sunart: roughish from Sween to Tarbert, Creran to Oban, round Ardnamurchan, and especially from Shell to Dunvegan.

Greatest walks were Glencoe, Ben Nevis and Coriusk (only part), and Quirang: also Jura (M, JWH and I), Rum (M and I).

Found the tent on the whole a great success, except when wind drove rain very hard. We were generally seven or eight; and could not have done comfortably with many more: congestion of feet in middle: often slept in creeks, mattresses convex. Coffee and Bovril sometimes; biscuits always. GJF's rug was a feature. Stories flowed freely in first weeks: chief were one man one vote, sailor's poetry, unknown candidate, toothbrush etc.

Other features were puppies at Oban, nightmare dog at Jura, horses at Oban chased away EJH, JWH's conversation with a duck at Ballachulish, and also these:—immense simultaneous shout to ladies, and GJF's (? Bracenstick?) with 2 heads. Time of going to bed varied from 10 to 2: earliest rise was 4.30 (JWH, EFH and I) to meet BP. Two or three bathed by moonlight before going to bed at Portree—sandy beach.

Songs JT Wigham:- Little Wanders on the Blue, Mary Lamb, Off to Philadelphia, Father O' Flynn, Red Lark, Killaloo, Slattery's Light Dragoons, John James Brown, Alikazader, Phill McFluter,.

Miss Scott:- Kitty of Coleraine, Slookie frae the Shaur, Jean, Blue haired boy, Mermaid, Jack of Hazeldean, Climbing up Golden Stairs, John Peel, Come Landlord.

GJ Fowler:- There is a Tavern, Horrible Tale, Coward's Song, Here aba' etc, Mandalay, Boating Song, A Yankee Ship, Time was when love and I.

JWG:- Kingdom come, Nipper's Lullaby, Humane Mikado, Grandeur in Growling of Gale, Flowers that Bloom, Choir Boy, Wot Cher, When Love is Kind, Possible Probable, There lived a King, Bailiff's Daughter, Tipperary Christening, Sigh No More.

FEP:- Drink to me Only, Sparkling Eyes, Bid Me to Live, Songs of Araby, Mandalay, Eton Boat Song, Wanderlied, Tobacco is an Indian Weed, Blue Eyed Nancy, My Old Dutch, The Year that' Awa' , Love's Old Sweet Song, Honour Bids Me, Light in Darkness, Loch Lomond, My Heart is Sair, Play in Your Yard, Alabama Coon, King Arthur, York Tommy Atkins, Off to Philadelphia, If You' re Anxious for to Shine, Speaker's Eye, Warrior Bold, I Fear No Foe, Nazareth.

MSW:- Rothesay Bay, When I was a Maiden. (added Sept 2nd 1898)

Games:- Pounce Patience, Old Maid, Poker, Impudent Questions, Telegrams, Coffee Pot. Also Balls and Quoits.

Party in the main a great success, men more than women. Cabin did not hit it off quite, tho' surely tenters and co had much more scope for rages.

GJF in great form especially—perpetually entertaining and soothing. What should we have done without Mary? Only one almost, who really allowed people to get intimate & chummy with her—and this was a constant & immense pleasure; especially writing diary, playing pounce patience, long & delightful walk on Rum.

JWH went completely mad, and could appreciate no ordinary hint nor respect privacy: he had therefore to be persistently outwitted by EFH, BP and myself—as also AP and Miss P. Seemed cruel, but had to be done for her sake.

Jeannie as usual did quantities for everyone's comfort, and also as usual refused all help, generally with contempt.

Miss Grace very nice though quiet and rather ungetatable: sketched beautifully.

Miss Hayward—did not I imagine conduce towards peace in the cabin.

Miss Scott—good sport and nice singer—exaggerated magnificently, talked Griff French.

JTW, EFH, BP etc all in excellent form. And as a whole considering inconveniences, space, wet etc, people wonderfully good tempered.



Sept 23rd (Received Diary back fr. M)

The scenes &c oftenest in my mind & most welcome:- Diary by the mast; Diary by the bowsprit with her arm almost round my neck Lying on boiler with my arm for her pillow; She came up to me at the Quiraig in the top place and sat. Many times when we kept one another's feet warm at meals &c ; Our explanation & reconciliation at L. Duich, after coming fr. Balma; Our 'goodnights' . At Duich, after our row and EFH's swim &c, as we came up to the ship, she leaned over to me, telling of the bathe. The evening after the Coruisk walk. The Rum walk. Sitting by her side as she lay in bed one morning as we left Dunvegan. Standing together after big wave, hanging on to stays. Hand squeeze thro' porthole and when we slept in cabin. Her orders as to songs. eg in E. carriage Tea &c; Bread &c, & egg when ill; Comparing presents. Birthday Book. Motto sweets, 'I don't understand you' , 'Have I offended you' , 'Come & sit beside me' .


Cloak, Cape, Hat sweater; &c; Heather, berries &c.

Added Aug 8th 1900 at Saas Fee

How we met; playing Jacob's ladder in the wood at Dunvegan.

Sept. 2 1898 Court Hall, North Molton

Here and at Linton have read through this diary day by day, and lived again that lovely time—in one way more lovely now that Mary is 'my true love and hath my heart' , and in another painful, for the future is very black. Must move heaven & earth to run another tour. Mary says it could never be half so lovely again—will you let me try, sweetheart? I am vain enough to think I could make it lovely for you.

July 1900

In the blackness of all darkness, it is still lovely to turn to the diary of these times—times when there was nothing but loving comradeship in everything—no terrible question to settle or have settled—no wearing anxiety or doubts—but happiness & chummy confidence. And such a happy union—better, closer, fuller—is what I have longed for inexpressibly, & still do, & always shall. But the deepest of deep waters are rolling over me—and all hope is overwhelmed. Life is a dreary blank without my dearest chum & sweetheart. Today (July 13th) I have been reading Tennyson's Love and Duty—a great poem.

Which is maddest, to hope or not to hope? It matters little, because I can't help it. Some day this absurd old universe will bring us together again somehow—& then—well!

"What shall we be doing ten years hence?"

Aug 4th and 5 1900 Macugnaga, Piedmont

– under the glaciers & precipices of Monte Rosa. have started rereading this diary day by day. But indeed without it, Mary has been & is in my thoughts every minute of every day I think. But I can't see an inch ahead!

May 27th 1901

Mary is as clever as ever, & probably will be all our lives as far as I can see at present. If I ever had any lingering doubt as to my own unchangeableness, it is gone now: but—but ......

Feb 7th 1902 11.0.p.m.

It is M's birthday.

                                            I will win her yet, surrounded by ellipse

May 20.

F.E.P., I think you' re a bit of a fool: but you mean well. Patience is what you want.


[Transcript by Katharine S. Coleman, with her permission.]


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