Mary Spence Watson diaries | 1901

MSWP (& FEP) diaries

Holiday diary, 1901

by Mary Spence Watson



NB If a name is not listed in the key the person concerned has not yet been identified.




1897 (FEP)





1904 (with FEP)



















Scarborough 'Summer School' August 1901

Aug 17th Sat

I spent the day with Hugh and Mabel, then met Laurie and we went to Queen Margaret's School, Lover's Mt together. Had dinner almost at once. 40 or 50 of us staying there. Helen Morland, Alice Whitlow, Lucy Fryer and I shared a very nice bedroom, curtains for cubicles. Concert in evening. Good many people I know, Peplers, Geof. Morland, Frank Knight, Old Samuel Capper, Rachel Harris, etc.

Aug 18th Sunday.

Meeting. Afternoon to tea at Wm Stickney Rowntree's—very nice. Howard told jolly stories, also Mr Birdsell, head of Swarthmore College. Saw Ernest who was there for week-end and told me about the yacht. Meeting in evening. Miss Maynard gave address. Lucy Fryer, Chas Wynne and I afterwards went a stroll by the sea. He left next day. Hymns after supper.

Aug 19th

Devotional meeting 9.30. Rendel Harris 9.45–10.45 on "St. Paul and other leaders of the early Christian Church." Our impromptu lunch. Then Greek and Hebrew classes, but I went to Mr Brayshaw on "History of the O. T." and then Rufus Jones on "Epochs of Christian Thought". Bicycled to Langdale End, about 9 miles. Tea in a barn. Evening lecture A.W. Richardson on "The use of Mental Training in the Religious Life".

Aug 20th

Afternoon Laurie, Sam Capper, Evelyn Sturge and I went a short sail, but there was hardly any wind. I called on Aunt Fanny and saw Muriel. In evening A. W. Richardson on "Creed and Character", very stiff.

Aug 21st Wed.

Afternoon to Whitby—splendid excursion—Alice Whitlow and I kept together. Mr Brayshaw explained everything very well. Rendel Harris there. Had tea at the Meeting House.

No evening lecture. Hugh over for day, but went a long walk. Concert in evening.

Mary and Bertha Spence Watson playing tennis at Bensham Grove, July 1901

Mary and Bertha Spence Watson playing tennis at Bensham Grove, July 1901

(with dog Tommy)

Aug 22nd

Afternoon over castle which Joshua Rowntree explained, then to Wray Head, John Ed Ellis' . Very pretty place. Some of us walked back through the fields.

Aug 23rd

Alas, my last day! Afternoon Helen Morland, Miss Gardiner, Pen (Nib!) Whitlow, Frank Knight, Mr Dell, Mr Cooper, Geoffrey Morland and I went a glorious sail. Poor Mr Nib and Miss Gardiner nearly succumbed! Then we watched a Punch and Judy Show and then to tea at the Café. After dinner Jos Taylor, a nice, deaf missionary from Hoshangabad, gave an account of Indian religions, and then Evelyn Sturge and I departed by the 10 pm train for Scotland. Helen and Geoffrey Morland, Frank Knight, Laurie, Howard Rowntree, Pen Whitlow came to see us off. Laurie gave me choc. And sweet peas from Scalby. Awfully sorry to go, esp. as I've had an invitation to stay week-end with the Stickney Rowntree's. It has been a lovely week.

Aug 24th Saturday

Charles and Tommy met me at N/C 1.27 p.m. (Hugh met me at 11.0 at York, so very kindly) and C at once got me into a lovely sleeping carriage, so I had quite a good night. We arrived Inverness about 10.0 a.m. I believe, where we met Father, Mother, Ruth, Bertha, Molly and Colin and the nurse (Emily) and got a little breakfast before we started for Achnasheen.



At Achnasheen we got some lunch, then the others started to drive and B and I to bicycle 20 miles to Loch Maree. We had a nice ride, stopped 10 miles off to speak to the landlady at Kinlochewe whom the Morrells know, and arrived at Loch Maree Hotel in time for afternoon tea. The poor children were very tired and Colin yelled most of the drive. Dinner at 7.30.

Aug 25th

No church nearer than 8 miles, so we had reading. Ruth not well and stayed all day in bed. We went short walks. The lake is very fine, about 12 miles long, and pretty broad. Rained a good deal.

Aug 26th

Father and Charles fished on the lake, but only caught 1 small trout. Ber and I walked 2 miles to see the Victoria Waterfall. Very pretty. Gt wind and heavy showers all day and cold. I bathed.

Aug 27th Tuesday

Showery. Father, Mother, C, and B and I went to Victoria Waterfall, and C, B and I came back over the hills. Very fine, but boggy, and quite a hurricane on the top.

Aug 28th Wed

Hardly a drop of rain, and some nice sunshine. Father and C fished. B, Tommy and I walked to Gairloch, 10 miles by the new road, taking lunch. It was not v. clear and we were disappointed in Gairloch itself, but coming back over the old road, we got splendid views of the open sea and the mts of Skye, and enjoyed it immensely. We did the 20 miles quite easily, and got back about 6.15. Got a little tea in a house at Kerrysdale. Passed the pretty Kerry Falls in going and a lake Radna Scalaig.

Aug 29th

I think Mother and I sketched on islands. Took lunch and tea and had it with Father and Chas.

Aug 30th

Aug 31st Sat.

B and I walked by old road to Gairloch and had jolly bathe on the sand. About 4.30 Father, Mother and C arrived in a trap. We had some tea in the Grand Hotel, and then drove back. Lovely glow on hills. Very jolly.

Sep 1st Sunday

I bathed. Mother and I walked to Victoria Waterfall. Afternoon all but the children rowed across to one of the islands, made tea in tea basket. Lovely sunset, and later glorious moon. Very fine weather, cool and invigorating.

Sep 2nd

Chas. left, very much to our regret. He has been so very, very nice and friendly to us all, and so nice for Father fishing with him.

Mother, nurse and the children, B and I went down in the small steamer to Tollie; it was lovely on the loch. Then they came straight back in the steamer, but I walked on with Tommy to Poolewe. Glorious day, about 2 miles further. Sea there very pretty, but it is not a particularly lovely place. I made a small sketch, then walked back to Loch Maree over the hills on a path. It was very lonely, not a cottage the whole way, and I did not meet a soul or pass an animal, except a few sheep. Bathed in a pool. Went up a small mt and had glorious view of mts and sea. Tommy got very tired. It was 12 or 14 miles altogether.

In the evening I went short walk with the children.

Sep 3rd Tuesday

B and I bicycled to Loch Torridon, sea-loch 20 miles from here. Wind against us to Kinlochewe, then with us and we got Loch Torridon in 2½ hours. Had a bathe and lunch and bicycled a short way further, but the road stops almost at the head of the loch. It is very fine and wild, and the loch looked so blue. The wind was against us part way back, but we got back about 5.10, passed a lovely loch on the way called Clair.

Sep 4th

All but Father, who fished as usual, rowed about 2 miles in boat, then landed, and nurse, R, Molly and I went to see Victoria Fall. I had a bathe in the lake. The row back against a strong wind was very exhausting.

At dinner sat next jolly old Edinburgh lawyer—Mr Hope Findley—I believe he is attorney general of Scotland. He is great fun. Said I was the first vegetarian he had seen alive ! Also have got to know a nice Mr Kemp Welsh—cousin of Lucy K.W., the artist. Father got 2½ lb fish (trout) the biggest that has been caught here lately.

Sep 5th

Father, Mother, even Ruth, B and I up the hill behind the house. Terrible wind, but very good view. Saw Skye in distance. Tommy found it rather tiring, for there is no path and the heather is so long, but it was really a short walk. Jolly to have Father with us at last, and he sang "Rouse, brothers, rouse," etc.

Afternoon Father went to Gairloch on the way to Glasgow where he is going to preside at some peace meetings, got up by Friends I think. It is a pity, as it will cut nearly a week out of his holiday.

Sep 6th

Windy. Bathed, went short walk. Sketched.

Sep 7th

Mother and I went a most delightful walk over the hills and had a very good view. Bathed from pier. In afternoon I bicycled nearly to Gairloch and then branched off to Badachro, a charming little fishing village, about 10 miles from here. I tried to sketch, but midges too bad. Got back about 6.30. Roads round here very bad for cycling, so stoney.

I sleep here in the annex, a very funny place under an archway verandah thing—Ruth calls the rooms there 'bathing boxes' . Very nice food, but dinner at 7.30 rather long.

Sep 8th Sunday

Rather showery. Short walk on hills, reading and playing with children. Another short walk in evening.

Have great fun at meals now with Mr Hope Finlay and Mr Kemp Welsh.

In evening delightful singing from Mr Ainslie (he and his wife have arrived and sister and Father) and Ruth and Mr Daniel the artist. I played his accompaniment, and also for duet for Ruth and Mr Ainslie "I would that my love".

Sep 9th Monday

Had a most delightful excursion—nearly perfect, only we wanted Father. Day with splendid clouds, warm, but not sunny. Went by 9.0 o' clock small steamer to Tollie at foot of Loch, walked 2 miles to Poolewe (Ruth drove) then got a trap and drove 10 miles to Laid, past Aultbea—glorious drive, though moors desolate. Very hilly—distant views lovely, and sea clear and green. When we got there we had a bathe, then saw a most curious stone balanced on another, and a cave in which is a chapel, at least there is a pulpit and it still is used once a year. We only had about 1 hour there which was a pity; ate sandwiches, then went to see the ruins of one of the oldest churches in Scotland, then drove back, and had just time to get a little tea at a farm at Tollie (whither the yacht people had been about a fortnight before) before catching the 5.0 o' clock steamer back to the hotel. The good farmer's wife had prepared an enormous quantity of scones, etc and lovely raspberry jam, but we had hardly time eat any.

Lovely letters from Father, Evie, Mabel, etc, on our return, so we felt very fortunate in having had such a splendid day.

Sep 10th

Poured part of the day, but I had a bathe from the boat. B and I in afternoon when it cleared read "La vie des Abrilles" in the boat".

Sep 11th

Beautifully fine. We all rowed across to the islands with the children, where they played on a small patch of sand and then B and I bathed with them. They were so plucky and looked perfectly lovely, little water babies. Molly dipped at once, though the water was very cold. Colin would not dip, but went in quite deep. Then B and I rowed Mother, Ruth and Molly to the 'Lily' loch and left them there, took Colin and nurse home, and rowed back again. Had sandwiches, then Mother, R and I sketched, but midges frantic. B and I went to look for white heather and just as we were going to start back in the boat, we discovered that Tommy was missing. We began to hunt and at last got very anxious, for in the long heather it is so hard to see anything. At last we heard a very faint barking, and Bertha discovered a narrow crack in some rocks and Tommy running about below, as though he was in a crevasse. It seemed an impossibility to get him up, and we were miserable, but then I saw another huge hole covered by heather which he had evidently fallen down. I got part way down, by putting my legs across as if it were a chimney and Tommy stretched up as far as he could, and I dragged him up by his collar. Fortunately he was not hurt at all, but we were quite miserable with anxiety beforehand.

Then we rowed back here to tea, and B and I went up a small hill in the evening.

Sept 12th

Mother's birthday She is 63. Father still away, so we determined to go an excursion. Mother and Ruth drove to Badnachro, and B and I bicycled. Just as we were getting there B got into rut going downhill and was pitched off. Fortunately not hurt, but we yelled with laughter at the bicycle, for the tyre had come out and was like a great balloon. However we let the air out and pumped it up again, and it did alright. The roads here are bad for cycling. When we got to Badachro we got a boat and rowed round a point where we all had a delicious bathe—seaweed coast, but no jelly fish there. Then sandwiches, then rowed back and sketched in a cornfield, and at 3.0 R and I had a pleasant hour's sail. We started back about 4.15. Father arrived at 10.0 having had good meetings in Glasgow, and seen Evie and Ernest. We are glad to have him back.

Sep 13th

Mr Daniel (the artist) and his wife left, also dear old Mr Hope Finlay. He said to Mother and me "you have helped to make my stay here very pleasant." He is nice. Father and I went out fishing, at least I watched. We started at 10 and got back just before 7.0, but the time went very quickly, only before the end it grew very cold. 2 gillies rowed us and we went a long way up the loch, which was very pretty. Rather rough. Landed for lunch about 2.0. Father only caught 2 small fish, but missed several. Fishing here not good.

Sep 14th

A lovely day. B & I (after waiting to see the Ainslies and Mr Kemp Welch off) bicycled to Achnasheen (19 miles) to meet Gertie. We stopped at Grudie Bridge and had a bathe in a glorious pool between rocks, diving into clear, deep water from the sides. It was a very hilly road and we did not get to Achnasheen till about 4.30. Gertie arrived soon after 5.0, and we had tea in the inn, then cycled back. We had a long coast, and the view of Loch Maree stretched before us with a glorious sunset was perfect. Just before we got in it grew quite dark. We arrived about 8.0.

It seems rather dull without so many of our friends. Only about 10 other people in the inn now and there have been 40.

Sep 15th

Reading, then rowed the children to the islands and bathed. Afternoon G, B and I went up a hill and had a very good view. Evening most of us rowed to Isle Maree, and stuck pennies in the wishing tree, and saw the graves of King Olaf and his bride. Glorious sunset.

Sept 16th

Father only caught one fish. Mother, R, B, Gertie and I went to Tollie by steamer and walked to Poolewe with Mr Farquharson M.P., who has been staying here and Rev. Robertson, and Mother and R went with them to see an artist McKennan—then they separated, and we all went and had a lovely bathe in the sea. After lunch B,G and I bicycled about 5 miles to Gairloch—splendid view of Skye. Here we had another bathe, (not B) and cycled back, found Mother and R making tea and caught the steamer at 5.0.

Sept 17th

Mother, R, B, G and I and Molly were rowed by 2 men to the islands, where G and I bathed, some sketched, etc. We met Father for lunch on Isle Maree, and Molly slept for about 1½ hours afterwards. Then we were rowed on round some of the islands and returned at 4.30 just as it was beginning to rain.

Sept 18th

Very wet, only cleared up in evening. Gertie, B and I took steamer to Ru Noa and walked back, about 7 miles. Father caught a few fish.

Sep 19th

Packed etc in morning. Very showery. In afternoon most of us walked to the Victoria Waterfall, which was full and fine. Father caught 6 fish, 2 were a fair size.

The children were sweet in the evening. Colin has such a pretty way of putting his head on one side and saying "May I paint, may I?" Or "May I row, may I?". He is a great mischief now. I said one day. "What are you Colin?" He replied "Your hot bottle"!! At first he called me 'Mary' , but now condescends to put in the 'aunt' . Molly is as sweet and has a pretty manners as ever.

Sandy, Father's gillie, came to me and said "you' ll no be here much longer, Mar-y"!!

Sep 20th

Coach came about 10.45, nearly full, so we got a trap for Bertha, Gertie, nurse and children and sent them to Achnasheen. They are going to travel home by night in a sleeping carriage. Ber has to get back for the cookery school. Gertie is going by Aberdeen. Tommy went with them, and I miss him fearfully. Even Mother misses him. I keep thinking I hear him scratch, and it will seem horrid to-night without him under my bed. In the afternoon Ruth and I picked blackberries, which are ripe at last, and had a jolly pie made of them to-night. In evening R sketched, Mother, Father and I went up a hill and got a very fine view. Colours splendid. Rather showery. Father sang and repeated, mostly Scotch songs. We do miss B, Gertie and the children dreadfully.

Sep 21st

Mr Kemp Welch and his housekeeper appeared to breakfast. Very nice to see him again. About 10.30 Father and I left Loch Maree with very great regret. We have had such a happy time there, one of our nicest holidays for a long time. Ruth and Mother came in the boat with us for about 2 miles down, then they rowed back, and we walked along the lake a good way, then struck off over the hills. Lunched where 2 pretty streams met, and took a good rest. Cliffs very fine. Got a good view of the sea by Poolewe, and walked down to our cottage where the 'gude' woman welcomed us again, and we got delicious tea, scones, and jam of a delectable kind tasting of bilberries, raspberries and pineapple. (6d each) Father was glad to see Tollie and Poolewe. Then we walked 5 miles along the road, past a large lake to Gairloch. Pretty sunset. Arrived there 7.0 just before mother and R arrived on the coach. It was a very long walk for Father, 11 or 12 miles, but he is wonderfully better and was in splendid spirits, sang and repeated the whole time, and told me a lot about his business, the Hewitsons, the Electric Light Supply Co. etc. I did enjoy it. The large hotel at Gairloch has very few people in as the season is nearly over, and we have got very nice rooms.

Sep 22nd Sunday

A glorious, very hot day. After breakfast we all went up the "hill behind the house" and had a grand view, Skye and the Hebrides faintly in the distance, and the fine shaped mts near Loch Maree. Mother and Ruth went straight back to bathe, Father and I went on and down by Flowerdale. After lunch, Mother R and I lay on the bents (?) by the sand, and I read them "Bandaby Rudge." After cups of tea we all went up the Flowerdale road, Ruth turned back pretty soon, but we went on about 1 mile further to a pretty little waterfall. The trees are turning, and are beginning to be a lovely colour.

Sep 23rd Monday

Got up at 5.0, had some tea and started on the 'gael' at 6.30 for Loch Alsh. It began to rain, but fortunately stopped almost at once and turned out a glorious day, not very clear, but smooth and lovely. We went across first to dear old Portree, which looked very picturesque, then Broadford, and the through Kyle akin Straits to Loch Alsh. The views were glorious. Here we had about ¾ hour to wait before the train started for Inverness. The ride by the side of Loch Carron was exquisite. At Inverness we changed (we passed Achnasheen) and came on to Aviemore, arriving there about 5.0. large hotel with splendid view, but a good deal spoiled by having the station just in front.

Sep 24th Tuesday

Mother and R sketched. I walked about 2½ miles to Loch Alvie. Very pretty. Bathed, then went part way up the hill behind the house and had a good view but not very clear. We left Aviemore about 3.30 and came to Dunkeld. A lovely journey, through the Pass of Killiekrankie, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl, etc. Arrived at Dunkeld about 6.0. Staying at Birnam Hotel, which is very comfortable, and lovely grounds—a large avenue of trees leading down to the Tay, by the banks of which are an enormous oak and sycamore tree—last of Dunsinane wood. Dunkeld itself is on the other side of the river about ½ mile off. I had cocoa and egg etc, instead of table-d' hôte. It is an exquisite place, surrounded by wooded hills and mts in the distance, and the beautiful Tay winding along through the plain.

Sep 25th Wed

A glorious day. We have been lucky in weather. After breakfast we walked to Dunkeld, and saw over the Abbey, which is on the banks of the river. The ruined part is very pretty. It is not large. Near it are 2 very tall larch trees, the first which were planted in Scotland. We got a guide, and went through the Duke of Atholl's grounds to the Hermitage Falls. It is really an exquisite waterfall, though not very high. The surroundings are so lovely. The trees in the grounds are magnificent, huge beeches, firs, walnuts etc. They are just beginning to change colour. I suppose we walked about 4 miles before we got back to the hotel. After lunch at 3.30 we started for a drive to Murthly Castle, where there is a lovely old-fashioned garden with many yew trees. We also saw the old house, Birnam Hall, where Millais used to live. We saw heaps of squirrels. It was a lovely drive.

Sep 26th Thursday

Mother and R sketched. I went up Birnam Hill and had a magnificent view, one of the best and prettiest I have ever seen from a small hill (1315 ft). I could see right away to Schielhallion and many other big mts and a wide stretch of plain—the Highlands meeting the Lowlands. It was really glorious—the Tay winding along, a lovely blue lake, and several small ones. I tried to make a sketch, but it was too hard.

In the afternoon we all went up Birnam Hill, and again had a grand view. Ate lovely pears on the top.

Sep 27th Friday

Pouring. Left Dunkeld, and now our holiday is over—alas! Poor Father, in the train he suffered a good deal from his heart which he has strained, and his eyes filled with tears, as he asked me to undo a strap for him, for he hates to be at all helpless, but he said "Well, the old man has had his day". At Edinburgh, where we arrived at 2.0, I got out and went to see Katie Richardson, who is Dr. in a Women's and Children's hospital. I had a very pleasant visit, and got home at 9.30, after the others.

We have had a glorious holiday, one of the nicest for some time. It is nicer settling down, than continually packing and moving about. Father looks much better, and Mother a good deal.


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


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