Sunday, December 04, 2005


We left Edinburgh about 11 pm Thursday 13th April, 1911, and
reached Kings Cross, London, about 8 am Friday 14th, Good Friday.
There was a large company, which was augmented at one or two
small stations before we reached the Border.
There was practically no sleep for any of us during the night,
the fun and song was kept up until well on in the morning. I
felt interested to know when we should cross the border, having
never been out of Scotland in my life.
On arrival at Kings Cross we were driven in brakes to St Pancras.
Here we left our light luggage, and went in search of breakfast.
The shops were hardly open, and we had difficulty in getting
anything substantial to eat.
On our return to St Pancras we found our train, which was to
convey us to Tilbury Docks, was fast filling up, but our agent,
who had accompanied us from Edinburgh, was nowhere to be found.
All the other agents were there, seeing that those who had booked
with them were safe on the last stage of their journey, in this
country. Eventually we were bundled in anywhere, and we found
ourselves thundering over the tops of the houses, an endless
stretch, all the same for miles and miles.
On arrival at Tilbury, we got our first glimpse of the
Orontes, just as the train stopped. There were many porters
there to relieve us of all our heavy packages. We were
marshalled under a large shed, where there were several wooden
benches with palings erected in front of them to form the crowd
into queues, and there was a crowd, over 600 third class
passengers. We formed into these queues according to our
alphabetical number. I think our tickets were here examined, and
we were given slips with our number, and berth which we were to
occupy. Then we passed through a doorway onto the quay opposite
the boat herself. Whilst passing through the doorway we were
scrutinized by a person in uniform, but I did not know till
afterwards that we were medically examined, and that a good few
had already been told to stand aside.
I had noticed them in an enclosed place, and had wondered why
they had looked so forlorn. Afterwards I was informed that
everyone had been allowed to pass.
Not so fortunate were several townspeople of my own, who booked
for the next trip on the same boat. Two of the little girls were
suffering from some slight skin disease on the head, and they
were refused passage. Needless to say, it caused them great
trouble. The authorities wished to hold back the entire company,
and it was only on the vigorous protest of the father that he,
and his brother-in-law, were allowed to proceed, whilst the
mother accompanied by an elder sister of her own, and her three
children, proceeded to the house of their sister-in-law's
brother, and received shelter from him, till they were able to
find accommodation elsewhere. By dint of sheer dogging at the
Company, they were allowed to proceed on her next voyage. In the
mean while, they had been maintained by their relations in
Hamilton, where they belonged, sending them money.
We afterwards met them in Australia. Such was their experience,
but what of those who had no friends to turn to, or to send them
On our arrival on deck we were conducted to our cabins. We were
fortunate in being placed in the first class, as the third class
was overcrowded. We therefore had better beds and ventilation.
of course we did not enjoy so many comforts as those who paid
first class fare. In most of the cabins, another cabin was set
inside, like a box within a box, and in this inner cabin, four
young men were placed, but we still had a great deal more room
than if we had been in the steerage.
The boat was very crowded, over 600 third class passengers, about
270 second class, and over 100 first class. The highest fare in
the third class was £21 for a share of a two berth cabin, and £40
to £80 for second and first class respectively.
The third class, those who were in the lowest deck were very
uncomfortable, many of course were going out as emigrants. As
many as eight to sixteen in one cabin. Amongst the men, those
who were only paying a matter of two or three Pounds were down
below us, sleeping in bunks one above another. One required to
have a great deal of fortitude to put up with the life down
there, some of the characters were of the roughest type.
We set sail about 1 pm. None of us paid much attention to the
docks, we had been too busy watching the arrival of the first and
second class passengers, who arrived later than we.
There were just a few of the passengers had friends seeing them
off. One girl, who had been sobbing and crying at parting from
some of our fellow passengers when the boat set sail, walked to
the end of the quay waving two small flags, and we watched them
waving till the boat carried us well out on the river, then we
turned in to dinner and found that we, who were in the first
class section, were just twice as many as could get seated at one
To make a dining room for us, the partitions had been taken out
of four cabins in the middle section, making them into two small
rooms, each opening off different alleyways. At first, this
caused great inconvenience and discontent, as those who had not
been in time to line up beside the door, had to wait till the
second sitting.
The stewards told us we would require to settle amongst ourselves
as to who would be at the first sitting. Afterwards, we decided
for the second, as it let us get a longer lie in the morning.

We were 14 or 15 at each sitting in each of the cabins. In the
third class proper, they had to take their food in three
We passed the cliffs of Dover at 7 pm, and about 9 pm the
passengers settled down to their first night at sea.. The
weather was very calm, but there was a slight fog on, so we sailed
slowly so that there was no perceptible motion on the boat.

15 April 1911

We were awakened in the morning by one of the stewardesses going
along the corridors shouting "Quarter to seven, ladies, quarter
to seven!". Each morning she came along five minutes earlier
than the proceeding morning, and as the days wore on, and our
menfolks regained their sea legs and their spirits, they would
take up the cry, and the shouting would be heard all over the
We all dressed as quickly as possible in order to get first to
the breakfast table, then, we who were able, went on deck. Our
proper place there was at the steerage end, but the crush was so
great, we had to be allowed the forecastle, which is usually
reserved for the use of the crew.
There was a slight breeze blowing, and we settled down to
reading, talking, and taking stock of our fellow passengers. We
were a mixed crowd, from the lowest and dirtiest, to those like
ourselves, some hard down on their luck, and others only
travelling third class because the difference in fare was more
than they cared to give.
The men started playing a tug-of war. One side always won, until
it was discovered they had fastened their end of the rope to the
ship's rail, so the game was given up.
Great discontent was being felt amongst the passengers with the
arrangements for our food. We would line up in single file
opposite the cabin which did duty as our dining room. Those who
got in first generally came off best, but, although the food was
plentiful, it was seldom well cooked, and always cold. The tea
was simply disgraceful. One sat down with a huge appetite, and
rose unsatisfied. The grumbling was loud and incessant, but, as
one of the stewards said, we were not the worst off, as they got
what we left. I believe this was so. The seamen, however, were
better served. I have seen a plate of ham and eggs being carried
from the cooking galley to the forecastle, and an old couple, who
were evidently going out as emigrants, and were friends with some
of the hands, could get a good supply of chips, a thing we never
One thing which was usually good was the cocoa, which was served
at night with chunks of cheese and dry bread, only the supply was
very limited, and one had to be just on the spot when the
stewards brought it in, or you got none.

The orchestra for the first class came in to the third class
every Saturday, for two hours. We had a piper amongst ourselves,
but his playing was poor.
The deck steward warned us against leaving anything lying about
on deck, as when the black boys (stokers) came up at night, they
pick up all they can, and once down in the stoke hole it is lost
for good.
The football which William bought in Hamilton was lost over the
side on our first afternoon.
We were a mixed company of English, Scotch, Welsh and Irish. One
man remarked at tea time that we all being driven away from our
own country by the Germans and the Jews. Another said that, if
there were any Jews, they would be going out first class, but I
fancy that same gentleman could take care of himself. We had
gone into the dining room before our tea was served. Our plates
of cold meat were laid out, and he gobbled up his own share, and
another man's, before the stewards returned.

16 April 1911

Sunday. Easter Sunday, as our English fellow-passengers are
always telling us. The day was spent fairly quite. Many
passengers were not able to come on deck.
The upper deck was crowded, and got worse each day as they all
got their sea legs.
We were in a company of Edinburgh people.
The day passed without sighting land.

17 April 1911

Monday. We passed through the Bay of Biscay during the night.
We are getting into our accustomed places at table, and on deck.
Nothing special to record today.
We saw some little auks, and also some twenty porpoises or
dolphins. There was a dispute as to which they were.
The Purser came round with our account for excess luggage, and
wharf dues.
We are still in a mix-up at the tables. One woman, who had four
young daughters, rose extra early, got them all dressed and in
to table. There was a delay, and they left the cabin, whereupon
their places were promptly taken by others (men) who had risen
late. Her hubby kicked up a row, but it helped to bring matters
to a climax, and we who were sitting drew up a list of those who
wished to be at the second or first table. This was taken to the
others and the list was hung up. Many of the men had said that,
whatever table they went to, "Old White Head" (an old actor) must
not be there. He had a habit of being sarcastic about
He was going out to try to sell gramaphones, but was not
successful, as we learned afterwards, and shipped back for the
return voyage.
That night, I was kept awake by several men disputing in the
dining cabin as to the respective business of London and Glasgow.
Our cabin was just opposite.
The English man argued from statistics, but the Scotch man asked
him if he had ever been in Glasgow, to which he answered in the
negative. "Well, whit the mischief are ye talkin' aboot?" said
the Scotsman, "Man, if ye stan at the corner o' Jamaica Street
and coont a' the cars gaun tae Anniesland Toll Cross, Finnieston,
and a' the ither places, ye wid ken whit ye were talkin' aboot I"
He stuttered in his excitement, and went off in high dudgeon,
leaving another Scotsman to finish the dispute an a calmer mood.

18 April 1911

Tuesday. The weather is getting warmer. We sighted the Berlin
Rocks. They are in two portions, one much larger than the other.
Someone was signalling from them, but whether to us or to the
shore, we could not tell. The coasts of Spain and Portugal were
also seen, and also many ships. We expected to reach Gibraltar
by 10 am.
As we entered the Straits of Gibraltar, we passed the P&O liner
Homeward Bound, and saluted with flags and cheers.

19 April 1911

As we entered the port, the White Star liner Canopic left for
America with Italian emigrants on board.
The tender only took off first class passengers at first, and did
not allow third class until 1 pm. As the boat was leaving at 2
pm, and the charge was 2 shillings, we did not think that it was
worth it, and we stayed on board.
Several Spaniards came out in small boats, and scrambled on deck,
then hauled up baskets of fruit, tobaccos and trinkets. The
sailors bought large quantities of thick black in blocks for one
shilling per pound. Shag, and tinned tobacco, for making up
cigarettes, were very cheap, but in some cases, they took the
green ones in. Our friend, Mr Alien, bought a box of cigarettes
for one and thruppence - a bargain, he thought, but found later
in the day that those who had gone ashore had got the same thing
for ninepence.
We bought a basket of oranges - 16 for a shilling, no bargain,
but got better with 8 fine large melons for a shilling, but these
again were selling later at a halfpenny each.
One man was selling lovely pink flowers and small bunches of
violets, which had been scented. One man of typically Jewish
aspect was selling post-cards and silks and shawls. One I priced
was only 3 shillings and sixpence, but I did not buy.

Another was selling gents' underclothing, and white canvas
slippers with cork soles for a shilling. They were said to be
good wearing.
One lady, a Miss Hadcroft, paid one and sixpence for a brooch
which could be bought anywhere for sixpence halfpenny, but the
men are not to blame if they cheat - ours do them at every turn.
I only managed to secure plain post-cards, but beautiful
colouring in the others in no way exaggerated the scenery. A
moorish town we passed the day before was just like what we see
in the little text cards we used to get in Sunday School.
Some four young men went off and had dinner. They were served
mostly by foreigners, and they paid from one and sixpence to two
We had a good view of the rock as we sailed away, and we soon
lost sight of land, but it was well in sight next morning. The
hills were lovely, but there were no signs of habitation on them.

20 April 1911

We were wakened this morning by a heavy land-swell. The ship had
got what the sailors call a cork-screw motion, first a dip and
then a roll. I felt sick, and rose and took some Sal Volatile.
Willie would not take any. In an hour or two, he shot out of his
bunk and tore down the patent wash-hand basin. He was not,
however, very bad. Nine-tenths of the entire ship's hands were
down. I was the only woman in our section who was able to be up
and dressed.
When the stewardess went round later with arrowroot in cups, they
were all saying "Poor Mrs Brock.", but as she told them, I was
up and dressed, whilst they were groaning in their bunks.
Our cabin was flooded out, as we had neglected to close the
porthole. I posted the cards we had got of Gibraltar, as the
postage is just the same as on land.
The ship's barber charges a shilling for a haircut. He has a
small shop between decks, and sells various articles at greatly
enhanced prices. Three and ninepenny canvas shoes are seven and
sixpence. Tins of toffee are double price, but he sells these
well. He cleared thirty shillings the first day from the third
class, and four shillings from the first class. He was a
Frenchman, and he paid £20 rental for his shop. Later on. when
we were in the tropics, and I had a great desire for an orange,
Willie endeavoured to get one from the stewards, but they had no
power to sell. He tried the barber, but he had none for sale,
but he said "Is it for your good lady?", and he gave Willie one
of his own. It had been very tantalising - we could see them on
the first class dining tables.

21 April 1911

Reached Marseilles. Did not go off myself. Those who did had
very little time on land, and were mostly all turned off the
cars, not having French money. Others, Willie included, got a
short ride by paying tuppence instead of a penny. They went into
a restaurant, and endeavoured to make the waiter understand that
they wanted ham and eggs. Willie drew an egg on a piece of
paper, and also a pig. He seemed to understand, but signed that
he had no pig (or ham), but he brought them omlette. One of our
young acquaintances had taken a young lady with him, and they
went off on their own and had dinner, then got a John to drive
them round the town and down to the harbour. He demanded 15
shillings for this; our friend W objected, but the John called
over a gendarme, who said the price was right, and our friend W
had to pay up. His short outing of one and a half hours cost him
thirty shillings. He told his young lady friend not to tell any
of the others as he knew if the story leaked out he would be
unmercifully chaffed, and we only learned about it when he
visited us in Sydney.
I watched a man who came out in a small boat to the ship side.
He was selling a combination of trouser stretcher and coat
hanger. When he sold me one, he stretched up a long pole with
a red bag attached into which the money was put, and he sent up
the trouser stretcher.
The scene at Marseilles reminded one of the opening chapter of
Little Dorrit. The white hills of sand - at first I did not like
them, but one grew accustomed to their white and barren look.
We left Marseilles at 2.30. Whilst having tea on the upper deck,
the awning on the other side caught fire. Fire drill sounded and
we were ordered below. The boats were swung out, and there was
a commotion. The crew rushed madly to their places, and the
little cabin boy began collecting all the papers and magazines
lying about. The fire had originated through some over-heated
pipes. The same accident had occurred at the same place on the
previous voyage.
Just before we entered Marseilles, the Otranto, homeward bound
had passed us, and signalled that she was short of tumblers.
Every Friday, we passed one of the vessels of our own line, but,
after this, it was only by the wireless that we knew when.
We passed the island of Sardinia in the early morning - it was
large and beautiful - and later the island of Corsica.

22 April 1911

Sailed into Naples at 6 am. Were all summoned out of bed before
a doctor before we were allowed ashore. Official guides swarmed
on board. The charge was two shillings per head. We settled
with one man (a big fellow), but a dispute arose about change
with the man who was selling tickets, and our boat was delayed.
A young guide, who had not been able to gather a party together,
observed this and slipped over into our boat, telling us never
to mind, he would do as well. Our big guide spied us after we

were about half way across to the harbour, and he pulled up the
boat he was in along side of ours, and got in to it, leaving the
small company in it to the care of the young guide, and remarking
that they were no good any way. He did fleece us - his whole
idea was to get as much out of us as possible. His idea was to
get the men into various shops to buy, then I suppose he would
go round afterwards and collect commission.
The women who were at the various stalls where we landed wore
drugget petticoats with immense broad and brightly-hued stripes.
The streets leading into the city were very narrow, with tall
houses on either side. There were open booths in the basements,
mostly occupied by men and boys, making boot and shoe trees. The
houses had tiny little balconies. On these, the housewives on
the higher flats would stand, and lower little baskets by a
string to the vendor of fruit and vegetables.
There were as many donkeys as horses about. There were tiny
busses drawn by three small horses. I was nearly knocked down
by one, and the drivers only laughed. One man had his bicycle
run right over.
We proceeded, first of all, to the castle and saw the various
works of art and veneration in the chaple there. Some of them
were beautiful, and some were not, but the soldiers, who were a
dirty looking lot, followed us around to see we did no damage.
There were some skeletons of some special personage, or
personages, in the vaults below, but I did not go down to see
We had dinner in a swell cafe. The charge was 2/6 per head, and
it was a very good repast. We had macaroni soup, into which we
shook grated cheese, then omlette, then chops and beautifully
done potatoes, cheese and oranges. Those who thought 2/6 too
dear, and ordered ham and eggs, got two eggs and a small piece
of ham, served in tiny metal plates, with nothing to drink. They
were charged 1/6 for this, so we I think had the best bargain.
We ladies wished to find lavatories, and Willie asked the
proprietor for such a place. He called a waiter, and we were
taken away down to the basement, to a place which was evidently
a ring for pugilists, hung with tawdry gee-gaws, and with
disgusting pictures of women. In an opening in one wall was
contained all the lavatory accommodation - a pail surrounded by
We then proceeded to the elevator railway, which runs up the side
of a hill. Here our guide did us all out of an extra sixpence
on the way up. Several young fellows with guitars came on at the
various stages, tinkled their guitars for a second or two, then
went further up the train.
We got out at a station half way up, and had a magnificent view
of the bay, with Vesuvius on the other side, but it did not give
a single puff in our honour. It appeared quite near, though it
was quite fourteen miles away.

When we reached the top, we had a walk round, and were pestered
by a man trying to sell small guitars made of tortoise-shell and
mother-of pearl. He wanted 3/6, but came down to one shilling,
but we did not buy, so he left off and ran back up the hill to
where Willie and several others were hurrying down. It was as
good as a scene in a pantomime to see them all running down the
hill, with the little fat man running, puffing, after them. We
shouted to Willie, who had stopped, not to give him more than a
shilling, but the little fellow got 1/3 out of him. Afterwards,
we found them being sold freely for 6d and 9d.
Oranges and lemons were being sold in baskets and on strings.
We saw lemons growing outside of one house. There were shops
with great quantities of sickly-looking pasties, all covered over
with dotted bits of green and pink-looking stuff.
A lot of the women had on slippers with no backs, and high wooden
heels. Priests with beaver hats, and monks with brown habits and
girdles were everywhere. The hobble skirts were much in vogue.
We passed through a magnificent arcade, said to have cost a
quarter of a million to build. Singers Sewing Machine company
had premises in it. All the poorer shops are just booths, whilst
a good deal of trading is done on the street. Nuns were down at
the wharf selling postcards.
The ship's tender was waiting for us, and, whilst we waited for
it to fill up, we were kept in amusement by a young fellow who
dived for pennies. He picked some of them up with his feet. Two
girls got into a boat and sang, but the gendarmes chased them
One man had large strings of coral (red) over his arm. He kept
pestering me to buy. He started them at 4/6, but I took no
notice of him till he came down to one shilling, when I got the
largest and finest string of the bunch. After that, he got many
others sold at the same money.
We found on our return to the boat that others, who had had
different guides, had seen many more places of interest than we
had whilst in Naples.

23 April 1911

We reached Toranto on Sunday night. I did not go ashore. Willie
went, and was delighted with his visit. He brought back cheese
and eggs, and a bottle of port, which cost a shilling. It was
poor stuff, however.
Our last mail to go overland was taken off here, and I received
Bessie's P.C.
Toranto is a pretty place, very clean. It has a lovely natural
Some men came out in boats, selling hat-pins, and pipes with red
stems, and clay bowls.
Five men rowed out and boarded our boat. Four of them wore white
jerseys and tarns with pretty blue stripes. The fifth was in a
blue uniform. They were naval police.
Many of our men, when they returned, were pretty well primed, and
they had helped themselves to the entire contents of the wine
bottle in many cases where they had only paid for one drink out.
The bottles were set down for them to help themselves, and they
walked off with them. Thus does the Britisher conduct himself
whilst abroad.

24 April 1911

We left Toranto about 2 am. The weather has not been too warm,
but we have several cases of dysentry on board, and one of
Passed the island of Crete.
We were still experiencing great inconvenience at the table in
the mornings, some rising so late that they had to come to the
second sitting. We who had chosen for the second table are up
in revolt, and so also are the stewards. There is sometimes
great fun in the dining cabin through from ours. A young married
couple, who are very spoony, are in the habit of coming to table
late, and they always receive a great ovation when they appear.
They have a two berth cabin, and those in the next cabin can hear
the billing and cooing going on.
When we left Naples, our two understewards had disappeared, and
their place was taken by a young Italian, who gave great
satisfaction at first, but he became a nuisance. When anyone
would ask for a second helping, he shrugged his shoulders and
said "All done."
There were also about thirty vine growers came on board. The
were under the charge of an overseer. They were going out to

25 April 1911

Weather warmer. Awnings stretched on forecastle. A lovely bird,
about the size of a canary, perched on our boat, and dozens were
hovering round. They had green wings, white tipped, and with a
blue bonnet.
We have a man who does nothing else all day but peel potatoes.
He sits in a little kind of a closet, and can do eight sacks in
a day. Needless to say, they are not peeled, they are sliced.

26 April 1911

Beautiful weather. The clock has been put forward half an hour,
and darkness falls at once. A shark was sighted this morning,
close to our boat, but I did not see it.

27 April 1911

Entered the Suez Canal this evening. Port Said is at the mouth
of it. We stayed to coal, but were not allowed to land as there
was an outbreak of smallpox in the town.
The first sight which greeted our eyes on approaching was large
advertisements for Dewars Whisky, Liptons Tea, Pears Soap and
Black and White Scotch Whisky. The port appeared to be more
British than Port Suez, which is at the other end of the canal.
We had a good view of the town. The streets were wide, with
trees on each side. Most of the coloured people who were about,
and not engaged in coaling the boat, were very picturesquely
dressed. One Dandy had a white smock with a pink shirt
underneath, and carried a cane in such an exaggerated fashion as
to make one laugh.
The private carriages resembled our Landaus, but were slimmer
built, and the horses were smaller, but swift.
Our boat was coaled from rafts by natives who were dressed in
blue smocks and red couls, but with the coal dust they looked
like a swarm of flies. They sang a kind of chant while they
worked. They carried the coals up in hampers on their head and
shoulders, but some of them had to be lashed to do their share.
One fellow who refused to work had his hamper flung over him.
Several vendors came out to the ship with their wares. The
buying was all done by sending the goods up in baskets after the
customer had brought the price down as far as he could, then the
money was sent down in the basket. Oranges and lemons were dear,
as they were going off season, and we did not buy. Turkish
Delight was 4d per box, and was not very good. Neither were the
Ostrich feathers were being sold in bunches of three. One
gentleman secured three lovely black ones for 10/6. Our friend,
Mr Watt, asked me to bid for three white plumes, so I shouted
down to a dealer, of Jewish aspect, how much. They were very
small plumes, but he wanted two Guineas. I said "Too much.", and
he said "Three shillings.", so we accepted them, and passed him
down 2/6 and 6d. He shouted up "Eez zat English money?" On
being assured that it was, he seemed satisfied with his bargain.
The River Police wore blue jerseys with red letters, and blue
trousers, and the inevitable red fez.
The British Consul's house was magnificent.
We left the port and entered the canal about 6 pm. The banks on
the left were composed of an endless grey stretch of sand. On
the right there were shrubs and trees, with the railway running
along. We saw an occasional hut or tent fire, and one or two
settlements, never more than four or five houses. We were held
up during the night, to allow other vessels to pass. There are
no locks in this canal.

28 April 1911

When we awoke next morning, it was to the same scene, but we
presently came to an open part, which made some think that it was
the end of the canal. We presently got into a narrow part again,
and for miles and miles there was an endless stretch of sand.
We passed innumerable dredgers moored to the side of the banks.
In some places, the canal was so narrow, a boy could have leapt
out and landed in quite shallow water. After a bit, we began to
see trees and shrubs, but they were further inland.
Every few miles, there were stations, with a few houses round
about. They had all little landing stages, but their signs were
in French.
There was a band of camels passed on the North side, and a few
flying fish were seen.
We got out of the canal just as the day was on the wane, about
6 pm. We only stopped for a few minutes at Port Suez. The port
is an exceedingly pretty place. There are not many houses just
at the canal. The actual town is much further round the gulf.
All the roads seemed dead level, and had trees planted along side
of them. These had mostly an ashy grey look, but there were many
with clusters of lovely red flowers and others with red berries,
not unlike our rowans. Some bushes seemed greener than some of
our own.

29 April 1911

Racing through the Red Sea at top speed. The heat becoming
unbearable. No change made in our diet. Iced water served up
twice daily. Lime juice could be procured at 1/6 per bottle,
also whisky at 8 shillings.
The only thing which I could account for this sea getting its
name is the amount of reddish-yellow weeds which were floating
on the surface. On the other hand, the Mediterranean was of a
lovely sapphire blue, which changed into lovely green before
reaching the Suez Canal.
An elderly man took ill with pneumonia today, our first case of

30 April 1911

We passed twelve rocks, all in a row. They are called the Twelve
apostles, and the first is called Judas Iscariot. Some were very
large, and some very tiny.

1 May 1911

Rose at 5 am this morning and got washed off the deck, where I
had gone for a breath of fresh air, by the seamen washing the
decks. A great many of the men are sleeping on the deck during
the night, and a small portion is screened off for women.
I saw today what I took to be two sailing ships. They turned out
to be two rocks called the Two Brothers.
We passed between two lovely islands called the Gates of Hell.
We sighted the city of Aden, in Arabia.
Heat now so intolerable, that I sleep on the floor, with no bed

2 May 1911

In Arabian Sea. Sighted other two rocks called the Two Brothers.
Great shoals of flying fish all around. They varied in size from
8 inches to 12 inches.

3 May 1911

Arabian Sea. Heat bad again. Sports are being started. Nearly
killed myself laughing at a pillow fight. In a tug-of-war, the
Scotch beat the English, the Irish beat the Scotch, and the
Italians beat the whole lot. The Welsh could not play, as some
of their best and strongest men did not approve of sports.
There were 25 Welshmen on board, some of whom came from Wrexham.

4 May 1911

Sailing 9 hours ahead of time. Made up and passed a Dutch
steamer bound for Colombo. Our engines broke down owing to the
overheating of a piston rod, and the Dutch vessel passed us, but
on our engines being repaired, we met up and passed it again.
The sports were continued today, and the skipping competition was
won by a little boy and girl who were travelling third class,
under the care of the head steward, in the first class.

5 May 1911

Warm as ever, and the sports were finished today. The tug-of-war
was won by the Irishmen against the Italians, but it was a well
fought fight.
The second class had a ball the last night. Neither they, nor
the first class, contributed much towards the prize list. None
of the subscriptions exceeded 6d. One Captain Bell gave 2d.
We were down in the first class cabins, buying a tin of toffee
from the barber. He asked a shilling for it, then he asked if
we were first class. When we said no, he said then it would only
be 9d.

6 May 1911

Indian Ocean. Arrived at Colombo by 4.30 pm. We did not get off
till it was almost dark. Darkness falls almost at once, and it
was quite dark by 6.30.
Singalese mounted on deck to receive the laundry clothes of the
officers and the first class. These were washed and returned
before the boat sailed next morning.
They had long black hair, knotted at the back, like a woman's,
and tortoise shell combs round the crown of their heads, which
signifies that they are lion-hearted. Their dress consisted of
a tight white skirt and jacket.
Indian guides and hotel touts swarmed aboard. We engaged one.
The charge per head for showing us round, supplying dinner, and
also rickshaw to drive in to see the markets, whilst the dinner
was preparing, was 4 shillings, and not to be paid till we
returned to the hotel after visiting the markets.
He wore a broad black sash over his shoulders, with the name of
the British India Hotel on it, so we thought we would be safe.
He was a fine intelligent fellow, with a head of black silky
curls, which he wore without any covering. He was just about my
height. Few of them are really tall.
We went over in one of our company's ship's tenders, and were
charged one shilling.
All kinds of vessels were in the harbour, from German trading
vessels, bound for China, to Mohamaden sailing vessels, from the
same place.
Night had fallen soft, and deliciously spicy. The pier was
somewhat similar to our own river piers. When we landed from the
tender, we found ourselves in fine broad streets, lit by electric
light, and having handsome buildings on each side. There was a
sound of ringing of bicycle bells, from rickshaws which were
flying about in all directions.
The guide hurried us to the hotel, the British India. We passed
through the General Gordon Gardens, and were challenged by a
sentry as we were passing a thick hedge, about 12 foot high. We
also passed a tower, erected to the memory of Sir Hector
We entered the hotel from the back, passing through from there
to the front, where we seated ourselves in the verandah in long-
seated cane chairs, from the long arms of which we could draw out
rests to support tumblers of iced lemonade, which cost 4d per
glass and was delicious.
We were here followed by sellers of silk, cotton and lace goods
(all hand made), who knelt before us, displaying their wares.
The one before was a lovely creature, her mate, a man, was also
good looking.
We ordered dinner, and our guide procured a rickshaw. We called
first at a native shop in one of the main streets, and procured
a white duck suit for Willie, and a small pair of native silver
sleeve-links. Then we proceeded to the native fruit market. Our
rickshaw man pointed out various places of interest, as we
When we had left the British quarters behind, we were followed
by little native children, turning summersaults. One little one
had only one leg, but he was as nimble as the rest. They were
all naked.
The native shops we passed were just dirty-looking booths.
On arriving at the native fruit bazaar, we found first the smell.
There were stalls on which were displayed green oranges, bananas,
pineapples, and other fruits. The stall-keeper we bought from
cut off one of the green orange tops, and let us taste. It was
very sweet, but the others, which we bought at 15 for a shilling,
were not so good, but they were thirst-quenchers. We had to
purchase a whole tree of bananas. They were small, and cost 1/6
per stick of nearly 200 bananas. Also, we got small pineapples
for 3d each.
On leaving, our salesman shook hands with us, and said "God bless
you. " We learned that he was a Roman Catholic. On our way back
to the hotel, we passed edifices of all descriptions, amongst
which was a Hindu temple, which we were not allowed to enter, but
we were allowed to gaze our fill. It was open, and seemed to me
very cheap-show looking, with its mirrors, and fancy coloured
lights. A worshipper was kneeling in an attitude of prayer, then
she rose, and received something which looked like incense in a
vessel, then, standing in an attitude of prayer for a few
seconds, she slowly backed out of the temple, bowing and chanting
all the time.
We got a glimpse of a Mohamedan temple. Worshippers, all men of
course, were scattered round the floor in groups.
Arrived back at our hotel. We left our guide to pay the rickshaw
men, but they scrambled after us, saying "We run hard, we tired."
We gave them 2d each, which is about a third of what they earn
in a day. They instantly set up a tremendous row, and our guide
asked us to give him half of what we had stipulated for, and he
would settle with them, but, whatever he did give them, they
continued to kick up a row, and had to be driven away.

NOTE: The diary finishes at this point. The reason for this only recently became apparent. My grandmother gave birth to my aunt in Sydney, two days after the vessel's arrival. She had given no indication in the course of the diary that she was almost 9 months pregnant.


Blogger Elaine said...

Wonderful account from your grandmother making that long trip for the first time in her life leaving Scotland. And to think she never mentioned being pregnant is amazing. I expect that was not the "done" thing in those days.

My own grandmother also left Scotland 9 years later in 1920 for NZ, and though I know the name of her ship, I would give just about anything to have her account of the journey. Your gran left exactly a year before Titanic sunk. I wonder if she would still have gone if the ship had sunk before.

Anyway thanks so much for posting this. Thoroughly enjoyed the read...Elaine

6:59 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

Enjoyed your grandmothers story.Must have been quite an eye opener for a young Scots lady in 1911, seeing all of these foreign places with all of the strange customs that go with them.
Reason i say this. My own grandmother from Paisley had never even been to England until around 1962. She was nearly 60 then.
Thank you for sharing this.

8:46 AM  
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