From Winamop.com

Swiss Holiday Diary 1908. By Margaret Wilson McNee
(born 1881 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire)


July 17th 1908

We drove to Charing Cross in a taximeter and enjoyed the ride immensely. Mrs Smith met us as we alighted, and shortly after, we met the other members of the party and got introduced to those we did not know. We made a raid on Cook’s Office and had some money changed getting 25 francs for an English sovereign. I watched the bundles, and a good thing too as J’s parasol was nearly broken by a porter with a barrow. A saloon carriage was engaged for us, so after trailing our traps up the platform, we all got in. We were a very merry party and made a great deal of noise. Our leader, as Jean supposed, is a small man and jolly. We had our first glimpse of Brown Morgan, who is much better than he is braw. It rained all the way to Dover, but our tongues went so fast, that we took little note of weather or scenery, till the sea came in sight. It was more than a trifle rough and we began to tremble in our shoes.

The train took us right to the pier, and we found, after we had, with much tribulation got our luggage on board, that the second class accommodation was very stuffy. We decided to pay the extra 2/- and got chairs on the first class deck. Going out of harbour we got a woeful toss! I staggered along to the “neb” of the boat & settled down there. The breeze helped to keep me from distinguishing myself. I was soon joined by a considerable number of sea sick folk. I felt pretty bad. As we got out however the boat did not roll so much and we all began to recover. We reached Ostend about 8 o’clock. Fortunately we had no rain in crossing.

The hoisting of bundles once more began, and we had to open our boxes for the Customs examination. A chalk mark was put on them and we passed on to the train. We had some trouble in getting our luggage stowed away, as our particular carriage was crowded, having 7 instead of 6. Nan & Phys & Lois & Aggie proceeded to make tea. It was a messy performance & I thought not worth the trouble. The train conductor came along & said something unintelligible to us. But he did not put a stop to the tea making. I should not have been surprised if he had, as owing to the jolting of the train, tea was being distributed in all directions.

By and bye we composed ourselves to sleep without meeting with much success. Our necks felt “thrawed” and there was always an interruption of one kind or another.

At Brussels we stopped for some time and most of the party had coffee for which they paid 5 pence and ½d for the “man” ie the waiter. Beery and I prowled up and down the platform in search of fresh air but we found it not. We should have followed the example of two ladies who went out of the station and visited one of the Squares. While we were out one of the English ladies had her handbag stolen. Her tickets had been taken out and laid on the seat and all this happened with a lady sleeping in the compartment! Everybody blamed a man with a straw hat who had been prowling about the carriages.

From Brussels to Luxembourg we spent the time in trying to sleep between the intervals of showing tickets. At the latter place, we had to arouse ourselves for tickets and Customs, but the operation was not serious. The officer said, “Rien a declarer” and we groaned “No” on which he took his departure. Here we had to alter the time on our watches, and put them an hour forward.

Between intervals of sleep we could see that the country around was pretty flat, and cultivated in queer little patches of one kind and another, - maize corn – french beans &c & vines. There were a great many Lombardy Poplars and at a distance they often resembled gigantic green pailings. For some time I watched the scenery from a window at the end of the passage. I wanted fresh air to blow my headache away but I did not get it, as one of the men of the party took up his post beside me, and smoked like a furnace. Truth to tell, we were a splendid collection of tired, sleepy, headachey dogs. Phys was pretty well bowled over, but was always able to make a row, if occasion demanded it.

We reached Basle before mid-day and there we had lunch. We expected breakfast as our tickets only provided for that. When we were halfway through lunch, we were told, that we had so much extra to pay. We rather objected to this way of doing things. However we enjoyed the lunch, which consisted of soup & bread, meat, potatoes & vegetables, sausage, veal &c, salad, fruit juice, ice cream, biscuits & cherries. The waitress brought in the dishes on large salvers and we helped ourselves.

We left our luggage in the dining room and went for a walk in Basle. Our aim was to cross the Rhine. We went down a rather nice Street, which has an avenue of trees with a walk down the centre, instead of the usual pavement. There were seats amongst the trees where on the weary might rest. We rather enjoyed this walk.

By & bye we came to a cross where with the use – or abuse – of French and German, we contrived to make a man understand, that we wanted to get to the Rhine. He directed us and eventually we got to the bridge. The bridge is very high and the river great, broad, lovely and swift flowing. We crossed to the other side and descended a flight of steps to the river bank, then walked along under a nice row of trees to the next bridge. We should have liked to continue our walk, but time did not permit so we mounted the steps which took us to the bridge. On crossing this second bridge we soon found ourselves in the fruit and vegetable market, and saw the Police Station – outside only. We had to negotiate a man to show us the shortest way to the station. He could not understand, till Phys asked me: “What is the German word for station?” I said, “Bahnhoff”. The man heard me and pointed. We followed his direction as far as possible and met “J”. Then we collared another gentleman, and did our best to ask if we were far from the station. He understood us latterly, poor man, and said: “two minoots”. We got to the station in time for our train and were joined by the party from Calais.

We were all very tired and headachey by this time, and wished that we were at the end of our journey. I dozed a little so did not take much notice of the scenery. We stopped for a short time at Berne & as seen from the train it seemed to be a very fine town. The scenery from here began to be a little more Swiss like. How thankful we were to reach Spiez!

The Hotel bus took our luggage and most of us walked to the Hotel as it was not far away. We were lucky enough to get a bedroom in the Harhaus, possibly because we wanted a bedroom for three. Some of the others had to go to the Chalets round about. We were taken to our flat in the lift and our boxes were brought to us by the porter. We had begun to undress when we discovered that T’s box was a missing. Without giving us time to cover our nakedness Attie Phemie rang the bell for a maid and one soon appeared. We proceeded to talk to her in English, and we thought she understood, as she beamed and said, “Ha ! Ha!”. Still she made no effort to get the other box, so “T” explained once more, that we wanted another box like mine, but with the initials E.W.McN. “Ha Ha” was the only answer we got. It now began to dawn on us that “Ha Ha” did not mean “I understand”, but we foolishly enough, did not ask the maid, what language she spoke. Instead we attacked her with a mixture of French and German. “T” told her she wanted “un andere” which seemed to sink in, and she went further to explain that “andere” was outside. Unfortunately she said “Hinaus”, which means “to go out”; the maid, thereupon, jumped to the conclusion, that one was to be taken out, and promptly seized mine. I collared her before she got to the door. I don’t know if she suddenly got enlightened, or whether she though t the best thing was to let us alone for a little, at any rate she went out, and in a short time came back with T’s box, which had evidently been travelling round the Hotel in search of an owner. The look of joy on Ha Ha’s face as she brought that case in, was something to see.

This business settled, we had a good wash up, which was very refreshing after our travels. Not knowing at what hour dinner was to be we hurried into the first garments we could lay our hands on. We have been lucky in getting a very nice bedroom. Our beds amused us mightily. The bedsteads are wooden. We have a spring mattress (like our sofa springs) then a little wedge-shaped hair mattress at the top & last of all the hair mattress. There are two square pillows, one large the other smaller. We have only one felt-like blanket and the he-bo mat, but what took our fancy as much as anything were the funny fat cushion-like quilts. “T” can never resist the temptation to give them a punch in the middle. The floor is of polished pine with a rug in front of each bed. We have a wardrobe, a table, commode, trunk stand, basin stand with three of everything, 2 towels each and a chair for each. Our window opens like a door onto a little verandah all our own, with chairs. Here we can sit, even in rainy weather. We look right over to the Chalet in which Beery & Phys live. We are really very comfortable.

We had a good dinner, soup, fish, roast, salad, fowl, pudding, cherries &c. I was too headachey to enjoy it. After dinner we visited one anothers rooms then we got to bed as fast as possible. Never were we more ready for it.

 

Monday 20thJuly 1908

We rose to find the skies as grey as ever at 7 a.m. We were very sorry to hop out, one and all of us. Breakfast was at 8 a.m. and we all got down in good time. Phys and Nan were the exceptions to the above rule and came tripping in late after a great scramble to get dressed. By this time the rain was pouring in torrents and our excursion to Beatus Hohle had to be put off. Very disappointing indeed after having paid our “monisch”. We are all singing “Oh why left I my hame” and trying to keep cheery. The P.C. place was doing good trade this morning. The scenery around here is very lovely and not unlike our own Scottish hills, but not quite so lonely. The little chalets with their little handkerchiefs of cultivated ground take away the lonliness. The small boy in these quarters, who is desirous of helping himself to his neighbours fruit, has no obstacle to overcome. The consequence is that nobody ever thinks of stealing other peoples fruit, apples, pears, cherries, walnuts etc grow along the road-sides as if they belonged to no one. Every available space is covered with vines.

Small as Spiez is, it can boast of electric cars. The hotels are all lit with electric light and at night the lights look very picturesque. The small boats on the lake resemble sabots; they go up at the bow just like a canoe or the toe of a wooden shoe, and go down quite straight at the stern. On the whole they are more like canoes than our own small boats, the latter being much stronger in build. Each boat has a little chalet of its own on the lakeside, in which it stays while not in use. Lunch at 12.30 was a pleasant break. It interrupted a game at towns etc at which we had a good deal of fun.

After lunch we read, played games or took stock of the other members of the party with whom we are now becoming a little better acquainted. We have two very select ladies in the party, who eat at our table and stare at all we do, with superior smiles on their faces. The father of the younger lady is not so bad and is rather friendly. The other two get rather the cold shoulder, as we can’t stand their “side” and all the “eying” in the world does not hinder our having fun.

After a time I began to feel sleepy so I went upstairs to have a nap. Aunty Phemie soon followed and went right into bed. At dinner and after, we had a novel entertainment. A Swiss peasant and two girls dressed in all their finery sang and played to us, for a consideration of course. The man was a great tall strapping fellow, wore short green embroidered pants, funny stockings with no feet (huggers in old Scotia) shoes turned up at the toe, white shirt, green tie and soft alpine hat with a feather. The girls wore rather a peculiar headdress of black gauzy stuff standing up like a spread peacock’s tail. Their dress consisted of velvet bodices with white chemisettes, laced down the front, dark skirts and coloured silk aprons. The man played solos on his zither and accompanied the girls when they sang. We had duets, solos and trios. The man and the younger of the girls went through a Swiss dance. This was rather a peculiar performance, distinguished by leaping, howling and love making on the part of the man. At one part he lifted the girl right up and swung her round. This greatly shocked one lady of the party at least. In appearance the man was rather Italian-like. He was decidedly nice looking & had a very pleasant face. The girl was very graceful in her movements. By and bye they departed and we prepared for bed.

The notion to have a bath seized Auntie Phemie and she summoned a maid, who was no other than little “Ha ha”. We of course had to do the talking. We took the precaution of asking her this time if she spoke French, to which she replied in the affirmative. She understood what we wanted and all went well till we asked the price, which was 2frs. Auntie Phemie considered this preposterous, so we had to tell her, that that was too dear, and enquire the price of a cold bath. Poor little Ha-ha did not know, but said she would “demander” downstairs. Back she came with the news, that it was 1.50, so we settled it at that, and, with a “Bon Soir Mesdames”, Ha-ha departed. We scrambled through this transaction very well for the maid spoke slowly and we could understand what she was saying quite easily.

 

Tuesday July 21st.

We rose at 7 a.m. this morning to find it dull but dry. Auntie Phemie went for her bath and we proceeded to dress ourselves. Before we reached the breakfast table down came the rain in torrents. We did not put off our excursion this time however, but as soon as breakfast was over, we proceeded to get on our things. Some folks got parcels of lunch to carry, and we all tripped off to the pier to get the boat, about 9 o’clock. There was an awning on deck, and we were as comfortable as circumstances would permit. It was very cold sailing. What we could see of the scenery was lovely, but it was so shrouded in mist that we did not see it to advantage. We called at ever so many little places before we reached Interlaken. Some of the pier keepers were rather comical. One old pair, husband and wife, were so funnily dressed, that Mr Lister tried to snap shot them, but he was rather late. We sailed up the canal to Interlaken, and then changed to the train, which took us to Lake Brienz. Some of the party got tickets taken by mistake (they were afterwards recovered) and this spent some time, so we had to sprint for the boat. The sail down Lake Brienz was very beautiful but was rather spoiled by the rain, mist & cold. It resembles Loch Goil but the water of the Lake is a sort of soap-sud blue instead of the dark colour of our Highland lakes. We passed the Gusbach Falls a very fine sight. We were told they were lit up at night with electric light and I am sure will look lovely. Soon after we reached Brienz. Here we had a few minutes to spare before getting the train to Meisingen. The rain poured in torrents all the way. On reaching Meisingen we proceeded at once to the Gorge of the Aare.

We saw some very nice shops on the way with the usual things carving &c. We passed a great number of waterfalls a good many of them having railways in connection with them. Many of the Chalets on the roadside are very picturesque in appearance. We were greatly amused and interested at the neat and tidy way, in which the wood was stored round the base of each house. The women evidently add to the family income by making pillow lace. We saw them busy at it in tiny little wooden shops by the wayside. A glass of milk could be had at any of these for 10c as well as p.c.s, lace &c. Phys bought some lace and the price did not seem to be out of the way. By and bye we reached the River Aare a very swiftly flowing river. The rain still continued as brisk as ever, & by the time we reached the Restaurant at the entrance to the Gorge, we were all pretty well drenched, though we had our “coats weel kilted” beneath our waterproofs.

Before going further we decided to have lunch, and ordered coffee or tea to take with the provisions we had brought from the Kurhaus. It was a case of first come first served. We all seized tables and being nearest the door, we were lucky in being served first – with cups. The coffee was like “Royal Charlie” lang in coming, so long in fact that we were finished eating. Mr Gilbert got crusty and seized on the first and readiest scapegoat, which happened to be Mr Thomas. As he was passing, Mr Gilbert said in a sort of ordering voice: “Countermand the order for coffee at this table”. Mr Thomas wheeled round and in a very dignified voice (for him) said: “I gave no order for coffee. Let those who gave it, withdraw the order.” The atmosphere was a trifle electric.

Phys of course must always be original, and she created a diversion by her non-appearance. She had a few others to keep her company, and we thought that they had all got lost. When lunch was about over, they turned up, (smiling serenely) like the proverbial bad sixpence or whatever coin it is. By good chance, they had provisions amongst them, otherwise, they should have gone hungry for the rest of the day. “T” was inside at the same table as Mr Lister, his sister and Miss Donaldson. The gentleman incurred the wrath of Touser by insisting on paying for the coffee. Mr Thomas gave us tickets for the Gorge, and we went through a gate at the Shop.

We soon came to the Gorge, which beggars description. At this point the Aare rushes through a narrow channel which it has worn out through the ages. The rocky sides rise to a great height. On one place I saw 1001 painted on the rock in red. Whether this has anything to do with the height, I do not know, at any rate, we found out afterwards from a little guide book, that in some places, the height does exceed 1000 feet. Part of the way is tunnelled out of the rock with openings through which to look at the river. A narrow iron bridge with a wooden floor runs along the left side of the Gorge.

Sometimes the river rushes alongside, sometimes underfoot. The path twists and twines, in and out, up and down for I am sure fully quarter of a mile. At one part a bridge crosses to the other side. It is reached by a long flight of steps, and from it a fine view of the Gorge may be had. We climbed, and had the view, though we were, or perhaps I should say “I was”, a trifle breathless, when we reached the top. The camera people took a few snap-shots, but I am afraid the rain would be against their chances of turning out well. The rain in fact had been a great nuisance all the time, for besides making us uncomfortable, we could not look up without having a stream of water down our necks, - and we really had to look up to see the full beauty of the place. Having retraced our steps so far, we got under the shelter of an overhanging part of the rock and were treated to a short lecture on the formation of glacier mills &c which we had seen as we passed along. The Aare originated in a glacier so our worthy leader informed us.

On getting back to the gate we gave up our tickets & had a look at the contents of the shop. There was a splendid stock of beautifully carved work. The carvers are prize takers, as have been their fore-fathers for generations. I hunted out a lovely salad spoon & fork, with a design of grapes & vine leaves. I would have bought them for mother, if she had not already been provided with that commodity, so Miss Barr bore the treasure away. We bought a book of views and a little box (1f & 1.20.) The man spoke English fairly well, but took such a time to parcel the things, that we were left to the last. We sprinted and soon got up on the others, who were now on the way to Reichenbach Falls.

We had a very muddy walk, and thanks to the passing machines, looked as if we had spotted fever, so beautifully were we bespattered with mud. We went to the falls by rail and had our first experience of a mountain railway. The cars could only hold one half of us at a time. We were in the second party & had the pleasure of seeing the first car ascend. The cars resemble a flight of very broad steps with seats and a covering. One must “ne se pencher dehors” or “nich.. hinauslehnen”. We watched the car being hauled up by a cable. It looked like a fly crawling up a wall. The other car descended as the one went up. On reaching the bottom a lot of water was allowed to escape which the car had evidently brought down as ballast. I think the descending car helps to pull up the ascending one.

Eventually our turn came. It was rather awesome to look either up or down, but the view was magnificent. We had glimpses of the fall at different stages, as we travelled slowly upwards. On reaching the top we got out to inspect the upper fall. It was a great height and came down with a thundering roar. The water was dashed into spray on a jutting rock and fell in funny sharp pointed clouds. We had to keep our umbrellas up for the spray. On getting down, we found that we were too late to catch the train, and would consequently be late for dinner, whereat, we all said things about our conductor, who truth to tell is very easy-osy. Someone said that the station master was going to try to delay the train a little on our account. A few of us ran for it. We took a short cut through a field, but it was of no use. This gave us an hour to spend in Meisingen.

We had a tour round the shops and inspected the knick-knacks. One large shop had lovely carved photo frames and crucifixes. The carving of the flowers was wonderful. On our return to the Station we had some fun on Aunt Lals account. An old worthy sitting on the platform seemed attracted by the lady and smiled, and did all he could to attract her attention. His efforts were successful and she shook his paw, though she did not understand a word he said. Like Oliver Twist he evidently wanted more, and every time Aunt Lal was in the neighbourhood, he was grinning like an ape. I was telling Miss Gilbert that she had better keep an eye on her sister. We were cheered after getting into the train by seeing a decided improvement in the weather. The sun actually began to shine and we had our first glance at the Jungfrau.

The sail along Lake Brienz was very enjoyable and we noticed on calling at one of the little places a board with the legend “Afternoon Tea – Home baked scones.” At Interlaken we found that a walk awaited us, as the last boat for Spiez had left, and we had to make our way to the Railway Station. We did not object, as the evening was fine and it gave us an opportunity of seeing the town. We were all delighted with it. It is very bonny, and there are a great number of lovely shops. There is a fine promenade with palms and other tropical plants growing in the plots. From the promenade, we had a glorious view of the Jungfrau with its eternal snow, looking beautifully pink in the evening sunshine. The best view of all however, we had just as we were going into the Railway Station.

We travelled third class to Spiez and were fairly jolly on the way, hard seats notwithstanding. We had a hurry to dress for dinner, which was delayed till 8 o’clock for our special benefit. Needless to say we enjoyed our dinner, when at last, we got it. After dinner, we had a jovial minute or two on the verandah. Aunt Lal and I started to parade up and down. T and a few others joined us, and before long there was quite a procession of the party. Afterwards we sat down in a ring and had a few conundrums. Mr Thomas gave rather a good one. “Why is a man about to be married like a gentleman paying a call?” 1. Because he goes to a door (adore). 2. He gives the bell(e) a ring. 3. He gives the maid his name. 4. He is taken in. Nan gave a few of her terrors which are funnier than clever. This little spasm over we all departed to be-bo.

 

Wednesday July 22nd.

Up practically at 6 a.m. T’s tongue awakened us. Out of bed at 7 for me. We had some trouble in brushing our clothes, which were in a terrible state of mud. T was out in the verandah brushing, when the English male trio went out for a walk. On their return they found me at the same performance. This provoked them to laughter, so I promptly suggested that they would be better employed in assisting, than in grinning. Hint not taken. We had breakfast at 8. am, the day being dry but dull. Thankful for small mercies however.

We took boat to the other side of the Lake for Beatus Höhle. We had a good long walk along the lake edge, sometimes being a good height up with a sheer drop down. Everything suggested one of our own Highland roads. This road is called Beatus Strasse and in places it is blasted out of the solid rock forming tunnels. Beery and I were in the van and we stopped at a large waterfall. This was where we had to turn up for the caves. We climbed up a winding path amongst the trees, having a very good view of the fall all the way. Entrance to the caves cost 1 franc. We passed through the turnstile and gave up our umbrellas, lest we should be tempted to poke the old saints’ bones I suppose. We first visited the shrine of St Beatus. In the cell, is a wax figure with long white hair representing the saint reading the bible. There is a fire burning in the fireplace and a pot hanging over it. There are nets, what looked like a bed, and vessels of one kind and another. Outside was a mill of a sort.

This is a rough sketch of it. I expect it would be used for grinding grain and is not very large. We lifted the lid of a large wooden arrangement, and down at the bottom on the ground, saw a collection of human bones, said to be those of St Beatus, and on that account considered sacred relics. We next entered the caves. The noise of the underground torrent was like thunder. The caves are lit by electric light and must be at least half a mile in length. Sometimes the water rushes alongside, sometimes underfoot, are [sic] there are times when it quite disappears. At times the passage is very narrow at others it widens out into grottos.

There are several of these grottos all of which have names, e.g. The Captains, The Three Sisters, Middle Snake &c. All the funny little places are lit up, sometimes with coloured lights. The rock formation is particularly interesting. There are many stalactites and stalagmites, some of them taking very peculiar shapes. In the Grotto called Walhalla, there is one called “the Shrine”, and indeed it looks very like that. In another place are the Sleeping Bears. These are so realistic that one lady suggested that perhaps they were really bears petrified. Then there are a crocodile’s head, lizard, the stalactite wall &c. Another part is called the Witches Kettle and is lit up with coloured light. The name seems very suitable as the water gurgles and boils beneath ones feet.

We returned as we came, it having taken us a considerable time to do this. We were told we had only 8 minutes to catch the boat. Not knowing where the pier was, we asked a man who told us to go forward. Miss Barr and I scorched, and were afterwards joined by A Miller, Miss Cassels and Miss Bryce. On enquiring, we found that there would not be a boat at this pier till 3 o’clock, so we had to scorch back as we came. We grudged to climb again the hill from the pier. However we managed, and tore along the road at no snail’s pace. We got up on the tail end of the party, before they reached the pier. We were all pretty tired and hungry. We said a few things about Mr Thomas allowing us to be late for meals again. Miss McNeil nearly fainted. Miss Donaldson and T. departed to try to find a glass of water, and Mr Lister ran and dipped his handkerchief in the Lake and brought it to Aunt Lal, who was emergency nurse. T. and Miss Donaldson got the water after some little trouble. We got our lunch when we arrived, late though we were.

The afternoon excursion to St Beatenberg was now off, as we were so late, and the cars on the mountain railway hold so few. We went to Thun instead. A few of the party went to St Beatenberg by themselves. I think somehow the mist would spoil the view, but we have not yet heard how they got on. We enjoyed our visit to Thun. We had a nice hour’s sail down the lake to this quaint old town. The streets are very like those of Chester having terraces in front of the shops, though they are not covered like those of the English town. After a walk through the town, we paid the old church a visit. We had to view it from the outside. The porch was rather interesting and evidently very old. The roof is arched and has figures painted all over. They suggested the “Maid of Norway” to me. From here we passed on to the promenade round the Castle. As both Castle and Church are on a hill very fine views can be obtained from them. The country to the westward is flatter than in the other directions.

We wanted to get into the old castle, and spying an old wooden staircase, we mounted to find three doors, but one and all were shut. We retraced our steps and saw a direction to the Historical museum. We followed the directions and found an entrance to the old Castle. (Charge for the party 2 frs). It suggested Dover Castle to me. There are two large halls one above the other. The floors are made of whole trees, and look very very old. Both halls are filled with curios of all kinds, furniture, china, armour, fire arms &c. There were several old fashioned cupboards, some of them beautifully carved. Some of the sideboards amused us. We were not quite certain whether they might not be wash stands, as they had a peculiar tap and basin arrangement for wine. The labels of course were all in German, so we were rather at a disadvantage. We had a splendid view of the surrounding country, and the whole town itself, from the windows.

We went back very much as we came. We thought that things were much dearer here than in Interlaken. In one of the Squares, there is a nice fountain. We got two little kiddies to stand and Miss Cassels took a photo. Some of the folks went off and had tea, but Miss Barr, Miss Miller & I trundled on to the pier. Poor Mrs Harvey was done up, & Mrs Smith took her forcibly into a tea room and made her take tea. Her husband and daughter were grateful, as they had been quite unable to persuade her to do so. The tea quite revived her. The Selectositees were also visiting Thun, in all their “war paint” of course, and, of course, gave us a wide berth. The “R” element also were on their own peculiar travels.

We all met on the pier and travelled home in time to have the usual scurry, before dinner. Mr Thomas was with us most of the time. He gave lots of cheek and was paid back in kind. We all reached [the] dinner table looking like peonies. A band was provided for the evening and we all went on to the Balcony, to listen. The evening was very pleasant and the music ditto. We did some writing the while, but most folk trundled off to bed being all very tired after a hard days walking. T. and I paid a visit to Nan & Phys before going to bed. As we were preparing for be-bo Aunty Phemie told us a little tit-bit. When toiling up the path to Beatus Höhle this morning the “cheeky man” stepped in front of her in his usual style. Said she: “For your cheek I’ll just take hold of your coat tail,” and she suited action to the word, and held on like grim death, till they reached the top. Good for Attie [sic] Phemie!!!

 

Thursday July 23rd.

We were up betimes this morning breakfast being at 7.45. The morning was lovely so I donned a linen dress and departed downstairs to find myself first in the dining room! We got into the wagons after breakfast, with all our traps, and without much ado started on our way to Kandersteg. Ours was the first machine. It held 24 counting the driver and had a covering overhead, for which we were afterwards thankful. T and Nan sat beside the driver and pestered him with bad French, mixed with worse German, and English. He was very good natured over it. We had a suspicion that he perhaps understood more than he admitted. The drive was lovely indeed. We circled round the “Diesen?”, which looked grand in the morning sunshine. A railway is being built to the top of the mountain and very steep it looks.

We drove right into a typical Swiss valley, with towering mountains on either side. All at once the Blumbs alp, a beautiful snow-clad peak came into view. The sight was so lovely that we could not help singing “I to the hills” & I do not think that it was ever sung more heartily or thoughtfully by those present. It kept us company for a very long time. As we went further into the valley, the hills became more cliff like and wild, but we never felt that we were far from the haunts of civilization. There were always Châlets even in the most inaccessible places, and very often there were bonny brown children running about, who waved to us as we passed. The Swiss children round about here are very polite, and always say in passing “Gruss,” which means “greeting”.

There are many fruit trees growing along the roadside. Sometimes the covering of the brake caught in the trees and knocked off some of the cherries. We had quite a hot few minutes, in which the Eves were trying to point out to an Adam, the sin of pulling the fruit off the trees. Adam maintained that the fruit was wild, and therefore to be plucked by all and sundry, but the Eves were better informed and tried to enlighten the youth by stating that the contrary was the fact. Adam was “cussed” and would not give in. Our driver however would not touch fruit that had been pulled from the trees, and told us that it belonged to the proprietor of the land. We heard that one of the Poly party had nearly been imprisoned, for taking what he thought to be wild fruit.

When we reached Fruitegen? We had travelled half way. This was a much bigger village than we expected it to be. It can boast of a considerable number of fine Hotels and Pensions. We drove through the main street and had to go down a very steep hill, with a turn midway. The breaks were put on very firmly, and the screeching against the rough stones of the street was ear-splitting. We survived it however, and were soothed by a drive through a nice avenue of trees. The avenue was short but was the first of the kind that I have seen in Switzerland. I think the trees were chestnut trees, but am not quite certain. They were certainly tall and different from the usual spruce and larch.

Some distance from Frutigen is the Blue Lake. When we reached the entrance to this wonderful place we dismounted and were allowed an hour in which to inspect it. We paid 1 fr. each for our tickets and followed a little path through a pine wood. This led us to the famous Blausee. The colour of the lake was astonishing in its beauty. It looked like a jewel in a lovely setting. The hills behind tower to a great height and the lake is surrounded with beautiful woods. The reflections in the water beggar description. We had a sail round it so that we might see the petrified trees of which there are a great number. The depth is very great, but so beautifully clear is the water, that the bottom can be seen without difficulty. While we were here, we heard a tremendous noise, rumbling like thunder amongst the mountains. We were told that the sound was that of a falling avalanche. The “snap-shotters” all have one photo at least of the Blausee.

We had a walk round the lake and a few “blaeberries” in the “by gaun” before writing our names in the visitors’ book and taking our departure. We were all sitting in state when T appeared with Miss Abbott. The latter had not been well and was very much done up. We had another long drive, the way gradually becoming steeper and steeper. At one part, the road winds up the hill forming a series of loops. Here the young and spry had to get out and walk, and they were very willing for the poor horses sake. We took short cuts and got to the top of the hill before the machines. The view of the road from the top of the hill was very interesting and not a trifle curious. It looked like a great white snake lying between huge cliff like mountains.

At length we reached Kandersteg. We passed two black gentlemen with tile hats. We thought we had stumbled upon nigger minstrels, but on closer acquaintance, we found that they carried brushes, and were neither more nor less than sweeps. They rather took our fancy, the more so as they waved their brushes to us as we passed. On the right we saw a house in the process of erection. At the angle of the gable a young fir tree was fixed, and two bottles were dangling by gay coloured ribbons. Was this the baptism?

We passed through the village right to the head of the valley, and the beginning of the Gemmi Pass. At the Baron Hotel we dismounted. Under the trees we ate our lunch, coffee being provided by the Hotel people at a charge of 75c. Lunch over, we paid a visit to the fall behind the hotel. There was a fine rush of water, flowing amongst huge boulders, but the sight was by no means so extraordinary, as many of the falls we had already seen. We found some Alpine roses, which we carried off as trophies. Barbara and Jeanie Rae followed the rough mountain path further and were greatly delighted, with the views to be had higher up. They felt quite near to the snow and had a splendid view of the Snow mountains. Jeanie got some snap-shots. I returned by myself, and was standing alone waiting for some of the Scotties to turn up, when the gentleman who sits opposite to me at table came up. He proceeded to apologise for looking at me sometimes at table. I had noticed that I often met his gaze across the table, but I thought nothing of it , as it is hardly possible to sit directly opposite a person for an hour or more, without glancing iin their direction pretty frequently. Besides a cat may look at a King, and I said so. As the gentleman seemed serious, however, I ceased to make light of the business. He went on to explain, that I was exceedingly like a girl whom, to quote his own words, “he had kept company with”. He was just telling me that she died, when Mr Ball appeared on the scene, and dropped the curtain on that little romance. I heard no more.

On the Gilberts suggestion, I went into the Hotel to have a look at the smoke room. It is very simply but beautifully done up. The walls have the appearance of Wedgewood china. The ground is greenish with a raised pattern in white stucco. On one wall is a design of palms and birds, and on the other wall, vines with grapes. The curtains above and down the sides of the windows are narrow green embroidered stripes, fitting the windows exactly. The furniture was of green wicker work. The dining room is also very nicely done up. The curtains had the design picked out in colour. We helped ourselves to some literature, and seated ourselves at one of the tables outside to examine it. Suddenly there was a great noise and a team of horses dashed down the road. Mr Thomas sprang out and seized the bridle of the nearest horse, and between his efforts and those of the driver, the runaway horses were brought to a stand. They had evidently got a fright. With one accord we clapped our worthy leader on the back, much to his disgust. Some suggested a medal. I asked him if a fir cone would fit the occasion, but I had to bolt to escape his answer. We paid a visit to the sick, in the form of a poor cow, who had got its ankle broken. It was all trussed up with straw and ropes, in a kind of wooden sledge, and looked very sick poor thing. There was an army of men round, whose perspiring countenances testified to the struggles they had had, in trussing the poor “Kuh”. We had time for a short walk up the Gemmi pass and came upon another beautiful waterfall. We met several tourists coming down – with alpenstocks knapsacks &c. A very funny little mountain cart passed us pulled by one horse, another horse bringing up the rear all alone. At 4 p.m. we re-entered our caravans and started on the homeward journey. We were able to travel much quicker, the way being all downhill. Kandersteg valley looked even more lovely, if that were possible, in the afternoon sunshine. I tried to soak it in, absorb it, it was so beautiful.

At Trutigen we stopped to water the horses, and Phys employed the shining hours in buying sweets, of which we all had a share. The process of watering was not a lengthy one, and we were soon on our way again. In a very short time we passed a Restaurant, and who should we see seated there, but our worthy leaders drinking – well red stuff. We ‘oh’ed and ‘ah’ed as we passed, which by no means disconcerted the gentlemen. Our driver asked us to “chanter” as we had done “dans le matin” and we obliged him. This we considered a high compliment to our singing abilities, and indeed we made not a bad choir. There were several good altos in the company, and Mr Lister had a good voice, so that when we were all singing it sounded not half bad. Nan having suggested “Riding down from Bangor”, and the look on Luks face was worth seeing. We returned to our hymns. St. Georges Edinburgh & Invocation sounded very fine indeed. We continued in this way for some time and then we had an accident.

We were going down a long hill, when one of our horses stumbled and fell. The driver did his best to help it up, but with four horses in hand, this was no light task. He applied the break full power, but notwithstanding this, the machine was pressing down on the top of the poor fallen horse. By this time the other three horses were getting frightened, and began to rear and plunge. Touzer rose to the occasion, and grabbed the reins pulling for all she was worth. This gradually brought the animals to a stand. She had no idea how hard she had pulled, till she had one of the horses heads pulled round, till it was looking at her. Immediately the driver was down and soon the poor horse was on its feet again. Poor beast, it had got all skinned with being dragged along the road, and the blood was running down its legs. Fortunately, the accident happened at Reichenbach, where it could be attended to. The driver led the horse away. Poor man, he was very white & I am sure he got a great scare. The horses certainly looked as if they were going to plunge into the wall, and if T had not saved the situation, it would have been a serious business for the folks in the machine. We all kept quite calm however and showed no signs of doing anything “daft”.

While the driver was away, some other men arranged the harness for three horses. We were quite willing to walk home, but as this was quite unnecessary we got into the machine again. Nan and T tried to find out from the driver, if he would get into trouble, they did not “comprenez” very well, what he said, but they gathered that the horse was not seriously injured and that he would be all right. Several times I caught him looking at T, as if she were a new species of being. Touser has now got quite a reputation for “pluckiosity”.

We were not long in reaching home, and we pestered Mr Thomas to see that the driver got into no trouble as he was in no wise to blame. The proprietor set our minds at rest by saying, that he did not blame the driver, as he knew him to be very careful – which was indeed true. We had not much time to dress for dinner, as we were late as usual. We enjoyed the dinner none the less on that account.

Afterwards we discussed the ascent of the Niesen, and eight “Scotties” decided to go. These were Nan, Phys, Bury, Mr Allan, Mr F, Miss Lister, and T & myself. The other members of the party were going to Montreux or Beatenberg. We had to leave our boots with the porter to have them spiked for the morrow’s operations. This done we went to bed and so this day of adventures closed.

 

A postcard from Niesen

Friday, July 24th

Breakfast at 8 a.m. then preparations for the Niesen. We got our “twotoe” coverers and paid 1/2 franc for getting the studs put in. We had a nice little drive over part of the ground we covered yesterday, to a village called Zimmen, just at the foot of the Niesen. Here we got out and made preparations for walking. Our guide stowed away the lunch in his knapsack, a funny affair made of skin with the fur still on, and he offered to take all the cloaks that we would give him. We did not like to burden the poor man in this way, and slung them round our waists. We sent the lunch basket back in the machine and then proceeded on our way. It was extremely hot and very soon Mr Lister & Mr Allen had to discard their coats. These our sturdy little guide offered to carry, but the other gentlemen would not hear of it. The first part of the way was pretty easy, and we had breath enough to try our very bad German on our guide. He was exceedingly good natured and spoke very distinctly, but only in German. When we asked him if he spoke French, he shook his head decidedly and said: “Nein, nein, ich bin nicht Französisch.” By & by we came to some very stiff climbing and my breath quite deserted me. Mr Lister and T gave me a pull up but oh! I nearly ‘bust’. I felt myself a bit of a nuisance, but I really could not help stopping frequently to get a little breath. The scenery all the time was so beautiful that description of it is not easy. Although we climbed the shady side of the mountain, the heat was extreme. We should really have started much earlier, so as to have had our hardest work over before the heat of the day. Thirst soon assailed the party in general and me in particular, so we stopped at a chalet and had a drink of water. We passed many chalets on our way, which were shut up for the summer, both people and cattle having gone further up the mountain. By and bye, we came to huts with cattle inside. We could hear the jingle of their bells, so peeped in. The cows are kept inside during the heat of the day and allowed out in the evening. Far up the mountain side we came to a chalet, where the people were stirring milk in a large copper vessel over a fire. We came to the conclusion that they were making Swiss milk. There was a good supply of water all the way, and we took advantage of it. The troughs are tree trunks hollowed out, and the water is very good and icy cold. Once we stopped at a stream. It seemed to originate in a huge pile of snow, lying in a hollow of the hill, and the water was extremely cold. We put our arms into the water right up to the elbow, but I for one, could not keep them there for more than a second. The guide himself calmly stepped into the burn, and allowed the water to run over his boots. Then he put his arms into the water and held them up, thus letting the water run right into his armpits. The wild flowers were very plentiful, and our guide was never weary in getting them for us and telling us their names. One time he made a sudden dart downwards and soon reappeared with a plant that looked not unlike a plantain. This he told us with a broad grin was made into ‘Schnapps’ Whisky. Whether our exceeding droothiness made him think we should be interested, I can’t say. He seemed to think it a joke at any rate.

Once we stopped and had a pear. How delicious it was. By that time I was exceedingly tired, and could only go a few steps without stopping. The road seemed interminable – always up, up, up. Several times we met people coming down. How I envied them! When we were getting near the top we met a party of people, and endeavoured to ask them how long it would take us to reach the end of our long ‘spiel’. They told us half an hour. We were indeed thankful to hear it. At the long last we (he) reached the height of our ambition, and found a hotel there. I lay down on a wooden seat, while the rest explored and arranged about milk or coffee. I was disturbed by a peculiar noise, which I found to be falling stones, They had been loosened by the Niesen Railway makers, and were rattling down the precipices with a great clatter. We passed some awesome precipices on the way up, and on some sides of the summit there are others. We unpacked our lunch and ate it with some goat’s milk (50c) as our liquid food. I was only able to eat ½ sandwich as I was feeling rather sick. I enjoyed the milk, though the flavour was peculiar – like tinned Swiss milk. I returned to my seat and had another little rest. A nice big St Bernards dog made friends with the ladies of the party, but it evidently had objections to make to Mr Allan. After spending about an hour on ‘Niesen Kulm’ we began the descent deciding to go to Reichenbach, rather than Frutigen. And now began a scramble down a steep and very rough slope, which we found very trying on our ankles. Sometimes we sent showers of stones down, which was rather dangerous for those in front. On this slope were a great number and variety of wild flowers – butter balls, michaelmass daisies &c. I was not so spry as I might have been as I felt very sick. The guide was very good to me, and took my hand at the bad bits. After a sair ‘warstle’ we got on to the track. We took a glance at the slope, we had come down, and wondered how we had ever done it. Shortly afterwards we came to some chalets. We were just in time to see the cattle being let free for the evening. The tinkling of their bells was delightful and quite new to us. There was a very large number of them, so it was a case of “the more the merrier.” As we came gradually downwards we had many enchanting views. We could see the whole valley of the Kander along which we had driven yesterday, lying practically at our feet. I gradually began to feel spryer, but Mr Lister twisted his foot and was rather lame for a time. This we felt to be rather serious as our labours were by no means over, nor the road like the King’s highway. We all rather envied a youth who came out of a chalet carrying a milk can. He passed us, and we gave him no further thought, till we saw our guide’s merry face wreathed in smiles, and his finger pointing in the direction the aforementioned youth had taken. With one accord we gazed as directed, and there was the ‘child’ tearing along that rough, stony road at the rate of sixty good English miles an hour. Truly, the human frame is a marvellous creation! I think Swiss ankles must be made of no ordinary stuff, to ‘run and not be weary’, aye, or ‘broken’, on such a track. We gazed open mouthed at this surprising, but by no means elegant, performance. At the next chalet we made friends with a nice little collie puppy whose trademark (i.e. pawmark) we carried away on our skirts. And now the way led us through the pine woods – and a rough and stony way it was. It twisted and twined and wriggled, always going down, down, down. Our legs were tired resisting the force of gravity, and we felt as if we had descended millions, yes millions, of stairs. A woman with a pannier on her back, accompanied by a little girl, were [sic] trudging down the road in front of us. As we passed, the youngster smiled sweetly and presented ‘T’ with a posy of wild flowers, which she had been gathering . ‘T’ entered into conversation with them, but, as they spoke German, she did not understand very well all that the woman said. She was evidently surprised that we had been at the top of the Niesen. All things come to an end, and we really did come to the end of that pine wood, though we sometimes felt as if it had no end to come to. Shortly afterwards we found ourselves on the road to Kanderstegg, not far from our destination, ‘Reichenbach’.

We had to ‘decent’ ourselves, as a greater collection of beauties it would have been hard to find. Nan’s collar was crying, Hurrah! in the breeze – ours were decorating our pockets. Our blouses were all open at the neck, as worn in the back woods of America, and as for our sleeves, they were rolled up to our elbows, as if we had been having a good days charring. Our skirts were, to put it mildly, ‘well kilted’, our hats were mostly at a very rakish angle, and the hair beneath, well, a trifle ‘tousy’. We did our best to adjust these little matters before exposing ourselves to the gaze of the public. At Reichenbach station we had to wait for three quarters of an hour. We amused ourselves with a bonny wee girl, who was playing about and she amused herself with us. By and bye she was joined by another, and neither of them seemed to be at all shy. They were very pretty children. Going home in the train, we had a splendid view of the Blûmlisalp, lit up by the setting sun – a lovely rose pink.

We were all very tired, but determined to put our best foot forward. And ‘make believe’ that we were not in the least overcome. We trudged down the road from the station very gaily, and shortly appeared at dinner looking sunburnt, but according to our own ideas, fairly spry. I took a much better dinner than I thought I should, when at the top of the Niesen. The folks at the Hotel knew we had reached the top of the mountain, as they telephoned while we were there, to see if the wanderers had arrived. I forgot to mention this earlier. The guide told us about it, while we were having lunch. Before going to bed, we took a short walk on the verandah. Mr Morgan was enjoying ‘a puff at his pipe’, and hailed us with, “Well Scotties.” Phys said: “I don’t think you are nice.” He said: “Why, I thought that was the greatest compliment I could pay you.” We admitted that it most assuredly was. Mr Morgan smiled, and said: “Ah! if you want to get at a Scotchman, say something about his country.” We all laughed, and did not contradict the truth of that statement. Phys had evidently some bee in her bonnet about tomorrow’s proceedings. She did not want to miss Beatenberg – our programme for tomorrow – nor did she wish to forego Interlaken. She assailed Mr Morgan with questions about the relative merits of the shops, in Interlaken Grindelwald and Luzern – a nice corner to put a man in. The truth was, she was ‘taken’ with the shops in Interlaken, and wanted to buy things there, but if she went to Beatenberg, she would not have an opportunity of doing so. If the Grindelwald & Luzern shops were as good as those of Interlaken, then her ladyship would go to Beatenberg with a light heart and a full purse, but how was a mere man to understand all this. The victim in question had a notion that she wanted to do the impossible, so he said: “My dear young lady, you can’t do Switzerland in five minutes.” Phys declared she did not want to, and endeavoured to explain what she did want. I think, that eventually, he was enlightened, and she re-assured. After all this baz-faz, he said, he thought he would like to say something nice to us, before we retired, and asked us if we could suggest something suitable. We told him we did not want parrot compliments, and, that we had always given him credit for being more original. He then said: “Oh, very well. You are all exceedingly nice girls,” whereupon, we spread out our skirts and bowed to the ground, in acknowledgement of this well deserved? Compliment. After that, there was nothing left for us to do, but retire gracefully (as well as we could). We paid Nan & Phys a visit & ‘T’ punched their quilts as usual. Then to bed.

 

Saturday July 25th

We were up today at 6.30 a.m. as we had packing to do. Breakfast at 8. We took the 8.45 boat to Beatenbucht, and then the mountain railway to St Beatenberg. The railway journey lasted about sixteen minutes. Arrived at the top we proceeded along the village street, and bought some P.Cs at a little shop. The charge was very reasonable. The day was splendid and very clear, consequently the view of the snow mountains was grand. Not a cloud intervened between us and the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Eiger, Finsteraashorn, Monch, Jungfrau &c. It seemed to be a fete day of some kind, as a great many children in gala dress came up by the railway to spend the day at this delightful place. We were sorry we had such a very short time to spend there. We took a walk along the village street and then returned to the station, thence to Beatenbucht once more. We took steamer to Gunten, where we had to change and wait for the boat from Thun. We found on board, other members of the party, who had made Thun their place of visitation. We got home in good time for lunch , and immediately after had to make preparations for travelling to Grindelwald. Our luggage was taken to the station by the Hotel bus – a great relief to us. We had a few minutes to spare which were enlivened by music. The songsters were a choir of men, and they sang with great gusto. They were evidently on tramp and had stopped at the Kurhaus for lunch. We enjoyed their singing very much. On the way to the station poor Phys was attacked by a dog. It rushed out from one of the houses, and snapped at her. Fortunately it was only her dress that was torn, and not her flesh. She looked for someone with whom to lodge a complaint, but of course, no one was to be seen. When we got to the station she tackled the porter. Said she, “What do you do with dogs that bite, in this country?” The man looked at her amazed, so she went on: “One bit me as I was going quietly along. We shoot dogs that bite in our country.” (all this in the meekest of voices – so unlike friend Phys). “Oh, so do we”, replied the porter, as serious as an owl. I wanted to laugh muchly.

Our train arrived on the scene, so we grabbed our luggage and endeavoured to run – (no success – the heat was terrible). We got a seat all right , and had a nice run along the lake side to Interlaken, How lovely it looked and how sorry we were to leave it. At Interlaken, we changed to the mountain railway for Grindelwald. The engines are rather peculiar – look as if they were on their knees. We all had a peep at the lock wheel. The scenery was very grand, and we came gradually nearer to the snow capped mountains. On our arrival at Grindelwald, we saw our luggage on to the Hotel cart, & then walked to the Hotel Eiger. We were shown to our rooms, which were mostly in the dipendance. We were greatly disappointed when we saw our rooms. They are by no means so nice as the ones we have just left. Mrs Smith made a great noise about her bedroom, which, truth to tell, is a trifle close. She bombarded Mr Thomas and made her moan, with the result that she has been given another. T and I have a fine view from our windows of – a midden, but we have lodged no complaint. We all went down to claim our luggage, and some of it had been “in the wars”. Attie Phemie received hers with a great hole in the bottom, and another lady’s was in still worse condition. Our boxes were intact, but beautifully peppered with dust. We dressed quickly for dinner and were in good time. We succeeded in finding seats at the same table, but oh: the dining room is not like the Kurhaus one. It is much lower in the roof, and the decorations are not so simple or tasteful. Mr Ball occupies the seat at the head of our table. After dinner we trotted about the verandah, and saw all the little lights, twinkling like stars, among the mountains. The sight was very pretty and interesting. Mr Thomas pointed out to us the lights of the Baregg Hut which we shall perhaps see one of these days. This seems to be a favourite place for mountain climbers, and there are certainly mountains worth climbing to be had, in super-abundance. One continual stream of mountaineers pass this hotel. A small army of boys in uniform passed, and we supposed that they had come from the camp we passed in the train. They raised their melodious voices, and treated us to a song, as they passed. They were evidently enjoying themselves.

We retired early. I had to attend to my arms, which are swollen to about twice their size – the result of being exposed to the sun on Friday last. They are very painful.

Sunday July 26th

I aroused myself several times during the night to wet my bandages. We were up rather early this morning, as I was not quite sure that my watch was keeping good time. It was behaving very well however, and we were up before any of the others were stirring. Some youngsters began to run along the passage, and acted as a rising bell. Phys was getting dressed, and Nan was supposed to be slumbering. All of a sudden, a voice from the blankets said: “Is this a race course?” It did not seem as if the “race course” had been an effectual rising bell, so far as Nan was concerned, for we were all seated at breakfast, before she appeared on the scene. We had breakfast in a sort of morning room, seated at little tables, “grubbery” being much the same as at Spiez.

We took a little walk to the Protestant Church and saw the people going in. Some of our party stayed outside and watched what was going on. Two babies were being baptised. The minister touched them three times on the brow with water. They had their names pinned on as they came out. The mothers wore wreaths of white blossom in their hair and a spray on their breasts. One of them passed the hotel on the way to church, another woman carrying the baby. This we saw from the verandah. “T” as usual, was “grave-ly” inclined and stayed to inspect the tombstones in the churchyard. A very melancholy little place it is. Most of the people there buried have been killed on the mountains around, by lightening, avalanches &c. Two Germans were killed just before we came here, and their bodies are at present lying in the School House. They were staying at this hotel. The accident happened on the Wetterhorn. Some Englishmen had been the last to see them, and had advised them to follow in the steps, which they were cutting. The Germans would not do this, and preferred to go their own way, with the result that they fell over a precipice, and are very badly mutilated. This is rather depressing.

Miss cassels, Miss Bryce and I took a little walk up the valley, returning in time for the service to be held in the Drawing room. Mr Lister preached the sermon and a very good one it was too. We were found by some strangers. Before luncheon, we had another short walk with Phys and Miss Abbot in the station direction. As we were returning, Mr Thomas passed with Miss R. hanging on his arm. He called to us to come and see the Jungfrau, which we did. The hills were beautifully clear, but we only saw a tiny scrap of the Jungfrau, as the Eiger eclipsed the rest.

After lunch, I retired to my room, to doctor my poor arms and write letters. Afterwards I went on to the balcony, where Agnes Miller and I scribbled in company. The others were off for a walk to the Glacier. Unfortunately it began to rain, and there was a short thunderstorm. We rather liked hearing the thunder roll and echo amongst the mountains. We had (had) a view of those same mountains this morning before breakfast, through the telescope, and we could see people climbing quite distinctly, cutting steps with their ice axes, & so on. We now went inside to the reading room (or whatever it is called) to escape the rain, and soon the wanderers returned, some of them rather wet. A band commenced to play over in the Dependance lower flat. – Sousa &c. The shops too are all open, and there is really nothing to suggest that this is the Lord’s Day, unless perhaps, the Salvation Army, which passed down the streets with tambourines &c. They held a meeting further down, and we heard their voices raised in opposition to the strains of the band.

Dinner was much as usual. Nan had a spasm of the “Joke” fever, and perpetrated a good many on poor Mr Ball. We laughed a good deal, and I am sure a certain lady would be of the opinion that our surroundings were having an evil effect, and that we, like them, had forgotten which particular day of the week it was. Aye, we were gey bad! After dinner some good people went to the English Church. Mr Lister was seized upon and made a deacon, much to his amazement. He had to help to take the collection, a new occupation for him. He evidently was not spotted as a parson this time. The service was much the same as Mr Hunters. Phys had to wrestle with an inclination to laugh. We “baduns” got chattering to Mr Thomas about excursions, and continued in our evil ways, till it was too late to go to church. He gave cheek and got as good.

To bed, when the folk returned from church. Marget’s arms very bad – doctored with zinc ointment borrowed from Phys.

 

Monday July 27th.

Well we have really been amongst the snow mountains at last.  Up at 6.30.  I had my arms to attend to – exceedingly sore.  “T” put on my boots for me as I could not bend for the bursting pain in my arms.  Everybody has a genius for touching them, and I simply howl with the pain.  After breakfast we speculated on smoked glasses & paid 1.50 for them.  These we afterwards found very soothing to our eyes, and a great protection from the glare.  We once more hired an alpenstock paying 30 c there for. Then we tucked up our skirts, and decided to leave our cloaks at home, after a great deal of worry and indecision about the business.  For the days outing we had to pay 3 francs, as we had not taken this excursion before leaving home.  Some of the older folks caused our leaders a great deal of worry, and us considerable amusement by their determination to attempt climbing over the glacier.  Mr Thomas told them fearsome tales, and everybody tried to persuade them, that this was not for them, but all was of no avail; go they would.  One gentleman, with the intention of showing his “old woman” a good example, stayed at home.  The desired effect was not obtained; as the lady’s daughter remarked: “Ah, you don’t know mother.”  “Mother” is evidently a “sh/kirgeon”.

There was nothing for it but to “endure” what could not be “cured”.  We had four guides in whose footsteps we followed along the road to the Lower Glacier.  We had viewed it from afar, or rather from the Hotel, ever since we came, and today we were to make its closer acquaintance.  Auntie Phemie came with us part of the way, but, like a wise woman, she intended to spend the day in attempting something easier than a scramble over snow and ice.  After we had crossed the Lütschine, the road went steadily uphill.  Attie Phemie bade us goodbye at the bridge, and we waved, till we lost sight of her.  And now, though all the world was storming at the old ladies, I was blessing them.  The brae was stey, stey [steep], and my supply of wind scanty.  I was slow, but the old ladies were slower, so that I could take my time without fear of being left behind.  I got into the swing of the thing quite nicely, though I did not deave [deafen] anyone with my chatter.  No, no, breath was too scarce for that.  We had a fine view of Grindelwald from the path we were treading, & Jeannie Rae and Mr Lister will have some nice photos of the mountains and glacier, if their snapshots turn out well.  By and bye, some of the old folks got a bit fagged, and Mr Thomas sent two of the guides to act as traction engines.  We kept beside one of the guides, and tried our German on him.  If he objected to the slaughter of his native tongue, he gave no evidence of it, but told us the names of the flowers &c, to the best of his ability.  We sometimes went beyond his depth, in the botany line, and really, when one comes to think of it, there is no particular reason why mountain guides should qualify in botany.  We insisted in calling the bluebells “Scottish Blue Bells” but the guide smiled and said: “finger hut,” i.e. thimbles – and a very suitable name.  He understood a little English, and, to quote Mr Pepys, we were “very merry”.

Half way to the Baregg hut, we had a little rest under the shade of a cliff, and after some two hours plodding, we reached the hut itself.  Another party got mixed up with ours on the way up, so that, for a time, the Baregg people were busy.  We ordered coffee, for which we paid 80c {the quantity we got for that sum of money was sufficient to serve about three people, if they had only provided us with the requisite number of cups.  They were too wise to do that however, so that it was a case of “waste” or “bust”.  I preferred to “waste”.}  “T” was a long time in appearing.  I wondered what she was up to, as the people she had stayed to help had arrived.  At last we saw her “fairy form” appearing, and we besieged her with questions.  She had noticed some German people, who were coming down gesticulating frantically, and as she passed, they spoke to her, and pointed to a man sitting up on the mountain side.  She gathered that the man was in danger of some kind, and told Mr Thomas about it, when he came along.  He sent one of our guides to help, and the guide of the other party went too.  They scrambled up to the man in difficulties, and roped him to themselves.  We saw them assisting him down, and once we were mightily amused to see them catch him by the scruff of the neck and swing him over a stiff place.  It turned out that he had only lost his nerve.  Our sympathy for him vanished, when the guides told us that he actually haggled over giving them a tip.  Their task had been no easy one, as the man was really in a very dangerous place, and nobody could fathom what he had been doing there at all.  The guides tried to persuade him to come to the Baregg hut, but he preferred to go down the road.  Perhaps he was wise.  A short distance from the hut are the steps leading to the Glacier.  These are really a sort of ladder, and we had our photographs taken in the act of descending.  We were now on the glacier, but it was so thickly covered with morrain, that walking was comparatively easy.  Only occasionally did we really see the ice.  Through time however, the layer of stones became thinner, and bye and by, we were walking almost entirely upon ice.  We were then roped together, each guide taking nine people on his rope.  This precaution was really necessary, as the ice was full of fissures and cracks.  We were up hill and down dale, and the guide had to be continually cutting steps for us with his ice axe.  While scrambling about in this way we were photographed once more.  The folks on our particular “string” were all young and spry, and our guide did not spare us.  We rather enjoyed it than otherwise.  He took us to see all the sights.  These included some of the largest fissures and two glacier mills.  The former were sometimes so deep, that we could not see the bottom, and the beautiful blue colouring of the ice was surprising.  The latter were great round holes in the ice, with streams of water pouring down and turning round the stones at the bottom.  We saw the great round holes and the rushing water, but the depth was so great that the bottom was quite invisible.  While we were being thus hard wrought, we saw one of the other guides taking his party up the medial mountain.  Most of the old people were on that rope, and we afterwards learned that some of them had fallen.  In fact, one lady had fallen into a fissure twice, and, as she was rather stout, those, who had to support her felt rather compressed round the middle for a time.  While we were still on the glacier, we saw that one party had reached the mountain path, by which we were to return to the Baregg hut.  We thought we must be rather slow, but it afterwards turned out that they had not seen all the sights that we had been lucky enough to see.  The scenery all around us was magnificent, but we had to watch our footing so carefully that we had no time to see it as we progressed slowly along.  Only when we came to a stand were we able to do so.  Several times we came to “Halt” attracted by noises like thunder.  The cause thereof was falling snow, or to put it more grandly, avalanches.  We saw several of these, and particularly at one place – on the Fiesherhorn I think – where there was a great precipice of black rock shining out from amidst the snow.  Frequently we saw the snow pouring over this precipice like a waterfall.  We all had a much longer walk over the glacier than most parties have.  When we came to a certain point, the guides informed Mr Thomas that it was now time to leave the glacier, but we were enjoying ourselves so much that Mr Thomas bargained with them to take us farther on, and on we went.

Just as we were leaving the glacier, our guide suddenly bent down and chipped at a rock that was lying on the top of the ice, with his axe.  Then he turned round and presented something to “T”, who was next to him.  This was a little bit of rock crystal, which she is guarding with care as a memento.  We had a great scramble to get on to the path, amongst loose stones & rocks and the heat was dreadful.  We had been fairly cool on the glacier, and some of us were rather cool about the pedal extremities – especially if we stood still.  When we reached the path, we sat down and waited for the others to arrive, and employed the time in eating the remainder of our lunch.  We had been about two hours on the glacier.  I perched myself on a rock and succeeded in getting a little air, and I should also have liked a little water but there was none to be had.  Aggie Dewar and Lois joined me on my perch.  This little rest over, we all turned our steps in the direction of the Baregg Hut.  The path led us through a regular botanist’s paradise.  The place was teeming with beautiful wild flowers.  We could not keep our “hands off”.  We got a few that we had never seen before – one I found was not unlike a bride gladiola.  I pulled some thistles, they had rather long stems and were easily plucked.  Their colour attracted me; it was such a beautiful shade of crimson lake.  Some very pretty little brown centred marguerites also suffered at my hands.  We had time too, to look at our beautiful surroundings on our homeward way, and I do not think, we shall soon forget that beautiful scene.

Some of the folks found the downward path troublesome, and Miss Abbot felt giddy.  We rested for a short time at the hut.  From the hut homewards we had the full benefit of the sun.  It was simply scorching, and we were all dreadfully sunburnt.  My arms were one mass of blisters.  As for Jeanie Rae’s, they were, and are still, like raw flesh – positively and without exaggeration.  We were home in good time for dinner.  Poor Miss Abbot was so done out, that she was not able to appear for dinner, and had to have tea sent to her room.  Mr Gilbert too, was a little bit overcome with the exertions of the day.  We were able to take a little prowl round the shops after dinner.  We were making examination of knick knacks when we found Mr Lister and his sister at the same occupation.  Miss Lister was laughing heartily at being taken for the shop lady by one of our own party.  She was rather amazed when she was asked the price of something.  I made a slight apology to Mr Lister for being “turkery”[?]  when he squeezed my poor arms.  Nan and Phys speculated on lemons (1.5 f each) and afterwards we all went to their room to have lemon drinks.  I went to borrow lanoline in the first place, and was ordered to go and get my tumbler.  I returned to find a few others congregated and by and bye there were eight of us; Nan, Phys, Mrs Smith, Miss Barr, A Miller, Beery, “T” and I.  Mrs Smith and I were in undress uniform.  As there were only two chairs in the room sitting accommodation was scarce.  We sat on what we could get hold of and Nan calmly took the pillows out of her bed, banged them on the floor and herself on top of them.  I had brought a chair from our own room, so was fairly comfortable.  Our difficulties did not end with sitting arrangements.  There was not a spoon amongst the company, and we were constrained to make use of tooth brush handles, hat pins &c for the making of our “lemonade”.  Had we been at home, we should not have considered the resulting concoction a success, but under the circumstances, we voted it A1.  It seemed to have the same effect as a much more harmful liquor, for we became very hilarious.  Jokes rained from all quarters, like a veritable hail storm, and some of them hit as hard.  Nan was the chief culprit, but she was ably seconded by the “Physical One”.  I actually began to fear for the safety of the rickety old Dépendance de l’Hotel Grand Eiger.  We “shivered its timbers” I’ll warrant, to say nothing of our own poor sides, which required the frequent support of our hands to keep them intact.  We were suggesting to Phys  that she should show the assembled multitude her “rickle o’ banes”, that is to say her neck, á la crane.  She did not favour.  “T” and I had the pleasure of seeing this entertaining spectacle the other evening, on her own invitation – (it is a rickle) but the others were not to be so favoured.  In the midst of all the row, a terrible rattle shook the door, where upon there was immediate silence.  Innocence made us brave however and Phys immediately opened the poor unoffending door, to find Messrs Thomas and Ball framed in the doorway.  With her usual calm impudence, she invited them to look in, quite oblivious of the fact that some of us were in dressing jackets &c.  Curiosity is not confined to womankind, for friend Thomas has a large share.  A peep did not do him – he came boldly in.  Mr Ball remained at the door, whether from modesty or fright, I should not like to say.  We broke up our merry party shortly afterwards – and also a table.  “This ‘ere table” had been wickedly placed against the door by the gentlemen quoted above, and, of course, whenever the door was opened, in it fell with a clatter, at the same time parting with two of its legs.  But for all Mr Thomas lecture on the lateness of the hour, (which lecture had little or no effect upon us) we were by no means last of getting to bed, for we were hopping into bed when we heard the Englishers chattering at his door, and, what is more, they were only newly in.  Bed is the finis to this day of Adventures.

 

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Notes:

The Niesen is a mountain, located in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, overlooking Lake Thun and is often called the Swiss Pyramid.

The summit of the mountain (2362 metres) can be reached easily with a funicular from Mülenen (near Reichenbach). The construction of the Niesenbahn funicular was completed in 1910. Alongside the path of the Niesenbahn is the longest stairway in the world with 11,674 steps. It is open only once a year to the public for a stair run.

The Niesen was the subject of a number of paintings by Paul Klee, in which it was represented as a quasi-pyramid.

The literal German translation of the word Niesen is sneeze.

Droothiness - Lowland Scots for thirstiness.

Sair – Sore/painful

Worstle – Wrestle

Tousy - Tousled; tangled; rough; shaggy.

Gey bad - Naughty.

The construction of the Niesenbahn funicular railway was completed in 1910.

 


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