1918 Seaford Sussex
My Dear May,-
Now for a siege! I can’t afford time on paper to tell you all about our trip to Scotland but maybe you’ll be interested n hearing of a few of the main points of interest.
Thursday I landed in London at 7:50 pm and after chasing about for a while and phoning the Waldorf I managed to land Ewan and – surprise – Clarence Cattanach about 10.P.M. at the hotel. W4 had a chat, phone Bob Dunlop, and got him down with the camera just a few minutes before the train was due to go. He directed us to Euston and before we knew it we were steaming out of “The Smoke” for another smoky town – in first class compartments. Glasgow at 9:15 Friday and, feeling a bit fagged, we stayed there for the day seeing the town. As a business city I guess there are few to beat it but from the pleasure-seeker’s point of view it has nothing on Edinburgh.
Now comes the trip. Saturday at 10: am we booked for some [ ] called Inversnaid and our sole knowledge of the place was that we were going there whether it rained or snowed. The trip by train was very pleasant but had nothing on what awaited us at Balloch Pier where we transferred to a pretty little Lochlomond Steamer which was to take us up several stops at hotels and groups of summer houses to our mythical Inversnaid. To get there was no trouble, quite the reverse for we rounded islands, passed stately looking, yet homely, houses sheltered from the rest of the world by the hills and looking out over the Loch, & passed Ben Lomond – and a fine look Ben he is too. The scenery was very different from any that we had seen before and the touch of purple didn’t harm it.
Inversnaid hotel was reached and we were reminded that we were in Scotland by being forced to pay 2d to leave the pier before entering the hotel or taking the bus. Finding that we had us time for Dinner at the hotel we boarded the four-on-hand and booked through to Callander. Over hills, beside small lakes, and among the heather and rocks, scarcely every catching sight of a living creature let alone a house, we rode slowly to another lakeside hotel – this time on the banks of Loch Katrine at Stronachlochart. There again, there was no time to waste but, having had dinner on the boat, it didn’t matter much, so we went on board the Sir Walter Scott – a trim little lake Steamer with a fair speed.
Loch Katrine has far fewer patrons and the banks are comparatively deserted when compared with Loch Lomond but yet the whole lake is very very delightful and, were I looking for a delightful solitude within easy reach of civilization I know where I’ll go. There were no stops from one end of the lake to the other and it was a nice little trip – about 2 hours I suppose and we ended up with a sharp curve rounding Ellen’s Isle and passing through the very narrow strait between the peninsula and the Island. Then the boat pulled in to the Trossachs Pier nearby and, there being no place to stop at we took the bus to the Trossachs Hotel about a mile away where we were allowed to have time for tea and a look around. This mile, between the Trossachs Pier and the Hotel is, I believe, the main part of the Trossachs Pass – or, as the driver said, the historic entrance to the highlands.
The pass is a narrow wooded valley between the rocky hills which rise steeply on either side and is a delightful mile of road.
The Trossachs hotel is built of stone and the interior has, mostly, one storey. The finishing is dark oak and old fashioned – in fact the whole place seems to avoid all modern improvements.
Tea over the horses again pulled out for the last 8 miles of the journey to Callander, crossing the Brig’o’Turk, seeing the house where a woman who weighed 27 stone used to live – and which seemed to be of special interest to the driver.
The bus followed a long lake – Achray I think most of the way to the station and then swerved off a bit. The country became more prosperous looking and we saw, in rock places, quite a lot of hill cattle. Then as the houses became more plentiful the drive pointed to some groups of fir trees away across the valley and explained that they were arranged to represent the formation of the British Army at Waterloo.
About 5:30 or 6 PM Callendar was reached an our long drive ended. The train for Edinburgh was here to leave at 5:30 so, as usual more postcards had to be bought and Dinner was in line at the Dreadnought (what a name for a hotel!) A debate took place as to whether we should stay in the town over Sunday or not and the result was that we arrived in Edinburgh at 10:30 PM the same night.
Callandar is a town of two or three thousand population, with no special attractions other than a beautiful location and it is an ideal place for anyone who wants to have quiet holiday in civilization.
The Old Waverley Hotel was the only place we could get a room there so, without more strutting about we went to bed for it had been a pretty good day.
Sunday Morning after breakfast as we walked down stairs ready for a stroll who should stop me but Charlie Houghton (Ants 18) of the Queens Hospital. He’s on his way back to Canada to finish his course – which, by the way, he has never started. Lucky dog!!
Sunday we lolled about most of the time admiring the Prince’s Street gardens and in the evening I went out alone to visit the Willisons – Web’s friends.
Monday we missed the 10 train for London and, as an alternative took the bus to the Firth of Forth bridge. The town of South Queesferry’s only attraction is the bridge – and it is truly a fine structure.
In the evening (9:30) we were on our way back to London by the first train and 7:15 Tuesday one saw us again at the Waldorf.
Now here comes the funny part. About 11 o’clock as I was coming back from the pass registry office on Southampton Street who should be standing on the corner at Aldwych but Porky Lebas, looking as if he owned the whole show.
We chatted a bit and just as I was about to leave him he asked if I had seen Bob McArthur. You may guess that it was some surprise to find him in the Eagle Hut – about 100 yards from where we stood; especially as I had only that morning explained to Ewan that Bob was not in line for leave.
Ewan had business to look after and Cattanach was asleep at the Imperial so sound that the phone wouldn’t rise him so we two went out to lunch and then to Muswell Hill to see the Mills family. They weren’t home and, on calling up Winnie’s business place we were told that they were at Westgate-on-sea: that Ted was home!: and that he’d come up if we wired him.
Surprises? Well I guess!
In the evening after dinner at the Strand Palace we spent the evening in the room talking over old times and Bob stayed all night. It was a long time since we had slept together before – in Montreal I think.
Wednesday at noon Ted arrived in all his glory of highland uniform and wings on his tunic. So we all congregated at the Strand Palace for lunch after which the Savoy Theatre, with “Nothing but the Truth” as its attraction, was in line. Dinner at the Waldorf and I had to vamoose to Victoria to come back.
So it ended and I may say that it was the best 6 days I had since crossing the briny and Ewan treated me like a prince. In fact, the more I see him, the better he behaves toward me. Both he and Clarence look fine and are a peach of a pair to travel with.
The climax – in meeting Bob and Ted was a stroke of good luck long to be remembered by all of us. I will write later in a letter to Mother which is lying here unfinished.
Love to all
Your loving bro
PS When Ewan told me of difficult bits of music he had sent, I began to realize more that all I had sent was my best regards. Maybe a little energy behind my pen may not be unacceptable.