St Kilda Diaries: The Diary of Alice Maclachlan (1906 - 1909)


November 1906, St Kilda

Thurs. Nov. 1st Sewing and doing odd jobs in Morning, but Duine & I went up to see Finlay before school & went to dress Donald Gillies’ leg. School in the afternoon. Then after tea to visit the two patients again & Donald Ferguson. Home & bed 11.30. Fine day but wet night. 

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Frid. Nov. 2nd Very wet morning. Sewing shaped bloomers. Finished A. Gillies’ blouse last night. Men putting sheep on Dun. The old men went themselves to-day with a boat - two miles & rescued a sheep which had fallen into the sea. Went visiting our two patients. Finlay McQuien much better. Stayed “Ceilidhing” a good long time. F. McQ. worse at night. Very stormy & high wind. Sat. Nov. 3rd Fine day but very windy. Kate & I were busy all the morning with the inside of the fourth sheep (which I forgot to say in yesterday’s entry) came yesterday. Neil Ferguson & Neil Gillies brought it. We made white puddings & dressed the tripe. We have used all the insides of the four sheep, so are glad nothing has been wasted. Went up - after Duine & I had cut up & salted the sheep - to the village to see the patients. Both are much better. People all busy lifting their potatoes. Very windy all day, indeed quite a gale. No boat could come into the bay to-day.

Sunday Nov. 4th Nothing “on”. Stormy day. Church three times. Cross.

Mon. Nov. 5th Fine day. Church service, being first Monday in month, also “ceisd” day. It was rather interesting. One man introduced a difficult passage from the Bible. First Duine spoke & then called on every member to say something on it, which they all did except two. Some spoke very well. Then the one who wanted light on the question finished up by praying. Then a collection was taken up for the church cleaning. After dinner A. Gillies came for her blouse. Kate & I then made cheese our first in St Kilda (& I’m sure our last as the milk is getting so scarce). Then Duine & I went to the village to visit the patients & some others. Took one pot of flowers from cupboard. Donald Og & Iain McDonald came to ceilidh. Made them help with the butter as we were going to churn. Took them to sitting room after supper & showed them my bulbs which surprised them. Tues. Nov. 6th Wet day, but wind down much. What there is is still from East. Went to see some of the people. Home & read Bleak House. No boats. Took out & dusted every book. V. busy.

Wednes. Nov. 7th Fine calm day. No wind. School in afternoon. Did not go to P. Meeting. Neil McDonald came in to ceilidh. Fin. bedroom slippers.

Thurs. Nov. 8th Nothing worth recording. School & Duine and I went up to pay for our sheep. We went also to see Ros...... who has had one of her bad headaches. Then to every house up to Meirut MacDonalds. Took pills to Angus Gillies’ wife & dressed D. Gillies’ leg. Home 9-15. Donald Ferguson strained his side yesterday. He feels better to-day.

Frid. Nov. 9th Breezy day. N.E. wind. Making knics. morning. Put cheese to harden. John McD. came with burned had to dress. School in aft. Duine went to visit Bess Beau, John Gillies & Don. MacDonald. Reading Bleak House. Kate went to village to ceilidh. Nearly finished knics.

Sat. Nov. 10th Lovely day. Wind has now changed to South. Wish the Diadem of Evening Star would come. If the latter doesn’t come tonight we needn’t expect her any more this season. Men went to the Dûn with lambs and to bring back the gentlemen sheep. Re-footing socks - finished one. Two hens laying this last month - little Whitie & one of the MacNeills. Finished Knicks. Great success.

Sund. Nov. 11th Fine day. Very calm west wind. Church in mg. After dinner when we were settling down for nap great excitement was caused by Kates rushing in to tell us that the Fleetwood Trawlers were at the mouth of the bay. We went out and saw two. They passed and went to trawl but of course will call to morrow (Monday). Hope to get mails. Sund. Sch. & Church in evening. Duine better. Has been a bit off with stomach for a week.

Mond. Nov. 12th Writing letters all the morning on chance of boat calling today. Wrote to Flora, Mother, Ella Beauly, Willin Wick & may write more later on. Duine doing up registers with last teachers work in it - all wrong - & gives Duine an awful lot of work. Making a Tam-o-shanter for myself of Uist wool. We hear that the two wretched boats seen yesterday went away again. It is maddening. When I came in from school got glorious surprise. Duine & Kate had put in Garve stove.

Tues. Nov. 13th Duine bad with toothache all night. Men went to Dûn with a sick soup. Rather windy & stormy day. Finished Tam-o-Shanter. School all afternoon.

Wed. Nov. 14th Duine had awful night with neuralgia. So I went into school for him. Got on not so badly at all but hate it. No word of boat yet. Donald Ferguson took prayer meeting and after came (with Donald Gillies & Ewan) to ceilidh. Dressed Donald G’s leg. Went up during the Evening to see John McQuien’s finger.

Thurs. Nov. 15 Just dressed when Kate came to say she saw a steamer in the distance. I also saw it coming nearer & nearer. To our great joy we saw it was making for the Bay. It turned out to be the long looked for Fleetwood boat & had our mails at last. What rejoicing & no wonder the first letters since the beginning of September. I heard from Mother & most of the others. Duine & I got nearly two doz. letters besides papers innumerable. Bride cake & letters from Mrs McWalter (Newport) & parcel from Inverness. It was not the usual boat but the Kathleen; however Capt. Wright was there & he is to bring our goods. The boat waited for letters. All are well at home. “Evening Star” we hear is sold so we shan’t see her any more this year at any rate. We wrote and sent off several letters. No more school that day. Duine a little better. Went to see John McQuien’s finger.

Frid. Nov. 16th Duine better night. School all day. Reading papers every opportunity.

Sat. Nov. 17th Duine improving. Very wet day. Finished socks (refooting). Baked oven scones & cakes (rock). Great success. Hens doing fairly well. Three yes. & one huge one to day. Salt herring for dinner. Very good. Church cleaned. Killed red coilleach to night (the young one). Butter making yesterday.

Sund. Nov. 18th Terribly storm of wind & rain. Duine’s face very bad still but he went out twice; but had no Sabbath School as it was so very stormy. Did not go out at night. Duine’s gum-boil burst after supper & toothache went at once.

Mond. Nov. 19th Storm of wind still continues but no rain. Duine went to school to day & is better. School myself this afternoon. After tea did a lot of my counterpane which I have brought out to try & get on with. Kate went to village to Callum’s. Donald Gillies came in in evening with a piece of fresh mutton. Had a lovely oven cooked dinner to-day. Roast Chicken & Baked rice pudding. If only we had potatoes too. Invited Agnes Gillies in to have dinner too.

Tues. Nov. 20th Lovely clear cold day. Wind down too. School afternoon. After tea went up village & visited. Neil Gillies had hurt his foot so dressed it, bathed it with Friar’s Balsam. Saw Bess. Baked bread. Dressed Mary MacDonald’s burn.

Wed. Nov. 21st Very stormy day. Wind & rain. Men still ruaging. Children specially wicked today. Dressed Mary MacDonald’s burned hand again today. Did not go to P.M. as I was seedy. Finlay Gillies & his wife came in after Meeting to ceilidh. Stayed to supper. Getting on well with Counterpane. Have crocheted two balls in two days.

Thurs. Nov. 22 Kate started Spinning for herself today. Rachel ill for 2 days with bad headache. Got mild yesterday and to-day. Bad Headache self to-day. Very wet and blowy to-day. Had haricot beans for dinner. Had to go to bed immed. after dinner as felt so ill. Was vomiting from 2- till midnight. Awfully bad. No sleep.

Frid. Nov. 23rd Feeling a little better in morning, but had to keep bed all day. Took some tea & kept it. D. Gillies brought tub with girder on it. It is a good thing to have it done. Finished “Bleak House” in bed. Have enjoyed it much. Up at fire for an hour or two. Hope to be better tomorrow. Terrible day with wind.

Sat Nov. 24 Simply awful day, same as preceeding days only worse. Satur. Nov. 24th Bed all day at least until after dinner, but still feeling very seedy and glad to get to bed. Duine so kind all these days, kinder than I am to him when he is sick, I’m afraid, but I’m always so nervous when he is ill and can’t help it.

Sabb. Nov. 25th Got up just before dinner. Lovely day. Wind down & sun shining brightly. Took some pie for dinner which I much regretted afterwards. Foreign boat passed. Ewan came down & hoisted British flag. Very amusing. The boat took no notice & didn’t come in. After tea while the S.S. was in I “received” simply the whole of the village who came to enquire. It was awfully kind of them. Then all the S.S. scholars came & I am heaps better tonight.

Mon. Nov. 26th Got up to dinner & took some. Time taken up all day with visitors. At night ditto but more amusing. Donald Ferguson & Findlay McQueen have been here to day courting Kate. Ewan Gillies was here too, & we tease here he is also after her but we all suspect it is cupboard love with him but the two botoch are in earnest right enough & it is awful fun. Kate makes such remarks!!! Duine & I are just splitting our sides. Just delicious.

Tues. Nov. 27th Got up immed. after breakfast & made butter with Kate as well as mended Duine’s flannels. Sent butter to Roenig. Had usual reception, nearly all coming to see me during the day. Took medicine at ngt.

Wed. Nov. 28th Had no sleep so got breakfast in bed altho’ had intended to get up. Rose immed after breakfast. Kate washing flannels. Good high wind. This is the term day on mainland where so many of our ministers will be leaving their manses. Cooked dinner myself to-day. P.M. night. All the folks came in before & after Meeting to see me. Did a good deal of my counterpane & am reading book by Grace Aguilar “The days of Bruce”. It is very nice. Heavy rain tonight.

Thurs Nov. 29th Dry to day, wind pretty hight. Rose for breakfast. Busy all morning. Trying spinning. Kate up in village seeing Meirut. Brought home leg of mutton. Tongue for dinner. Writing letters - Mrs McWalter, Annie Beauly - Nell. Very wet night. Put Barley in Store-room to day to make it last longer.

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December 1906, St Kilda

Sat. Dec. 1st Good day, so good that Duine thought I might go for a walk. We climbed Oshaval – at least a bit & it was lovely. Came home & made pudding for dinner. Afternoon wrote letters & span. Got on well with the latter. Norman McKinnon arrived (& Lachlan) bringing a nice piece of mutton. Kate ironing. Reading and writing till bed-time. Weather changed & heavy rain.

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Sund. Dec. 2nd Very stormy again. Terrible rain & wind yet I got out to church in morning. Duine wouldn’t let me out a second time. Roenig came in after morning church with bad headache. Gave her tea. Meirut as usual here to dinner. Stormy stormy.

Mon. Dec. 3rd Still as stormy! This is a holiday being monthly service in church. Did not go but roasted a piece of N McKinnon’s mutton & very good it was. Was spinning after dinner and after that rested till tea. Then D. Gillies came bringing me a piece of mutton. Stayed to supper. Read & crochet.

Tues. Dec. 4th Wind down but still wet. Christina McKinnon came before morning school with two bits of mutton. It is so kind of them. Sorting childrens work in morning & writing letters, besides cooking dinner. Made fancy & plain scones & shepherds pie. In the evening although very stormy we went to visit. Saw A. Mcquien, who has had a bad burned face (thro’ her father giving her a blow when she had a pot of scalding tea in her hand). Then saw Bess & Beau Angus Gillies. Had gt. success with the latter & got her to rise out of her bed & take food.

Wed. 5th A most awful gale. So bad that very few turned out to school & during the day (mg) the friends of those there had to come & take them home. No school in aft. Garden gate blown down & bedroom windows smashed. Writing letters during mg. to be sent off by real St Kilda mail. Spinning a little. D. Ferguson came to ceilidh. Evening a bit better.

Thurs. 6th Lovely sunny day. Glass very high. Too high to last. Went out for a stroll about in mg. & wrote letters. Finished “Did she love him” by Grant. Very silly book. Started gloves for self yesterday. Went up to the village after Tea & saw all the folks or rather quite a lot of them. D. McDonald’s baby has been very ill but is now better. Norman McQuien has also been very ill with Rheumatism. When we came home Callum was in, he had brought down a spinning wheel for me to practise on. Cooked bit pot prunes for self. 6th Dec.

Frid. 7th Dec. Dull cloudy day but not cold. Busy writing letters & spinning all the morning besides roasting one of the young coileachs. It was simply delicious. Rachel Ferguson sent me down piece of mutton by Neil Jun. School in aft. Then letter writing & spinning. Boiled a hug pot of barley for hens. It is splendid for them. Very wet night.

Sat. Dec. 8th Very blowy day. North wind. The boys sent away the “Pool”? or St. Kilda mail as the wind was from the right direction. WM. McDonald came to mend the slates & to dip Kate’s sheep. To our great joy Kate had him kill one of her sheep for us. It was awfully kind of her. Coffee Finished. Made loaf. Also made butter. At night made two big plum puddings. Fearfully windy day. Reading “Vicar of Wakefield” & knitting gloves. Kate in great form. Finished “V. of W.”. Don’t care much for Goldsmith.

Sun. Dec. 9th Very stormy. Showers of snow. Hills white. Church twice but not Sunday School. Roenig ill all week with bad headache. Annie Gillies (Finlay) ill also. Mond. Dec. 10th Good day though cold. Roasted leg of Kate’s sheep for dinner. Stove “grot” & mutton half raw, this & Duine made me cross with everything all the day. Went with duine to see Finlay Gillies wife who is ill in bed. F. makes me cross himself, he is nursing his grief so. It is a miserable house. Also went to see Neil McDonald. Then home. Found Donald Gillies in & Finlay McQuien. Kept them to supper. Spinning & got better than usual. Sent big pitcher of milk to Finlay McQ. to day.

Tues. Dec. 11th Just a glorious day. Spinning in the morning & cooking. School in afternoon. Gave first singing lesson for some time. Went up after tea to see Finlay Gillies wife. Found her better. Took tea with them. When I was coming away she gave me a nice lot of wool - white and blue towards my jacket. I have got on very well with my spinning to day. Writing letters and knitting my gloves. Reading “Chamber’s” Annual. Cutting up all sheep & salting same. Had such nice chops for breakfast off it. Finished first glove. Very wet & windy now.

Wednes. Dec. 12th Fine day. N. wind. Kate washing white things. Roasted leg of mutton for dinner. Went to school in afternoon as usual. Did not go to P.M. tonight. We hear that Angus Gillies got badly bitten by his little dog last night. Burned my fingers to day. Boiled barley for hens. Reading “Gabriel Garth, Chartist” by E. Everett-Green. Kate busy spinning. Girls doing well with sewing. No visitors.

Thurs. Dec. 13th Very cold day. Showers of snow. School in aft. I have been enjoying chops these mornings. After tea Duine & I went up the village to see Norman McQuien’s wife who is not well. Found her in bed but better. Called also on Angus Gillies who was bitten by a dog yesterday, also saw Finlay Gillies. They are all better. Saw precentor in N. McQuien’s house. He got a bite with a dog to day. It is fashionable. Brought Donald Og down for pills for Norman’s wife, kept him to supper. D. Gillies was down weighing my wool for coat. Duine has a nasty turn of his stomach.

Frid. Dec. 14th Fine clear day, though cold. Hills covered with snow. Putting girls sewing in order, knitting & pottering about in morning. Chops done today. Sorry. School in afternoon. Got egg today first for nearly a week. They shd. do better as I am feeding them nearly all myself now. Their I. meal was finished yesterday, so we are obliged to give them our good oat-meal, and the barley. Got a piece of mutton from beau Donald McQuien to-day. Kate went up the village to night to see Beau Norman McQuein. Fine starry night. Duine better to-night. Everyone expecting boat sometime very soon. Wind & moon favourable.

Sat. Dec. 15th Fearfully cold day. Showers of snow occasionally. Went up in afternoon to see Beau Tornich McQuien. Found her much better. Speaking to many of the natives. Church cleaned to-day. One of the coldest days yet. Scolding Kate to-day for a dirty sitting room, and very cross. Very rough at night. South wind. Writing letters. Finished gloves yesterday, washed them today. Duine keeping a little better, but cross being Saturday. Killed ..........

Sunday Dec. 16th Twice church. Very wet day. Reading Duisaresques Daughter by Grant Al.... Very good.

Mond. 17th Had breakfast in bed as no sleep. No boat yet. Up in village ceilidhing with Bess, Bauragh McKinnon, Hugh Gillies, Tornich McQuien, Donald McQuien, D. Ferguson. Then home found Neil Gillies & John McDonald in wanting books. Kept them to supper.

Tues. 18th Very wet. Stayed at home all day. Neil McKinnon came to ceilidh. Bochd. since yesterday. Started blouse.

Wed. 19th Another wet day. School as usual in afternoon. Went to P. Meeting tonight first time for 6 weeks.

Thurs. 20th Dec. Much better day. Went up to the village after tea to ceilidh. Got promise of wool from Angus Gillies. No signs of any boats.

Friday Dec. 21st Nothing to relate of importance. Men catching the rams these days to put back on the Dûn. Spinning to day & after tea sewing my new blouse. Donald Gillies came in after tea & told us there was a trawler working behind the Island. We feel quite excited. Wrote letters after supper for fear boat comes tomorrow.

Sat. Dec. 22ndNo signs of rotten boat. Men went to Dûn this morning with gentlemen sheep. Cruvag got the things cut out of her mouth by Precentor. We are very disappointed about boat. Kate killed second last coilleach (for Xmas) this morning. Lovely day. Glass very high. Finished blouse for New Year. Duine & I very well. Only 2 eggs in dairy. Made butter to-day. Fearful business. 2 hrs. to make & not quite so successful as usual but quite good enough.

Sun. Dec. 23rd No boat & the men think she has gone. The dirty rascals. It is such a disappointment having all letters written. Church twice. Very stormy day. Good attendances. Corned beef dinner.

Mon. Dec. 24th Very stormy still. Glass falling rapidly. North breeze. Sorting girls work most of morning. Made broth. Cut blouse for Xmas present or rather New Year’s for Kate. A. Neill’s hen started laying two days ago. Sent milk to Roenig. Kate went up to Angus for my wool for jacket. .......... Stomach bad these days. Got 2 eggs today. Spinning tonight & combing wool. Kate got 4 lbs for coat & 1 lb. White for Gloves. Fine day though cold North wind. No hope of trawler’s coming now. Xmas eve. Made plum pudding tonight.

Tues. Dec. 25thXmas day in Hirta!!!! Heavy snow all day. Busy in kitchen all morning cooking Xmas pudding and roasting fowl. Had a capital dinner. Afterwards went to school. Busy with Kate’s blouse too. Quite happy in Hirta this Xmas with my dear duine. I don’t mean all the things I say in this book in other places, because I love him. So funny to see snow here. I wonder what they are all doing at home and in Tobermory & in Garve. In evening went up to see Angus Gillies wife who is ill just now again or at least worse than usual. Got her to rise - or rather lifted her out of bed and took her to fireside. She took some tea & was better then a little. Angus was so pleased. Called at D. Ferguson’s. Snow very deep in drifts.

Wed. Dec. 26th Snow worse than ever & still falling & drifting badly. No school of course. Duine cleaning paths etc. Fearful weather but I like it if the sitting room chimney wouldn’t smoke so much. No visitors at all during the day. Men came down & put up the big black boat. Some of the men went over the hills after sheep. We hear they are dying. We never expected anything like this out of Ross-shire. Kate busy spinning all day. Of course no Meeting.

Thurs. Dec. 27th Day worse than yesterday. Drifts fearful & wind so high. I am sorry for the poor sheep. I’m sure they can’t live in this. The children have got holidays until after New Year now. Duine busy cleaning paths. Terrific weather.

Frid. Dec. 28th Storm still continues. It cleared up a little in the afternoon and duine waded through the drifts and got to the village. The people - save Finlay Gillies - are all well. F.G. in bed with nothing special the matter. The people, even the oldest all say they never saw the like of this.

Sat. Dec. 29th Still snow. More has fallen in the night; but the wind has gone down. Still it looks like continuous snow. It is very serious. I don’t know whether there can be any services tomorrow. Busy with Kate’s blouse, it is a nuisance. On the cliffs opposite the sitting-room window the long icicles are hanging from the rocks; it looks like the pictures one sees of Arctic regions.

Sunday Dec. 30th Last Sunday of this year! Better day & gentle thaw enabling the folks to come out to church. Very good congregation. All the old folks nearly out. Did not go out at night. So glad the snow is disappearing. Boys all trooped into sitting room after S.S.

Monday Dec. 31st Last day of 1906. My diary has been now kept one year. It is so strange to find ourselves at this time out in this lovely island in the Atlantic. Busy baking scones (currant) for Children’s Tea in school tomorrow. Kate baked girdle scones. After dinner we went (duine & I) to ask the children to come tomorrow. All so pleased. Took ½ lb tea to Bess who is ill; also jar Liebig to Beau Angus. I will also give ½ lb tea to Rachel McKinnon. Finished Kate’s blouse tonight. Kate spinning. Lovely moonlight night but with showers of rain.

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