Shanghai to Seattle 1906


SS Minnesota

March 19th 1906

The “Minnesota” at last – and though of course it’s not her fault, we have begun our adventure at the very beginning!   We left Shanghai at noon expecting to start from Woosung at 2 p.m.  No such thing.  Here we are at 9 p.m.becalmed or rather fog and tide bound.  We are not to get over the bar till 3 tomorrow morning.  Up to now I have been amusing myself classing the passengers.   Truth to tell there is no one yet that appears to be in the least bit exciting.  There’s one funny old thing that has weird views.  She “guessed that the tide must be coming in as the river was becoming blue”.  Fancy our Yangtze ever blue.  It was merely the gloaming – which causes the wonderful phenomena!   She does not care for the Chinese coolies.  “They look so fierce.”  She has a daughter, a nice girl dressed in blue with glasses.  The men folk are indescribable – the best two are Englishmen, a bishop and an ex-master of Harrow.  He has a wife – rather a sweet person.  Captain Kinder fusses when he speaks.  “She steps around on the tips of her toes”.  Ripping expressions they have.  I have had another encounter with a woman of the States.  At tea time she accosted me and seized onto my chain.  She admired it so – I am sure she expected me to offer it to her.  She flowed on like a brook.  So far I know no names, I hope things will improve. Shanghai seems far away already – even though we are still at Woosung but we seem to be plumped down in a different country with all these Americans.  The ship is huge and I lost my way several times early in the afternoon, but I have sized things up a bit.  There is an atmosphere of old women playing card games for 2 and 4 (people) with one man dragged in – only in his (blank) kind.  Madame de Berigny (?) is playing the piano in the saloon for her male friend.

                      Islay          Bobie        Constance         (Mother never liked being photographed)

We are at Captain Kinder’s table and it’s the saving point.  He’s most amusing – but if we only had Mrs. Mackie – or any Shanghais except “Juicy”.  The heat is atrocious – just a sickly, headachy sort of heat.  I daresay I shall make myself real objectionable by opening ports.  The sitting rooms are so nice that no one goes on deck.  The wind of course is too much today.  Bye bye Shanghai, I feel almost in England already.

March 21st 1906

Fog all yesterday – and fog horns too of course so instead of arriving at daylight this morning it’s to be 3 p.m.  Last night I was much amused at old codgers who were playing cribbage along side of me at the writing table.  “Say Lucy” said one “I guess California must be God’s own Country, there’s a woman got a divorce because her husband wouldn’t have the bedroom windows open at night”.  These two old maids were highly delighted – well so be it.  They seemed to glory in the set down of man.

I’ve made great friends with two children Wistezemas (?) by name; Polly and Ester for short.  They are dear wee things of 5 and 7.  I play with them in the nursery – and I have, through them, made the acquaintance of “my pal” who’s a gloomy looking individual – with prematurely grey hair.  Young and a secret fellow I should imagine.  He sings too but he can’t keep on the right note!  This is his first trophy – a $10 bill (gold)!!

The other funny individual that shares his cabin is portrayed below – 6 ft 4 quite.  Bobie and I met him this morning going into our berth.  He had a very short, blue kimono – and his hair was extra curly fresh from the lido!

I must invest in a pair of galoshes in Japan – my soles have parted company with my shoes… the damp decks being the cause.  Mother is going to become a Christian Scientist.  There is one on board and after an hour’s conversation Mother was quite persuaded.  We are to visit the Church in New York.  “Gee Whiz we’ll introduce it to Chi na!”


March 23rd 1906

We arrived at Nagasaki in the evening of the 21st.  It was very foggy – not a bit nice – we landed and had tea on the verandah of the Grand Hotel and watched the passers by but it wasn’t a bit interesting, Yesterday we spent the whole day ashore, mostly at Moji.



We took the Christian Scientist with us.  Now most pally.  When we came back I palled with all the Americans — the Reid’s who have a daughter, Mrs Dudley who is charming.  I like her better than anyone – Mrs Collins who is travelling with her brothers.  She is married to an army officer in Manila and is coming back on account of his health.  He is very asthmatic.  They told some funny stories.  A father had two sons; one a religious goody goody who lived at home and one who lived abroad – a black leg.  The father died and his son at home sent a wire…. “Jesus has taken our father away”.  Reply…. “Who the hell is Jessie and where has she taken our father”!    The other about his cow was splendid.  I found a most amusing paper clipping in “Cherry Blossoms” which I cut out.


March 27th 1906 Tuesday

We spent the whole of the 22nd at Moji rickshaws out there as usual and lobster for tiffin.  I didn’t take my Kodak as I didn’t want it to be confiscated.  The Christian Scientist came with us.  All the ship was out there during the day – we left at daylight on the 23rd.  There wasn’t much to be seen going through the Inland Sea as it was so foggy.  We arrived in Kobe in the afternoon of the 24th and went ashore to buy some Kobe Whiffs, I got two ripping ones, Bobie got 1oz for Noel.  The next morning the (SS) Mongolia came in and Coutts Potter and Co came aboard to see the ship.  It was very nice to see a familiar face again.  They said their ship was most frightfully crowded.  We went ashore at 9.30 and at 10.30 took the train to Kyoto.

It took two hours going up which was most tedious.  We passed Osaka where the straight cut, cork type of cigarettes come from.  It is called the Manchester of the East, chiefly to be remembered by its chimneys and posters.  I photographed some, but whether they will come out remains to be seen.  (They did)


We got up to Kyoto at 1 and had to ride in rickshaws for 30 minutes before we could get to the Miyako Hotel.  I should have liked to have stayed in Kyoto.  The place was really fascinating, lovely hills all round, and the funniest little streets in the town.  Every door had a flag hanging out.  A regular Banzai affair.  Shallow rivers seemed to flow everywhere and one crossed over low stone bridges.  We got up to the hotel at last and had tiffin and real fresh salmon!  We hadn’t time to do any shopping at all; we only bought one or two things from the man in the hotel. 

I chose a sweet little metal box and mother a pair of shirts which were to be sent on board for us, something happened though, and they never turned up.  I’m most frightfully disappointed because I had set my heart on this.  I took one photo up there but it was a trifle gloomy.  The carriage was filled to over flowing.  I shared a seat with 2 other people.  I eventually fell asleep for 1 hour, one whole hour of oblivion, when I woke I found my head resting on an old man’s shoulders!


11th April 1906

Yokahama was just the same as usual – we saw Mrs Gregory there – she came to the Grand to see us.  We also ran across Mr Buxton and Mr. G Hardy.  We bought a whole lot of things.  The greatest feature was the quarantine.  The day we arrived a man developed Small Pox and we had to go right away to the quarantine station.  A notice was put on the board to that effect and Miss Cain added the P.S.

It was the most absurd business altogether.  I determined not to spoil any clothes so kept on my nightgown and wrapped a rug around me.  Miss Cain also went in a bathrobe; Dr Janing came in a khaki shooting gilet and on his head a velvet hat; the bishop was in a dressing gown and a waterproof cape over his shoulders!  Everyone was more or less drole.  I took a group (photograph) which ought to be good and one single one of Miss Cain and myself.


The quarantine business lasted all day.  About 4 of us went ashore in the first boat load at 9 in the morning.  It was a glorious day. Fuji rose up covered in snow behind the blue and violet hills.  We were all bathed and changed and the whole thing was a complete farce.  We got back to tiffin absolutely famished. At 5 everything had been gone through and we set off for Yokahama again, there we stopped two and a half days.  I didn’t land the last morning but the others went ashore and very nearly missed the boat.  The buoy had been let go and the gangway hauled up before they arrived alongside in a launch that they found goodness only knows where!  I was rushing madly round the ship finding the captain to tell him the news.  I nearly beaned the Purser on that occasion, for when I told him, he merely put on a polite expression and said “Really?”

When we did get off it was 8.30 p.m. and now we are almost in Seattle.  Tomorrow evening we arrive at the quarantine station.  We’ve had some good times and I have managed to enjoy myself.  Some of the passengers have turned out to be killingly funny.  The twins and young Isard.  Their behaviour is of course absolutely out and out howling but we can forgive them – they are not of our kin – so it doesn’t matter.  And with all their vulgarity they are as funny as possible.

One night at dinner we all found little billet-doux at our places – mine was considered to be most appropriate as I spend so much of my time in the nursery playing with the babies.                                  The James kiddies are too sweet for words.

Mr. Barclay’s was ripping; a dish containing all sorts of (blank and (blank) all for 1c only.  Mr Barclay is the Englishman who got on at Yokahama the 1st Secretary of the Legation.  I didn’t like him at first because his one topic of conversation was food – but now I do like him.  He and Mr Thomas Young of Yokahama are the only two gentlemen.  We all sit at the Captain’s table (with the twins and Captain Milton) and have a fine time.  Captain Milton is a perfect dear he’s an American and his daughter’s great friend is Miss Bayley.

The other day Captain Kinder had a tea party in his room.  We all went and the twins, Mr Barclay, Mr Thomas and Dr Hill.  We had a fine blow out and after we smoked.  Gee Whiz but the Captain caught Bobie and me smoking here in the Library one day and he did give it to us.  Mrs Thomas was with us and the Japanese colonel were also in the room.  “This must never occur again… twice have you been warned… under no consideration” etc etc.  I laughed……. of course it was pure nervousness.  We play sandbags of course – but not so much as on the Coptic (the ship on which they crossed the Pacific in 1900).  There aren’t enough young men.  The two American youths are blessed with $ 15 or 16,000,000 respectively and it has been whispered that they do not care to give the girls too much of their society.  They are afraid of being landed.  It seems a pity that a little thing like $16,000,000 should be the necessity of keeping in the smoking room.

 However, we have had a good time if not wildly exciting.

12th April 1906

We have had sports and last night was the great night.  It was the evening of the prize giving and a nice rowdy business we made of it.  I won nothing.  I only could (look) on and watch others rake in.  Speachifying went on and each one rivaled the last.  Conkie made a fine one, Mr Barch turned up rigged out in Miss Collins clothes and made a fool of himself deliciously all the evening.  I drank the Captain’s health on the saloon table at midnight after having eaten 3 cheese rabbits (this morning I had no breakfast.)  Auld Lang Syne was a distinct feature.  We all clasped hands and were most hearty.  The evening didn’t break up till ever so late.  It was 2 before I got into bed.  This is our last day aboard.  We get to Port Townsend this evening where the doctors come on board to inspect our vaccinations.  We have heard a rumour that there is a case of small pox in the ship.  If we have to go into quarantine I shall swear.


21st April 1906

We ran alongside the docks at Seattle on Good Friday (April 13th) about 10 in the morning.  It was a grand day.  The sun was shining on the water and the blue hills all covered in pinks.  Such leave takings — I was quite sorry the voyage was over.  The people I had imagined so dreadful in the beginning turned out so differently.  The twins how I shall miss them especially Elizabeth together with Percy.  And Miss (Blank) that I thought so disagreeable to begin with, Mr and Mrs (Blank) and his kiddies and Mrs James – she’s just a dear and her babies.  The Sutherlands came down to the wharf to meet us – little Nina looked perfectly sweet and Mrs so pretty.  He looked just the same as in the days gone by.  We also met Mrs Kinder and her little girl.  Mrs K isn’t a beauty but she seemed very nice and he is devoted.  But My!  We had the time of our lives retrieving the baggage.

We, as a matter of fact, had no trouble because Captain Kinder signed the Custom’s form but all the Americans had to open everything.  Luggage checks were waved in all our eyes.  Inspectors buzzed around and Express men implored each and all to use one – use one – hang it all – one was too sufficient – and yet it seemed cruel to shunt the others off.  All the passengers had to stand in a long line – like a snake with a broken backbone to await his or her turn to knobble the referee to transfer a baggage order into something more feasible.  They say it is so easy in this part of the country; that question of baggage – but give me the P & O jetty – no customs – and willing wheelbarrow coolies.  There is too much blank over here to kind Easterners like ourselves.

The poor Clarks, I saw her blouses lying higgledy piggledy on the evil smelling stone platform together with his shaving apparatus and their joint curios.  Poor little frightened Mrs Clark with her (blank) eyes and (blank) hair !

We were through at 10.45 but we waited for the ever faithful Thomas (as I have since heard him called).  He didn’t get through till 1.40; by that time I was starving and dying with thirst.

However, we had only now to catch our car to town.  The Scoville millionaires, Mr May, Captain Milton and EAT and ourselves.  Before starting Captain Milton – my dear Captain Milton treated me to a glass of cider at the booth where we waited for the tram.  My first glass of cider for 4 years!  A great event in my life.  The one of my only 2 tipples – the other being cherry brandy.

We took the Car up Town 4 miles to the Hotel Butler (on the corner of Second Avenue and James Street) – from this moment E.A.T absolutely devoted himself to us and he is a dear, truly.  We were lucky.  It makes all the difference to have one congruent outsider.  The car was full; I found a seat by Mr May away from the others and Rob Scoville stood up in front of us.  “Oh”, I exclaimed; “you stand up without holding on, to the manner born.”  —– “Don’t I belong to this country?”  Quite so, but at that moment the car gave a lurch and poor proud Mr. Scoville nearly measured his length – where he would have measured it I can’t quite say because the car was full.  He would have rolled them all out like the blank blank blank.  The last man would have had to fall in the street.

The outskirts of Seattle are just the same as Vancouver, Frisco and Victoria– quaint little houses – mere shanties – little grass plot in front and no wall or even a fence round.  When we got up to the Butler, the commercial hotel (it was one with a reference) things in general looked more to my and C’s way.  A hurried wash and then tiffin.  Mrs Thomas had it with us and such a meal.  We forgot about portions –  and we had a fish put down before us as big as from here to next week.  However we reconsidered that soon.   The weirdest lot of people sat all around, men who visibly were travelling in whiskey, soap and dusters. The few women there were more startling blank blank.  Directly after tiffin all of us, plus Captain Milton, 2 Scovilles and E.A.T took the car out to Washington Lakes.  Suffice it to say that it was a second English Bay.  We sat out in the open, eat pop corn and chewed gum!  We had pot shots — 5 cents for 3 — at Aunt Sallies or something that corresponded to her.  After looking at the view which was great we came back to town and had ice cream sodas at a famous tea shop, Stokes or Savoks, and they were ripping.  Old Barclay was a wonder to behold putting away  “Heavenly Coffee wonders.”  Home at about 6.30 and had dinner.  Captain Milton and Mr Barclay departed that night.  I had to go down to the depot where I saw and said goodbyes to Miss Cain —— Poor girl she was fussing over a wrongly checked piece of luggage which they wouldn’t deliver to her.

Dinner was great.  It was Good Friday and by some easy coincidence we had mealed off (eaten?) fish the whole day.  After dinner we sat and smoked in the lounge.  The Manager afterwards came up and told E.A.T that he knew it was English custom – but would his friends restrain themselves as it was an anti American habit and would ruin the reputation of his hotel.  We were frightfully ticked off.

Climbing Mount Fuji

Dateline Japan, August 23

A party of one is not a good number for climbing any mountain so I joined a tour led by a bilingual Japanese lady called Emiko.  We were subsequently joined by an official mountain guide who spoke no English but Emiko translated. There was, Charles, Chris, Steve, Theon and Annie, Jessica and another six whose names I don’t recall.  Joining an organised party meant that I didn’t get to choose my route up the mountain (there are several) and went up the most popular one, the Yoshida Trail, starting at the Kawaguchico 5th Station.

Plan of the Ascent


The Kawaguchico Station has good road access and plenty of facilities such as shops, parking and restaurants but is already above the tree line at 2,305 metres.  Some might say that starting a 3,776 meter summit over two-thirds of the way up is cheating but I had no option.  Indeed the full Yoshida Trail does start 1,450 m lower down at the Sengen Shrine.    My Swiss friends will be pleased to see that the architectural style at the 5th Station has been borrowed from them!

The climb to the rim of the crater is about 5.8 km but the first third of the distance is a gentle traverse across the face of the mountain to join the Trail at the 6th Station.  In fact the route starts by descending and then climbs again to 2,390 m; on the way up I saw several ponies with exhausted climbers on them being led back down!

We started in the afternoon; it was bright but overcast, ideal conditions for climbing.  What struck me immediately was the sheer number of people making their way up; individuals, groups, whole families, old and young.

The experienced climbers among you will already have worked out the climb proper starts from the 6th station, a rise of some 1,400 m in under four kilometres.

Theon at the 6th Station

That’s steep (if I could remember my trigonometry I could tell you the angle of ascent.)  Add to that, it is an uneven rocky path which required hand holds in places and you will understand why I described it as a harder climb then Kilimanjaro.  It’s not as high or as long a climb but it is much steeper and unrelenting in it’s ascent. Parts of it reminded me of Mt Blanc.  We climbed up to the 8th Station stopping for short rests on the way arriving at around 6 p.m.  Here we had a light evening meal and relaxed.

There are toilets in the way up costing 100 or 200 Yen a time and there is no peeing in the mountain for us men, the Japanese consider it a sacred mountain and that would be a desecration, not to mention the environmental aspect.  The refuge we stayed in was very similar to European ones with communal sleeping in wooden bunks.  I dozed rather than slept till we were woken at about 11.45 for a cup of black tea and a briefing on our final ascent.  At an altitude of 3,100 m altitude sickness was a possibility but I did not succumb.  (Medical Note: I took 600 mg ibuprofen every four hours on the way up to eliminate any headache/reduce any joint pain and stopped taking my statins two days before.)

The idea was to reach the rim before dawn to see the sunrise so we set off in the dark wearing our miner’s lamps.  It was much colder now but an incredibly clear night and we looked out over the lights of Tokyo and could make out the Tower.  Looking up, the stars were fantastic with the Milky Way arcing across the sky.  I found Orion (on his side) and oriented myself.  Then we joined the queue.  There were literally hundreds of people with the same plan as us and progress up was very slow.

Actually an advantage because rather than have a specific rest stop we had lots of little stops as we waited at various bottleneck points on the way up.  We finally reached the rim and had a cup of coffee and some breakfast at one of the many refreshment stations.  Dawn was at about 4.45 p.m. and I took half a dozen pictures of which this is the best.





I had about two hours at the top and looked down into the caldera.

Some people were breathing pure oxygen from small aerosol canisters which can be bought at the various stations on the way up.  I didn’t buy one but was amused to see the price change.  In Tokyo they can be bought for Yen 450, at the 5th station they were Yen 900 and by the 8th staion they were Yen 1,500 !

I collected a few pebbles (illegal) and took photos, then it was time to go down.  It was a long, boring descent down a different ridge where the ash had been bulldozed into path.

Theon and I walked down together

There was a lot of dust because the slightest breeze lifted the ash with every footfall.  The view was good and we watched the morning mist burn of lakes Kawaguchico and Yamanakako.  I slowly took off more layers till I was wearing no more than I had on the way up the afternoon before.  We regrouped when we got back to the 5th Station and drove to a Spa to wash off the dirt and dust of the climb and have a good lunch.

“The Right Side of Daphne”

I have acquired a new picture………….

Back in February I went down to the crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields for a quick lunch and on my way out I noticed there was an art exhibition in the gallery.  It was called “The Art of 7” and the work of one of the seven artists caught my eye so I spoke to the woman looking after the gallery.  She turned out to be the artist in question, Amelia Critchlow, an M.A. student at the Wimbledon College of Art.  We had a long conversation about the things that inspired her work; one of which was children’s fables such as Little Red Riding Hood.

As I looked around, I saw this image which looked as if the girl’s feet were changing into tree roots. 


I asked her if it was inspired by Ovid’s story about the metamorphosis of Daphne she said that she didn’t know the story.  I explained briefly that Daphne had taken a vow of chastity and fled away when Apollo can onto her and that her prayer to be saved was answered by transforming her into a tree as he caught up with her.   I promised to e-mail her a link to Bernini’s famous sculpture in Rome of Daphne and Apollo showing the moment of transformation.  To cut to the chase (so to speak) Amelia liked the story and I offered to commission a piece based on it.

Five months later she presented it to me:-


 I hope you like it as much as I do.  A really new take on an old subject, I think. 

Here is the link  to her website if you want to know more about Amelia’s work.

Just in case you missed it

              Her Right Eye

Round the Island Race 2012

Regular readers of my blog will know that I took up sailing in my retirement so I was delighted when Andrew Kirton asked me to crew for him on his yacht “Mirabeau” in the Round the Island Race this year.  Andrew and I got our Day Skipper certification with the Hamble School of Yachting in April 2009 and have sailed together regularly since.   Other members of the crew were James (Andrew’s son), Janet and our most experienced member, Kerry.  She has been sailing since she was a child and has her own yacht berthed in Minorca. Continue reading

Wimbledon 2012

                                         The 2012 Tournament

Its that time of the year again to find me down in SW19.  For the first time, I was lucky buying tickets over the internet for the next day.  On Sunday June 24 I got on to the Ticketmaster website and hovered over the link to check availability for No. 3 Court tickets for the first day.  (I guessed there would be less demand for No. 3 Court than Centre Court)  At exactly 9 a.m. I hit the link and was offered the two tickets I asked for.  A win!  I invited Kathy Barker, the artist, and she was delighted. 

        Kathy and me

  The seats were  in the top row near the south eastern corner.   

The first match was the Australian Samantha Stosur (Sam to her friends) against the lady fromBarcelona, Carla Suarez Navarro.  Sam had a fanclub who chanted for her in unison.  The chear leader is the woman with the green wig, visible in some of the pictures below, sitting one in from the gangway. Sam is seeded No. 5 and Carla was unseeded so a win by Carla would have been an upset and the match went to form.  (Carla did win her first doubles match so she didn’t go straight home.)  Sam won in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 but what impressed me was her serve.  She consistently belted them out at over 100 mph and her fastest was 112 a speed that would not be out of place in the men’s game.  I have managed to catch a couple of pictures of her action…no mean feat at that speed ! 

and a nano second later…… 

 If you are wondering how she gets that power…..have a look at the shoulder definition in this next photo.  


My next visit was Ladies Quarter Final Day (July 3rd) with Johanna.

We had Centre Court tickets and it was the first time I have watched play with the roof on.  I agree with McEnroe it is a great experience.  We saw the following matches:-


Serena Williams v Petra Kvitora

Angelique Kerber v Sabine Lisicki

Victoria Azarenka v Tamira Paszek

I will leave you with just one more photo.  The ultimate Women’s Single Champion and her serve….. the finest in the women’s game



Please Help an Orphan Elephant


His playmates are the dogs and cats

Moses is an orphaned baby Elephant found at Vwasa Marsh by the game guards, he could not get out of the water and had lost his Mum and his herd.  He was terrified, stressed and dehydrated.   Luckily they rescued him.

Continue reading

Diving at Sipadan

Sipadan Island, Celebes Sea

Sipadan Island lies off the east coast of Sabah province, Borneo.  It was formed over thousands of years as living corals grew on top of an extinct volcano that did not quite reach the surface  The island plunges over 2,000 meters straight down to the sea floor;   so both pelagica and reef fish can be seen together.  I am often asked which of my many dives is my favourite; I find picking a single dive impossible because different dives have different features but tSipadan is up there in my top five. Continue reading