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Barrie and the Davies boys at Scourie Lodge, August 1911. Back row: George, Millicent Duchess of Sutherland, Peter. Front row: Nico, Barrie, Michael. Barrie had written to the Duchess of Sutherland: “I wonder whether you would in the goodness of your heart set some factor in Sutherland searching for(Read More)
Barrie and the Davies boys at Scourie Lodge, August 1911. Back row: George, Millicent Duchess of Sutherland, Peter. Front row: Nico, Barrie, Michael.
Barrie had written to the Duchess of Sutherland: “I wonder whether you would in the goodness of your heart set some factor in Sutherland searching for a house for me up there for August and September. I bring four boys with me; what they yearn for is to be remote from Man and plenty of burn trout fishing, of which they never tire from the rising to the setting of the sun. The rate would not so much matter ut there should be space for about ten of us including maids.”
The Duchess duly responded with Scourie Lodge, a small manor house on the north-west coast of Scotland. Barrie wrote to his cricketing friend Charles Turley Smith on July 10th: “We are going for seven weeks or so beginning of August to Scourie in the west of Sutherland. 630 miles rail, then a drive 44 miles. The nearest small town is farther than from here to Paris in time. Nothing to do but fish, which however is what they want. [...] I have nearly finished my P. Pan book."
Barrie wrote to Nurse Loosemoor (who had nursed Sylvia the previous summer) on September 17th:
"We have been here since the last week of July, and return to London in about a week's time. It is a remote place, nearly 50 miles from a railway, and when you want food you have to kill a sheep. it is very beautiful with sea & lochs, all as blue as the Mediterranean, and in the course of their wanderings the boys see eagles, otters, whales, seals, &c. The wanderings are all in search of fish, and it is a great place for fishing. Michael has caught a salmon & nearly a hundred sea-trout. His first sea-trout had a tragic history. It weighed 2½ lbs & he went to bed with it on a chair by his side. Next day it was sent to England to be stuffed & arrived on Bank Holiday. The shop was closed so it was taken to the gardener's cottage of one of the firm. The gardener's wife thought it was a gift from some anonymous friend and ate it. I didn't dare tell Michael until he got the salmon.
Jack of course is not with us as he is still on his cruise in Canadian waters. But he writes very interesting letters and seems to be very well. They are all happy I think. It is already a year since their mother died. I took Nicholas out to fish that day, and it was a happy day for him as she would have wished ..."
Michael and Nico were accompanied on their fishing expeditions by a local Scots gillie, Johnny Mackay, who, according to Barrie, taught Michael “everything that is worth knowing (which is largely a matter of flies)”. A few months before he died in 1977, Johnny recounted to me with a twinkling eye how Barrie, while fishing with the humbler worm, “looked so scruffy that when the Duchess of Westminster saw him, she thought he was a poacher and ordered him off her land; and he was too shy to say who he was, so he went."
Scourie Lodge is now a very attractive and delightful hotel, well worth a visit:
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