A Busy Bee

Well, I have been a busy bee working on my Great Aunt Kate’s diaries.  I am starting at the beginning, when she was 15 and living in first Bournemouth and then moved up to London.

I am getting the feel of Kate’s writing style but there is the odd word that leaves me bewildered.  Any help would be gratefully received.

Ok, so here goes.  There is one word here “I did the flowers, and changed my dress, **** on grey – etc”.  What was on grey?

Then there is this page – “Above stayed to tea, as it rained and we could not go to Mrs Wyatts.  In evening Doz accompanied me violin batiste and also other things.  Edward read to us Tennisonian, etc.”

So what is violin batiste?
Anyone know what the Tennisonian is?  Is it a magazine?

I like to double check references on t’net but can’t find either.  Again, all help, yada yada.

Anyway the diaries are fascinating and I have transcribed a whole month in two afternoons and can’t wait to write more.  It is addictive.  The woolly sheep may have to go on hold while I do this.

Daisy is away now so I am in sole charge of the horses, ponies and sheep.  When away from the diaries, I transform into a mixture of meals-on-wheels, hoof rasper (2 a day is the maximum my back can manage) and carrot distributor.

The old men now live in a separate field from the others as Taktur was picking on Haakon again and he hated it.

The rest are all happily loafing about in the big hill field.  If they come down to the gate during daylight hours, I go in with a bucket of dried alfalfa feed which I distribute in handfuls one at a time and in an order I choose.  The boys are remarkably well behaved with no pushing and barging. They line up around me in a circle and politely wait their turn!

And so that’s me and off I go, back to my diaries.  I am fascinated.


17 thoughts on “A Busy Bee

  1. Lisa

    “batiste” is coming up as some type of fabric….maybe it is an archaic word whose meaning has changed? There must be an on-line dictionary for the time period this was written.

  2. Irmgard Falk

    … put on grey (the colour of the dress she changed into) ?

    Tennisonian – something written by Tennyson?

    It might be helpful, if you don’t mention your guess what a certain – sorry – squiggle might be. The reader won’t be able to look at it without bias anymore. Maybe you could just indicate where the word stands.

    Love your blog – it sends me to bed with a smile every night. Thank you!

  3. Linda Kirk

    The first letter doesn’t look like a “p” but still I think it’s print on grey

    Why is Taktur picking on Haakon isn’t Haakon the leader of the herd?

  4. Kathy Cunagin

    Put on grey fits best. Maybe print on grey? pink on grey?

    Perhaps she misspelled Baptiste? A violinist.

    Tennysonian – written in the style of Tennyson

  5. Denny144

    I agree with the put on grey interpretation, it sounds like she’s saying she changed into grey clothes. I think the violin batiste reference is short for “accompanied me on the violin and we played music by Edouardo Batiste.“ because there is a composer from the 1800s named Batiste. The Tennisonian has me stumped unless she just misspelled Tennysonian.

  6. diane in northern wis

    Love those diaries….how fun!!! I remember reading some Oregon Trail diaries in this country and was really fascinated by them. Love your horse pics too….always so beautiful. Don’t overdo and hurt your back with Daisy away, Frances! Love your blog!
    I am slowly healing from my surgery. Wish the time would go a bit faster as I am so tired and aching.
    Oh well. Glad to be back reading your blog!

  7. Elizabeth O'Connor

    Well, I think that word might be “put” , as in “put on grey”.
    Just a kind of a stretched out p, what do you think?/

    Violin might be violin lessons,.
    Batiste is a kind of very light cloth, could she have been going to
    some kind of sewing or embroidery class?

    Just idle musings here…

  8. deborah

    I found this on wikipedia:
    Charles Jean Baptiste Collin-Mezin (1841–1923) was a distinguished French maker of violins, violas, cellos, basses and bows.
    and for the grey : I would think a grey dress

  9. Kerry

    Tennisonian will be redings of poetry by Tennyson in a certain declamatory style.

    Violin Batiste is probably referring to a composition by Batista for violin.

    Grey – I think its her shorthand for putting on a grey dress or blouse/skirt combo. She’s writimg for herself so I’m assuming she’s just remindimg herself of what she wore/played/listened to

    Brilliant blog as ever and I get the addiction

  10. Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth

    You’re cracking on tremendously with the transcription. I’m wondering if it’s ‘put on grey’ as in put on the grey dress, or perhaps ‘spilt on grey’. ‘Violet batiste’ makes sense, as it then refers to purple cotton fabric. And ‘Tennisonian’ perhaps refers to either reading from Tennyson’s works or reading from something in the style of Tennyson. You say these are her early diaries, so perhaps there’s a little flexibility of spelling/meaning that will be gone in the later ones?

  11. Sam

    Batiste is a thin type of cotton fabric. Rather like our modern organdy. I do agree “put on the grey”. Love the hand writing.

  12. May

    Perhaps it’s “pink on grey” and “violet batiste.” Because batiste is a thin fabric, a layer of thin pink or pinkish fabric on top of a grey fabric could yield a violet look to the dress. It would be in line with fashion of the time.

  13. Valerie Ahlgren

    I asked a friend who has experience with this sort of work.She suggests, “To decipher the writing she should make a chart of how the author forms each letter so she can study which o e is the closest resemblance. ”
    Hope this helps.

    Love you work,


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