Now that I'm finally back, having got my report out of the way for the current stage of my studies, I thought it about time I posted an update of my travels.
I recently had a "wee jolly" away from the island that wasn't without incident.
I left in the wee hours of the morning on Friday 1st April, and I can assure you that catching a boat at 6:30am, with a poor weather forecast, is no joke. Having said my hellos to some fellow passengers, that I recognised, I decided to catch some Zzzzzeds on one of the couches.
I awoke about three hours later, and rushed downstairs to the galley to get a big-ass full traditional breakfast (complete with black pudding, but no beans ). After guzzling it down, the boat was near port, so I decided to splash some water on my face before heading down to the car deck. It was at this point that I acknowledged the fact that my fellow travellers were looking slightly the worse for wear. Apparently it had been a hideous crossing, which I had completely slept through.
I found myself driving down to Campbeltown, in the far South West of Scotland, via Inverness, Loch Ness, Ben Nevis and Fort William. By the time I got to Inverurie I needed a break, and so took a one-hour tour around the historical prison. It was fascinating, and my first trip to that remote part of the country, so unlikely that I would get another similar opportunity anytime soon.
I finally arrived a little after 6pm, having spent seven hours driving. I grabbed a quick bite to eat before whisking off to my speaking engagement. I should explain that being a Christian has unlocked many doors and opportunity to speak on the subject of JWs. This was no exception, as my journey was for the purpose of addressing a multi-denominational group of Christians ranging from Charismatics, through the likes of the Salvation Army, to staunch Presbyterians.
I spent an hour and a half between lecture and question an answers, feeding in tidbits such as the UN saga and the Child Molestation issues (that region is noted for the Louise Cousins case, being just the other side of the Clyde river). The main concern was how the orthodox church can meet the challenge of the militant evangelism of the JW movement. Inevitably doctrinal subjects were also discussed.
Saturday was going to be a busy day, as I had to attend an all day tutorial for my course of studies, in Dundee - completely across the other side of the country. Having finally crashed at a little before 2am, getting up at 6am wasn't appreciated. The day was enjoyable enough, though, as I met with my fellowstudents and we conducted some group work on subjects such as information presentation and finance.
I finally felt my head was getting back together after some extended illness and some real motivational issues regarding the course. Business Management is not the most interesting of subjects to theorise about. Ah well, maybe I'll feel a little better in about three years time when I hope to be holding my MBA. It did help to know that there were others with similar issues.
Sunday was spent with my sister and nephews (picture attached), before heading over to Edinburgh to meet up with Scotsman and Tijkmo. Can I just say that if you ever get the opportunity to dine with Scotsman, you should snap his hand off to accept. Not only can he cook, he get's 10/10 for presentation. If it weren't for the fact that he's already got a partner I'd be tempted to turn gay, if only for his meat and two veg
We all chatted into the wee hours (a Scottish compulsion) before I headed back over to my sister's.
I should have mentioned that all three of us were previously Elders and taken the opportunity to DF the Governing Body in absentia, as we had enough for a Judicial Committee
Monday, after spending the morning with my sister and the boys, I got dropped off at the airport to fly down to Luton. There I met up with da_luvvin_bruvver and da_luvvin_sister, who don't post very often. da_luvvin_sister had recently undergone a horrendous labour with their latest son, a wee darling who came into the world at 9lb 7oz!
Tuesday I tried to help more than hinder (I've had plenty of practice "burping" infants, in my time), and also got to meet her brother and his wife, who have recently become Christians. Needless to say the conversation turned theological, which matched my peculiar penchant (albeit I never bring the subject up).
Wednesday I flew back to Edinburgh, had some lunch with my sister, and then started the trek back home.
I stopped in Inverness to take in the last premiere showing of "Sahara", based on the Clive Cussler book by the same name. Having read some Cussler in the past, and enjoyed his character Dirk Pitt, I have to confess to expecting more. It got the Hollywood treatment, and IMHO went too much for comedic effect, in turning it into an action comedy. The gags were overdone, though I did chuckle at some of them.
Finally I wended my way over to Ullapool to crash for a couple of hours in the car while waiting for the freight ferry. It occasionally takes passengers, if there aren't too many truckers aboard (it's only insured for a very limited number of passengers), so I took my chances. The advantage is that you get a free breakfast, often a cabin, and it arrives in time for me to dump my stuff at home, graba quick shower, and still get to work on time.
At this point the trip went tragically wrong!!!
I had set my alarm for 8am (Thursday morning), which is usually time enough to wash, grab a quick cuppa, and disembark. As I looked out of the porthole all I could see was sea
We were in the middle of the Minch (the sea between mainland Scotland and the island on which I live - a treacherous stretch of water wider than the English channel), and the seas were heavy. It turned out that a force 9 gale had sprung up from the North, which had meant that the screw of the boat was spending as much time in the air as the water. The engineer had to throttle back to two knots, meaning that for a good deal of the time we were actually travelling backwards.
I count my blessings that I've been travelling that stretch of water since an infant, and that I don't suffer mal de mer. We ended up spending 12 hours on the boat, ten of which on the open sea. I enjoyed the free breakfast and lunch, though, and had we spend another couple of hours there I would have had my dinner as well
The truckers were a fun bunch, and the banter was hilarious. One of them we never saw, as he confined himself to his cabin, and even a couple of the crewmen were sick.
It's been a few years since I got my sea-legs by spending any significant time on water, so I was mildly amused to find myself walking like a Navie, when I got back on dry land. Short, rolling steps were the order of the day, but that wore off after a good night's sleep.
Ah, well. All's well that ends well