Back from Cumbrae. I've sat down and my phone's emptying itself into iPhoto, so this is good.
As mentioned earlier, things this past week haven't all been wankers with burglar alarms and dodgy floors. They've also included boats, coffee, frozen toothpaste, a lack of writing, and a bit of a pain in my backside.
I've been writing near-solidly for about eight months, and needed time off to recharge my batteries. Fortunately, I had a week off work coming up and decided that on that week, I would not touch a keyboard. Originally, I'd considered spending the whole week on Islay and doing one-a-day0. That plan didn't pan out, so instead I focused on relaxing.
Spent much of Monday wandering around Loch Lomond, looking over the water and generally enjoying being out in the sun. Being a weekday early in the year, we didn't get to go out onto the water—the hire place had no boats left and the steamer only runs at weekends—but it was still a good day to get out into the fresh air, consume coffee, and plan a ride up into the Trossachs.
Tuesday involved sleep. I also put a big dent into the copy of Spirit of the Century that I picked up at Conpulsion. I started penning a few reviews of a few RPG-related books, but didn't get any of them finished.
The rest of the week carried on in a similar fashion, generally focusing on the sorts of things that I would do more were I not telling lies for money1. On Thursday, I saw a day I never thought I'd see—I bought a suit jacket for casual wear. Admittedly, for thirty quid from fucking Tesco, but on the other hand I'm now just a bad haircut away from being Jeremy Clarkson, or a worse haircut from James May. I also got told, in no uncertain terms, to "mock yourself in that voice you do that I can't do". I did, in fear for my sanity.
Saturday: Awake early. On a train, bound for Glasgow. Stop off in Glasgow for a pot of tea and a bacon roll, followed by a "We must come here for afternoon tea sometime." Then on to Largs, where we didn't stay for long, and then on to the ferry to Cumbrae.
Arriving earlier than we'd first thought gave us ample time to wander round Millport, soaking in the local atmosphere and drinking more coffee. The town didn't grip us as hard as the rest of the island, and I got conned into hiring a couple of bikes for the trip.
Yeah, this is where the sore arse comes into the story. See, I was last on a bike for any real reason for a short while during my second year, when riding in to uni was a good way to save the bus fare and thus the price of a pint. That was only a quarter of an hour's ride, and the only serious riding I'd done before then was the longest paper round in Hull (four and a half miles in a lazy circuit). Needless to say, I wasn't entirely prepared for a ten-mile cruise. On the other hand, we got to see a whole lot of the island and a whole lot of sea—the visibility was wonderful all weekend—and right across Bute to Kintyre and Arran. I got a lot of photos both of that way and back across to Largs, Entering Millport again did mean encountering a blast of hail and a bugger of a headwind, but it was thankfully short-lived.
We had a room at the College attached to the Cathedral of the Isles, on the outskirts of the town. Our room was at the furthest point, which helped reinforce the sense of tranquility. We wandered back into town for food and a look around, and I got some wonderful shots of the sunset.
Being on the outside corner of an old stone building does have some downsides—even with the heating on maximum, it was bloody cold. J. got over around half nine but I was up with a Brookmyre until about eleven, when it came in fairly nasty. How nasty? I had no idea what time it was when I woke up, because the LCD in my watch was too cold to work. Cold enough that come half eight we tried the toothpaste and it was frozen in the tube. That didn't deter us, of course, only spurred us to breakfast.
This morning involved walking around the interior of the island. We hadn't intended to go as far as we did, but we found the marker point and the well, and again the weather obliged us by being fucking beautiful. Admittedly, the wind was bloody cold but that doesn't affect photographs. One of the great failings of cameraphones is a lack of control, so only a couple of pictures of the landscape and the sea beyond captured both the bright green and the truly stunning deep turquoise and tiny white wave-caps of the Clyde. On the other hand, were it not for my cameraphone I'd not have any pictures so it all pans out.
Quite without meaning to, we'd walked for about eight miles, and ended up close to the ferry pier. Rather than heading back to Millport only to drink coffee and got a bus to the pier that we were standing on, we started the journey back. Due to rail works we boarded the ferry about half twelve and didn't get in to Glasgow until almost three. The walk leaving us needing energy, we hit Ichiban—always a good call if you want to eat your bodyweight in carbohydrate—before heading back to Edinburgh.
After mentioning how beautiful the weather was throughout our holiday, I feel compelled to comment that it's turned all grey and wet while I've been writing this.
I'll have photos up once I've edited a few into suitability.
0: For Americans and others with no taste, I should point out that Islay is a relatively small island containing no less than eight whisky distilleries. This is not, as some claim, because the water's so pure or any of that bollocks. It's because there wasn't an exciseman on Islay, and so the distilleries didn't have to pay tax for quite some time.
1: I have the best job description. Pick a job, it still fits.