Monday, October 19, 2015

Holiday in a Parallel Dimension

Last week was the October break for the schools up here (or, at least, the one where LC works), and as a consequence I took a much-needed break. It's been a long time since the last one! We spent a few days at home getting caught up on things, but then went up to Fort William from Wednesday until Saturday.

Our expectation had been that the weather would most likely be fairly grim, this being Scotland in October, but in fact it was absolutely ideal - wall-to-wall sunshine, barely a cloud in the sky, and although there was some fog most days it soon burnt off. In hindsight, that should have been a clue...

We were staying in the Premier Inn in Fort William, largely because we needed somewhere to stay and at least with them you know what you're getting. Plus, the breakfast is pretty legendary. And so, when I checked us in on Monday I also took the opportunity to order breakfasts for each morning. Which was fine, but gave rise to the second clue.

On arrival at breakfast on Thursday, I happened to glance at the sign-in sheet to discover something rather odd: I was listed as Rev S. Vader (or, you know, my actual surname). Which was odd and surprising, since I had checked in via the website, had made sure to get the details right, and the computer really shouldn't have gotten confused by this - human error would be understandable, but not from a computer. (And, yes, since getting home I have checked that my details are indeed correct on my account on their website.)

So, something was very odd.

And then there was the third clue. As you know, I don't talk about my work here (mostly), and there are quite a lot of things I simply can't talk about here. However, there is a bit of software that I wrote that is installed worldwide and is actually widely used. I can't say what it is, of course, but the nature of the thing is that you've probably used it, and you probably never gave it a moment's thought. (Which sounds a lot more mysterious than it really is. Just because I can't talk about it publicly doesn't mean it's necessarily interesting, you understand!)

Anyway, near the hotel was a site that I would normally expect to find my software in use. So, we went over and took a look... and they didn't have it. Nor, indeed, did they have the competitor's kit installed either. Instead, they were managing without a system at all, using seriously old-school manual techniques!

Honestly, it was like going back in time. Or...

And that was when I realised the truth: somehow, probably while passing through Glencoe, we had slipped into a parallel dimension, into a realm where I had entered the ministry rather than becoming a software engineer! Truly, it was the only possible explanation that made sense!

(Rather depressingly, it also seemed to be a rather better world, what with the better weather, the happier people, and the more relaxed way of life. Even the beer tasted better. Oh well.)

The rest of the holiday was good, too. We travelled on the steam train to Mallaig, which was fun, and we went up to Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness (alas, the monster doesn't exist in that dimension; at least here we still have some wonders!).

Then, on Saturday, and before returning to this dimension, we went for a walk in the countryside near Fort William. Now, LC had looked this one up, and said that it was a short drive - two miles out of FW to a single-track road, and then another mile along said single-track road to the car park.

So we set off, left Fort William, and then we drove. And we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove... And then we had to carefully navigate the car around some highland cattle who had blocked the main road (but had considerately left the passing place clear). And we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove... And finally we reached the single-track road. Then we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we dodged some sheep, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove... and then we reached the car park. Huzzah!

Anyway, we then changed into our walking boots (which proved to be a good idea) and then we went for our walk, which took us to the Steall waterfall. Which was lovely, but did involve crossing a bridge made out of a couple of bits of wire suspended above a long drop. (I may upload a picture later, if we have one that's suitably terrifying.) Still, we survived that, though on the return we did elect to ford the river instead rather than recross the bridge.

And that was the holiday. We then returned to the car, drove back to Fort William (which was, oddly, much shorter going back), and had a quick lunch, and then drove back through the dimensional rift and home. And all is well.

Oh. Then I baked some scones for the guys at work. Those were nice.

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