Monday, May 19, 2008

Voyage of the Damned

Well, that's three out of four exams over and done with, and I've got a bit of respite until the last, which isn't till the 29th. Now I've recovered a bit, I thought I'd take the opportunity to let you all know what I've been up to. Other than the aforementioned exams, and the revision which goes with them, I've been mulling over which subjects to take in second year. Second-year Celtic Civilisation looks a bit rubbish, so I might drop it. I don't know yet, though.

In general, I've been completely frazzled. In fact, I've looked pretty much like this:

And also, a couple of weeks ago, my mum decided it would be fun for us to go on a trip on the Waverley paddle steamer. So we booked it... and discovered the eighth level of Hell while we were at it. First of all, we booked the shorter trip, not the full-day one, so before setting foot on any steamer, it involved a three-hour coach journey up to Oban. This was actually the best bit of the day, as the route takes you up along Loch Lomond and then Loch Awe-side, so the scenery is very pretty. I even worked out where Sargaid's crannog is as we drove along.

After getting off at Oban, we caught the steamer at the harbour. It already looked packed with the folks who had got on at Glasgow for the all-day trip, and there were two coach-loads of us to pile on. Piling on was a nightmare in itself: there was no queue; everyone just gathered in a crowd and filtered on, and there were no considerations given to the disabled passengers. Once on, we found out that the boat was totally overcrowded: it was overcast when we got on and soon began to rain, so everyone bolted for the observation cabins. Meaning we spent a good half-hour wandering around just looking for somewhere to sit (we didn't find one). Me and Iona, my sister, eventually took refuge in the engine room for a while, as it was the only place which was warm!

I'd thought our trip was just going to be a couple of hours, out then back to Oban, but then Mum dropped the bombshell that we were in it for five whole hours. And because the weather was bad - and 'cause this is the west of Scotland, after all - the mist came down, so the sightseeing part of this "sightseeing cruise" was rendered kinda... ironic. So basically we were stuck for five hours, looking at rocky islands looming out of the mist, punctuated by the occasional announcement from the captain/skipper/whatever he was calling himself. Actually, he was the worst cruise announcer person-thingy ever: "If you look over to port, you'll see... oh, wait, it's disappeared behind the headland, sorry."

There are no words.

So, four hours stretch into eternity, until I'm beginning to think this is the Flying Dutchman rather than the Waverley, threading our way up and down the sea-lochs of the west coast (which, incidentally, all look the same in the mist) until we reach the main attraction: the Gulf of Corryvreckan, between the islands of Jura and Scarba. It's the third largest whirlpool in the world, and when it's going full-tilt it can be heard about ten miles away. It's been classified as one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the UK (author George Orwell was nearly drowned in it), and I have the sneaking suspicion that the trip had been scheduled so that we hit it at low tide, when it's less dangerous. For one, we passed a group of people kayaking their merry way through the currents, and for another, we saw... absolutely nothing. I was expecting something, considering the thing has several myths attached to it. Nope, we passed through the strait without seeing anything of note. On reflection, I did see a large circular patch of placid water - placid! - which me and my dad agreed must have been it, but it wasn't whirling at all. And it wasn't just us; there was an atmosphere of chronic anticlimax as all us watchers finally let go of the railings, which we had been clutching with white knuckles in anticipation, and sloped back to the still-overcrowded observation cabin, soaked through and numb with the cold.

Another hour and a half, and we finally get back to Oban. There's then a mad dash to get the hell off the boat and back onto the coaches. Unfortunately, the torture wasn't over yet. The family up the back had obviously taken advantage of the bar on board the Waverley and so we spent the next three hour enduring their singing and constant to-ing and fro-ing to the coach toilet. Then they brought out their food, and after a combination of nothing to eat all day but one tasteless muffin, and a rough sea, my tummy barely managed to endure the smell of ten or so packed lunches at once. I did get a laugh once, though, 'cause at one point a lassie behind me shouted, "Oh, look out that window! You can see a stag!" To which the guy across the aisle from me shouted back, "Aye, and if you look over there, you can see the whirlpool!"

So, all in all, that trip amounted to about twelve hours which I could have spent doing something constructive. Like watching paint dry.

A note, then, to all aspiring sightseeing cruise arrangers: either schedule your trip to a famous natural attraction to a time when there's actually something to see there; or, if that's too dangerous, and there's nothing to see when it's safe - don't include it in the soddin' itinerary.

(NB, There was nothing worth photographing, so I went looking for pictures of the Corryvreckan in full throttle, just to see what we missed. Apparently, this. Now I feel vengeful.)

And now I've shared the pain, I can now concentrate on wiping it from my memory-banks forever. :P

On a more cheery note, after about four years, I've finally caught up with Yu-Gi-Oh!. It was my regular Saturday morning thing when I was about fourteen to fifteen, until the Powers That Be decided to start skipping about ten episodes at a time, making the second series impossible to follow. I wasn't impressed, especially when they skipped over the second half of a story arc dealing with the backstory of my favourite damn character. We got as far as "zomg, the creepy kid who trapped us in this virtual reality world is claiming to be the biological son of my abusive adoptive father, he's brainwashed my little brother against me and seems to know everything about me - what's going on?!" Next week, they skipped ahead about thirty episodes to the very end of the damn series. I was like, "But... it's all finished... and now he's blowing up his own island... and now he's going to build theme parks for underprivileged children... what the hell?"

But Iona got the second series on DVD the other week, so I got to fill in the gaps there, and thank God for YouTube. Thanks to it, I got to see the resolution of that story arc (a showdown with the abusive adoptive father, resulting in the AAF turning into a huge red demon thingumajiggy, and a narrow escape). And I saw the end of YGO! as a whole. The Pharaoh got his memories back, and passed on to the afterlife. Fair dos, and good riddance. >:)

Then, of course, I went and watched Yu-Gi-Oh!: the Abridged Series straight after that. Because that's compulsory. ;)

So, between all that, I've not been writing very much, though I finally have names for Eilwen's sister and Edarnan's wife. So that's good. :)

And now I'd better tie things up here. My computer's needing fixed, so I've been writing this on my sister's, and she's wanting it back. Hope to be back in swing tomorrow! I'm missing you all!


Celedë Anthaas said...

Sounds like a wonderful cruise indeed. Reminds me of those wonderful camping trips we had at primary school. Sleetstorms, fog and mud.

Good luck on that last exam! I still have four to go, I don't finish until 12. June...

murray104 said...

Kirsten.. I love your comment and dry humour about the bus and boat trip to Hell and back. All the sailing instructions advise mariners to go through the 'Corryvreckan' at slack water which inevitably brings the response when they do so..."so what was all that about then??"
May I offer you a complimentary copy of the dvd to see what it can be like?
Mike Murray

Kirsten Campbell said...

Celedë - Yes. Wonderful. Uh-huh. Your school camping trips sound like our holiday camping trips.

Good luck with those exams!

Mike - First off, hi, and thanks for your comment. Hm. I figured it would be something like that. I'm just glad I'm not the only one who's had that reaction!

Thanks for your offer, it's very kind, but I think I'll decline. I'm not too fussed, really. :)

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Kirsten, I hope your first 3 exams went well and the very best of luck with the fourth. Not long till Vindolanda now, eh?!

Kirsten Campbell said...

Eh... they could've gone worse, I suppose. Could've gone better, but definitely could've gone worse. Thank you. (No, not long at all! It's not been helping my concentration. :D )

Crystal said...

LOL! Love the picture! I've felt and looked like that MANY times!

Eighth level of Hell, eh? lol! Oh that's good! At least you can somewhat laugh about it now. What was the temp there? You said you and your sis stayed in the engine room where it was warm..

"Actually, he was the worst cruise announcer person-thingy ever: "If you look over to port, you'll see... oh, wait, it's disappeared behind the headland, sorry."

LOLOLOL!!! OMG girl! I would have BUSTED OUT LAUGHING after he said that!

As for Yu-Gi-Oh?My son has like HUNDREDS of those damn cards and tries to watch the cartoon every chance he gets. I don't like it because like you said...THEY SKIP!!!

Kirsten Campbell said...

Lol. I love that picture. I think everyone's looked like that at some time or another! :)

Heh. I can laugh about the trip now, but by the time he said that, we'd been trapped on the boat for about four hours, so my sense of humour had well and truly died by that point. I've no idea what the temperature was... um... er... cold? XD

There are hundreds of stray YGO! cards lying about our house, too. I got up faithfully every Saturday to tape it, back in the day, until they started to skip chunks of a series at a time. I was left going, "Noooo! What have you done?? I need my Kaiba brothers angst!"

Good times. ;)