Last Week Off My Mac: Taking a break

I didn’t appreciate how much I needed a holiday until we were on holiday.

I suppose the last time that we were away from home for more than a couple of nights was almost three years ago. Having finally torn myself away from my day job into ‘retirement’, I had assumed that spending more of my time doing what I choose to do made every day more of a holiday. But we still need time out.

Politics, and society as a whole, on both sides of the Atlantic have been running at fever pitch for so much of the last year that just taking a few days away from the social media is restorative. I still have my MacBook Air, iPhone, and iPad, but their limited windows of connection to the outside world ensure that I can dip into them occasionally, rather than glancing at every new Tweet and notification as they arrive.

Like many of the best breaks, we didn’t so much choose to come here, as it just had to happen. Our older daughter lives at the northern tip of the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, off the north-west of Scotland. On Friday she graduated from the Stornoway campus of the University of the Highlands and Islands with First Class honours in her BSc, appropriately in Sustainable Development. It is a milestone in her life, and a moment of great parental pride, that we simply couldn’t miss, and our first rock-solid reason for having to holiday here.

If you ever want to get away from it all, put the Scottish Highlands and Islands – Lewis in particular – at the top of your list.

The beaches here are as stunningly beautiful as the best in the world, and invariably deserted. Walking, cycling, surfing, and other outdoor activities are second to none. The weather is changeable and relatively cool, but through the summer season is more comfortable and rewarding than much of the rest of Europe. Breeze and showers are the order of many days here, but the wind tends to keep the midges away, and the showers are usually relatively short.

Having travelled this far, I take comfort in some things not changing. The ISP-supplied WiFi modem-router is still junk, and unaccountably chucks this Mac off every so often, forcing me to connect to its alter ego.

Sometimes when I try to connect to websites, it decides that I really want to configure its parental controls instead. One site which was particularly tricky to persuade it to connect to was Oracle’s Java update page, which surely can’t be on its blacklist.

No matter how far you try to distance yourself from the many absurdities of modern life, there are some from which you cannot escape.