"The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring, and in sunshine the waters are sleeping"
The lyrics above could not be any more appropriate for describing the beautiful place of Loch Lomond, which, on Friday was subject to the arrival of roughly 15 ACS employees and their guests. This years AGM winners trip was in full swing. I mean, you only have to look at the pictures below to know that this really is a spectacular place.
Now before I go into any sort of detail, I think I can speak for all of the group when I say, we have had a ball!
At midday on Friday as we pulled up to the grounds of Cameron House, you couldn't help but feel privileged to be on the trip as the romantic drizzle and fresh air highlighted just how special this location is.
Anyway, enough of the soft stuff. Our bags were dropped at the hotel and we set off to explore what would be our home for the next three days. Half of the gang travelled over to the village of Luss on the ferry for a spot of lunch and some local beer and a few of us decided to brave the rain and walk to Balloch.
The Balloch crowd, in true ACS style didn't take long to find some sort of competition to introduce into the afternoon as we spotted a pool table in our pub of choice. A few hours, and embarrassing moments later, I had begrudgingly been declared the new 'Beer Chimp' after losing in a game of Killer (you have 3 lives when attempting to pot a ball), and a reasonable volume of Peroni had been consumed.
But the highlight of our pool escapades can come from one lady and one lady only...Ladies and gentleman, I give you the pool shark, Lisa Thorpe.
After the laughter had simmered down and we had started to stroll back to Cameron House, the "Peroni Lunch" well and truly kicked in as Jon Thorpe decided that the six of us should hire a canoe and go across the loch! Now this was an experience that I can only describe as absolutely hilarious.
You couldn't write the terrible attempts at singing motivational songs to each other, the disagreements on one anothers rowing abilities, and of course, the star of the show was once again Lisa Thorpe. I have never seen somebody make canoeing look so much like Mary Berry folding cake mix!
Friday evening was dinner at The Boat House, which became a favourite spot of many throughout the weekend. The ladies were feeling very special as we had all arrived at our rooms to a personal gift from ACS, a tartan scarf and broach, all each in different tartan. A lovely touch from the ACS Directors. The food during the evening was fantastic, the company on top form, and you could really tell that everyone was settling into life on the loch.
On Saturday morning the majority of us took a short ride on the sea plane as the weather was getting increasingly worse. A few of the guys missed out on this due to a round of golf on the Carrick Course, which I am told was a fantastic experience in itself. Now apart from a few people getting off the plane slightly greener than they started, the whole thing went very smoothly. To see the loch from such heights and learn about the surrounding areas was an inspiring way to start the day. Don't worry Paige, I won't tell everyone that you were sick ;)
It was then off to the much loved Boat house for some hot drinks and an anticipating wait for ACS' good friend Brendan Boyle from Claremont. Brendan had kindly agreed to take us out in two groups onto the loch in his speed boat. Fuelled with just the right balance of cagool's, life jackets, and booze we set of into the unexpected. Some of us took it in turns driving the boat as Brendan took each group to one of the loch's islands for a stunning view of our surroundings. Group number one were obviously much more focussed on the walk and the view as the bag of alcohol was returned to group 2 almost full. Well don't worry folks, we soon sorted that out, which might explain why we managed to get lost and end up on the wrong jetty for pick up!
After all returning safely (just about) from our trip on the loch with Brendan we had what is possibly the quickest turnaround for our evening meals. One group were to dine at the Martin Wishart Michelin Star restaurant and the others were in the Cameron House grill. Again the food was amazing, the company fantastic, and the wine was well and truly flowing!
Now obviously the majority of us eating at Martin Wishart are foodies but I think we might have taken it a little too far when it came to the cutlery. I mean when the females of the party start whipping spoons out of their bra's as you leave the restaurant (uh hum, Dee and Lisa!), you know the night is still young!
After a late one on Saturday for most, Sunday morning was relatively slow and lazy. People were catching up on their culinary experiences over breakfast and comparing their plans for the rest of the day before we had to head back to the airport. The day between the group consisted of walks around the loch, the Balloch food market, mini golf, spa experiences, and cream tea's. All in all, not bad ways to spend a Sunday!
Now when it came to getting back on the coach to leave this wonderful place you could see people refusing to stop taking photos as their reluctance to leave the views behind started to set in.
Once on the plane the comparisons of people's weekends were in full flow and story time was at an all time high, then the naps set in as people let the relaxation take hold. It takes it out of you this loch life you know!
Now before we round up this chaotic overview of events, I would like to share with you just a few of the weekend's highlight quotes. I warn you, some of them aren't for the faint-hearted.
Emily: "So does the sea plane take off?"
Keisha: "I could eat the arse off of a low flying duck"
Lisa: (when naming her top 3 celeb crushed) "Alan Rickman, Ashley Banjo, and, JACK WHITEHALL!!"
Dee: (trying to encourage Lisa during pool) "Think of the suffragettes sister, you can do it!"
Keisha: "We had to get up at Sparrow's fart!"
Brendan: "If you want an image of Scotland just look to your right, you've got the dark green of the hills, the browns of the mud and the grey colour of the mist and the bad weather heading in. That is Scotland."
But seriously, what a weekend. It is not very often that you come across companies that would be willing to reward their employees with experiences such as these so we have to be grateful and remember to absorb every moment of it.
Amongst the views, the amazing cuisine, and quality of non-stop experiences you could find nearly 30 guests having an absolute ball and creating memories that will stick with them forever. You can't put a price on that.
Thank you to Cameron House, ACS, and everyone that was on the trip this weekend. You are alright you lot, aren't you!
And on that note, I have one final thing to say, which only some of the trip members will get but here goes...
"Thank you for flying with Brady Airlines, we hope you enjoyed your flight. The local time is now 9.50pm and we will look forward to seeing you when you travel with us again soon."