Sometimes…I am a natural born cynic. A competition with outrageous prizes; it must be a marketing ploy. Nobody really wins these prizes, do they? Surely not.
And so it was that I received a call from Dot , STGA Bookings Secretary – it was my turn to get that call; which can invariably produce something out of the ordinary. Previous calls have resulted in a specialist tour of Glasgow with Swedish architects and also a walking tour with French kids, too cool by half, giving that Gallic shrug of the shoulders and that look of complete indifference! What would it be this time?
Barr’s IRN-BRU and Barrhead Travel needed a guide to put together a tour following the journey of the Snowman around the various Scottish landmarks that feature in their award winning ad/pastiche of the “Walking in the Air” Snowman. To enter the competition you had to text a reference number from the can or bottle of IRN-BRU – up for grabs, the chance of winning one of 6 pairs of tickets for a 4 day luxury coach tour.
We started where the ad ends, in George Square, Glasgow where the wee lad falls from the sky; the dastardly Snowman having nicked his IRN-BRU and let go of his hand. Winners were met by Leanne from Barrhead Travel and Lesley from AG Barr who came laden with so much IRN-BRU that we were in danger of looking as though we had been “tangoed”, if I can mix my mixers!
After a short panoramic of Glasgow we headed north via Loch Lomond and Glencoe to Fort William for lunch, followed by a visit to the Glenfinnan viaduct and monument. That was it for day 1 so we repaired to the Inverlochy Castle Hotel for the night. Roy the driver and myself were sharing in the comforts being experienced by the winners. No expense was spared as the Inverlochy is awfae posh; a £200,000 Rolls Royce sits in the drive ready to ferry guests about in. This was the first time I have experienced someone coming to my room to shut the curtains, turn down the bed and leave monogrammed slippers.
For day 2 I had scheduled a trip on the gondola at Nevis Range, stopping for lunch at the Cluanie Inn, then onwards to Eilean Donan. The final destination was the Duisdale House Hotel on Skye, but we took a detour via picturesque Plockton. Day 3 would be the highlight (literally) of the journey – a 30 minute helicopter flight over the Moray Firth, Loch Ness and Culloden courtesy of PDG Helicopters who have a base at Dalcross Airport. After a little shopping in Inverness we spent the last night at the Loch Ness Country House Hotel.
The final day saw us heading south through the snowy mountains to Edinburgh via the bridges which also feature in the ad. Unfortunately, there was no time to visit the Falkirk Wheel but nobody was complaining. After a short panoramic of Edinburgh we visited the Castle, in high winds and rain. The winners had had a ball so the weather was not going to dampen their spirits.
Ros Newlands used to say to the Class of 2008 that “Guiding is fun” and I would take what she said with a pinch of salt.
Sometimes…it pays not to be too cynical!
Best wishes to you all for a successful season ahead, filled with surprises. Your next call from Dot could be…
Allan Stephen, Blue Badge Guide