On Friday 25th October 2013 our oldest member of staff celebrated 25 years of service with Mitchells Roberton and on Saturday 26th October 2013, Bob turned 84, so some of us planned a Mystery Tour for him in celebration of both occasions. He thought he was going for a wee walk and then for fish and chips with Margaret, Letitia and Julie. He was in for a surprise.
Both our Margarets, Letitia , myself , Morag and Julie, an ex employee ,were all to share in Bob’s day. Mark would have been there but was unwell and Harry had other arrangements.
Margaret and Letitia met Bob outside Buchanan Street underground at 9.00 am on Saturday whilst the rest of us waited behind the office in a mini bus with Julie as driver. On the pretext that Julie was picking them up at the ramp behind the office Margaret and Letitia walked round with Bob and there we all were ready for action. His face was a picture.
He had no idea where he was going. He thought it may have been Oban as he loves Oban but we were headed in the direction of Stirling so he thought it may be Stirling Castle.
Our first stop was Callander. I hadn’t been to Callander for many a long year and had forgotten how pleasant a small town it is with the Callander Crags , a visible part of the Highland Boundary Fault, rising to 343m at the cairn, dominating the town to the north and Ben Ledi lying to the north west. The shops are fantastic so we did a little shopping and were treated to delicious ice cream by Bob.
Then we headed to our destination. Bob loves boats, so we were taking him to Loch Venachar to see the 2013 Freshwater Sprint of the St Ayles Skiff. Fifteen skiffs were competing. The St Ayles Skiff boat kit has been designed by Jordan Boats since 2003.The kit design has been thought through from the outset to produce a beautiful and comparatively easy boat that can be built by people with little experience of boat building. The tools required are those found in most keen DIYers toolbox. It is, however, not a model kit that can be built in a few hours but would take four or five people, five or six months to build in their spare time.
After getting a little lost we found the sailing club at Loch Venachar where Julie excelled herself in managing to park the mini bus making endless manoeuvres to fit it in a space more suited for a bubble car.
Out we got to admire our location. Loch Venachar is a freshwater loch. It lies approximately 82 metres above sea level , is 6 kilometres long with a maximum depth of approximately 33 metres. The south shore is covered by woodland containing numerous forest tracks some leading over the hills to the Lake of Menteith. The loch is well stocked with trout and pike. The weather was smiling upon us as was Bob.
He was so pleased being by the loch to watch the racing but there was more to come. We were on the shore watching a boat come in when Bob saw that one of the crew members was Euan whose practice Faulds Gibson and Kennedy merged with us in June 2007 and he used to be a consultant with Mitchells Roberton. Our trip to Loch Venachar was not as random as it may have first seemed. So a trip on the rowing boat Skelpie was quickly arranged. Bob, Morag, Julie and Margaret were to take part. I am not a water baby so I waited on terra firma. Sprightly Bob enthusiastically took up his oar and off they went ,returning a good while later exhilarated and surprisingly fresh.
Hot drinks and burgers were the order of the day. We then watched some more races. Sadly the Skelpie crew were not to win. The atmosphere in the Sailing Club was most welcoming. It seemed that the emphasis in the racing was to encourage newcomers and developing rowers to come along by providing open categories that anyone could take part in. Newer clubs could view this as an accessible event but still more experienced rowers were able to race competitively. By about 3.00 pm we were all cold and ready for some more and hot food. It had also started to rain.
Having said our goodbyes and by another amazing display of Jackie Stewart driving from Julie off we went to Aberfoyle for food which was delicious.
Then home in time for X factor. The day was for Bob, but we all loved it and were happy he had a birthday we could share in. Roll on next year.