Our First Anniversary

6

AUGUST, 2017

Has it really been a year since we both said “I do”? Wow! Where’s that gone?!

Pretty much the day after we got married we’d already started to plan what we were going to do to celebrate our first anniversary, and there was absolutely no way this wasn’t going to involve visiting Scotland and, more importantly, some time at Ross Priory!

When Shelli contacted Ross Priory about staying there – in the bridal suite (Inchcailloch) of course – with the intention of staying there over our anniversary and then into/over the following weekend, we were a little bit disappointed to find out that someone was having a wedding that weekend so that wouldn’t be possible. How dare they! Ross Priory is ours I tell ya, ours!

Anyway, Shelli booked us in for a couple of nights, meaning we’d at least be spending our anniversary there, and then we – actually she – started to look for somewhere else for us to spend the rest of our time there. This would have to be somewhere with enough room for us, Steve and Jill, and Nathan and Nikki, who we’d spoken to straight after the wedding about joining us to help us celebrate our anniversary.

Shelli found Lomond Castle self catering apartments and a booking was placed. All we had to do then was wait for our anniversary to come round.

Surprisingly, after hitting 2017 our trip up to Scotland came round ridiculously quickly, and before we knew it we were hitting the road after work the day before our anniversary, heading to Dumfries for the night. Leaving after work there was no way we’d make it all the way to Loch Lomond, and although Steve and Jill would have put us up we didn’t want to intrude for a few hours while we slept, and the fact that we’d be hitting Scotland pretty late. So, Premier Inn Dumfries it was.

We had a pretty decent drive up, getting from home to Dumfries in 5 hours, with one pit stop on the way. I’d already checked us in online that morning so all we had to do was pick up our key, find the room – which was a million miles away from the hotel entrance! – and settle in for the night.

By the time we’d unloaded the car it was gone midnight so, with a can of cider in hand, we gave each other our cards, and Shelli gave me a present, even though we’d agreed not to give presents. That said, I’d already given her my present (more of the Terry Pratchett collection I’m buying her) at home before we left so I guess I didn’t have a leg to stand on when it came to complaining did I? The present? A book she’d put together called “I Love You Because…”. Each page has a little doodle of the two of us depicting the sentiment. It’s awesome and I’ve looked through it a number of times now; it always puts a smile on my face!

As it was now late, we settled down and got some sleep.

Day 1

We didn’t have to be out of our room until midday, which was good after the long drive and late night the night before. We couldn’t check in at Ross Priory until 3pm so we weren’t in a rush to get up.

Slowly getting ourselves up and ready we left around 11am (I think it was anyway), stopped at the garage over the road to fill up the car – Shelli got a coffee and a muffin for her breakfast; I’d eaten a couple of pork pies washed down with some Coke for mine – and hit the road to Loch Lomond.

The sat nav told us to go up the A701 to the A74(m) and this was a nice drive to start the day. It was lovely seeing the Scottish scenery again, it having been dark the night before.

It was an uneventful drive up and through Glasgow and it wasn’t too much longer before we pulled into the car park at Loch Lomond Shores, where we planned on having a look round the shops and getting something to eat before going to Ross Priory.

A couple of hours were killed shopping and eating and we got to Ross Priory pretty much bang on time to check in. It was so good to be back, especially as the staff remembered us from last year. I say remembered us, they seemed to remember me!? Make of that what you will.

Having had rain on our wedding day it made us smile when the rain started as we were unloading the car. The weather was an almost carbon copy of our wedding day which certainly added to the atmosphere of the day.

After sorting our bags out we opened cards and presents from mum, dad, Asri and Eleni. Thank you so much! It was lovely putting the cards up, and we were definitely looking forward to using the champagne flutes with the bottle we’d been given!

So with the rain coming down we went to the bar and had a few drinks before going to the room and getting ready for dinner.

Showered, dolled up (dress for Shelli and suit trousers, shirt, cuff links and tie I’d worn the year before – yes, I had my wedding pants on too!) we went back to the bar and deliberated over the evening’s menu.

The food was delicious, and boy were we full up by the end of the final course! I think my decision to have the cheese board may have been the wrong one, but it was oh so nice!

Shelli had a coffee in the bar area and I had another drink before we headed to our room after what felt like a long couple of days. Back in our room we cracked open a bottle of champagne – this one from Shelli’s 40th Birthday – and polished off a couple of glasses before hitting our bed.

Both of us agreed that it had been a fantastic wedding anniversary, reminding us exactly why we’d chosen Ross Priory as our wedding venue: the building, the staff, and the food are the best!

Day 2

After a wet day the day before, we awoke to an all together different Loch Lomond. The sky was blue and the sun was breaking its way through the clouds. We were both hopeful that the better weather would hold as Ross (our wedding photographer) was coming up to see us to take some photos and to have lunch with us.

Showered and dressed we headed up for breakfast around 9am. I had the full Scottish breakfast (was it ever going to be anything else?) and Shelli had scrambled eggs if I remember correctly. A lovely breakfast for sure and it set us both up nicely for a walk round the grounds before Ross arrived.

Although the rain had stopped, the grounds were still very wet and waterlogged. It was nice to be out and taking in the beautiful Ross Priory grounds again though, snapping away with our cameras.

Ross arrived and after a little chat we headed out to the gardens again and he did his magic while we posed and laughed, and laughed. I’ll say it again; for someone who normally hates being on the other side of the camera, Ross really does make it so easy to relax and have fun while he snaps away. Okay, this sometimes ends up playing some games – which normally end up taking a bit of a rude twist – but it was all good fun and my cheeks were aching by the end of our little photo shoot from smiling so much.

As we were finishing off Steve and Jill arrived. They were staying the night as a little treat for themselves, and so that we could spend a little time together, just the four of us.

Once they’d unpacked their car, with their rather bright pink suitcase, we went to the bar for a drink and to have some lunch and a good old chin-wag.

All too quickly Ross had to leave and whilst saying our goodbyes we all agreed a visit to Glasgow some time soon for drinks and another catch up was definitely in order.

Steve, Jill, Shelli and I headed back out to the gardens for a stroll. Unbeknownst to Jill, Steve had contacted us before our trip up to make sure we’d have our cameras with us (like we wouldn’t have?!) as he’d bought Jill an engagement ring and was going to give it to her that afternoon.

We walked and talked, and when we got to the walled garden we got the two of them to pose – Jill still completely unaware of what was about to happen – and after taking their photo Steve got down on one knee and gave Jill the ring! To say she was surprised would be an understatement!

Now, just to clarify here, Steve and Jill are already married. Unfortunately, Steve hadn’t had the money at the time they got engaged to get Jill the ring he wanted to give to her, something he was now more than making up for.

They hugged and smiled, all the while Shelli and I snapped away with our cameras. Such a great moment! Obviously, we were in “trouble” for helping Steve keep this secret, but it was so worth it!

We carried out round the gardens and went to the bar for a celebratory drink…or two.

Dinner was another dressed up affair, with the four of us looking really rather swish, even if I do say so myself. On the menu was the exact same chicken dish we’d had at our wedding so there was no way I wasn’t going to have that! Why couldn’t it have been on the menu the night before? That would have been the icing on the cake for our wedding anniversary, but, a day late wasn’t anything to grumble about, and anyway, it was pretty damn lucky it was on the menu at all if you ask me.

We ate, drank, and chatted, and all four of us came away completely stuffed again having devoured another delicious meal.

A quick change later (I didn’t bother) and we headed down to the loch side to enjoy the sun going down and views of Ross Priory – and Steve! – all lit up.

Another awesome day!

Day 3

Breakfast was pretty much a replay of the day before, and all too soon we were packing our bags and loading up the car, ready to check out and head off to our weekend abode.

It had been amazing to be back at Ross Priory and we can’t commend the staff, food, everything, enough! Thank you for making our anniversary so special.

We had a while before we needed to be at the airport to pick up Nathan and Nikki so we popped to the Co-op in Balloch to pick up supplies for the weekend (food and beer mainly), and then back to Loch Lomond Shores for a stroll and a coffee before heading up the road to check into our dwellings for the next couple of days.

Checked in, cars unloaded and bags unpacked, Steve and I drove to the airport to pick up Nathan and Nikki.

Their flight was only a few minutes late and it wasn’t long after we’d parked up that they came through arrivals and we were driving back to Loch Lomond, chatting all the way.

When we got back the drinking began and after some dinner (pizza) the drinking game and shot glasses Asri and Eleni had bought me for my Birthday came out, and it wasn’t long before we were well and truly lubricated trying to say some really rather ridiculous tongue twisters!

After that, Cards Against Humanity came out and, well, hours were spent laughing, crying, and groaning at the disgusting scenarios that came out as we played into the early hours of the morning.

Such a laugh!

Day 4

After the late night the night before, and not being as young as we used to be, it was a bit of a slow start to the morning to say the least.

A breakfast of bacon sandwiches was cooked (veggie sausages for Shelli) and devoured, which helped with the hangover, and all of us except Nathan who was still in bed, sat outside chatting and enjoying the lovely morning.

Steve and I headed down to the loch shore, and like the nutter he is he waded in. Screw that! I remember how cold the lochs were the year before and there was no way I was getting my feet and legs in there! I was happy enough standing on the shore taking photos thank you.

Once Nathan was up we headed out for a few hours to Helensburgh, a little harbour town we’d had on our list of places to visit the year before, but never managed due to the bad weather we had during our holiday.

We strolled and looked around, taking a local art exhibition, and stopped of for a really tasty lunch at Riverhill Courtyard, a cracking little find down a little alley off of West Princes Street, as we were all beginning to feel a little bit empty by that point.

More supplies were picked up on the way back to the cars and we headed back to chill out. Chill being the operative word as Shelli, Steve, and Nikki all went into the water this time. Mad!

We got a take away for dinner – it was pretty average, and that’s being nice – and we had a quiet chilled out evening. Well, most of us did but Shelli and Jill ended up outside dancing along to the cheesey tunes of the wedding party going on near us; they loved it!

Day 5

Shelli was up before me as I really didn’t want to get up and start the day. Doing that would mean it’d be the end of our wonderful time in Scotland, and time to say goodbye to Steve, Jill, Nathan, and Nikki.

I eventually dragged myself out of bed, went downstairs, and cooked up a load of bacon and veggie sausages for everyone to have for breakfast, just like the day before.

Breakfast done we all got to sorting ourselves out and packing our bags, and all too quickly it was time to lock the place up, say goodbye to Steve and Jill, and head to the airport to drop Nathan and Nikki off for their flight home.

Having left the airport we made our way along the M8 and then the M74, winding our way through Glasgow. It wasn’t long before the tower blocks and business units were gone and we were enjoying the Scottish landscape again as we headed towards the border.

Driving along we both remembered a service station we’d stopped at before that looked over a lake. We couldn’t remember exactly which one it was but we both agreed that stopping there for some lunch would be nice as the view over the lake were so much nicer than the usual carpark view you get at pretty much all other motorway services.

I spotted a sign for Killington Lake services so we stopped there hoping that it was the right place. It was around 1pm by now and we were both ready for something to eat so we took the punt and hoped it was indeed the right one. Thankfully it was and we enjoyed some food and drink looking out over Killington Reservoir through the rain.

Fed, watered, and rested, we hit the road again making really good time all the way down to the M40, hitting the only really bad bit of traffic as we passed the Oxford turn-off.

Through the traffic we made our way home, arriving around 6:40pm, giving us plenty of time to get some dinner and chill out, and to spend some time with mum and dad before they hit the road home.

An awesome few days away! Thanks to mum and dad for looking after the zoo and doing all of the hard work while we were away. Thanks to Steve, Jill, Nathan, and Nikki for making the weekend so much fun.

Roll on our second anniversary!