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So, did you see Nessie? Amy's experience at the TLD Highlands Retreat

So, did you see her?

Confused? Let me explain. I’m currently sitting outside in the sun looking at bunnies in Loch Ness. And you aren’t and wont be the only person asking whether I saw Nessie while I was here. Right here, right now I am going to tell you the truth, and also tell you a bit about this amazing trip we have been on for the last 3 days.

Honesty time…

Yes, I did. In many many forms, she stares out at you from every shop window, on tea towels, books, hats, postcards, and placemats, she comes in glass, ceramic, plastic and wood. Not only all of that, but she also has stuffed toys modelled after her, some are bright green, some have legs, some don’t (I prefer these, far more realistic), some have tartan hats on.
I even saw a pink one.
She comes in different shapes and sizes, and she is magnificent.
Did I actually see her in the Loch? No. But I felt like she definitely was there, swimming around in the black peaty water, waiting to come up again and show the world her beauty. The last sighting of Nessie in June 2011 and was spotted by a local couple. The first recorded sighting was by a Mr Peter O’ Connor on the 24th of May 1960 – so she’s a pretty old gal. I don’t blame her from not coming up too often.

Enough about Nessie

Other than praying for a sighting we got up to lots of fun and games, and some serious dreaming and scheming of ways to make Top Left Design even more awesome.
Just one of the many beautiful views at the #TLDRetreat

My breakdown of the trip

On Thursday we were up at 5am to be at Luton for our 9:30am flight. We arrived in Inverness, picked up our 2 hire cars and headed off to Fort Augustus where we would be staying in the extremely beautiful and history rich Highland Club. If I can recommend a place to stay while here it would be at the Highland Club, the land is beautiful and green with manicured shrubs and bunnies galore.
The Monastery is massive and truly a sight.
On the way we stopped at Tesco to pick up our supplies for the dinners which were inspired by the TV show ‘Come Dine With Me’. When we arrived we got right into setting Ground Rules and laying out what we set out to achieve in the 4 days. Then we did the Circle of Trust – which is a secret and staying in the circle, but let’s just say it was emotional. Then it was dinner time which was catered by Tam and Camille, they did a Mexican inspired evening which involved Fajitas, Burritos, and Mexican Mess, there was also a lot of Margaritas, Tequila and Red Wine to wash it all down.

Day 2 – Friday

Friday we were up early for breakfast and discussing how we think TLD could evolve. After that we went canoeing in the canal that runs into the Loch – all I can say is wow and oww, it;s quite an arm workout.
TLD team before canoeing - #TLDRetreat
We then went and did some water aerobics in the beautiful indoor swimming pool and some sweating in the steam room. Then it was Team Building time which was doing a painting on a small canvas showing what TLD means to us – I did a Lotus Flower – delicate, beautiful, always growing, even when we get quiet we always open up again to blossom.
Amy's painting from the painting task at the #TLDRetreat
After that it was time for Elisa and I to cook. We did an Italian inspired menu with Bruschetta for starters, a green vegetable and pesto Tagliatelle dish, and for dessert we did Sortetto which is lemon sorbet with Prosecco poured over it – delish!
We also drowned the team in Prosecco, which I think helped with the voting at the end – cause WE WON!
Elisa and Amy dishing up Come Dine With Me Italian Meal - at the #TLDRetreat
My food for Come Dine With Me - Elisa and Amy's meal

Day 3 – Saturday

Saturday we got up, went for a swim and then went for a truly fantastic ride on the Rib which is basically a big, fast rubber ducky.
Amy at the helm on the #TLDRetreat
We all were given waterproof suits and goggles (thankfully), and we were taken zooming around the Loch.
We all had the best time bouncing around. And our guide was very knowledgeable and super interesting. We then came back to do prepped speeches which we then had to commend each other on, and also give a recommendation on how to better it. Then it was time for Keren and Chris to cook. They did a broccoli, feta and pea salad for starters, then Thai curry for mains and Eton Mess for dessert, along with that we had Singah Beer.

Leaving day – Sunday

And finally we come to today. Which has involved breakfast, a swim and sauna, and writing a blog post about our speech topics or this trip. I chose this trip because I’ve had such a great time I’d scream it from the rooftops. All in all its just been the best 4 days ever, but I have to go pack my bag now, it’s almost airport time. Good bye Loch Ness, another tear may be shed soon.
Thank you
I just wanted to say with my whole heart and soul that this has been one of the best trips I’ve ever been on, there has been so much love and laughter and sharing, and some tears and I think a lot of growth has happened too. So thank you Top Left Design, and to Keren, Tamlyn, Camille, Elisa and Chris and to Nessie and Loch Ness, thank you thank you thank you.
Let’s do it again soon!

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  1. Penelope Senyard

    What a treat to get Amy’s blog – now I know what she was up to. Telephone calls are too short – not enough detail and no photos. I am so glad that Amy had such an enjoyable and fruitful time, I think that she really deserves it and am sure that all the rest of the team too. Keren, thank you very much for organising such a wonderful experience for Amy (and the others) and for being such a great boss in so many ways.
    With love to you all and hope that you all go back to Bonnie Scotland again.