Its not every day you get to wake up in one of the worlds most prestigious hotels.
I was lucky enough to spend 3 nights in the infamous Gleneagles Hotel situated in Scotland, former host to the Ryder Cup and G8 Summit, but unfortunately it wasn't just for pleasure as I was there to take part in a 3 day conference.
Ill be honest, I found the idea of staying in a suite that could have potentially once been occupied by Tony Blair, Tiger Woods or even Putin rather humorous, but that was the situation I found myself in.
The hotel has a reputation of exuding pure opulence, and it doesnt disappoint. If thats the sort of thing youre in to of course.
Dont get me wrong I am partial to the odd Michelin Star restaurant from time to time, but for me, it was missing something, Mountains.
The best thing about having a group of friends that are as nuts as myself, is that when I say hey Lads, im going to Scotland next week for work, fancy a trip to the Cairngorms, is that they reply of course before even thinking about it. And that is what we did...
After a night of tuxedo wearing, fine dining and drinking (excessively), I returned to my room (suite, but who's counting) to pack my rucksack ready 3 days and 2 nights of winter mountaineering in the hills.
After finishing work themselves, the gang jumped in their car from Liverpool and met me in Glasgow before we all travelled up to the Cairngorms together.
Friday evening was an experience in its self, unfortunately the synoptic charts failed us, and the wind was blowing in excess of 60mph. It was already midnight by this point and we made the decision to find a sheltered forest area and set up camp for the night.
Thankfully Saturday morning was an absolute delight, we woke to the first sight of the surrounding snow covered mountains, and that is where we were heading. Never underestimate how physically demanding walking in full winter conditions can be, but nevertheless we summited several pikes including Ben Macdui.
It is in winter conditions that your skill set is rigorously tested, you lose the convenience of having visual reference points and at times are relying solely on the accuracy of your bearing and the accumulating seconds on your watch.
The highlight of my weekend was after a night of wild camping in the snow under The Great Slab, was waking to the sunrise that dreams are made of for any photography enthusiast. But that is what makes what we do so special, had we not have endured the 6 hour drive, the 12 hours strenuous hiking, the cold, the bad nights sleep, we would not have never experienced what we did that morning. I am a firm believer that in life hard work brings with it rewards, for some that might present its self in the way money, but for me, there is nothing better than mother nature rewarding you with a sunrise in the mountains, not experienced by those who chose to sleep in instead.
So yeah, in the space of a day I went from Tuxedo, to Tent.