Monaco is finally over. It has been the trip we have all been waiting for and it exceeded expectations. With the Lab numbers increasing rapidly, we accepted that there would be a few bumps along the way. However, not only did the trip run smoothly from start to finish (thanks to our new office ‘Mom’ Emily), we all got to know each other and unbelievably, like one another even more!
The Road Trip
On Thursday 8th March we met early in the morning to bundle into two large vans and make our way to Monaco. A 7-hour drive is a feat in itself, but the scenery along the way and Spice Girls on the radio ensured the time flew by.
First Night Adventures
The villa was an incredible 15 ‘sleeper’, tucked away in the cliff face. Our first night involved card games, good wine and of course Nicky’s 30th birthday! Tom and Devin however, didn’t have such a smooth first night. Unfortunately Tom was already running late for his dress rehearsal with Plant-for-the-Planet so him and Devin rushed off in one of the huge vans to try and get there in time. Tom was ushered out leaving Devin to park the car. North Carolina country boy wielding a large vehicle…no problem right? Wrong. Devin had never driven a manual. Oh, and he wasn’t technically registered to drive the vans. No biggie.
After about 40 point turns in the middle of a narrow and congested Monaco street, Devin was faced with the Police. He nervously referred back to his high school French to try and explain the situation (bar the missing registration part). Whether they took pity on Devin or just wanted to move him out of the way, they told him to scooch into the passengers seat and drove him to safety. WIN!
Meeting the Prince
Everyone woke up on Saturday 9th to wish Tom good luck before him and Emily went to meet the Prince of Monaco. I should probably add that while Tom and Emily were dressed to the nines, their Uber had to cancel their ride and they hitch-hiked their way there. Classy! The rest of the gang met a similar fate with the final Uber load getting the bus from the roadside to the Grimaldi Forum where the Plant-for-the-Planet conference was being held.
The conference was a total success! We were able to meet with some of the Children and Youth Ambassadors from Plant-for-the-Planet as well as many climate change influencers. We were able to hear inspirational speakers like Felix Finkbeiner, Founder of Plant-for-the-Plane, The Gyalwang Drukpa, Spiritual Head of the Drukpa Lineage and HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, our Tom and many more. The message was clear. While celebrating what has already been done to ensure more trees are planted in countries across the world, more still must be done to try and offset the damage caused by our deforestation and carbon emissions. We have all taken a lot away from the day and look forward to working with Plant-for-the-Planet in the future.
Some of you may or may not remember that Tom and Jean-Francois had a wager going to see who would win at table-tennis ?. The loser would have to put 500CHF down on red in roulette. JF lost but was definitely not a sore loser as we all went, as promised, to the casino to nervously watch the bet. We pretty much screamed the place down when he WON!
While most would stay and continue betting, we’re a lab who know when to stop. So, we took the earnings home and turned our living room into a dance floor. Some people say you can really tell a person from their dance moves. This is a great compliment to some of our team (aka Kialiang)…and a worrying look into the psyche of some of the others. HA!
The Last Day
Our last day consisted of swimming in the sea (yes, the sea!), reading and walking. Emily made a final feast fit for kings and we ended with a few board games. If anyone wants to try playing charades with only facial movements, drop us a message. To round the night off we finished off our final bars of Plant-for-the-Planet chocolate ?and watched The Matrix.
We all had such a great time and cannot get over how so many different characters can meld together so effortlessly. Here is a montage of our weekend together.