Do you have a picture of the perfect summer? Does it involve golden beaches and silky-smooth ice cream? Sailing on the serene waters of Scotland’s lochs or sightseeing in the city? Whatever your ideal, when the sun starts to shine, an army of workers leaps into gear.

Meet the people who make summer happen.

Debbie Whyte, steamship skipper

WHEN her male colleagues on the SS Sir Walter Scott suggested she try for her ‘ticket’ – the qualification which would allow her to become a skipper – Debbie Whyte laughed out loud.

“I was quite young – and I was a woman,” she says. “I’d never seen a woman do this job, so it had really never occurred to me. Like so many professions, if girls don’t see other girls doing them, they don’t feel encouraged to go for them.”

Whyte, 31, adds with a wry laugh: “There’s the old superstition, too, that women are bad luck on boats, so perhaps that put people off too.”

Whyte is one of only a few female skippers in Scotland, ferrying tourists, cyclists, ramblers and locals alike aboard the historic 118-year-old steamship Sir Walter Scott, up and down the serene waters of Loch Katrine in the Trossachs.

The ship was built in Dumbarton by William Denny and Brothers, before completing sea trials to Arran, and it is still powered by its original Matthew Paul triple expansion engine which passengers can view through its open covers on the voyage.

It is the last of its kind in regular passenger service in Scotland, and while the romance of its heritage and location is not lost on Whyte, she is quick to acknowledge the responsibility of being at the helm.

“It’s a challenging job,” she says. “You’re always aware of what’s going on around you, what could go wrong, the weather… My head is very busy all the time.”

Whyte fell in love with Loch Katrine when she got a summer job at Trossachs Pier while she was at school.

“We moved from Clydebank to Stronachlachar when I was five, which was a bit of a change,” she recalls. “Life was very different, but I loved it.

“When I left school, I got a summer job in the bar on the boat and I liked it so much, I wanted to stay. Getting my ticket was hard work – I spent three years training, going through all the courses, from first aid to firefighting, but I was determined. Once the idea was in my head that I could be skipper, nothing was stopping me.”

Whyte spent a year in New Zealand, as skipper of the TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu, before returning to Scotland. “It was stunning,” she says. “A lot like Scotland, without the bad weather and the midges.

“I love being on the boat – you get to meet so many different people, from all over the world – we get a lot of tourists from China, France and America.

“I’m the tour guide too, so I do the live commentary about local history. My favourite stories are the ones about Rob Roy MacGregor, or the story of the submerged island that was used as a whisky still, although they pretended it was making goat’s milk.”

She says: “When you are out on the water, watching the scenery and the changing weather, even if it’s wild and the wind is in your face, this job beats being in any office, any day.”

Micki and John Henderson, ice-cream makers

Ice-cream and summer go hand in hand. It is the sweet treat which makes you think of seaside and sun. It’s a taste of childhood in a cone, nostalgia in a (single) nougat.

Micki and John Henderson, former chef and fourth-generation farmer respectively, turned their hand to ice-cream 13 years ago.

“My family has been farming here since 1880,” explains John, 51, on a stroll around Meikle Dripps farm on the south side of Glasgow. “But dairy farmers have had a tough time in recent years. We knew we had to diversify.

“We decided to start making ice-cream in 2005. We saw an ad about a Dutch ice-cream company which had produced a machine especially for farms, went out to Holland to test it out, and that was that.”

Thorntonhall Ice Cream has been steadily building up a fine reputation. Ask Micki, 45, who is originally from Zimbabwe, what she puts into her ice-cream to make it so delicious and she is quick to answer.

“It’s more about what we leave out,” she says. “We didn’t want to make cheap rubbish, we just wanted to make a natural, fresh, luxury product. We don’t add chemicals or air.

“We blend fresh milk from the morning's milking with natural ingredients and there are no artificial colours, stabilisers or emulsifiers. It’s why our mint chocolate chip is white.”

Word has spread, and John and Micki’s ice-cream is in demand at food fairs, festivals and gala days. It is on the menu in some of Glasgow’s best restaurants too, including John Quigley’s Red Onion, Crabshakk, Gamba and Ox and Finch. The couple sell from the farm, but only when they are not too busy.

“We make it plain that we are open when we are in and closed when we are out,” says Micki. “There’s just the two of us, so it is a lot of hard work, especially during the kind of hot sunny weather we have just had.”

As well as perennial favourites like strawberry and mint choc chip, Micki dabbles in more exotic flavours, such as mascarpone and garlic ice cream, and savoury sorbets.

“The bloody mary sorbet is popular, and some of the restaurants use the savoury ones in salads as dressings, for example, or in cocktails,” she explains. “We did a beer ice cream for the West Brewery. I like the fact they are prepared to experiment. It’s fun.”

Lisa Monteith, surf instructor

Lisa Monteith taught herself to surf after an activity week in a school holiday programme. “There were not too many opportunities to surf in my home town in Ireland,” she says. “I’m from Enniskillen, so I had to travel to the west coast, to Rossnowlagh Beach, to learn.

“It’s not like football or rugby, where you find opportunities to get involved all over the place. It’s just not that common, even in the coastal towns. But I had fallen in love with it so I was determined to find a way.”

Monteith moved to Scotland to study, helping set up a surf club at Edinburgh Napier University. She is now an instructor and office manager with Coast to Coast Surf School, at Belhaven Bay in East Lothian.

The school was set up in 2004, as a mobile surf school with the simple aim of offering “a good surf lesson on the best beginner beaches.”

It has grown into a respected and successful club, employing experienced instructors on both the east and west coasts. Its development programme last year saw six young surfers make the Scottish junior team, while two of the senior staff represented Scotland at the European championships.

“People are shocked when you tell them you can surf in Scotland,” says Monteith. “They have a go at it on holiday, in the heat and sunshine on beautiful beaches around the world, and think that’s it, they won’t have another opportunity to do it until they go on holiday again. They don’t realise that all of that is pretty much what you can get here too.

“The air temperature is cooler, certainly, but the water temperature really isn’t that different, especially once you get the wetsuit on.”

She adds: “And the beauty of surfing in Scotland is that it’s stunning, and empty. The beaches in Spain and Portugal are crowded. Here, you have plenty of space to enjoy it and the beaches are cleaner.

“Scottish people are much more concerned about the environment too – they’re more likely to pick up plastic washed up on the beach.

“As surfers, we see the impact of pollution in the oceans close up. Because we are on the beaches all the time, we see the changes happening right in front of us and it is worrying.”

As a surf instructor, Monteith welcomes tourists and locals to the courses run by the company over the summer.

“During the Edinburgh Fringe, we get loads of people coming down,” she says. “It’s great to see people grow in confidence. At first, you can see the fear, even of putting on a wetsuit for the first time. It takes a bit of getting used to. Then the adrenalin kicks in. It’s fun. I always get flashbacks to the first time I did it.”

Monteith recently qualified as an International Surfing Association judge, so she travels all over Europe to competitions. She teaches full time from April to October, before heading off to catch some waves in her own time.

“I try to make the time to surf myself when I’m working, but it’s not always possible,” she says. “It’s nice to head off when the season is over, and to be able to work on your own craft.”

Brogan Torry, vintage bus tour guide

The tales trip off Brogan Torry’s tongue. Stories of gory history, links to Harry Potter and the odd merry passenger, all punctuated with her infectious giggle and matter-of-fact delivery, have made her a hit with customers of the Red Bus Bistro, Edinburgh’s newest bus tour-with-a-twist.

The 17-year-old from Musselburgh is a natural. “I love my job,” she says. “I joined the staff a week after I left school. I had a part time job serving teas in a local care home before that.

“We do everything – make the sandwiches, serve the teas, clean the bus afterwards. I do tours in Edinburgh and Glasgow, taking in all the famous landmarks, and it’s really improved my local knowledge.”

Red Bus Bistro, which combines luxury dining with heritage and history, was dreamt up by Alison Simpson, during her former career as part of an airline cabin crew.

On her days off in the Cayman Islands, she joined her colleagues on a vintage bus which had been turned into a restaurant. The idea to do something similar back home stayed in her head, and after her son went to high school, she decided to make a business out of it.

After tracking down an elegant 1966 Routemaster she and her husband Stuart set about transforming it into a Scottish-themed bistro. A second bus followed, and the company now runs tours, including Gourmet Burger and Gin Afternoon Tea experiences, in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Torry says: “People definitely drink a bit more in Glasgow. At Christmas time, some women took the mic off me and started singing, but it was all in good spirits. Everyone is lovely, usually, and we get some real characters.”

She says: “I used to be really shy, but once I started here, I came out of my bubble and that was that. This job has really changed me. It helped me find my voice.”