It’s taken me quite a while to get this post together for you (sorry!)…3 months in fact. But as everyone is currently thinking about getting away for some summer sun, I thought I’d be different and tell you about my winter ski trip instead. After all, it might inspire you to book your winter hols early.
We went skiing in March and caught the most beautiful spell of weather in Flaine (situated in The French Alps). It was snowing when we arrived, which made the whole place look rather magical and meant we had a fresh “dump” of snow for the first day of skiing.
First things first, I should give you some background to this trip…
When my hubby and I first started dating, we had a rather fateful snowboarding trip together. Fateful in that it was like something out of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason! He could snowboard and was brought-up living the outdoors life in New Zealand, I on the other hand could not. The most extreme-sports I was used to was extreme-shopping down the Portobello Road.
I made the mistake of thinking it’d be fine, even romantic, for him to teach me to snowboard on our first ever holiday together. I was wrong. Very wrong.
I’d had a couple of lessons back home at the Chill Factore indoor slopes in Manchester and thought I was pretty good. I’d picked it up okay and could go down the slope and come to a stop when I wanted. Surely that was all I needed to know?
Well, fast-forward to my first EVER time on an actual snowy mountain and I was on a baby beginner slope. All was going well. The incline was so shallow that I felt like a pro as I boarded down this tiny slope (which felt like Everest to me at the time) and when the afternoon came to an end, I merrily made my way off the slopes, feeling all proud of myself and even more attractive to my lovely new boyfriend.
So the next day we went up a different mountain. A bigger mountain. A mountain that required us to get a cable car miles up into the sky, leaving me dumped at the top of a powdery white snowy run with no way down but to board. Not a beginners slope at all. I took a gulp and followed the lead of my boyfriend, feeling nervous but pretty excited too. Our plan was to board to the nearest bar and stop for a drink and a spot of lunch before continuing on (the apres ski lifestyle I’d been promised on so many occasions). I could get used to this! Except the bar was shut when we got there and the next one was quite a way away and by now, my legs were aching quite a lot. So off we went, still smiling, but I quickly became tired and my legs began to cramp. I started to fall over every few metres and struggled to get up unassisted. My enthusiasm quickly waned, as did that of my boyfriend, who by this point, was refusing to help me up!
It continued like this for what felt like hours, before I threw a huff and took my board off and started to stomp down the mountainside, board slung over my shoulder. But I was told that I couldn’t get down by walking and instead we’d have to get a ski lift back up the mountain, to be able to board down a different (easier) run, to a train station, so I could get down the mountain without boarding the whole way down. Problem was, I’d never been on a ski lift. So the notion of this was utterly terrifying.
We queued for the lift, by this point it was mid afternoon, we’d been boarding for hours and hadn’t eaten a thing, so I was less than happy. I was nervous about getting on and off this evil-looking moving contraption, with a board strapped to one leg. So nervous that I was beginning to panic. My boyfriend recognised this and reassured me that he’d hold my hand the whole way and help me on and off. Okay, perhaps I could do this after all. Then just as it was our turn to mount the lift and my boyfriend had jumped into his seat and reached out a hand for me, a pushy French skier barged his way between us and next to my boyfriend! I then had no option but to grab onto him so I didn’t get left behind and totally stranded. I couldn’t believe it. The arse! He didn’t even apologise or acknowledge us as he sat there with his smug skier’s face (I’m not bitter). So I sat there with some complete stranger by my side, panicking, as the ski lift climbed higher and higher, not knowing how I’d get off once we reached the top.
I was shouting my panic across Mr Frenchman and was told to just “keep moving” and “whatever you do, don’t stop”. As the end of the lift was in sight and the chairs seemed to drop-off the side of the cliff, I was fully in the midst of a panic attack. Mr Frenchman skied off and left us without so much as an “au revoir” and I made a leap for it, hoping that gravity would push me away from the lift and towards the slope. Oh no, that’s not what happened at all. My snowboard somehow wedged into the snow as I landed and I couldn’t free it in time, so the lift behind us knocked me flat on my face and I was quickly dragged out of the way by a ski instructor.
I cried. Yes, I’m not ashamed to say, I cried. The poor French ski instructor helped me up and offered me a cup of tea, but I just demanded that a skidoo come and pick me up immediately and return me to the safety of the bottom of the mountain. I was quickly told that this wasn’t how things worked up a ski slope.
Exasperated, my boyfriend took my board, told me to walk down the ski run where I’d eventually reach the train station. He’d board all the way down the mountain with my board, pick up the car and drive back up to where the train station ended. This is what we did. I remember being sat there, alone, on the train with no idea where I was or where I was going, feeling utterly depressed. I looked around and everyone was having such a jolly-old-time, everyone else could ski, but I was a failure! I wasn’t made for the slopes.
The train pulled-up at the last stop and my boyfriend was waiting for me, with a look of “let’s not talk about it” emblazoned across his face. Head hanging and confidence well and truly knocked, I followed him to the car and we didn’t talk the whole way home. Needless to say, I didn’t ski/snowboard from that day to this.
Fast forward 4 years and for some reason, I’d agreed to give this skiing malarkey another go and we were on our way to Flaine.
Wow, sorry folks, I hadn’t planned on reliving that story! So I think I’m safer to split this post up into a few separate posts so you don’t lose the will to live!
Part 2, to come shortly!