It all went rapidly downhill after Christmas!


On Boxing-Day, the grey and dismal skies of Rouen precipitated us to ditch camp in search of new adventures; and so it was that we made a last minute decision to go skiing. ‘Husband à l’etranger’ may be experienced, but for the rest of us this was our first time on the slopes.

We set off for Les Diablerets in Switzerland in the early afternoon after lengthy attempts to reduce luggage to a minimum and squeeze all six of us in the car. Early into the journey it was blatently obvious that we wouldn’t make our ETA of 6pm and the closure of the Swiss post office who were holding  the key for the chalet apartment. Like all small villages though, a general spirit of ‘can do’ meant that the person behind the voice on the phone was happy to drop off the key at the restaurant next door to the post office, and when we finally arrived late in the evening we were more than happy not to be sleeping ‘knees under chin’ in the car!


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The following morning after a quick fit-out of skis, we took ourselves to the nursery slopes for our first lesson.

WELL! It didn’t take long to see who had had the ice-skating lessons, and who was the ‘old dog’…

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On day one I mastered the teleski without ripping my arm out of its socket. I quite liked being referred to as ‘La dame en Blanche’ (The woman in White) by the teleski attendant. It had a nice sound to it. However, I began to wonder if the  name referred to the Wilkie Collins character and might have been more reference to my slightly psycotic attempts to mow down, on several occasions, my ski instructor. Didn’t the Collins’s ‘Woman in White’ come from a mental asylum?

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On days three and four, I ‘took out’ my ski-instructor, and it wasn’t for a drink! Paralysed by fear at the top of a spectacularly steep slope, our instructor told us the story of the day he fell, lost his ski, and hurtled down a stope backwards, before wrapping himself around a fence at the bottom. It took him three seconds to realise he was paralysed, he said. It wasn’t an encouraging story for an ‘old dog’ that hadn’t mastered turning, let alone stopping, even when facing forwards.  Apparently, after three years in a wheel chair, he taught himself to walk again, and then to ski. Perhaps the moral of the story is that there is hope when you have carreered into the only obstacle on the horizon, rather than – ‘this is what can happen if you don’t learn to stop!’ Nevertheless my skis did appear to have taken on the mantle of target seeking missiles.

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The end of day four saw me finally getting my skis under control. I finally mastered a slalom descent of about twelve turns, culminating in a controled stop right beside the teleski. Sadly the teleski attendant had gone off for a coffee and missed my great achievement.

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So having gone very rapidly downhill several times after christmas, I left the mountain in an upbeat mood, ready to book for next time.

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Did I tell you about the euphoria of ‘l’aprés ski’? Mulled wine on a snowy mountain top, and cheese fondu in front of a roaring log fire and warm glowing faces……

That’s for another day!

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7 comments on “It all went rapidly downhill after Christmas!

  1. You see, that’s why I don’t ski. I’ve heard enough bad things about skiing and coming back with torn ligaments and broken legs. Thank God you’re back with all limbs in tact, especially that arm that kept getting hooked in the tele ski. All in all you and your family had a great time and that’s all that counts. Now back to the old school thing. Happy New Year!! 😀

    • The trouble with being ‘a bit older’ is thinking of consequences (hasard of being a mother i suppose) – however, occasional bursts of terror aside – I really enjoyed it and would definitely do it again. My kids adored it, but then they didn’t have to fight any demons before they lurched of the side of the mountain! Happy new year to you too!

      • Hasards like breaking a leg not just being a mother. Ce’st normal. Statistically lots of people come back with injuries from skiing. I’m glad you are all fine and had a great time.

  2. I’ve been skiiing once for a weekend in Aviemore and spent the best part of two days on my behind. I was no better by the end of the second afternoon, my posterior was merely even colder, even damper. Not surprisingly I decided skiing wasn’t for me.

    • My daughter explained things better than the instructor and had definitely benefitted from ice skating. Needless to say, my instructors stories did not help the process but although slow and tentative all my kids were very encouraging. I was no better by the third afternoon but being taken up to the long gentle slopes on the forth day at the top of the mountain saw a breakthrough. Come with me next time and we can be bad together!

  3. amelie88 says:

    We also went skiing in Vermont this past week at a mountain called Okemo. I didn’t take any pictures of the mountain because the temperatures were below freezing and there was a lot of wind on the slopes, so it stayed in my pocket!

    My sister and I HATED skiing when we first tried to learn with a ski school. My sister cried so hard, she cried herself to sleep in one of the arms of the ski instructors! After that, my father decided he would teach us ourselves–best decision ever! We loved skiing once he taught us and I am by no means the world’s best skiier–I stick to green and blue trails (we have no “red” trails in the US). I have to say though my mother, who learned later in life, is the perennial beginner and goes very slow. The earlier you learn to ski in life, the easier it is to catch on.

    Looks like you guys had fun! It is my dream to one day go skiing in Europe.

  4. Glad you had fun on the slopes! I am also a novice adult skier, although I have ice skated a lot, which really does seem to help with the balance. Both my kids have also skated tons and took to skiing like the proverbial duck to water. We are going again this year & I can’t wait for those gorgeous mountain views, crisp high altitude air and the thrill of skiing down (very gentle!) slopes.

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