Not to have a New Year's resolution....
Which as it is in itself a resolution, meant that I immediately broke it as soon as I made it. Doh! Less than a nano second, is that a record for breaking a resolution?
No problems with the taxi driver failing to arrive this time. No strip searches at the airport (OK, that's not happened in the past either but as this is BlackLOG it is surely just a question of time), although I did manage to fox the Stansted Airport security system. Having to take my boots and belt off for the security check, I put my belt into one of my boots, which looked a bit odd on the security scanner. It would not have been too difficult to work out except while they continued to look at the item on the scanner they insisted on examining my nephews' boots which popped out of the system ahead of mine and which did not contain a belt.
Do they do this sort of thing to entertain us?
It was about five minutes before the security team twigged that the boot on screen i.e. the one still in the machine was not the one they were holding in their sweaty little paws ..
Apart from being ridiculously expensive (ie £11 for two hot chocolates. I thought we were buying a drink not making a offer for the bar), Val d'Isere was great. We had an entertaining mix of people in our chalet :-
- A couple from London: Bridget and Rowan - Rowan was the life and soul - a great orator, which was almost enough to forgive him for being a snow border. Bridget was also good value as long as you didn't want to converse with her after 8:30pm, which was bed time.(She likes her sleep) - New Year was going to be a very interesting challenge for her.
Hull Boy III had some two way radios and while on a chairlift picked up a message between an unknown husband and wife:
unknown husband :- "Where are you now? Over"
unknown wife :- "On the blue run above the last chair lift we took."
unknown husband :- "Go left at the bottom and I'll meet you at the restaurant, Over."
unknown wife :- "OK"
Hull Boy III :- "Change of plan, go right, go right, meet at the lift."
unknown wife :- "OK, will go right."
A little while later they overheard:
unknown wife :- Sounding a bit frantic "Where are you?"
unknown husband :- "I'm in the restaurant, where are you? "
unknown wife :- "I'm at the chairlift."
unknown husband :- "I told you to go left."
unknown wife :- "No, you told me to go right."
unknown husband :- "I clearly told you left....."
Lets hope that got resolved quickly otherwise sod left or right they were straight towards divorce....
Skiing down on New Year's day in just Day Glow underpants. I'm guessing they were still very drunk and since they had already purchased the underpants and built up the idea that they were going to ski on New Year's day in just their pants they were duty bound to do it. They had the chalet entourage with them, with me as official photographer and the rest of the group acting as clothes carriers and chief encouragers....I'm not sure if this was good or not for Hull Boy III but from the moment that they started to strip off the clouds cleared and the sun came out giving everyone watching a clear view. Magically as they stopped and started to get dressed the clouds moved back in.
- There was also an Australian family, very quiet and nice but seemed to exist in a parallel universe. I don't think they ever got over their jet lag.
- The Chalet girls - Natalie &Tessa were great and did a marvellous job knocking together breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner and would have got 10 out of 10 if they hadn't had a refusal at almost the last fence when they didn't quite make it for New Year's breakfast and were a bit subdued for the rest of the day - I'm not sure it was such a good idea for them to go to bed for "just an hour" when they got in at 6am....
The Australian family crashed and burned hours before midnight(I guess they can use the excuse that they were celebrating in a different time zone).
Bridget lasted till around 11pm which was a fantastic effort with her holiday track record.
My sister fell 20 minutes short - pretty poor show big sis
Hull Boy III were out till about 4am, so not as impressive as Natalie and Tessa although they impressively dragged themselves up in time for what turned out to be a non-breakfast. They faded fast though and had to go back to bed in order to summon enough strength to make the pants run.
Leaving Mrs B, Alex our 12 year old nephew, Rowan and myself playing cards till about 12.15 - not very hard core but at least we made it.
We could not ask for better snow, visibility was another thing though however. Most of the week was spent in a state of near blindness. I was getting quite adept at using my feet to get me down, going with the roll and bumps of the slopes..... Almost like a form of Jedi "use the force" style skiing. I got so good I think I got a bit cocky and on the last day I managed to use my new found powers to ski off a 20ft drop. One minute I was skiing along happily on what looked like flat safe snow, the next I found my self dropping at high velocity and with no attachment to any snow. I did not have enough time to think anything other than:
This is not right!
Why is the ground now rushing towards me?
In case any of you are optimistically(And I would also like to add very supportively of you) harboring thoughts that I managed to back flip spin 4 times and make a stylish landing
it was a full face plant in lots of soft snow - I was fairly confident that I was not going to die as my life did not flash before me, either that or my life is so dull I didn't notice it.....
I had found a nice little ravine - In the circumstances I count myself lucky that I got away with being just winded, having a slightly sore right shoulder (I had the beast in my rucksack, the weight of which probably accounts for my acceleration and my GPS registering 80mph - my true record is 64mph but that was on a good slope with good visibility) and a bit of bruising on my right ankle and much more bruising to my ego and almost forgot broke an arm.....off of my Sunglasses .
Up to that point I had managed a couple of tired sit downs, which hardly count as falls at all, in the entire week. I put these down to burning out my legs on the second day. I'm not sure what happens but whenever I ski with a guide something primeval kicks in and I become like a dog chasing a car down the street. I find myself skiing out of my skin and way beyond my ability in order to keep up. This generally drives the guide to go faster to throw the idiot off, which in turn encourages me to go faster to keep up (This is how speed record and or bones are broken). The result, after any reasonably length tour, is that my legs can hardly move fore the next few days.
Mrs B whacks me across the nose with a rolled up newspaper and tells me I'm a bad boy but I still don't seem to learn ....
Leaving lots of snow only to come home to lots of snow
No sooner had we returned from the most snow we have ever seen in Europe than the snow returned to Bishops Stortford and, for once, stayed. I had not appreciated before the different snow we usually get in southern Britain. Normally it's so wet, that even if it does settle, within a few hours it has turned to horrible slush. With a much colder snap than usual the snow has been much crisper, much prettier but like an unwelcome guest has stayed around eating all the leftovers and helping themselves to a liberal use of the heating system - Please note not the wood-burning stove though, as that saga drags on. Our fitter has fled to Australia for the rest of the winter. I spoke to the firm, who we laughingly contracted to install the stove in time for Christmas, who asked me if I wanted to wait for his return (What when the cold weather is over) or use one of their other fitters? Let's think this through, do we want to wait for a month for the fitter who managed to install the wrong appliance or give someone else a crack at messing things up...?
Many thanks to Craig who came to our rescue and brought his Mercedes tank around to take the old Sofa and chairs to the dump. Despite it being a huge vehicle it still took a number of trips to clear the garage. Mrs B had visions of the Sofa and chairs being snapped up by desperate individuals hanging around the tip looking for a half decent sofa. This vision came to nothing - it went straight into the crusher and, within seconds, eight years of good service was rewarded with a ripping and shredding noise that sounded like the death screams of the poor thing. I was sad to see that amongst the wood and foam interior there was a fair bit of cardboard that made up way too much of our old pride and joy for my liking....
This finally allowed us to put Mrs B's station run car into the garage just in time for the snow to start clearing away. This concludes the Sofa Saga apart from the small question of the wrong feet that came with the new sofa. Mrs B had ordered the chrome finish feet, at extra cost, so I guess it should be no surprise that the new sofa arrived with the wood finish feet.
Will we never learn?
Needless to say a number of phone calls have already been made and it will no doubt take a number more before this gets rectified.
Wild Life photography exhibition
We visited the Natural History Museum this weekend to see the Wild Life photography of the year exhibition. I found myself inspired and intimidated in equal measures. Having an interest in photography I was fascinated to read what camera, lens and settings the photographers used to capture the shots.
While reading how long some people took to get a particular shot I realised that I would never have the patience. As I have said before I'm a snapper looking for opportunities of the moment rather than setting up for that killer shot.
"After 3 months of staking out the bird bath at the bottom of my garden a bear came along and ripped my leg off. But it was worth it to get this rather impressive picture of the pigeon's expression of shock just before the bear attacked me."
My attempts at a similar venture failed after McG (currently an even fatter cat and enjoying his new nickname Mr Hovis) snuck out of the house and ate the bread (for those not in the UK the brand of bread we used was Hovis) that Mrs B had put out to lure the bears - not that there have been any reports of bears in the Bishops Stortford area for at least three thousand years, so perhaps I got it wrong and it was to feed the birds.
The closest I came to properly setting up a photo shot was while skiing. We had passed my sister's ski class and so decided to wait at the bottom of the slope to capture her in full flow (please note the analogy is to-do with the actual waiting to take a shot rather than the actual wildness of my sister). Half an hour later her group finally appeared over the ridge, working their way slowly from side to side as the instructor sent them across the slope one at a time. It was as if her instructor knew that I was waiting.
My reward for this waiting and risking the wrath of Mrs B (she had gone off to get a warm drink and found out that I had all the money on me) was for one of the members of my sister's class to ski right in front of her for the entire length of the slope, thus obliterating my carefully crafted shot of her....Arrrrrgggghhhh
Catch you next week - I'll leave you with some snaps to enjoy