* Just one bag currently but The Beast is actively campaigning to bring more luggage on future trips-
Over my dead body says Mrs B, who is claiming that a number of The Beast's additional items somehow managed to make it into her hand luggage – I can only hope she answered honestly the questions at he airport :-
"Did you pack your own bag?"
“Could anyone have interfered with your luggage?”
** Including an air bed***, Christmas presents and the parcel shelf – which would have stayed at home but since the car was being left in the Gatwick short stay car park for a week**** I thought it best to hide the Christmas detritus away from view. The parcel shelf meant that Alex was hidden from view but I figured it was a bit of an adventure for a 13 year old…..besides it goes with my "children" theory that they should not be obscene as well as absurd…..
*** The geography and logistics of Christmas make for some interesting packing requirements
**** “Are you mad?” I hear you say, “A week in short stay will cost you an arm and a leg….” Well yes, ordinarily it would but the airport was doing a "pre-booked" offer, which meant that for £95 (same price as Valet parking and only £10 more than offsite parking, with its delights of taking hours to get back to your car) you get to park right next to the terminal. On the whole it worked well, if you discount the exit machine demanding a further £230 to let us out. A trip to the office to say "W.T.F?" and shaking our parking paid confirmation indignantly at them and we were on our way, with only a short lecture on how to use the system properly next time....
The chalet we stayed in took 14 guests, plus two live-in chalet staff and, although comfortable enough, it was badly designed. Set out over 5 floors, the kitchen was so small that you would struggle to swing a really small flea let alone a full-sized cat. Our two chalet hosts Ryan and Buster did an incredible job preparing and plating the food in such a small space. Although there was enough room around the table for eating, the rest of the main living space only had seating for about 8 people…..At least 4 rooms were not being used and the top floor, I guess the overflow for the main living space was so isolated that it was never used….I won’t even mention the half height area that was suitable for a family of dwarves but little else. It did come equipped with half size table and chairs so I guess when the dwarves aren’t using it and Snow White is out you could stuff small children in there (word of caution, as there was no door, let alone locks, any pesky kids you did stick in there would find it easier to escape from than Ford Open prison)
The main problem with the accommodation was its position. In the brochure, 300 metres from a chair lift does not sound unreasonable. It’s only on the first morning that you discover that the first 100 metres is up an extremely steep and icy road that would have had Haile GebreSelassie wheezing like McG***** after a 2 metre hike…..Coming back was not much better until we discovered, on the second to last day, an off-piste option that took us to within 10 metres of the front door.
***** Our aging but lovable cat, who counts chewing as a major exercise and has dedicated every waking moment of his life in pursuit of perfecting his chosen sport. If the ‘100 metre chew’ or the ‘Triple supper’ had been Olympic sports, McG would have been a gold medallist.
One thing that was noticeable was that they closed the run down to the chair when the chair closed for the evening, which meant a whole heap of trouble if you were coming back late and were not prepared to skip under the security rope. Being adults Mrs B and I happily went under the rope but poor Alex, being only 13 and coming back from a ski lesson on his own ended up being funnelled off in the wrong direction. He compounded his error by getting on the wrong bus and headed down the valley towards a different resort. Fortunately, for once not being hidden under a parcel shelf, he was able to notice the alarming loss of altitude on the journey. He managed to persuade the bus driver to deviate from his course and drop him off at a place he could get a bus back. I can only assume that the bus was crowded and the driver considered it worth it to inconvenience all the other passengers on board, in order to provide himself with plenty of opportunity to practice the Gallic shrug and watch with amusement as his passengers erupted into open rioting. I’m not saying this actually happened but knowing the French it is probably a 95% certainty……
Steve, a really friendly guy from Newcastle but way too laid back for a ski rep. He organised ski days, where he takes customers around the resort only he never gave us the correct name of the chair lift to meet him at and kept changing the time without letting anyone know. Mrs B and I pinned him down for one day and were the only ones that turned up. I guess everyone else was trying to meet him at a different point and a different time. Still we had a great day skiing with him but felt we somewhat tired him out – not only did he not speak any French but he had not skied before this season – the two main requirements for a Ski rep in a French resort. He did a fantastic job for someone who had only been on skis for six weeks but this probably explains his three falls. My favourite one being:
Steve – “Are you two alright skiing on black runs?”
Us – “Yeah not a problem”
Steve – swoosh, swoosh, “Aaaarrrgggghhh”
Noticeably he didn’t go on anymore black slopes after this….
The first people we met was a family of 4 Russians - To be honest I have not experienced many Russians in my life but those I have met have not left a great impression so far and these were no exception.
- The grandfather, who actually turned out to be the father (on his fourth wife). His huge size (certainly around his middle) can be put down to the extra meals. I’m not sure if it is a Russian tradition but shortly after finishing their three course New Year's Eve meal in the chalet they were out the door and heading for a second dinner at a local restaurant. It’s not like we were being fed small portions in the chalet either, very strange…..
- The mother, who had more Botox than half of Hollywood. It didn't make any difference though, since the woman had clearly never cracked a smile in her life....
- The two boys who were personable enough if you like your conversations dull and lifeless without the faintest whiff of humour. For my sanity's sake and international relations I took the wise precaution of always being at the opposite end of the table
during peace talksat meal times….
****** Brown, even when covered in diamonds, even if they are real diamonds, has no place on the ski slopes. I speak from experience as I spent a couple of years wearing a drab brown and beige jacket and, as regular readers will already know, I am to fashion what Gordon Brown is (or was) to the UK economy i.e a complete disaster ……. How can you trust an entire country that seems to have based their ski fashion policy on a bad choice even by my low standards?
The remaining 6 guests were a family group from the midlands comprising of Tam who is the sister of Taz, who is the husband of Nicky who is the Aunt of Imogen who is the step sister of Holly who is the daughter of Phil who is Tam's husband. Did you get that? I hope you did as you will be quizzed later…. Unlike our Russian friends, they had a great sense of humour and fun. They split into three distinct ski groups
Tam, Taz and Phil were the ‘A team’ – dedicated to skiing hard and fast for as long as possible
Nicky – was the founding member and main stay of ‘Team Fabulous’ – Main aim: eating, drinking and looking good, while spending as little time skiing as possible. I believe Nicky only goes skiing after Taz signs an agreement to carry her skis and allows her to research and book all the restaurants (expensive ones*******) in advance.
While Holly and Imogen were floaters - Who tried hard to stay in Team Fabulous but were often forced to join in with the A team by Tam and Phil
Mrs B, Alex (when not in ski school) and I, happily fitted in with the A Team. While my sister, also a Nikki, was simply made for Team Fabulous. Although she would probably like a little more wine, a lot more sunshine and all mention of skiing eradicated from the Team Fabulous charter.
******* Salads – I have never paid over £30 for a salad before……I expected a lot more than just a plate of leaves, a couple of bread crumbs and a tasteless dressing. No, I don’t mean it was wearing brown and talking Russian but on that subject I do hold them responsible for the ridiculous price. Team Fabulous, who had selected the restaurant, lost some brownie points for this. Even they realised that the quality of the food and the price being asked was way out of kilter.
My highlights of the Holiday
Love brings out the animal in all of us
Holly being forced to admit, in front of the entire chalet, that the sounds she was making in the bathroom was her on the phone to her boyfriend, who she calls Wolfie. While Wolfie pretends to eat the phone and makes barking noises, Holly makes cat noises…..each to their own.
Some things probably should not be shared even amongst the family
Imogen To her uncle Taz – "Can I have your wee when you have finished with it….?"
Taz – Looking blank and a little worried
Me – “What, in a jar?”
Imogen – “No moron, his Nintendo Wii”
I had been standing stationary for about five minutes, waiting for everyone to catch up, when my legs were scythed from under me
Me – “What the F…….”
Mrs B - (a crumpled mess next to me) “You moved”
Me “Yeah, last year…..”
I did warn you
1). On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very) Just how miserable were the Russians?
2). What type of dog biscuits does Wolfie favour?
3). How embarrassed should the designer of the Chalet be?
Answers on a snow flake
Monitoring our way to a fortune (or not) with our Solar Panels
KW Produced so far - 122
( 9KW for the week)
This has earned us approximately – £52.00 so far
Most of the 9KW were generated on the only sunny day we have had. The general grey skies and BBC weather forecasting is hampering our road to riches…
A record of the week
- Queen of the New Year by Deacon Blue – As an ode to Team Fabulous and a reminder that this was a New Year trip but it has taken me a while to get it to the BlackLOG
- STING - RUSSIANS (Live) – Well, there were rather a lot of them
- The Beatles – Misery – Seems to sum up a nation
- Culture Club - I'll Tumble 4 Ya – Thanks Mrs B, I owe you one…..