Sunday, 21 April 2013

When you are tired of money....

When you are tired of life, I am reliably informed, Dignitas and Switzerland have the answer.  If, however, you are just tired of having money forget Dignitas.  You still need Switzerland but can substitute Dignitas for Zermatt or probably any Swiss Ski resort. Half a litre of bottled  water (as it was open when it came to the table it might well have been from a tap) and you can wave goodbye to almost £10. I knew it, we should have diced with poverty and gone for the full litre bottle…..  A round of three drinks - one  beer, a G&T and a fruit juice cocktail (What can I say, I’m clearly not a cheap date) - and you are heading well over the £40 mark. Thankfully we went on a fully catered basis (getting a cracking deal with over £1,000 pounds off each….)and so escaped with enough funds to be able to afford the luxury  of only having to eat dry bread and English tap water for the next six months (It’s just a shame that I’m not eating bread at the moment….let’s hope good old English tap water has retained some of its nutrients on its way through seven other people.)…..

Zermatt is a fascinating place, with the only motor vehicles allowed in the town being of the electric variety.  The result is fleets of electric taxis which are like enclosed milk floats delivering you to your destination with all the dignity of a pint of milk.  Albeit a pint of milk which has been mugged and left destitute on a door step – probably not the doorstop you had intended to arrive at but as far as you could go before your bank foreclosed on the journey ….  

The whole of Zermatt is dominated by the Matterhorn.  During the day it is almost impossible to avoid sight of it, except for when the clouds move in to obscure it.  It is truly an impressive peak which stands, apparently alone, etched starkly against the skyline.  It is only when you see it from the Italian side that you fully appreciate how fortunate the Zermattians are. On the wrong side of the border it stands at the end of a run of smaller peaks.  This makes it barely identifiable  as the Swiss icon. I’m guessing that the Swiss had enough money, when the earth was being designed, to bribe the architects so that they got a real money spinner.

Our bedroom’s outlook not only included the deluxe Matterhorn view (I suspect you have to pay extra for not having it) but it also overlooked Jensen Button’s (the F1 driver) new chalet which is nearing completion. Sadly Jensen was not there to oversee the work and to invite us to stay with him next year. Probably just as well as if I’m honest I was not that impressed with the outside of the chalet and quite frankly  it would have to be bloody spectacular inside before I even considered that free all-expenses paid holiday with Jensen.

We had a shock one morning when we woke*.  We  thought the Italians had got their own back because it looked for all the world like they had worked through the night and dug out the Matterhorn’s foundations forcing it to shrink dramatically.  Sadly it was just an illusion.  Apparently the Swiss have invested in an emergency backup peak for when the main version gets lost in the clouds. No wonder Zermatt is so expensive.

* Well when I say “we”, it was of course me who woke. Mrs B spends most of the mornings fighting the effects of the coma she drops into every night.  The effort renders her pretty much deaf, dumb and blind until at least her third gulp of tea. At this point an invisible ER crash team shock her back into existence and normal service is sometimes resumed.

Welcome to polite society
For all the money that is sloshing around the place it became apparent  that while money can buy you a lot in life it can’t buy you manners. I found this out the hard way when I got wiped out by a rather ignorant out of control Australian.   I had come through a rather narrow tunnel and moved over to the side to stop and wait for the group I was skiing with. The next thing I knew my legs were taken out from beneath me and I found myself sprawled out in the snow.  I looked down the hill to see a dishevelled shape spread-eagled across the slope with both skis off.  He turned and glared at me, then started  accusing me of cutting him up. Before I could even reply, Jonny, one of the group we were with, skied over to him and ripped a strip off him for being totally out of control.  While I had shot through the tunnel  at some speed (I have two speeds while skiing - flat out** or stationary) I was in full control. My companions told me that the Australian guy had been all over the place on the preceding slope and had only just made the tight turn into the tunnel.

** No not flat out as in sprawled across the slopes….

Me  - “Ok, It would be nice if you apologised for wiping me out”
Ignorant Aussie – “Why should I apologise to you mate, you were in my way”
Me – “You are aware that the uphill skier gives way”
Ignorant  Aussie – “You should have got out of my way”
Me -  “I’ll put your rudeness down to your embarrassment”
Ignorant Aussie – “What have I got to be embarrassed about”
Me – “Well I would certainly be embarrassed if I skied as badly as you”

That didn’t go down well and he was last seen sloping off,  whinging just like the Aussies accuse us whinging poms ) of doing. Clearly a class act from start to finish. I guess I should be grateful he wasn’t South African, I would have been afraid to go into the bathroom in case I got shot.

Yet another ski holiday full of “Doesn’t your wife ski well” comments…. Only it was slightly worse this time, as my only ski ability – speed - was brought into question….  While I didn’t break my personal record of 75.9mph from Champoluc from last year, I managed a fairly respectable 65.2mph.  Speeds are recorded courtesy of “Ski tracks”, an app on my iPhone.  I was informed my registered speed was highly unlikely, being equivalent to speeds the downhill ski racers obtain.  In my defence though, when I  compared the app against a car speedo,  it wasn’t far adrift.                                                                                        

Now it’s true, it is all straight line speed with none of that wimpy turning thrown in.  This straight line approach (I hesitate to use the word style) does allow me to keep up with much better skiers than me, certainly in good conditions and on well-groomed pistes, much to the surprise and possibly horror of some of them. This year’s guide, Chris, certainly tested my metal by throwing in an additional twist…. He liked to take as much air as possible, even from the most innocuous of bumps. It wasn’t a case of “Swiss Air” but more like “Chris Air”….

I’ll leave you with some shots from Zermatt and some of the fantastic food that we were served….

Photo Finish

Loads of pictures this week - I was having difficulty leaving shots out. Hope you don't get bored.

Zermatt Views

Classic Matterhorn Shot... 
The view from our balcony....With Jensen's little pad in-front

"I said no Jensen we are going to hold out for a better offer..."
Inverse clouds, always look impressive.
You certainly can't fault the beauty of the Alps....
The Matterhorn, another day
another angle....
The scene of our £10  bottle of water mugging....

No one came to our aid as we failed to prevent
the waitress from rolling us over and
emptying our wallets.....
I wasn't sure whether to file this under food looks like a
slice  of mint Viennettafrom the 80's.. which probably explains
the freezer burn around the edges.....
Matterhorn meets Deer Horn
neither walked away.....
The Swimming Pool at our Chalet...
Chris reflecting on the Matterhorn .....I told you you just
can't get away from the damn thing.....
The Cast

Jonnie - He spent the first three days of the holiday on death's
doorstep.  It might have been longer after he questioned my
speed accuracy. However he earned  a reprieve after he gallantly
defended my honor from  the rather rude Australian.....
Our host Megan...
Lee our chef for the week.....
Liz - Jonnie's long suffering Nurse maid..
Chris - Mrs B, Craig,Louie, Bob and Liz

Throwing some shapes...
does his Monty Python Impression

"Just one more wafer thin mint....."
The Skiing
Mrs B graceful as ever
A combination of speed but little style
leaves me a mere shadow of Mrs B...
Although Mrs B is not always so graceful....
Down.... But not out
and soon back on her feet.
Chris Air 
 safety demonstration

"Emergency Exits can be found, here on the left and right"
Chris preparing for landing .....
Oh no looks Like Megan is catching the Air bug....
Posh Nosh

I can confirm the food tasted as good as it looked

Fillet steak with a pepper sauce
Thai salad
Posh prawn cocktail
Lemon posset
Cod on a minted pea rissotto
Eton Mess
Classy canapes
Goats cheese bruschetta.


  1. What about good old English beer?

    1. I think English Beer was being charged at £1,000 a thimble full

      Hmmmmmmmmm.....over priced

  2. Thanks, Mr. B - that was spectacular.

    You, with the help of the Beast, took some mighty impressive shots of your time in the Zermatt district - the shots of the Matterhorn are some of the best I've seen.

    Nice seeing you posting again... :) :) I've enjoyed the last two as well!


    1. Thanks Jenny

      It’s always nice to get positive feedback. The Matterhorn is so beautiful and Iconic it’s not easy to get a bad shot of it.


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