I promised Jen (and her associates) that there would be a day of reckoning. And there was. Very early on Friday morning, Jen, thinking she’d heard a cat miaowing at the end of her bed, sat bolt upright in bed and clutched her covers to her. She had heard a cat. Earlier in the evening I had sneaked my Airport Express and a small set of portable speakers into her room. At shortly after 1.30am I sent the miaowing cat, and just as she was on the verge of waking up the Haxtonmeister to come and do something about it, I followed it up with a sheep baaing and a cow mooing. At this point, two rooms away, I was also clutching my duvet – to my face to prevent myself losing it. In Room 4 meantime, all attempts to remain quiet had been thrown to the wind. Just before the farmyard arrived in her room, Jen, having lain down to sleep and felt things were not quite right, had discovered DC’s copy of the Times spread carefully underneath her bedsheet like some sort of incontinence sheet for the cognoscenti. Added to the sudden disappearance of four of us earlier in the evening, and subsequent very sudden reappearance outside the front door as she came through it, I think the poor girl was beginning to think we had it in for her. Which we did, obviously.
Friday was the perfect last day. Thursday’s heavy snow and poor visibility had given way to bright blue skies, sunshine and groomed pistes. It was a glorious way to end the week. Phyllida, Tim, Colin and I headed over to Val Thorens, where Mr Haxton left us to return to collect young James, and the three of us skied down to Les Meniuères for lunch. Mandy should have been with us, but had been somewhat thwarted by a lack of ski pass, having taken it out of her ski jacket the night before, for reasons still unclear. So after a couple of blue runs, we headed up to the top of Mont de la Chambre, where Mandy was to meet us.
On the second of these blue runs, Tim and I crested a rise at speed, only to discover a French Ski School for kiddies winding its way gently across the slope. Tim veered left and carved safely through the line of kids, whereas I held my line down the right hand side of the piste, thinking I would straight-line it just inside the piste marker. However, the kiddies’ ski instructor, bless ‘im, decided to ski right out to the edge of the piste before making a turn. I had only time for one thought. Children. They’re the future, and the only future we’ve got. So I veered right and flew headlong, Superman-like, into the powder off the piste. I trust the little tykes appreciated the sacrifices I made – my dignity, and the chance to beat Tim and Phyllida to the bottom.
This was not my only Superman impression of the week. On Wednesday, after I had negotiated almost an entire day without falling (save for one unmentionable incident when Haxton clipped my skis and sent me shooting down a red run on my back), I skied down a short section of green run (yep, green = easy), attempted to stop beside the rest of the crew, managed to plant my skis into some snow and fly over the front of them. Sadly this proved too much excitement for my poor camera to withstand, and I subsequently discovered it in 2 distinct pieces in my pocket. To compound its misery, I had left my pocket unzipped and it was covered in snow. A sad and damp end for a hitherto useful and trusty friend. Remembering to zip one’s pockets up before descending a slope is imperative. With my brand new ski jacket, this was not straightforward. It has pockets all over the place, perfectly-sized for all of life’s skiing necessities – ski pass, mobile phone, sunglasses, Twix.
Having managed to convince Mandy via 2-way radio on the way up the chairlift that she’d come up the wrong mountain, we arrived at the summit just in time to stop her skiing off to find us. Oh, how we laughed.
Skiing back towards Méribel, we collected the senior Haxtons and DC halfway down the mountain, and had a great final run back. Mandy led me astray into a section of off piste so deep that my poles kept disappearing from view.
There was just time to dump Kirsty headfirst into a snowdrift one last time, stop off for one last £4 Coke, and then we headed back to the chalet.
So, it’s goodbye to Méribel. Tim and James, who got along famously, will have to hold off their hair-spiking discussions for a bit. I think Tim appreciated having someone else to talk to with a similar perspective on the world. Both of them see things from a little, um, lower than most of us.
On Wednesday evening we all went out for dinner to a suitably-overpriced local eatery. James found the dining experience much more fun from outside, where he went at regular intervals to knock on the window and wave at us. His mum Morag, fresh from finishing her book ‘Politically Correct Parenting in the 21st Century’, slapped the window with her napkin and called out loudly “Oh, away back to the orphanage!”. The folk at the tables near us weren’t sure exactly what to make of this.
Now back in Edinburgh, and I’m finding it colder here than I did on my return from Australia last month. Work that one out. It could be something to do with being dog-tired. Fell asleep for the entire second half of Scotland v Wales this afternoon. Missing Méribel and all the laughs already. Hope you enjoyed the posts from DC and myself, and the photos (click on ‘Other photos’ on the RHS).
Hope to hear from you all soon…