The return from Val d’Isère

“Everything hurts,” moaned Wiseman early one morning. “Perhaps we should take up colouring-in, or something.”

We, the walking wounded, hobbled and limped back into Edinburgh yesterday after a 5 hour delay in Chambéry.

Ladies and gentlemen, a message for those flying to Edinburgh on flight BA1961. Unfortunately your aircraft has landed at Lyon.


Please expect a delay to your flight.

No kidding.

Lynne managed to use the time wisely, lying down in the medical room after refusing to go to hospital with 3 firemen in their fire engine. When will she get another chance like that? Perhaps she’d had her fill of men in uniform for a while, after being attended to on the slopes by men in red and yellow ski suits.

Myself, DC and Kirsty had skied over a crest yesterday afternoon to discover Lynne sprawled unconscious on the snow. She came to after a couple of minutes and before long was being stretchered down into Val d’Isere. It was all very exciting, albeit slightly worrying, and I daresay she would rather not repeat the experience.

Filipideedoodaa had her own adventures the day before, cartwheeling down a red run and injuring her ankle badly enough to rule her out of skiing/boarding for the rest of the holiday.

Aside from that, we sustained a few twisted knees and one or two bruises. Val’s twisted knee was much worse than mine, but I complained more. Wiseman is currently walking like John Wayne, and now that we’re back I have been perfecting my dual limp (both legs hurt so I can’t favour one over the other). With four physiotherapists on the trip, sympathy and compassion were in desperately short supply, so there was no point in looking for any before now.

Managed to conquer my T-bar demons, on Thursday. Neither run was without incident, however. When on a T-bar with someone they should ideally be of a similar height. The first time up was with Mandy, who only avoids being officially registered as a dwarf by a couple of inches. I am over six feet. We began with the bar at a comfortable height for her, and finished at the top with her skis barely touching the snow. On the second run I was sharing the bar with the Haxtonmeister, who is of a more similar stature (although somewhat more rounded), but somehow managed to cause him to wipe out at the top regardless.

Much hilarity has been had overall. Siobhan’s name proved too tricky for her French ski instructor, who insisted on calling her “Cheval” (translation = “horse”) throughout the week. Our instructor, on the other hand, spent several minutes calling out “leeean, LEEEAN” to us as we were cruising down the piste during a lesson. We were doing a leaning exercise at the time, so we duly tried to lean even more. We were virtually falling over before we realised that he was trying to get Lynne’s attention.

The same instructor, who demonstrated an admirable ability to not only smoke on a wind-blasted chairlift but actually roll his own, was exhorting us to “caress the snow” and “embrace the gravity”. He explained that we needed to be more “fairy-like”. I felt the need to point out that behaving like a fairy was not a good thing for a British bloke to be doing.

The pranking shenanigans continued through the week – when Wiseman and I arrived back in the chalet on Monday night after posting the last blog entry, we discovered our room had been divested of its beds. I asked Mark if they had been put out on the balcony.

“Nope, I’ve checked.”

Turns out he had stuck his head out briefly (“it was cold”) and decided they weren’t there. We then proceeded to search the entire chalet, or at least the bits we could access, before returning to find them … on the balcony.

On another day Ken went to relieve himself, and lifted the toilet seat, which promptly exploded. Jen’s bed started laughing when she lay down on it, her famous red coat went missing for days, and several people’s toothbrushes also disappeared. The latter thief remains unidentified despite Ken training his video camera on the bathroom door to try to catch the culprit.

Mental Mo and Nasty Jen organised a ceilidh on the final night, attendance at which was more or less compulsory. Mysteriously, Ken found it took him several hours to pack for the journey home, despite having a rucksack only marginally larger than Jen’s handbag. Even the chalet staff – Osh, Tom and Liam – were invited. One really can’t blame them for running away and hiding downstairs for the entire evening.

The presence of most of these reprobates made the airport wait that bit more enjoyable, and when we finally got on the flight, Broon fell asleep, which allowed me to steal her meal. You snooze, you lose.

And so, a great holiday is over. I will miss so much about it over the next few days. Like the early morning routine with Wiseman.

“Mark, are you awake?”


“Good Morning.”


The formalities completed, I pulled the duvet over my head for extra sound insulation, in preparation for The Clearing of the Nasal Passages.

Actually, I might not miss that. But I will miss the skiing. Not going to be taking up colouring-in just yet, bruises or not…

Val d’Isère, Day Two

And to think we were concerned that there might not be any snow this early in January. It’s been snowing almost non-stop since we got here. The Haxtonmeister had to dig his car out yesterday morning, and employ his snow chains for the first time.

Consequently the skiing conditions have been tricky, with low visibility and great piles of powder on the pistes. As a result, everyone had a less than ideal first couple of runs yesterday. Blue skies are forecast for tomorrow, with the snow to return on Wednesday and Thursday.

The chalet is absolutely outstanding, and the food matches it. Each room is ensuite. I am sharing a twin room with Wiseman. The gap between the beds is not what it could be, and the beds themselves are fairly narrow. I woke up this morning and engaged Wiseman in an early chat.

“There was some encroachment last night, mate.”



He just shrugged, obviously underestimating the distress it caused me. Such are the joys of sharing rooms with insensitive people.

I went to have a bath this evening after skiing. Took one look at the bathtub and popped my head back round the door to satisfy myself that there was any hair left on Wiseman at all. Quelle surprise, there was. I spent 20 minutes cleaning the bathtub out. Wiseman declared that I was making a bit of a meal of it.

“That’s what I do, Mark.”

“You do it very well.”

“I’ve practised.”

James popped in to our room sporting a mohican.

“Ooh, it stinks in this room,” he announced.

Actually it had been smelling fine until James arrived and dropped one. We exited the room to find some clean air, and found Nasty Jen lurking in the corridor. Fortunately I had a small bag of snow in my hand, and thereupon commenced a small snow fight, which was fairly evenly matched, until James entered the fray. James, being five years old, knows no boundaries. She nearly lost her trousers, poor girl.

The pranks proper have begun. Broon, whose birthday it was yesterday, opened her wardrobe to the strains of Cliff Richard singing “Congratulations, and celebrations…” They (Broon and Jen) worked out how to turn it off disappointingly quickly. (One imagines that it was Broon who figured it out).

As for the skiing, Wiseman has been finding himself “becoming one with the mountain” fairly frequently. As for me, I found myself becoming one with a random skier on the slope who was surprised to see me skiing up the slope straight towards him. We embraced briefly and then collapsed in each other’s arms. Disappointingly, it was a bloke.

I also had a disaster today while attempting to get onto a chairlift. I skied into the correct position in the middle of a group of three, and then, well, carried on skiing really, right off the front of where you’re supposed to stop. Overbalanced to the right in front of Filipideedoodaa, who completely failed to haul me back into the correct position, and instead kicked me so hard that her ski came off and she collapsed in a heap. The liftie, showing a remarkable amount of restraint, refused to give her a good telling off for her actions, and simply helped her retrieve her ski. Very gracious, these French.

Both the Haxtonmeister and Mental Mo have acquired new ski jackets and trousers, which means that this year they won’t be wearing their all-in-one romper suits on the slopes. This is most disappointing, and the photos will be all the less entertaining as a result.

Finally, quote of the day.. from James to his mum as she shepherded him back from the slopes:

“Ah… it’s good to be alive.”

Did I mention he was five years old…?

The Second of January

The Second of January is a really great holiday, celebrated, as far as I know, only in Scotland. After a late night at New Year, New Year’s Day is a write-off, and the Second arrives like a welcome tonic. How does the rest of the world cope going back to work on 2 Jan? I hope I never have to find out.

This year, I ventured hesitantly towards the sales at Ocean Terminal straight after New Year. After some fortification in the shape of lunch, Wiseman and I perused a couple of shops (literally a couple. One each). I found some very nice jumpers at £13.50 in Fat Face, which I considered long and hard over, before a cursory glance at the label made up my mind.

I wandered back outside to where Wiseman was waiting.

“Couple of really nice merino wool jumpers, mate.”


“Didn’t get them.”


“Hand wash only.”

“Ah.” Wiseman nodded knowingly. “Single use only, then. Either that or you’ll have to get married.”

“Yeah. And that would end up costing me a lot more than £13.50…”