Monday, 10 December 2007
Where to begin?
My love of skiing started in 1969 in Mayrhofen Austria in the days when the snow fell in the valleys ,boots were designed to the specification of a medieval torture device so as to cripple you the minute they were put on, skis and bindings that could snap a bone in the blink of an eye, lift systems that wrenched arms out of sockets bruised legs and back better than any front row of the All Blacks, instructors obssessed with bending ze neez and lift attendants trained at The Marque de Sade college of compassion, but somehow I got hooked and I have been ever since.
In the last 38 years I have gone from being a novice skier to an OK skier to a pretty good skier to an OK skier, skiing is about going down hill, maybe my ability is sliding in that direction as well but I still love it.
In 1990 I was jogging through life quite merrily when I met someone who was to change it beyond what I could ever have imagined LINDSAY!!!!
Lindsay and I became an item and one of our 1st holidays together was Vail at Christmas and New Year she loved to ski as much as me albeit she injured herself and spent new year in a wheel chair.
We got married in 1992 although it was never said we both felt the chances of having children were pretty remote and with that our ship cast off on the sea of matrimonial bliss.
In1996 our third child was born ( can you believe it 3 bloody kids under 3, Freya, Stephanie and Angus) as challenging as it was with them all so young , given the chance I would change nothing. For the next few years skiing holidays were not on the agenda although thanks to my mother in law and sister in law, Lindsay and I did manage to get to Whistler a couple of times and at one point came within an ace of emigrating to Whistler (that's another story)
The one thing I really wanted my kids to do was ski and to that end when Freya was coming up 5 we and another family (The Edwards) whose kids were born practically the same time as ours sallied off to a LUXURY CHALET in Les Gets (why do the tour operators use such descriptions for places in France) with a gourmet chef, and wine that would flow like a mountain stream .
Well the rooms were marginally larger than the beds with the head room of a Welsh coal mine, the gourmet chef and the child minder turned out to be 2 Aussie or Kiwi girls (who were really nice but constantly prefixed everything with Alright Darling) who's culinary skills may have been fine if you had just returned from the bush after 3 weeks living off the land, the wine supply was inexhaustable primarily because it was undrinkable although Madelleine never gave up trying. (Dunkirk spirit).
We also shared the chalet with 2 brothers who had just happened to have booked a CHEAP!! holiday it had cost us an arm and a leg.
These two were odd, we introduced ourselves and we were told they liked to be called Bruv and Adge and were not over keen on kids they were one of the tightest pair of old farts I had ever met after breakfast they would purloin all the left over rolls, cheese, ham and coissants for their lunch ( this really had Phillip and me muttering away under our breath)
We put the two eldest girls into ski school but as can happen in europe there was very little snow that year however we thought they would be fine.
When we returned that lunch time we saw these two little girls sittng all alone on this concrete bench covered in mud wet through looking thouroughly depressed. It was at that point I felt if Freya spends any more time with this ski school she will probably never want to ski again and that I just did not want, when I reckoned on what we had spent we could have easily gone to Whistler.
The next season we went to Whistler all 3 kids went to adventure camp it was fantastic they loved it the ski instructors were great they left us at 8.30am had lunch on the mountain and we picked them up at 3.30pm and over the next few seasons that's what we did. We made some good friends their Jody Wilson (Jodyco) Lisa Fernandez they all helped to make our kids good skiers.
After many times in Whistler we decided that the kids had done all they could there so it was time for a change so off we went to the Canadian Okanagen and whilst there I realised that maybe I have'nt got that many years left in me where I can ski as well as I do right now. What really clinched it for me is when looking out of our bedroom window early on our last day the sky was gin clear about 6 inches of powder had fallen over night I said to Lindsay I'm off out, she said you must be mad I took the 1st lift up there was nobody around, a deep breath and I set off the snow was sort of whistling under the skis and I did not stop until I arrived back at the bottom of the lift, in all the years I have skied I have never had a run like it.
When I met Lindsay for coffee I told her about it and said maybe next year I will set off 1st and ski mountains and areas in North America that I have always wanted to do but never found the time,
I could meet them in Calgary for our family holiday to which she replied if that's what you want to do darling just do it .I could not have met a better person in my life than Lindsay she is very special and I love her dearly without any supposing this or supposing that she just said do it ,she is truly a beautiful and unselfish person.
So this is where I am, on the 19th January 2008 I set of with my son Angus ( how did he get involved?) he said can I come? I thought he's 11 I'm 61 why not at the age I am it is difficult to predict how fit you will be 1 year on, its not something you can delay so we are off.
Our 1st stop Montana then Wyoming on to Utah and from there up to the Okanagan we are away until 24th February and I will be using this blog for friends and family to track our progress. I am still working on how I can pass Angus off as the worlds smallest giant or tallest midget to get into the bars state side any suggestions.
Oh and by the way, why "The Goose" we were once going through security in Frankfurt (crummy airport) when a female security guard was calling out our names when she got to Angus it sounded like this Angooos hence with Top Gun showing that year as well, Angus's nickname The Goose was born.
Also a big thanks to the guys and girls at Ski Safari (good company) for their help and advice.
To be contnued: