Today began, much like yesterday, with us all in fits of laughter. We woke up
and realised how ridiculous our situation must look. James summarised it well when he asked “why are we sleeping in a car? We’ve all got jobs”. He was right, but the discomfort and lack of sleep made the experience genuinely worthwhile.
The day went from strength to strength from that point onwards. We had a short drive to Saint Foy Tarentaise where we were met by another lad called James who had very kindly invited u
s to spent the day skiing with his friends and family. Both myself and original James had never skied before so the challenge ahead was a little daunting as well as incredibly exciting. We hired our gear before heading to the chalet to meet the people we were to spend the day with
The chalet was incredible and we learnt that there were 16 people staying there. We had presumed that we would be spending another night in the car but the people of the chalet offered us a floor to stay on in exchange for potatoes (which was also an invite to dinner). The hospitality of these people was heart-warming. They were genuine and fantastic, every person.
We then prepared for our skiing day. I had already slipped over before I put on the skis, an indication of what was to come. Dean and James found my previous revelation that i want to fall over “at least once” quite humorous now.Our new friends suggested that we gave the ‘nursery’ hill a go first. Both of us began sliding down the hill and maintained our balance for about 2 seconds in total. I spent most of my time rolling on the floor whilst small children whizzed past me. My patheticness was spotted by
a camera man who began filming me. He got the money shot when I fell over right in front of him. James also had a speaking part in the filming as he nearly knocked the camera man over in his lack of control over his own body. This, quite shockingly ended up on the French national news in the evening. Thus, I fell over on TV on the French equivalent of the BBC news. Claim to fame?
Despite not being able to stand up on the skis the others decided it was time for us to ‘hit the slopes’. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be making it all the way down the mountain with all of my bones in the right place, but I went along with the idea. We all grabbed a spot on the chair lift and got off at the station in the mountain. It was then a case of trying to ski down the mountain with no kno
wledge of how to turn or stop. What was handy was the kindness of 3 lovely girls from the chalet who were very patient in teaching me the basics and helping me up every time I fell over (which was a hell of a lot). I began to master stopping and had a few turns. However, as soon as my skis pointed down the mountain I was gone. More that just a couple of times I flew down the mountain at uncontrollable speeds and was certain it was going to result in death. However, I quickly learnt that if I wanted to stop I could just jump on the snow. On several occasions this resulted in nasty collisions with the snow and falls that must’ve looked very dramatic and funny to the girls helping me. They later admitted that I was lucky not to break anything.
Having made it to the bottom of the first run, and enjoyed it, Dean and James2 suggested we try a harder run. Again putting my life and the lives of others on the slope at risk. We both attempted it and the girls continued to help us at the detriment to their own skiing experience. The first part of the new run was considered a ‘red’ run. I associated this colour with danger, and rightly so. A red run is no place for a novice with 1 hour of skiing experience. Still we attempted it since it was only a short distance until we were back in the blue. Initially I succeeded in creating the ‘snow plough’ to slow me down, but as the slope got steeper I once again lost control and threw myself to the snow. What was different about this fall was it was incredibly steep and I ended up tumbling uncontrollably down. I left clouds of snow behind me as I fell and had left my sticks up the hill as a marker of where I fell from. Strangely, I loved the fall despite the ice burn it gave me. Dean was annoyed to find out that we had attempted part of a red, as it meant he lost a bet. James1 was as proud of himself as I was to make it down, albeit spending most of our time rolling.
When we had made it down a couple more runs we were notably improving and managing to succeed in staying on our feet for greater lengths of time. The others were taking it in turns to help us down and back to our feet. These were truly great people.
After lunch in the middle of the mountain, which was again provided by these lovely people, we went back to redo a blue run. We suggested that myself and James1 would attempt to make it to the bottom together and allow the others, including Dean, to enjoy themselves. I felt guilty as people like James2 we being so kind to ensure we were safe. I fell out of the ski lift on th
is run to the amusement of many. We made it to the bottom eventually by taking it cautiously. We announced our pride in each other and celebrated with a beer in a mid mountain chalet. Perfect.
We arrived back before Dean so peeled the potatoes and onions in preparation for a 19 person dinner. I.e. we were trying to earn our keep.
Once we were washed and showered we were invited to a pea and ham soup party by a Dutchman and had a few beers there before returning the the chalet for dinner.
At the dinner table sat 19 people who were all very lovely and welcomed us with open arms. It was everything I had imagined about the alps and the food was cooked by a great woman who used to be a professional chef. We had struck gold when we had original imagined ourselves back in the car.
Following dinner we headed to a bar for a few drinks before retiring to the cosy chalet for brilliant sleep.
The whole day had been incredible and we could not be more thankful to James2 and his family and friends for putting us up for the night and being so hospitable during the day. There are genuinely nice people in the world. Lovely.