Back to normal

Chatel is now fully immersed in the January ‘hole’ as it’s known here, with limited tourism going on and all the locals taking a breather before half term kicks in and it goes February crazy.

The Arsenal boots

Something interesting did happen in Chatel last week when a helicopter crashed just outside the village. No-one died but there were some people that got fairly seriously injured but for a town with just 1200 people, this was big news.

There’s been limited snow in the Portes du Soleil and a hot wind that blew through the valley last week bringing weather warm enough to wear shorts in. This played havoc with the snow. I was skiing with a group of kids from an international school that were up from Vevey and the heavy slush conditions on top of sheet ice made the teaching session more one of getting everyone down without injury rather than any meaningful ski teaching.

The January Hole applies to ski teaching also and this combined with the crap snow means that there have been a few bored ski instructors in Morgins lately. My personal January was perked up by the arrival of a week of private work with a delightful girl called Celia who was on her GAP year and in town to ski for the week. She didn’t want to ski with her medical student mates who were mostly hungover for the week, so we skied about and generally had a good time skiing slush and ice.

I got new ski boots the other day from the Vertical Horizons ski shop in Chatel. They are Head Vectors which conveniently come in red and white Arsenal colours. I’ve gone down a half size to 28.5 and although this might sound dull and techy, the improved fit of the boot has taken my skiing to another level. If anyone has old boots and wants to improve I can recommend new boots as a quick fix to better control.

I’m teaching some Russians this week who are delightful and not at all living up to the stereotype of Russians on holiday (except for the expensive gear and impossibly glamorous girlfriend). I figure that we’ve got another week or so until February madness starts and then it’s take a deep breath time for 4 weeks of more chaos.


online here


Fresh fish and house guests

My friend Spencer sent me a text the other day that read ‘Old adage: Fresh fish and house guests go off after three days.’

a cloud.  as opposed to a cloudy head

After having Cheeko, Hughsey and the Afghan breeze into town over New Year, I learnt the following things after spending 6 nights out of 6 on the smash with my friends from back home;

1. When playing cards for money and drinking fines, never EVER, be caught holding the two wild card jokers when the game ends. Bad stuff happens.

2. Throwing up naked off the balcony at 1am on New Year’s Eve is never good but especially when you have to go down with a shovel the next morning and clear up the mess from your neighbour’s garden.

3. Intermarché supermarket ’33 Export’ beer is filthy stuff. Any beer that makes you shudder every time you drink it is bad and it’s not big or clever to drink two crates of it.

4. When your mate says that he is a beginner snowboarder, take him at his word and assume the worst. An afternoon spent lapping him on the beginner slope while skiing with only one ski on is only fun for so long.

5. The altitude affects friends in different ways. If one looks like he is about to have a heart attack due to heavy drinking fines and the long walk into town, by all means go and check on him but not in the condition referred to in point 2 above.

6. When your mate coasts into town from the other side of the world on metaphorical fumes and is not accompanied by his wife, there is usually a reason and you should assume the worst.

7. A diet of crisps and beer is not conducive to a good day on the mountain or fragrant smells from the only toilet in the apartment. A man to can ratio of 4 to 1 is bad in any situation.

8. Sloopy’s discotheque is sensational when you are absolutely spannered but not the following day when you are searching around the back of the chairs looking for the coat that you lost the night before.

In the end, I was sad to see the boys go but in a way quite glad. When you have your mates out to visit, it’s super but they are on holiday and act accordingly.

They want to drink tourist drinks like pints, jagerbombs and shots and want to laze about and do nothing or do everything. This sounds a little harsh but the reality is that we are working out here and it’s difficult to do a professional day job when you’ve been setting fire to the bar in the discotheque until 5am.

So boys, if you are reading this, it was great to see you but long weekends are all I can handle from now on…

x x x

published here

Christmas madness over

The madness that is Christmas and New Year has gone and all that remains are some tired seasonaires, aching livers and a nasty cold that all of the locals seem to have caught, including yours truly.

day 2…

Christmas and New Year here in Chatel was off the scale in terms of how busy everything got. A town that has 1200 people in the off-season suddenly swelled to over 20,000. To compound not being able to get a seat in my favourite bars, Cheeko, Hughsey and The Afghan turned up from around the world, intent on turning their ski break into a stag do. We drank a lot and in a way, I’m glad they are gone as I don’t think I could have done much more. The highlight for them was me naked and throwing up off the balcony of our apartment just an hour after New Year struck.

Last week saw me teaching my first cours collectif group with 6 kids of various ages and nationalities for the week. It was fun and by the end of the week, my group consisted of 5 Dutch kids and one French one. The French I am fine with but by the end of the week, I think the skiing of the Dutch kids had improved beyond my ability to speak Dutch which goes to show that kids learn a lot more by seeing and doing than by techie explanations.

A surprising development today in Chatel in that it has started to rain, destroying what remaining snow there was in the village. We could really do with a couple of days of snow to refresh the slopes around the Portes du Soleil that are patchy and icy.

A full complement of seasonaires in the village means that the various local nights in the bars of Chatel are going off in spectacular style. On Tuesday I was at the School Disco night in The Avalanche Bar which went off with plenty of cheesy music to keep us entertained. There were plenty of grown up schoolgirls in attendance whilst all I could find was my original school scarf which I proudly wore all night. When school kicked out, we continued onto Sloopy’s Disco under the Super Chatel telecabin until about 4.30am when it was time to stagger home. I have a souvenir from Sloopy’s of a panama hat which I have no idea how I got but clearly was wearing all night as it is covered in beer and Jager.

January is supposed to be a quiet month but there are a few things going on like the Grand Odyssey de Savoie which is a Husky race but I think we are all looking forward to it getting back to normal before the February half-term madness.


online here