Getting Plastered

Going downhill fast at TSA Shred Week, 2019

We Wanderers were wandering up to the French Alps to meet up with a group of old friends and their children. We were in our little hire car, which we had managed to stuff to the gunwales with most of the essentials for a fun week on the piste. I say ‘most’, because there was one thing missing from our equipment. A thing no winter holiday can survive without. No, not a hot water bottle, nor a cuddly toy, not even Werthers Originals. The missing ingredient that would make everyone flow down those mountains with ease was that famous lubricant; alcohol. After a busy five minutes on Messenger, Wally and I had a list. Lidl was the shop of choice, due to us being too lazy to look any further than the one very near to our overnight stop. In no time at all our shopping trolly was tottering about under the weight of our ‘basics’. Things were now in place to aid any friend who felt a need to get plastered.

We had come to Morzine for an end of the season snowboard equipment testing week, run by The Snowboard Asyslum. What an opportunity it was, to have lots of next seasons snowboards, boots, goggles to use, free of charge and to be able to change them every evening for something newer than new to try. The snow and the laughs were guaranteed. Throw in a chalet with excellent hospitality and food and hot tubs, even if you do not like winter sports, you will have a great break; which clearly, Wally and I needed desperately.

Beziere Chalet, home from home

We arrived in mid afternoon to an empty chalet and a lonely meal, served up by our fun young chalet hosts Tim and Lucy. Our chums finally arrived just ahead of the witching hour, tired, over excited, and hungry.

Table for two monsier?

Cath, probably showing off in front of the boys, immediately tried busting a move at the top of the shiny stairs. We later decided to score the mishaps of our group and this was a stellar beginning.

She fell all the way to the bottom of the staircase, on her bottom. 8/10 for effort Cath and a 9/10 for the quality and range of that bruise.

Gerry decided to cheat and rocked up to the party with a prior injury to his shoulder. It does not count Gerry. 1/10 for your cheek and 1/10 for your lack of damage to yourself during the week.

The next morning, on the snowy slopes I was bowled over by an elderly French man. Not bad for my first day on the slopes. Not bad at all. Except it forced me to switch from snowboard to skis. I had hurt my back in an attempt to impress him with my amazing flying skills. 3/10 for effort, the old fella did all the work, I had only to fall into his arms, but I missed. 4/10 for the injury, it may have smarted for the week, but there was no bruise.

Wally only had to walk from the living room to the bedroom to sustain an injury. One busted up toe as he stubbed it on a shallow black step in a very black hallway. 1/10 for not taking enough water with it and 7/10 for an impressive mess of a toe; the bruise was good too. Switch the light on next time.

mmmm sexy!

Andy began fantasising about piste-bashers from the first moment one munched and crunched its way past him; simultaneously, the ghost of Bob Ross entered the building, channelled by Tom C. At the far end of the dining table, Bob Ross appeared to be banging on about modern art to Oscar, the son of an artist. All this was probably due to altitude sickness. 3/10 each, Andy, Tom and Bob, as this is not normal behaviour and 8/10 for allowing us to all laugh at your afflictions.

Tom alias ‘Bob Ross’

Simon’s phone could take no more; it was only day two. It made a desperate bid for freedom. Simon was extremely lucky to keep his hand, as it and the phone were so tightly welded together at all times. His phone was last tracked to Paris; a very good destination, as there is no better place to be in Spring. 6/10 for keeping your phone safe for one day and 10/10 for such a debilitating loss of limb.

Have you seen this phone?…….no, nor has Simon!

Tom G picks up 7/10 for surreptitiously attempting world domination, but only 1/10 for success.

Jake remained in one piece, despite spending the entire week pushing himself to his beginners limits, in an effort to get enough air to do a backflip. 8/10 for ambition. 0/10 for the injury you managed to avoid. Better luck next year Grasshopper.

Kyra had decided that she could get a high score with just a smidgen more speed and landed on her shoulder. Luckily it was the penultimate day. Cafe culture was her new sport. 10/10 for a stylishly spectacular crash and 10/10 for having to wear a sling and for having a ‘proper’ injury.

Charlie worked very hard for a mention in this section; he did this by waxing and scraping bottoms. Well, what ever makes you happy Charlie. 10/10 for the effort you put in and 3/10 as you avoided an industrial injury to yourself, but you did manage to burn your mentor (watch the video evidence!)

Paul is competitive. Never forget that. He saved himself for the last run of the last day for his Opus Dei and has since spent a lot of time in hospital being ministered by Angels. 6/10 for a great raggy doll impersonation; when will you learn? Smiling through the pain? 10/10 and only 2 bones broken. Top injury!

The rest of the group spent the holiday out of the limelight, which is where most of us wanted to be.

The week shot past in a blur of meals, hot tub moments, snowboarding, skiing, lounging and laughing.

We have learned a lot this during our stay: kids bounce – scientifically proven on this holiday; water is not wet! And if you want to get plastered, winter sports is for you. Who knew?

Thanks go to Gerry for exposing his previously unseen organisational skills to such great effect and to The Snowboard Asylum for orchestrating yet another brilliant week of fun. Also thanks to the young ones for keeping us young at heart.

Now marvel at the video:

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Ski Funday

Almost every winter we head for the snow.

In the early days, it was all crampons, ice axes and ropes, a la Chris Bonnington and Don Willams. It was the call of the white, silent, wilderness, where the only marks left were your own and the only sounds were ours and the eagles. And then the worst of all things happened; please be reassured, no one died in the snowy wilds: there was no excitement; or fear. The simple truth is there was ……

No Snow.

Alright, I admit it, there was snow, but it was of the sliding off the mountain and killing you variety. In desperation for a safe alternative, we headed to the nearest ski resort to our ‘base camp’, hired a set of ski gear each and in our Harris tweed, plus fours and bright orange, nylon cagoules, gave this skiing lark a go. Well, desperate times called for desperate measures.

In our defence, we had never wanted to ski, viewing the whole thing as a ridiculous waste of time. Who, in their right mind, would spend huge amounts of cash to be dragged up a hill that any fool could easily walk up, only to then then slither all the way back down? And, to make matters even worse, repeat this drag up, slide down tedium, over and over again until the holiday was over. It was never going to be the sport for us, but we needed to do something until conditions on the wider mountain range were more stable.

We have no memory of a piste map, or of getting ourselves up the mountain. Were we seated; dragged, or did we walk up the hill in those painful, unforgiving boots? No idea. Who was with us? No clear memory of that either, apart from a guy called Alan Parry, who probably still hates skiing to this day.

Our overriding recollection is of each others glum expressions as we prepared to ride the hill.

Ski Sunday. Remember Ski Sunday. They crouch low, sticks horizontal, pointing out of their armpits and back up the slope. They look like people having an extreme toilet moment; a unusual case of the runs.

Now it was our turn to make like rich people and adopt this ludicrous pose. And we were off! Screaming down the mountain. Yelling at anyone fool enough to come within hailing distance, to get out of our way. One man skied alongside, shouting compliments on my style and asking how long I had been a skier. He was shocked when I said it was my first moment on skis and then I asked him if he knew how to stop, because I had no idea, apart from what I had seen on the TV show. He yelled some instructions and peeled away. Clearly, I was not the one for him.

How trying something pointless can change your life.

I do not remember stopping. I must have managed it somehow. We were both absolutely elated by the experience and gushed wildly about how this was the best thing we had tried, probably ever.

We think that was in about 1976.

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