Sun & Snow
19th April 2018
Dad Skiing off-piste on a sunny day in La Plagne.
One of my earliest memories of my dad is him teaching me how to ski. In this two second snapshot of a memory we are in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland, my dad is telling me to make a pizza slice with my skis, my mum, in the background, carries my newborn baby brother in a papoose. A few years later, my brother and I, and our triplet stepbrothers and two stepsisters were photographed amidst the snowy Scottish mountains, tiny dots of skiers, that in hindsight must have looked quite funny trailing down the slopes behind my father (we later found out that photograph was blown up 3m tall and displayed at the bottom of the Cairngorms Funicular, it is still there 16 years later!).
Photo of my brother, step-brothers and sisters and I aged 5-9 at the bottom of the Cairngorms Furnicular.
As I write this, my family and I are driving back from the French Alps where we have spent a gloriously sunny and snowy week shredding the trails of La Plagne and Les Arcs. We tiny dots have grown into fantastic skiers, even if I do say so myself, thanks to my former ski instructor of a father whose days of snow-plowing, pole planting diagrams drawn in the snow and sidestepping up mountains or skiing down button lifts to pick up fallen little ones have finally granted him 7 brilliant ski buddies who he (semi-jokingly) now struggles to keep up with! Skiing has become a passion of all of ours that we now pass on to our friends and partners and one day children of our own, teaching them to ski with each and every one of them getting ‘Hobbsed’ (chucked off a chairlift at the top of a run they definitely weren’t ready for or expecting) at some point.
Dad teaching Con, Megan, Hannah and I to turn in the Cairngorms, with snow diagrams.
Daniel, Megan and Hannah off-piste in La Plagne.
Over the years skiing has become much more accessible, with indoor slopes opening up here and there in the UK and lessons starting from around £40. All-inclusive holidays in Eastern European countries are coming in at an absolute steal from as low as £600-700 for two for a week! To save money, my family always drive the 16 hour journey to the Alps and rent self-catered gites, doing a big food shop in England before we leave, which though a harrowing prospect, means we can visit larger resorts with more expensive lift passes. Whilst there, my dad always visits the local boulangerie first thing in the morning, bringing warm baguettes and croissants to the breakfast table to eat with homemade jams and cheeses, half of which we save to take with us for a mountain-top lunch with a view. Travelling with a large group also helps, and now we are all old enough to contribute to the trip meant that this year we were able to rent the loveliest gite above a mountain restaurant right at the bottom of the piste in the picturesque ski village of Montchavin. Just look at all that pine!
Dining Room of Gite Chalet La Bovate, Montchavin.
Living Room of Gite Chalet La Bovate, Montchavin.
If you ski, you will know there is nothing better than making the first tracks on fresh snow on a perfectly clear day. You will also know the joy of breathing in the cold mountain air at the top of a challenging run and that of a warm Vin Chaud at the bottom. If you don’t ski, yet, I urge you to try it!
View from a mountain bar in La Plagne.
A beautiful view halfway down a fun off-piste!
Photos of Gite Courtesy of Gite de France, all other photos by author & family.