Last week, my family was treated to a very interesting trip. An old friend invited us to join him and his wife and children on the skiing trip “of a lifetime” in the Swiss mountains.
Being a beachy sort of family normally seen face down on golden sands or prostrate near a pool watching daughter splashing around in the shallow end, and having shied away from anything colder than the fridge for most of my life, I tentatively said yes.
A week before blast off, staring at the empty suitcases on the bed, I realized that we were wholly unprepared for the terrain. Three showerproof jackets, a pair of Uggs and my daughter’s rain hat were probably not going to cut the mustard.
In fact, secretly I could imagine nothing more ghastly than freezing my butt off up a mountain while strapping two long sticks to my feet and attempting to walk on sheer ice. But hey ho, it’s someone’s idea of fun.
When I think of skiing I see lanky, blond ubermenschen, whizzing down the mountains to a restaurant where they raise a glass of Gluwein and dip bits of stale bread into a foul, cheesy-smelling dip. Or I picture Jemima Goldsmith et al dolled up in furs and huge glasses elegantly navigating the slopes, pretending to ignore the paparazzi while hobnobbing with royalty. Jews and skiing just don’t go together in my book. Woody Allen, Larry David… on skis? It’s a no-no.
When we got kitted out in our ski gear, we suddenly morphed into a German family, all athletic and fearless
I seriously began to question my ability to cope with this trip. Mars would probably feel more familiar. However, friend Natalie put me on to a one-stop shop lady in NW3 who advises on everything, from skiing to knickers.
So the family spent an afternoon getting kitted out. Suddenly I got excited. It was like being in the wardrobe department of a James Bond film. Daughter had a fetching, very trendy, white salopette with a fur-lined pink jacket and matching hat; I opted for black, with a white fur trim, matching gloves and neck warmer. Husband looked butch in his grey jacket, skipants and beanie.
Then we started on the goggles. Daughter went pink, I went silver and Mr O went charcoal. We. Looked. Amazing. It all suddenly made sense. We morphed into a German family, healthy, athletic and fearless.
Once in Switzerland, I loved it even more. The exhilarating mountain air, the sheer magnitude of the scenery, the crunch of snow underfoot, the hot chocolate.
Skiing itself was a game of two halves. Once I had become used to the crippling pain of clamping a pair of ski boots onto my poor feet and then lumbering up the stairs to the ski lift, I then had to get used to the sensation of attaching the skis to the boots and sliding to the top of the baby slopes.
As two-year-olds with dummies whizzed past on black runs, I looked with terror at the tiny little slope I was meant to manage. Having a ski instructor who looked like a Brad Pitt helped a bit. And once I’d mastered the snow plough, the art of stopping became plain sailing.
Mr O was fearless, of course, and was skiing down from where we ate lunch to the village below. Daughter, on the other hand, had her own version of yodelling. Echoing round the mountains, the following refrain could be heard: “I want to go to Marbella, it’s hot in Marbella. I don’t like the cold.”