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Powder Snow and Chocolat Chaud

There’s only so much time that a sane person can spend maintaining a boat in the depths of winter. Even the Sailing Fanatic has found that the delights of scraping, sanding and fixing toilets begin to pall after a while. He has taken a break to recover his enthusiasm.

Great, you might think. But wait! For when the Sailing Fanatic stops obsessing about boats, a strange transformation occurs: just as Clark Kent sheds his business suit to reveal… Ta Ra! … Superman, so the Sailing Fanatic clambers out of his oilies and sailing boots to reveal… Ta Ra! … the Skiing Fanatic, complete with orange goggles and a fetching bobble hat.

It is an awesome sight, believe me!

Likewise, I also undergo a transformation, changing instantly from Reluctant Sailor to equally Reluctant Skier. With a few dry-ski-slope lessons and one week’s proper skiing under my belt, I am still at the 'Why do I want to risk life and limb to get cold, tired and hungry, throwing myself off a mountain' stage.

Compare this with the Skiing Fanatic, who likes nothing better than to travel up to the steepest part of the steepest run, point his skis down the hill and go – followed by two tiny fellow fanatics, who zip happily behind in the blind belief that Daddy will never lead them into harm’s way.

The four of us hit the slopes mid-January, at a small child-friendly resort in the French Alps, known as Les Gets. It is geared up for skiers of all abilities, and a quick trip over the mountain leads you into the massive linked ski area that forms the Portes du Soleil.

The Skiing Fanatic was in his element. The kids were having a whale of a time. And I – had some more skiing lessons.

'Forget red and black runs,' I told Tim, my ski instructor. 'I just want to be able to ski down a blue run without being terrified.'

And, a few hours later, much to my surprise, I could!

It started to snow halfway through the holiday: powder snow, lying thickly pristine on the pisted slopes until we swished our way, one after another, through it. We tackled a long sweeping run, lined with pine trees, swooping and spraying our way downhill, before stopping for hot chocolate at a café halfway down the mountain.

The sun broke through the clouds as we sat there, enjoying the spectacular alpine scenery. It was beautiful. It was fun. I was enjoying it.

The Skiing Fanatic laughed.

'If you think this is good, just wait until you’ve been cruising up the West Coast on a summer’s day,' he said.

There was a familiar gleam in his eye. The Sailing Fanatic was back, twinkling at me from underneath a bright red bobble hat.

See:

Ski Independence, for tailor made ski holidays
http://www.ski-independence.co.uk/

Tim Scott, snowsport instructor
http://www.skischool.co.uk/

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