Reporter: Colin Campbell
We had a very civilised start to our holiday compared to previous years. Our tour operator was kind enough to change our flight time to mid morning instead of the usual nocturnal torture which we often have to endure! Everyone was well slept and in good humour. The flight itself was unremarkable and we looked forward to a happy landing at Chambery. But no!! Sacre Bleu! The 757 (gladly not a 777) got to about 3 inches from the tarmac and decided that it was a bad idea and sped off into the beyond to everyone's surprise. In retrospect, we were informed that it was all due to a nasty tail wind but we jeloused that the pilot overestimated the length of the runway which was indeed rather short. Ours was the biggest plane to be seen. So off we went to Lyons with a teaspoonful of fuel left in the tank. But the story is not finished. After a bit of refuelling (that had been a bit of a worry), we headed back to Chambery! The real landing was ok and off we went happy - go - lucky!
Courchevel is an amazing place altogether. Our hotel was right in the middle of town, surrounded by a few rather chic shops - Channel, Bulgari, Louis Vuiton, to name but a few. But why? You don't see this in Aviemore! The story is that a far away country, nameless but infamous, had a lot of spare dosh to get rid of and sent it’s emissaries oversees to find a suitable niche for its loot. Courchevel did rather well. Stories abound. Lots of 4 by 4s and the occasional shady character (a bit like Glasgow on a Saturday night). Anemones is a rather quaint hotel! Cosy and with character, if a bit dated. Food was lovely, I'm sure to everyone's taste and with a good choice on the menu of an evening. Wine flowed like a river and the atmosphere was always jolly. Afternoon tea and cake were enjoyed freely by most of us.
I have seldom skied in such perfect weather. On the first day we all got kitted out in the usual winter gear - 4 or 5 layers with extras in a bum bag - only to discover that a tee shirt and a jacket was all that was necessary. Sunbathing at lunchtime was almost mandatory and double sunscreen a necessity.
The slopes were wonderful, although for my part, the variety of kinds of pistes takes a bit of getting used to, since March in the Alps brings a whole variety of weathers. In the morning the higher slopes were at times very hard - packed and icy and I came a cropper a couple of times. We then had to contend with the famous ‘death cookies’, which make your dentures rattle! Finally by mid afternoon the slush began to take over. All in all, by the end of the week I was beginning to get the hang of it!!
One of the great features of the club is the fact that one gets the chance to ski with a variety of folk of differing styles and abilities and I appreciated the patience of others, waiting while I trailed behind. It is always interesting to listen to the chat in the pub afterwards. Speed is obviously to be sought after and can be measured easily by GPS. Fortunately there were no injuries of note apart from the usual bumps and bruises. A few of the best skiers went off down the famous Grand Couloir. I took one glance at it and looked quickly in the other direction! Meribell and Val Thorens were of course visited on more than one occasion. We had the opportunity of having lessons from the TDC and I found these very valuable indeed. The instructors were very patient and good fun.
The evening meals were very sociable occasions and I rather think most folk retired quietly after a few noggins of the local hooch. There was the usual pub crawl one evening of which tales were told.
So there you are. A great trip. Roll on the next. And many thanks to those who organised it so well.