Club Holiday to Les Arc 2020

Reporter: Bill Matthews

We must thank David Shepherd sincerely for all his hard work on an epic “fun” weekend coach tour for which Crystal should be cast in Crystal glass with suitable incantations to commemorate.

The Hotel Altitude gave us lots of time and attention well into the evening of our arrival — and that was just to find us rooms (“read rabbit hutches”) that were not already occupied. Did anyone make the deadline for the welcome reception drink?

Weather ‘en route’ and on arrival was wonderful and the slopes behind the hotel beckoned beguilingly under the late afternoon sun, so we enthusiastically prepared our ski gear and overlooked our initial irritations. The Ski hire shop was conveniently situated on the hotel premises as were the slightly rustic storage facilities. Little were we to suspect the impending total shutdown of resorts by President Macron.

The dining room remained open long enough for us to enjoy a much needed dinner. It was all go and several of our members relaxed well into the night with a few more beers.

Breakfast brought the soul destroying news that we were going home with immediate effect. Naturally we British took this massive disappointment with a stiff upper lip and a sense of humour; of the facitious kind.

Fortunately it was a beautiful morning as we trundled down the road to awaiting coaches, some 400m away. It was remarkable that Crystal had commandeered all these coaches for tourists throughout the resort so early on the Sunday. Did they in fact, Crystal Ski, know an impending catastrophy, even before we unpacked the night before?

It took around 1 1/2 hours to elapse for the actual departure by road to Calaise: We knew not why. Hotel Altitude had provided us with very necessary vituals for the inevitable long day (+) ahead.

On my coach, one of our ladies, who shall be nameless, regaled us by singing along to her phone unperturbed by events and totally unaware of glances from an attentive audience! Perhaps it was the initial onset of Coronavirus!

Whilst there no injuries, nor fatalities on our adventure weekend, by the early hours of Monday morning, the wait, in darkness, on the outskirts of Calais for the second journey, was beginning to irritate. Presumably the pick-up point was selected to avoid the Calais jungle area or other dubious emigrant locations. There were, maybe, twenty coaches arriving and manoeuvring around. These were mostly of British origin and there was a marked difference of the style of the British drivers; smart retorts and the “load your own baggage” manner.

Hereafter the party became progressively more divided between coaches for no apparent reason. When the driver of our coach had succeeded in finding his point of departure at Calais port, there was another wait to access our ferry at around 1.30am on Monday 16th March.

By now ferries were sailing around the clock to transport 1000’s of tourists.

Having had just one break in our journey across France, a good dinner/breakfast aboard the P&O boat was appreciated. There was no heed of the virus here as yet, as we waited in a very long queue in the galley.

The final coach of the journey on UK soil took SCoM people in separate vehicles, on different schedules to Manchester Airport. Hence it was even more of an anticlimax when we said goodbye to only half of our comrades at Terminal 2; That was, when the driver had investigated all other avenues into the airport before finding T.2. bus stand.