So, I'm now back from the snowboarding holiday. I hate trying to catchup with my entries after the fact, so this is just going to be a few edited highlights :)
So. Right. Yeah. Erm. Last week, I went snowboarding in the Three Valleys bit of the Alps. I stayed here, in Reberty.
Last year, we stayed in the same chalet. I flew out from Bristol on my own, and met most of the rest of our crowd in Geneva. This time I decided to take the longer, but more sociable route, travelling down to stay with scottejames near Gatwick the night before, and then flying from there on the same plane as many other reprobates.
We'd decided to take a chance on the chalet (the same one we went to last year) because there weren't enough of us to fill it up -- if nobody else came along and booked the other rooms, we'd be able to spread out into the spare rooms, but not have to pay any more. As it turned out, the snow that arrived just before we did must have prompted a few last-minute bookings, so, bugger it, the chalet filled up. This meant I ended up sharing a very small room with two other guys -- the room was so small that it was effectively completely full with three single beds in it. Seriously full; we had to put my suitcase away in the cupboard over night so we could open the door to the room... Still, with earplugs in arry_matt's snoring was survivable :)
And so began a very cool holiday. As usual, there were plenty of ups and downs in both literal and figurative senses. I guess a few of the ups and downs will give a reasonable flavour of the holiday :)
On the evening we arrived, I booked snowboarding lessons for the week, to start on the morning of the first full day. I duly tried to get along to the lesson, and pretty much found out that I'd forgotten how to snowboard in the space of the preceding year. Finally turning up very late, the instructor took me out on a simple run, and within five minutes basically told me to take the simpler lessons instead; I wasn't good enough for the level he was teaching.
The upside of this is that I went along to afternoon lessons instead of morning lessons, had a very good teacher indeed, and gradually figured out that I'd actually tried to skip a level -- I thought I'd had Level 1 lessons the year before, whereas I'd actually had the beginner's lessons, then tried to skip straight to Level 2. So. A week's worth of Level 1 lessons was exactly what I should have been having anyway, and I needn't have been so worried about being kicked out of Level 2 five minutes into it... Plus, afternoon lessons were really nice; it's good not to have to get up really early when you're ostensibly on holiday. I'm not fit enough to board all day long, so a couple of relaxed hours in the late morning, followed by lunch and a lesson, was a really good arrangement for me.
The only thing that wasn't great about the lessons was that I was the only non-French speaker there, which I think meant that I missed a few of the subtleties in the teacher's instructions; she'd rattle off French for a few minutes, then give me a one- or two-sentence summary in English. It didn't seem to hurt my progress much, though...
On Monday or Tuesday, I had some food in one of the cafe/bars at lunchtime. I carefully took out my wallet from the pocket where I'd securely zipped both wallet and phone. Then I carefully put my wallet back in a different pocket and zipped that one back up. Then I went off snowboarding for the afternoon with my phone in the still-unzipped pocket. D'oh. I haven't seen it since.
On the upside, although it wasn't insured, it's the first phone I've ever lost, and it only cost £75 to replace it, which is far more than I'd have paid in insurance over the years I've been not bother to pay it... Even better, when I got home, there was a letter from the Premium Bonds people telling me I'd won £100, so in terms of random luck, I suppose I'm still £25 up on the week :)
I managed not to drink for the entire week. I'd wanted to have a bit of time off from drinking after the excesses of Christmas and New Year, and thought that I might just be able to get through the week without getting pissed. On the last couple of boarding holidays, I've managed to lose a day's boarding through being too hungover to want to go out of doors. This time I avoided alcohol with ease, got some decent sleep, and came back feeling very refreshed. Apart from not being able to move my leg without it hurting quite a lot, which brings me to:
On Thursday, I made the foolish mistake of going down a green run I'd not done before. For those of you who don't know much about skiing and snowboarding, two important points: 1) green runs are "easy" runs for skiers, and often have long flat sections. 2) long flat sections are bloody horrible for snowboarders. If a skier stops on a flat bit, they can just walk along, or use their poles to push themselves back into motion. If a snowboarder stops on a flat bit, then they're standing there with both legs securely strapped onto a plank of wood which isn't going to go anywhere without a slope to help it. It's get off and walk time, which is boring, hard work, and mildly embarrassing. So, on seeing a long flat bit coming up, a snowboarder will try to put on as much speed as possible, and hope that the momentum they've built up will take them across the flat bit. Oh, one more thing: a snowboard is very unstable on the flat. It helps to have a slope to keep either one edge or the other dug into the surface a bit. Without that, you're likely to dig the wrong edge in, which pretty much makes you fall over immediately.
So, on Thursday, on this really icy hard piste, I saw this long flat run coming up, and put on lots of speed to try to make sure I got all the way past it. I got about a third of the way along it, caught an edge, and immediately slammed straight into the hideously hard piste with my left knee. Which is what caused that glorious bruise and swelling I posted a picture of the other day. Owie.
On the plus side, although I skipped my lesson on Thursday afternoon because I was hurting too much to want to risk more hurtiness, I did recover enough to go to the final lesson on Friday. And thus to take part in the last day's test, and pass with merit! So, I'm now certified by Ecole du Ski Français as a Level 1 snowboarder, and I can take my Level 2 lessons next time I head out there. Cool.
Also, I came back to find that I had a physiotherapy appointment today, which I'd tried to arrange before I went out snowboarding, so I basically got there and said, look, my foot's okay now, but get a load of this knee... So Nikki, the nice physio, checked me out and made sure I'd not damaged anything too serious, gave me a few tips to try to bring the swelling down, and basically reassured me and prepared me for a fortnight or so of recovery from my severe bruising. Looks like there's going to be no cycling to work, or karate for me in the next few weeks, though. Arse.
This holiday wasn't quite as sociable for me as previous ones; I think this was just an unfortunate side-effect of having afternoon lessons when most people had morning lessons, and also not being with other people from our crowd for the lessons themselves (previously a few of our crowd have been at about the same level, and we've gone along to the lessons en masse.) I also mostly went to bed fairly early, being tired out but not having drunk enough (luckily, perhaps) to want to stay up and talk bollocks instead of sleeping. There were quite a few good times of socialness, though; I managed to do lunch with a good number of people most days, plus the evening meals were all-eat-together stylee, which was good. Oh, and the Jacuzzi and sauna were nice and relaxed nattering areas, too. And on the last couple of days, I got to go out boarding with a few people, even if it was cut a bit short by my knee hurting.
Hopefully next time I'll not cock up the lessons, and try to have them at the same time as other people, so as not to be socially out of sync :)
Anyway. That'll have to do, because I've got to tidy this flat up some. There's many things I've not mentioned, I'm sure, but at least I've made some kind of entry *grin*. When we get some photos or videos up, I'll post a link, and you can enjoy watching me fall on my arse, or whatever else we've got footage of...
(There now follows some notes-to-self)
Things To Remember:
I got on fine with both 155 and 156 boards this year, and could turn fine with feet set at the standard 0/15 angles.
Helmet size was 61
Boots were Salomon 27.5
Things To Do Next Year:
Buy new sunglasses; I broke mine on the last day
Buy gloves with removable liners, so I can dry them out easily every evening