I had a comment today, ‘Is this a VW blog or a Ski blog or what?’ It was from a regular reader and as I don’t have many of those I want to give a full and frank answer. If I have a target audience it is anyone of a certain age who is thinking of buying an old VW camper or who has just got one and is new to the scene. I write about everything I do in the camper. For the last few days the Sick Bay has not moved an inch, it is like a frozen block of ice. It is my cosy bedroom and nothing else. But I’ve been skiing and having a great time apart from one thing – I am on my Jack Jones.
The thing about skiing is that it’s the ultimate ‘look at me’ sport – and I’ve got no-one to look at me. So I turn to my blog to act as my friend and confidant. A bit like Bridget’s Diary. And that is the sad truth and that is why you’re getting another post about my day in the snow.
Just to retain a bit of interest for any VW campers, a word about this site – Le Champs de Moulin. It is a ‘caravaneige’ which means it’s open during the ski season and caters for cold weather camping. It has a sauna, a drying room and is near to the ski lift system of Les Deux Alpes. All the other campers are skiers and they all congregate in the site bar/restaurant every night. As with any site it stands or falls by the owners and this one stands very tall in that regard. It is run by Phillippe and Stephanie and they are very welcoming.
Stephanie in particular as she does all the cooking which is first class and not expensive – about 20€ covers about everything, including wine. She is also the driving force of the site and ticks all the ‘F’ boxes – friendly, foxy, fun and French. (Probably a few more if I could think of them). I think she has taken me under her wing because I am alone. She’s a bit flirty, (another ‘F’ I missed) and when I told her I wanted to book for dinner she said Good, because she had something good to ‘propose’ to me. I know she was talking about the menu but I suspect Phillippe probably keeps an eye on her. Just to be absolutely clear, she was talking about the menu.
I have not been skiing for many years until now, (apart from last year’s fabulous ski trip to Glencoe which had everything apart from skiing.) Some things have changed and some have not. There are a hell of a lot more Russians and East Europeans than ever before and thank god they are here because they are the ones spending all the money. Also I’ve noticed that just about everybody wears a helmet now, previously they were worn just by the posers and serious acrobats. In the past, when the slopes were full, you never sat in a chairlift on your own. There was always a queue so the attendants made sure that every chair was full. Now, if you are on your own, people seem reluctant to get onto a chair with you. They pretend to get on but hold back at the last minute so they can sit with their friends in the chair behind. Anyone that does get on with me always gets engaged with questions about where they are from and why do they prefer boarding to skiing? So far I’ve had a few Russians, who said they didn’t speak English, a Hungarian, who told me they can’t ski in Hungary because the highest point is only 900 metres. And a young Slovenian boarder who was also a Manchester United fan – a paid up member no less. He preferred boarding because it is better for ‘air time’ and because it’s cooler. There is still the traditional animosity between skiers and boarders. Every collision I have seen here has been between a boarder and a skier, never two boarders. The problem is that boarders can’t always see where they’re going so I think the moral of the story is that if you’re a skier, give ’em a wide berth. Another thing that’s stayed the same is that it’s still impossible to read a piste map.
Something new is the introduction of comfortable cabins where you can picnic, catering for those of us not wishing to blow loads of dosh in the piste bars and restaurants. And there are ecological toilets dotted around so you don’t see yellow snow anymore.
The biggest change, however, has been in me. Anyone who skied with me before would tell you I got a bit obsessional, in that I wanted to ski from when the lifts opened to when they closed. Just had to get the most out of every day. This time I’m much calmer, I don’t get to the slopes until about 10am and I take plenty of breaks, even if just to admire the view or to watch the experts in the jumping park. To be honest, I probably enjoy it even more this way.
The forecast is for a lot of snow to come which is a great relief – this is the first time in a hundred years that snow has not fallen in Grenoble all winter. It also means that I will probably have to get my snow socks on my tyres to get down the mountain when I go home. That post will be all about how the Sick Bay copes in the snow and I hope that my blog becomes undeniably all about ‘Life with an Old Bay’ again. If not please do not hesitate to let me know!