92. Billy No Mates finds some mates

Whilst I was enjoying the sunshine, blues skies and superb skiing conditions I was also feeling more than a touch lonely. Not so much on the slopes but certainly at the campsite I was beginning to feel a bit like Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’.

Due to Stephanie’s unfortunate (and increasingly mysterious), injury not only is the restaurant closed but so is the bar. So there’s no opportunity to chat to fellow campers over a hot wine or beer. Also the site is a sea of treacherous black ice and nobody strolls over for a chat because you only set foot on it when absolutely essential. I was thinking of painting a face on a basketball.

So I was looking forward to the arrival of Nick from the Late Bay Forum on Saturday afternoon. The first thing I did after getting down from the mountain was to check to see if he’d arrived but no, not yet. It was well after dark on Saturday evening, and I was deep in conversation with my basketball, when I heard the familiar, and oh so welcome, phut phut of an aircooled engine.

Braving the ice I got out to welcome Nick to find that not only had Nick made it but he had also brought his brother George who had made an on the spur decision to come along too. Suddenly I’ve got two mates.

Lonely as I was I would have been happy if Donald Trump had turned up but having spent today, Sunday, on the slopes and later in a restaurant, with these two guys I can honestly say that I couldn’t have hoped to meet a nicer couple of people. And fascinating with it. Both have worked and lived all over the world and both have amazing stories to tell. Our evening in the restaurant was not dull!

My new mates Nick and George get ready for a day in the snow

Until quite recently George held the top job in a large bank but more to the point, he was actually at the two most important sporting events in world history. The 1995 rugby world cup final when Mandela’s Rainbow Nation defeated the mighty All Blacks in South Africa, and then in 2003, in Australia when we won it. If only he’d managed to be in Barcelona in 1999 then he’d have made a clean sweep of the three most important events in sporting history. He also shares his brother’s enthusiasm for old vehicles and showed me pics of a 1972 Fiat 500 that he has converted from scrapyard junk into a pristine piece of history.

Only one problem with these guys – both Leeds United fans

But if you want to see something really special, take a look at Nick’s gorgeous Westfalia Bay, Herman. I said it was the best Bay I’d ever seen, (OK we’d had a few glasses of red by then). He said the best Bay was probably a ‘Champagne Edition’ but I’ve never seen one of those so I can’t comment . It certainly has the coolest number plate ever seen. Nick and George are from Guernsey where all number plates are numbers only, no letters. Nowadays they are quite long numbers reflecting the increased number of cars registered on the island. Nick inherited his three digit plate from his dad who had it originally on a VW Beetle.

Anyway he has owned Herman for 24 years, (is that a TLB record?) and he’s promised that tomorrow I can have a good nosy around the interior and take a few pics after he’s tidied up a bit.

In the morning I took the guys up to my favourite ski hire shop where I was hoping to practise my French and get them sorted out for gear, and get them the generous discount we get for staying in campervans. Needless to say they both speak French fluently and so I had my nose put slightly out of joint. Hey ho.

The skiing conditions yesterday did not quite match the first few days, it was a bit cloudy and visibility was tricky but in enjoyment terms it was the best day so far. Skiing is just so much more fun when you have some mates.

Post script – why do I call Stehanie’s injury mysterious? When I arrived Phillippe told me she had a broken arm. OK it was in French so I may have misunderstood but he described it graphically so it was pretty clear. When the brothers arrived he told George it was a damaged Achilles heel. (Apparently she was dancing to some jazz, alone.)  He told someone else it was a broken ankle. Not being funny but I would like to have this cleared up . . . maybe ask Phillippe again.  I think we should be told. Watch this space.

Not that we’re the only Bays in this village. Spotted this beautiful day tripper at the base of the cable car. From Germany.


About Basil John Mandy

A sixty odd year old born in Ladysmith, South Africa. Manchester United supporter and a great fan of the city in general. I worked for Kelloggs since 1982, apart from a year's sabbatical that I took to ride a bicycle to South Africa. I retired at the end of 2015 and have 2 grandsons, Lenny and Ellis. And now I've got a granddaughter as well - Dottie Joy!!


    1. Thanks a lot Reg. I found myself thinking a lot about our fantastic times in Montgenevre and your suit of many colours. Happy days. Bas

  1. You’re beginning to sound like one of those TV detectives with your curiosity of Stephanie , a South African Poirot.

    Enjoy the trip Baz , I’m off to Florida tomorrow , hopefully to a different kind of weather !

    1. Hi Mike To be honest my suspicions about Stehanie turned out to be totally unfounded. (Need to make all that clear in my next post). Have a great time in Florida Cheers Bas

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