Last year I was lucky enough to go skiing for the first time. It was a holiday I’d always wondered about but never really been sure I wanted to try. However, my husband’s enthusiasm for the activity, combined with a desire to try something new and get fitter in the process, led to me to a week’s holiday in Chamrousse, France.
We left Wales after work on a dark Friday afternoon and drove to Kent then took the Eurotunnel to Calais. I don’t know who was more excited: me, my husband, our two children or my brother in law and his girlfriend. We had even exchanged our car for a people carrier to fit us all in! The drive was exciting because we love France – it’s so different to Wales – and driving across such a beautiful country to a new destination had us all laughing and singing along the way.
Our climb from Grenoble to the ski resort was exhilarating. In Grenoble, it was grey and drizzling but not that cold. But as we ascended, the air got colder, the water bottles in the car started popping with the altitude and it started snowing! Before we knew it, we were in a mid-February winter wonderland. It was like a scene straight out of a picture book. Enormous ancient trees bowed down over the road, laden with fresh snow, the car skidded wildly on a thick layer of ice and large, soft flakes fell from the sky. Everything was muted and muffled and had that magical Christmas feel.
When we arrived at our apartment, it was overwhelmingly beautiful. The balcony was waist high with snow, the windows faced the ski-slope with the ski lifts and our accommodation was just like a log cabin. It couldn’t have been more perfect. We fell hungrily onto pizza and chips before climbing into comfortable and long overdue beds.
Following a good night’s sleep, we rose early and prepared our ski gear. I was very excited but also a bit anxious. As I’m a very small person, my husband had assured me that I’d have a low centre of gravity and that I’d get the hang of skiing no problem at all. I hoped he was right!
Now, if you’ve never been skiing, it’s hard to convey exactly what it’s like the first time you put on the gear. You have your undergarments – thermal of course – then very thick socks. Next layer involves jumper or hoody, salopettes, scarf, hat or helmet, ski jacket and gloves. Add ski boots and you’re feeling a bit out of your comfort zone. Said boots – for a learner – force your feet forwards, a little like wearing heels, yet they hold your shins firmly in place so that you’re being forced forwards yet held backwards. Very awkward. The walk from the apartment to the slope was a short one yet it took me a considerably long time. I guess I looked a bit like Ironman with my robotic walk.
Once at the slope, we clicked on our skis and prepared to board the chair lifts. Ha! As a mother, I was torn. I wanted to help my children to the lifts but had to leave that to my husband and brother in law – both experienced skiers – as I couldn’t quite control my own feet.
What followed was like a comedy sketch! Husband, two children and I attempted to sit on chair lift. Daughter didn’t quite make it and ended up on next lift with brother in law, girlfriend and a very nice French couple who helped daughter off lift. Thank you to very nice French couple! As lift went to move away, husband helped son off chairlift but I couldn’t stand up – well my feet kept sliding everywhere! Lift began to rise again to go back down mountain, so I jumped. Ouch! Landed on my knees on the ice. Very embarrassing! I kind of slid over to husband who lifted me to feet – by this point, I guess I looked like a new born foal. (It was incredible that I made it through that day with the pain in my knees and later on, when I removed salopettes, my knees were, I swear, five times larger.)
The next four hours were spent, basically, on my bottom. We’d ski for a bit but I couldn’t stop. Well, I could, but I had to throw myself onto the floor to avoid the trees! Luckily, the children took to it like ducks to water. Son was like a professional – a bit too fearless for my liking – and even hit the jumps that afternoon. Daughter developed a snow plough that kept her upright all week, though her thighs were like iron by the time we left France. Brother in law’s girlfriend could stand and go REALLY fast but she did, unfortunately, as my son put it, ‘bounce off her face’ with one or two awkward landings.
By the end of the week, however, we (brother in law’s girlfriend and moi) were a LOT better and thoroughly enjoying it. My limbs ached, I had rosy cheeks and white goggle marks around my eyes and my behind was one big bruise but I felt so alive, so refreshed and so fit and healthy. I’d been through some pain and discomfort but I felt stronger and even more determined than ever to improve further. Of course, we weren’t amazing at it, but we were improving.
So why on earth, I guess you’re wondering, have I claimed that this was like writing?
Well, if you really want to learn to ski, each time you fall, you get back up again. If, like me, you’re a sensitive soul, you might have a little cry each time you slip (especially when it hurts) but a part of you knows that you will get back up and you will get better. I am quite a determined person and even though I sometimes feel the need to ‘throw in the towel’, I know deep in my heart that I won’t. Once I’ve started something, I’ll keep going.
I was quite a competent skier by the end of my wonderful week in Chamrousse. It wasn’t easy but it was amazing. Every single minute taught me something new, just like every time I write something and self-edit or get a critique, I learn something new. Reading the work of other wonderful writers also teaches me a lot and gives me even more motivation to become the best writer that I can be.
So there you have it! Writing is like skiing: there will be bumps and bruises, tears and aching limbs. There will be falls and crashes and sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve bounced off your face. But the sound of the skis as they cut through the snow or the keys on your laptop as they flood the page with your story; the feel of the sun on your face and the snowflakes on your tongue or the heat in that scene you just created and the line that will melt a thousand hearts; the laughter of your family and the energy in your soul (this one applies to skiing and writing) will make it all worth it.
Blogs to follow:
Carole Remy – http://www.caroleremy.blogspot.com
Seumas Gallacher – http://www.seumasgallacher.com
Ana Blaze – http://www.anablaze.blogspot.co.uk
Nathalie Thompson – http://www.vibeshifting.com
Keep writing, keep skiing and keep following your dreams!