Daily Archives: January 10, 2004

Pool and not pool

Chef and Andy leave to meet Barrie and Mikey at the Big Ben bar up
the road, where there are pool tables. Chris, Melanie and I return to
the apartment and surf the TV for a bit. Jay Leno sends them to bed by
10pm; I stay up. Well, I doze. Andy and Chef return at midnight.
Bed. We don’t plan to be up early tomorrow – none of us is having
lessons.

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Pizza and wine

Barrie and Mikey are staying half-board at Hotel Chamoix, so they
head back for their dinner. The rest of us traipse the streets looking
for a suitable restaurant. We settle on a nice pizza/pasta place. Garlic
baguette, mushroom risotto, more wine.

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Snowblades, chuffs and gurning twonks

We take our gear back to the apartment, Mikey and Barrie in tow. I
try attaching the boots to the snowblades (it’s not like with normal
skis, where you just stamp into the bindings; with these, you have
independent heel and toe sections that you manouevre into position
manually). “It helps if you put them on the right way round,” says
Mikey. Oh yeah. (Snowblades have a raised pointy tip at both ends to
allow backwards skiing, so this isn’t as stupid as it sounds, he says
defensively.) Also, the snowblades don’t have brakes like yer standard
skis; instead you strap them to your boots. How easy will this all be
on the slopes, I wonder? And there are no poles either – hope I don’t
end up having to traverse lots of tedious flat bits.

Swiss money, usually labelled CHF, we christen Chuffs. There’s about
two chuffs to the pound. The notes are ugly, we decide, containing
portraits of gurning twonks. (CHF actually stands for “Confederation
Helvetica”, which is Helvetica Bold for neutral countries :-)

Yes, we’ve been to the supermarket (right opposite our apartment).
Wine, mostly.

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Ooh, mountains, snow, etc


Arrive Verbier. Apartment is huge compared to previous
skiing holiday experience. No bunk beds! Space for cat-swinging! We
unpack then meet up with Barrie and Mikey in the centre of town.

We head for the Médran cable car station to sort out our ski
passes. The woman behind the counter wears a Union Jack badge but
maybe she’s just a fan – she doesn’t speak English, at least not to
us. After lots of faffing, and despite her pointing to various
unpleasant weather forecasts, we sign up for six-day all-area
passes. Kerching. We get new-style keep-in-pocket ski passes, no need
to wave them at surly people in booths, just waft your pocket near an
automatic detector. It’s the way of the future I tell you.

Next, skis and boots. We go to Médran Sports, near our
apartment. The boots are as usual tough to get into (and out of), but
I find mine pretty comfy. I gulp and ask to hire snowblades rather
than big boys’ skis. Pas de problème, m’sieur. Barrie gives me
a strange look; he reckons I’ll be bored with them after a day. Well,
if I am, I’ll just come back and exchange them.

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Loop around the lake

We loop around Lake Geneva, Geneva -> Lausanne -> Montreux,
then take a tangent into the mountains. While others sleep and/or
cough and/or sniff, I eat my packed lunch.

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Bienvenue etc

Smoo-oo-th landing at Geneva. We zip through baggage reclaim and
passport control, and emerge into the sea of reps holding up signs of
varying quality. Chef booked a private transfer with ATS, but the rep
doesn’t have his name listed. Turns out they subcontract this
particular route. The rep phones head office to find out the name of
the company, and we soon locate the relevant homme du signage, a
miserable pas-parler-Anglais chappy who eventually leads us to his
minibus.

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Did we take off yet?

We’re on an Airbus A320 (thought Roger would like to know, so he
can check out its crash statistics). It’s a smoo-oo-th takeoff and
seemingly a shorter flight than I remember. I make a start on Volume 7 of
Spike Milligan’s war diaries, Peace
work
, which I picked up in Waterstones yesterday. Chris plugs
into his iPod for the duration.

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Second breakfast

Hobbit-style, I have a second breakfast. Chris is denied his
traditional holiday-christening preflight cider due to pesky licensing
laws. (Hmm, though he got a pint at Gatwick when we went to Malta!)

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Where is Pink Elephant?

We drive in a holding pattern around the airport perimeter, planes
taking off and landing all around us, until we finally spot the Pink
Elephant car park. We must have taken a wrong turning, since Chris
and Melanie (plus her cold) don’t have any problems finding it. A
quick courtesy bus later, we check in. No, we don’t have any
sharp objects in our hand luggage.

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Pick-up

Chef arrives at my flat after picking up Andy, and we head for
Heathrow. Chef’s got the tail-end of a cold. Mike texted me at 2:40am
telling me he was on a train; OK, maybe 4:30 wasn’t all that bad. The
M11 is pretty busy for a pre-dawn Saturday.

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