Tag Archives: ski

Half term chaos on the slopes

Skiing should be a dream: Vast expanses of empty white nothing; no-one to interrupt the perfect carve; elegance and rhythm, speed and style. With a bit of luck the sun is shining, to take the edge off the crisp cold. That’s the dream… on a slope a bit like the ones below…

Le rêve

Le rêve


Le soleil

Then crash bang WALLUP! Reality kicks in and you realise it’s half term, the French Alps have become franglified with holidaying Brits, a Coke up the mountain costs ridiculous Euros, and queuing etiquette has been replaced by the shove of the masses…


La foule


La piste

(Nice style Sophie!)

The collective madness infects everyone. Here’s a brother crashing in slo-mo into a sister and them heaping up on the floor. Hilarious! Usually, I admit, it’s me that does the crashing. But not this time! I leave the honours to Mrs P and my bro-in-law. Young cousin is being gentlemanly and returning lost ski…


Le crash

Next week I shall blog my way back to the serenity again and return to the dream. Leave all this chaos behind!


Generational battle on the slopes

Now, all that drinking and dancing malarky in the last post (see here) is actually peripheral to the main event of a skiing holiday. Which, of course, is to get the adrenalin going by carving down the slopes as fast as possible whilst looking as elegant as possible.


Me. Going fast. But not elegant…

I have to admit, there is some rivalry in the camp on this point. And, to be honest, I’m losing on both counts. The problem is the teenage children. They’re faster, they’re more elegant, they’re more skilful. Godammit, they’re just better, and there’s bugger all I can do about it!

13, going on 23, and skis like the dancer she is.

13, going on 23, and skis like the dancer she is.

Handbrake turns, easy when you're 15.

Handbrake turns, easy when you’re 15.

Even the jumps hold no fear

The jumps hold no fear

Even a coxcomb hat doesn't slow him down

Even a coxcomb hat doesn’t slow him down

Youth of today

Youth of today

Luckily I can divert my put my pent up ambition to be the fastest slope-man to one side and admire the view. Stunning.

The mountain pass

The mountain pass

The volcano mountain

The volcano mountain

The run into St Christoph

The run into St Christoph

But then the boy whizzes past me at over 100kph and the race is back on! Elegance be damned – I need the speed!!!

Schuss, c'mon - Schuss!

Schuss, c’mon – Schuss!


Crash bang wallop in Obergurgl, plus laughs…

A week’s skiing is a week of laughs, but also of thuds, crashes, bangs and bruises. Indeed the laughs are usually at the expense of the thuds, crashes etc of one’s companions. And with the group that we go with, there’s plenty of that…

The speedster

Charles – the speedster

Charles (14): snake-hips-carving-speed maniac, does not believe he can crash, even when he does. Impossible to keep up with him. Parental fear twisted to the extreme.

Hannah (11) powers down the mountain, smashes through the moguls (who needs to go round them!?!), likes to scream at the top of her lungs as she schusses, and promptly falls flat on her back when she stops at the bottom of a slope…

Power skier

Power skier

Hannah 'sits down' 1

Hannah ‘sits down’ 1

Hannah 'sits down' 2

Hannah ‘sits down’ 2

Hannah 'sits down' 3

Hannah ‘sits down’ 3

Immy (12) is the only one who skis delicately. She also sings whilst skiing, mostly songs from The Sound Of Music. She brings colour light and of course sound to the slopes.

The hills are alive...

The hills are alive…

Stu (40 something), boarder, deep powder nut & general thrill seeker, also has no fear of crashing. Which is good, because he did, and I got it on camera…

Stu starts well in the deep powder...

Stu starts well in the deep powder…

Oooops, he's lost it...

Oooops, he’s lost it…

The resultant portrait.

The resultant portrait.

But the best of all is Stu’s wife Clem (no age given): beginner boarder, and daughter Mia (5 on the slopes, now 6 – happy birthday!): beginner skier. Their adventure goes like this:

Half way down slope Mia crashes. Clem takes off her board to comfort Mia. Board slides off down hill. Increases speed. Disappears off edge. Mia cries, wants Daddy. Skidoo turns up. Clem tries to explain, in German, what’s happened. Skidoo disappears off after the board. Stu turns up with Felix between his legs (4, can’t ski at all). A marital debate takes place on the side of the slope (@!**^$@). Skidoo returns, miraculously with the board! Mia continues down the mountain now with Daddy. Felix gets a lift on the skidoo! Clem boards down, slowly…

Ah, how we chortled over our Glühwein about that one. All’s well that ends well. And indeed the week did end well with no broken bones, although with many bruises. And some great laughs. Got to love the mountains…

Hannah admires the view

Hannah admires the view



Close shave in the Dolomites…

Feb half term is the annual family skiing holiday. A week of fun and adventure. Stories that we will talk about forever.

Sun and snow

Sun and snow

It all started at the airport. You know what SqueezyJet check in is like. Well, our group was 12 in total and the others had already been in line for 45 minutes by the time the Peck foursome turns up. Of course, we go to greet our companions, and somehow manage to jump the whole queue. Much dark muttering amongst the early morning seething mass. How to antagonise the Brits – jump a queue…

The kids are getting good!

The kids are getting good!

Conquer the mountain!

Free the mountain!

Charles and skiing have clicked. One private lesson for a couple of hours and he’s accelerated so fast I can’t keep up with him anymore. He announces “I’m a responsible skier” at lunch, and promptly smacks into his Mum, wiping her out in the afternoon.  Blimey he goes fast – the confidence of youth!

I think he's contemplating the perfect line...

I think he’s contemplating the perfect line…

Charles Tree (1 of 1)

Ah, to be young again…

Charles and fans

Charles and fans

The girls are rocking the ski school. 3 girls, and 3 champions, all winning trophies in their respective classes (phew! what would have happened if 2 won, and 1 didn’t…?)



Looking cool on the slopes

Looking cool on the slopes

Felix is chief mischief maker for the week, principally by refusing to ski. Mind you, he is only 3. His parents keep on dancing.

Felix, almost skiing.

Felix, almost skiing.

Any chance for a boogie

Swinging to the umpah music

A week’s fun in the Dolomites, and then, out of the blue, near disaster. Our transfer bus back to the airport gets hit by an avalanche at the top of the pass. The bus slews round and halts. We’re at the edge of the avalanche. Had we been 50 yards further on …., it doesn’t bear thinking about. We’re stuck until the snow plough can dig us out. We miss the plane. But no matter. We know we’ve been incredibly lucky.

Snow plough digging us out

Snow plough digging us out

Every cloud has a silver lining – in our case we have a day to kill in Venice whilst we wait for the next plane. Nothing like a close shave to make you appreciate the moment! And a family story, to last forever.

Enjoy every day!

Enjoy every day!

The trouble with skiing…, part 2

View onto Col de Fresse

The view onto the Col de Fresse

Having had a jolly good moan in part 1 about the amount of gear you need for skiing (scroll down below this blog page and have a look if you haven’t already seen it), there is of course another problem about skiing that I have to mention. And that is, that just occasionally, quite by accident, you fall over. In this respect I feel slightly jealous of the kids. Lower centre of gravity, younger bones, less sense of anxiety, they just bounce back up and carry on. When I fall it’s either embarrassing or it hurts. And I managed to cram in both sensations this week….

Immy takes a well earned rest (fell over...)

The first occasion was the more excruciating. I had just got off the ski lift, gently skied down to the map billboard to discuss with wife, brother- and sister-in-law which route to take; I was coming to a halt, maybe doing all of 1 mph, when I slid into 3 stranger skiers who were also standing by the board. I swear everything then happens in slow-mo: I realise I’m going over, grab onto the woman who’s next to me, which means she’s coming down with me; she clatters into the next person who also topples. Embarrassment supreme as this English nitwit manages to cause carnage whilst moving at a snail’s pace (do snails ski?). I remember I was apologising profusely in French as I went down. She’s replying ‘it’s ok’ but her look says: ‘plonker’. Skis & poles everywhere as we try to get up again…. What’s worse – no help from the rest of the family, who have turned their heads away as they crease up in laughter and don’t want to embarrass the other skiers. The humiliation!


My second tumble was not as embarrassing, but was potentially a lot more dangerous. I was piling down the giant slalom course, going as fast as I possibly could, when I lost control. Thump! went my head on the ice floor, off come the skis, and I’m sliding down the steep hill backwards at about 30 mph. I distinctly remember whacking my head (luckily wearing helmet – SO important) and thinking: ‘Ouch! that hurt, I’ve survived but I’m completely out of control, never mind, just go with it, enjoy the backwards arse slide’. By which time I’d come to a stop. Some nice French skier picked up my skis up the hill, brought them to me, enquired if I was ok, and skied off wishing me ‘have a nice day’ (?!?!?) For me, this was a lucky escape…

A tumble

Charles, on the very last moment of the very last ski, manages to fall down whilst taking his skis off. Thank God I’m not the only one…! Also I enjoyed my wife taking out my bro-in-law getting off a ski lift, highly amusing…. And below, the intrepid kids at ski school.

Ski skool!!!

So my last photo from Tignes is a pic of me practising my board jumps. Big squadgy balloon to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. Love it!


The trouble with skiing…, part 1

We’ve just got back from a week’s skiing in France. Thank God we went high (Tignes), because lower down the mountain the snow is gone. But 2100+ ms, it’s still good, at least in the morning before it gets slushy…

View from L'Aiguille Percee, 2750 ms

Once I’ve got my planks on, I absolutely love it. The thrill of zooming around, carving turns, the Schuss, the odd jump with obligatory acrobatic twist, and the snow-shower-slide-to-a-halt. (OK, if that makes me sound good then I should recalibrate: basically I’m very average, one week a year – if lucky – intermediate. But I love to dream!!!)

But there is a problem with skiing – you need so much gear: the skis (of course…), poles, gloves, ski suit, boots (aaaargh!!!), helmet, goggles, sunglasses, lip sun protection, sun cream, money, ski pass, the list goes on for ever. So that was one of the themes of our holiday: Who had forgotten what, and who was going back to the chalet to pick it up?

View from bubble lift over Tignes lac (2100m) towards La Grande Motte

It all started before we left. Our skiing companions phoned from the airport (we were still at home). “Could you pop round to our house, we’ve forgotten Hannah’s ski jacket…” (How do you forget that when you’re going on a SKIING holiday?). So we did, only to find the TV still on as well (?!?). Later on we discovered they’d forgotten babysitting cover for their hamster too (??!!??). A week without food! A goldfish might just survive. Lucky Granny lives close by…

Once at the resort we had a 10 min bus ride to the ski slopes. So no-one was impressed when the kids forgot gloves at the chalet. (Sod it, just buy new ones.)

Charles conquers the mountain

I have to admit I was not immune to cocking up myself. Lipstick sun protection: I dropped it on the ski lift. So that was another replacement purchase necessary (5 Euros a stick in Tignes!). The next day I managed to get to the bus pick up stop without remembering to put in my contact lenses. So everyone buggered off up the mountain whilst I trudged back (the boots, the boots) to sort my eyes out. But it’s all worth it you see, because then you get to go up the mountain, and have incredibly expensive hot chocolate to recover.

Me and chocolate

And when we got back to Blighty I managed to leave a boot bag at the taxi rank on the drive home. Honestly, someone’s should think this through – how to cut down on the skiing clutter. And invest boots that don’t kill your feet!!!

'Eye of the Needle' close up

(If you click on the photos they should take you to see more on Flickr)

So that’s part 1. Part 2 will investigate the dramatic story of who did the most, and the most dramatic, wipeouts. Come back and have a read soon!