Monday, 26 March 2001

Old News - Newsletter March 2001

Hi Everyone

We have found a place to stay, in Kilburn, and will be moving on Thursday! What a relief. Now I just have to pack, move, unpack and find a new job. No worries!

Anyway, let me tell you about Switzerland before I forget. My Aunt‘s boyfriend has an apartment in a tiny resort in the Swiss Alps called Alpes de Chaux. My Mom had arranged to go there with Aunt for 6 weeks from the beginning of March, and invited me to join them for a bit. So on Monday the 5th March I caught a plane to Geneva and then made my way by train, tram and taxi to their place. An interesting trip, and the first solo navigation I done in years. I got there with no problems, despite having forgotten £700 worth of currency at home.

The apartment in Alpes de Chaux is very nice. One bedroom, open-plan kitchen / lounge and a bathroom. Mom and I slept on sleeper couches in the lounge, with sweeping views of the valley and the mountains opposite. Unfortunately you really need a car to get around, as it is an hours walk from the nearest station – so we did a lot of walking! Mom had been taking skiing lessons with the object of being able to ski with me, and the next morning we got up early to hit the slopes. Here we encountered a couple of snags:
1. Mom had learned on 1m skis, and the shortest they hire locally is 1.5m.
2. Mom had never been up the local slopes, which make her nursery slopes look flat.
3. Mom had a horrible cold.

So we get to the top of the draglift and Mom is terrified, can’t turn, and is feeling weak as a kitten. After half an hour of picking her out of the snow she and I took off our skis and walked down. She went to lie down, and Aunt and I skied a bit. Aunt’s a pretty good skier, and we did the run a few times, then met up with my Mom again. Mom’s nerve was a bit shattered, so we hired blades (v. short light skis) and went to play on a flattish bit of slope for the afternoon to get her nerve back.

The rest of the week we took it very easy, as a thaw set in and the slopes nearby were nasty. Plus Mom was ill, Aunt not keen to ski, and I was lazy. So we went to Montreux and looked around a castle, did some hiking and read a lot.

Mountin Man arrived late on Sat 10th, my birthday. We all had a lovely fondue, and turned in. (I’d hired another studio apartment nearby to have some privacy, and after he left on Monday Mom shared it with me for the rest of the week, as Uncle was arriving and we wanted to give Aunt some space.) On the Sunday Mountin Man and I skied to a village called Bretaye, and Mom and Aunt came via foot and tram. As this village is a bit higher the slopes were good, and Mountin Man and I did every run in the area – most of which were red – while Mom practised on the nursery slope! The light was horrid, and it rained most of the afternoon, so I think we must be pretty good skiers now. Mountin Man is much better than I am though, as not being to see doesn’t upset him. We skied back to our resort at the end of the day, and I spent most of the time on my face. The runs back were all South facing, and very melted, so you had to skim from patch to patch and turn on a penny between grass and gravel. Not my strong point and I haven’t fallen that much since I learned to ski!

On Monday the weather was still bad, and I was exhausted. Mountin Man whizzed up the slopes while I had a late morning, and then he joined the rest of us for lunch before heading home. As he left it began to snow, and didn’t stop until the next afternoon!

On the Tuesday afternoon I dragged Mom kicking and screaming back up the run. We’d managed to find short skis at the local shop, and the snow was perfect. There is a section of the run that is wide and easy, with a draglift coming back up it, and we practised there. I got her to follow me down about 6 times, then we walked back home for a G&T. The next day we came down about 10 times, and got a bit faster. The day after that she was overtaking me and later I got her down a steep narrow section of the run, and the next day we did the entire blue run! She did really well, only wiping out a couple of times (and discovering what it is like to dive face first into the off-piste. ‘Face-plant’ as we call it). I was very impressed, as it is not an easy run for a beginner!

We spent my last day hiking across the valley, and I navigated back last Monday. It was wonderful to spend so much time with my Mom!

Since then I have been back at ABB. They go live today or tomorrow, so I am trouble-shooting 3 days a week. Luckily they have finally found someone to take over my section, so I will not be coming back after Wednesday. Mountin Man and I spent last week flat-hunting, and I spent most of Friday looking at flats. The one I chose is very close to Kilburn tube, and a basement flat. For those back home – this means the flat is sort of sunk down a few steps below street level. I think this is a good thing, as every other place I looked at involved 3 flights of winding stairs! It is a one-bedroom, with a big lounge, decent kitchen and nice bathroom. And main selling point is – it has access to the garden! Behind the building is a huge garden – nothing fancy, but a place we can sit in the sun and braai. I have really missed having a place to get outside.

On Friday night I was celebrating, and got through nearly 2 bottles of wine. S came down from Aberdeen for the weekend, and he and Mountin Man went out to meet B etc. I woke up with a horrible hangover, and Mountin Man and S got home in the afternoon feeling the same, so we lay around and watched videos. That night we went to dinner with T and A, and Mountin Man and S went out clubbing with B and J etc afterwards. Then on Sunday we all went for a pub lunch… A weekend of excess and for once I admit it. L got home from Nepal last night – sounds like she had a great time!

This coming week is going to be a blur of packing and moving.

Wish me luck!

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