Wednesday, 12 October 2016

An Honest Look into My Ski Season Experience

 As you may know, last winter I was living in the French Alps working as a chalet host with Rob. It was the first time I'd ever been skiing and to say I was a little apprehensive is a huge understatement. I didn't know if I'd enjoy skiing, we were both unsure on what chalet hosting would be like, it would be the first time we properly lived together, and I really hated the cold...

At first everything was really exciting, we were going on this huge adventure together, I was going to learn to do something completely new and Rob was finally getting to do the winter season he always wanted to. (By the way, that's Rob in the picture, I'm nowhere near as cool as him on the slopes). 

Christmas was our first week of guests and that was strange. I was expecting to be all cosied up, walking around in the snow with Christmas music playing every but instead, we were sat outside a pub in the sunshine and wearing t-shirts. It didn't really feel festive at all, Rob and I both agreed it was a strange first Christmas away from home. Despite all of this, we nailed Christmas dinner.


So, skiing. As I was first learning, the snow conditions weren't fantastic which meant I was having to learn on ice and trying to dodge mud - not that easy. I think I only had three lessons in the first week and pretty much learnt on the job for the rest. Rob was a star, I knew he only really wanted to go out with the other boarders on the more advanced slopes but he stuck by me through the dark times (believe me, there were some dark moments on those slopes). 

At one point, Rob thought I was ready to take on the blues and I thought I could too. Boy, was I wrong. Technically speaking, I could have easily skiing that blue slope but I had absolutely no confidence in my abilities. The most memorable moment was probably me stood on the middle of a "steep bit", crying my eyes because I couldn't do it. It didn't really help that as this was happening, little kiddies were speeding past me as I had my breakdown. I got down eventually and there were more crying incidents than I would have perhaps liked.

I didn't ski as much as I probably should have done. Truth be told; I didn't enjoy it. I was terrified of falling over, anything remotely steep freaked me out and I didn't want to slow anybody down. Luckily there was a great couple we worked with who decided I wasn't allowed to just sit at home and that they would help me tackle the harder slopes. They did and things just got better from there - mainly because I could now ski to and from the pub.

Chalet Hosting

This was hard work. Rob and I were very naive and thought we could just stroll in, do a bit of cooking, have a bit of a chat then go out and enjoy our day; coming back later on to cook some dinner - no biggie. It was absolutely not like that! We had some problems at the beginning of the season with the laundry and food deliveries but once we realised it wasn't the end of the world, things got a little easier. 

It was strange meeting new people every week and cooking them a three course meal every evening, then having to start all over again every Saturday. Rob was a lot better at talking to our guests initially but I like to think as the season went on my confidence grew and I was more comfortable talking to new people.

If you get chalet hosting right, you can spend the majority of your day on the slopes. The mistake Rob and I made was doing too much food prep in the mornings, meaning we didn't get out until around 11/12 - not ideal. Between the lifts closing and evening service, you've essentially got empty time when nothing's really happening. So, perfect for food prep. This means you get out of the chalet around 10am, ski until the lifts close and then go into work to prepare for the evening meal. We're definitely going to do it this way around this year!

I really struggled on that winter season, I found it incredibly hard adjusting to our new life, especially since I'd never learnt French before and found it hard to communicate to some shop owners (luckily, most of the bars had English staff). I felt very isolated throughout the whole season, not having any internet at our apartment didn't really help and our guests found it a bit strange when we were sat in the boot room in the dark, browsing on our phones!

Thankfully, I'm really excited to go back this year. I never thought I'd want to do another season but with everything that I learnt last year, and the fact two of our besties are coming with us, I think this season will be a lot better. I'm planning to keep up with this blog over the season, hopefully it'll help me realise when I'm fussing over the little things and remind me to just enjoy myself.

Would you ever do a winter season?

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