Having determined that Mr V is officially a ski drop-out, my daughter and I set off husbandless and fatherless to Passo Tonale. My suitcase was lined with a pile thermal underwear, brand new salopettes, three new ski jackets (because they were a bargain) and my old faithful all-in-one. I don’t know what made me throw in the old faithful all-in-one but I am very glad that I did.
Lesson One. When buying new ski gear, it’s no good admiring your silhouette in tight ski pants and a fitted jacket. Because when you put your thermal clobber on underneath, you cannot make zippers meet. Not even a little bit.
Lesson Two. If you buy ski gear in the sale because it’s a bargain but then end up hanging it in the wardrobe throughout the entire week, it’s a waste of money.Lesson Three. By dint of Lesson One and Two it’s pointless clutching your credit card statement in one hand, your forehead in the other, and berating God for inventing sales in Decathlon and extreme weather conditions so vicious you can’t see the mountain in front of you – never mind ski down it.
And so it was Eleanor and I ventured out of our hotel in minus fifteen to meet our ski instructor. One hour later we were reduced to standing on a nursery slope with a wind blowing us sideways as zillions of ice particles gave us the sort of dermabrasion treatment you pay a fortune for at the beautician’s. Our hands and feet went numb as the wind chill factor took the temperature down to minus twenty-four. Eleanor’s lip jutted out and she uttered the words, ‘I think I’m going to cry.’ This is the sort of talk my feisty fourteen year old hasn’t uttered since the age of six. So cutting our lesson short, we said good-bye to the instructor before going off to thaw in a restaurant. ‘Tomorrow,’ Thomas called after us, ‘drink bottle of red wines before leaving hotels. Is gooda for cold.’ The thought of knocking back a bottle of red at any time of the day let alone 8.30 in the morning wasn’t something either of us was up for. Nor clearly that of a French schoolboy who ended up having two fingers amputated due to frostbite. No exaggeration.
As our extremities came back to life they went through various colour transformations. Eventually we were able to slurp on a cappuccino – although holding the cup to our lips was precarious. This was because our throbbing fingers now resembled purple aubergines. And talking of aubergines, I’m now reminded of our hotel’s menu.As a vegetarian, the hotel restaurant assured I would be delighted with their meal options. Aubergine lasagne. Spaghetti and aubergine. Aubergine pie. Baked aubergine. One day they battered an aubergine and served it with sweet and sour sauce. Just when I thought it was impossible to do anything else with an aubergine....da-da.... aubergine tart. With custard. Don’t believe me? I have photographic evidence on my FB page!
After a first day of almost non-existent skiing, Eleanor and I retired to our hotel room. It was nice. All knotty pine and elegant curtains. On the wall over the twin beds was a huge picture depicting three naked cherubs gambolling across the canvass. A previous occupant of the room – possibly bored due to the extreme weather conditions – had taken a biro to one of the cherubs doing a full frontal and artistically added a huge appendage.The following morning the weather was still cruelly cold, but visibility good. Thomas greeted us and announced that today – thanks to the 100 mph wind dropping – we would be able to use the chairlift to the glacier. Hurrah. We were especially delighted that our chairlift had a pull-down Perspex hood to keep us cosy on the ride up to the glacier. But not so delighted when, upon reaching the apex, the hood failed to release. Yes, all the way back to the bottom. Yes we did bring all the machinery to a halt.
And thus our skiing week got underway, in erratic fits and starts. When we were too cold to feel the tips of our tongues in our mouths, we would head back to the hotel which was fortunately posh enough to have a Jacuzzi, pool and gym. Never before have I booked a skiing holiday and found myself spending more time running on a machine that goes nowhere or doing the breast stroke.
Eleanor, a text addict (are their clinics for such addictions?), spent every awakening moment with her fingers pressing buttons on her mobile using the Blackberry Messenger service. Every thirty seconds the phone would emit a brrrrrmmmm announcing a Status Update from one of her zillion contacts. This ever so slightly drove me nuts. If Eleanor could have skied whilst texting, then she would have done so. Status Update – skiing a red run. Thirty seconds later Status Update – Hot boy ahead.
And talking of hot boys, the daughter’s eyes were on stalks. Oh yes, never before in her short little life had she spotted so many gorgeous lads (Harry Styles look away now). No sooner had I finished munching my aubergine supper, my daughter was gone. Didn’t see her for dust. Fortunately I am a voracious reader, so whilst I did my bookworm impression, my daughter was doing a different type of impression. That of a doe-eyed helpless female standing in the lobby clutching an iPod that wasn’t working. Rescue was almost instant. Instead of a knight on a white charger, along came the most handsome boy in the hotel with an iPod charger. They went dancing. They went to the arcade. They went to the karaoke. On the sixth night he hugged her. On the last night he walked Eleanor back to our hotel room. Eleanor was convinced he would kiss her. And maybe he would have done had I not unwittingly opened the door as the pair of them were standing there. I don’t know who was more embarrassed. Them or me. Possibly me. A vision in a Donald Duck nightdress and face cream.
Alas the skiing holiday is over. Instead of coming home on a high, I feel deflated. Cheated out of my annual thrill. But never mind. There’s always next year...