Tales of catastophe, sex and squalor from the Alpine Underbelly...

Belle de Neige

Monday, 16 December 2013

The blog is now a book!

Belle de Neige is now available on Kindle and in paperback!

"Belle writes an adult tale of the highs, lows and realities of a first year as a Chalet girl. I have followed her online blog for years, this book has among the chapters familiar tales to other readers of the blog, but expanded and with some additional details of life on the other side of the counter. There are new chapters expanding the world with Belle's trademark humour. (Well written, so she did something useful with that degree after all). Tinged with sadness over the loss of her friend, she dives headfirst (usually) into the world of the ski resort. I was in equal measure; fascinated, amused and horrified at the stories that unfold, but reminded of my first ever stay in a ski chalet...Well done Belle, now get writing the next installment, please." 

Paul JR, Blog fan.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Essential Seasonnaire Lingo: Part 2

Now that many of you (bastards) have arrived in your respective resorts and are prancing around, full of yourselves, taking revolting pictures of each other doing snow angels and wearing bobble hats, and posting snaps of the view from your 'office' and your 'commute'...I feel it my duty to say this.....

Fuck you!

May you be sucked down into the black hole, abyss of training week and spat out straight into a double-booking of Russian, vegetarian guests. May you drink too many Jager  Bombs and decide to toboggan home on your arse, resulting in severe freeze burn. May your guests shed enough pubic hair for you to weave a coat out of!

Right. I feel better now. Marginally.

...A few posts ago I promised you a continuation of my glossary of useful, nay, essential seasonnaire lingo. Not that you deserve it....but here it is....

Jager Hand Grenade – A Jager Mega Drive with an added shot of Sambuca. Prop the Sambuca and Jager shots up against each other on top of the glass. Pull the pin and down it. What to drink if Jager Mega Drives aren’t working.

Seasonnaire Nightmare – A concoction designed specifically to hospitalise the drinker, usually bought for you on your birthday. A pint glass filled with a measure of pretty much every drink in the bar, plus bodily fluids if your friends are real cunts. If you’re unlucky enough ever to be bought one, down it. There’s no point prolonging the agony. Your fate is already sealed.

Gnar – An abbreviation of the word ‘gnarly’, which is in turn a bastardisation of the word ‘gnarled.’ Meaning: Extreme balls-out danger. For more detailed explanation see the film, G.N.A.R. (A must-see for any self-respecting seasonnaire.)

Steezy – The art of doing something remarkable, breathtaking and astonishing while looking nonchalant, casual, blasé, laid back and cool. Stylish, yet easy. This concept has spawned a whole fashion trend.

Shred – To tear the whole mountain to pieces with your skis or board.

Core shot – When you ride over a rock and it scrapes to the core of your ski or board. Result: a write-off.

Huck – To hurl oneself off something without much thought for the consequences or landing protocol.

Hoon – To straight-line down the piste, without turning or swerving to avoid other skiers, children or animals, at a ridiculous, unreasonable and gut-emptying speed. Every run is a race.

Kicker – A large, terrifying man-made launch-pad designed to ‘kick’ you into the air. The landing is your problem.

Timmy –  You will find large numbers of these on the slopes. For a clear explanation, please refer to the TV phenomenon ‘South Park’.

Base grind, edge wax and tune – What your average ski rental shop will do to your skis or board if you’re not careful. Learn how to service your own.

Jib – Fart around doing tricks on the piste and getting in people’s way.

Jellyfish – A high-speed crash where the victim is knocked unconscious and therefore flops down the rest of the incline like a wet invertebrate tossed down a child’s slide. Not ideal.

Yard sale – A high-speed crash where the victim is forcibly relieved of all their accessories. Under usual circumstances, this will include skis, goggles, hat, gloves, poles, and dignity being scattered to the wind in the manner of a front yard auction. Most unfortunate if it happens in deep snow. A full yard sale for a snowboarder would probably result in missing limbs too since snowboard bindings have a pretty serious DIN setting.

Tomahawk – A high-speed crash where the victim is catapulted into a down-hill cartwheel. Can be exceedingly difficult to stop if you’re going fast enough. Extremely amusing to watch.

Attention! Further important instructional information below...

How to do Jager Bombs....proper like....

...and here's some other shit skiers say

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Belle de Neige: The Book

So... I don't know if I mentioned it, but I've written a book.... oh I have mentioned it. Well give me a fucking break. If you'd written a book you probably wouldn't stop wanking on about it either! It takes aaaaages and it's really hard work!

Anyway, the book is going to be out on Kindle and in paperback form very, very soon, so watch this space. Until then, here's a box fresh sneak peek in the way of a wee excerpt....

Belle de Neige?

P44: Spread Eagle in the Hidden Valley

“Where are you?”

“…I’m here…”

“…where’s here?”

“I don’t fucking know, where are you?”

I can hear him mutter something vehement and unintelligible.

“Can you see me?”

“No, but….I’m above you, I think.”

“Can you get up?”





“Um…. Hold on….it’s ok. Just…. give me a minute.”

            I am indeed trying to get up but the tree I’ve just had an altercation with has other ideas. It’s small, not even my height, and prickly with cones. It seems to have enveloped me into its branches in an embrace of Satan. My skis are either side of it, my arse is in the snow and my ski poles are underneath me. Cold fingers are creeping over the waistband of my ski pants most horribly. My goggles are steamed to blindness and the snow is so deep that every time I try to lever myself upright my arms simply sink in up to the elbow. I don’t know where I am, or where he is or the piste for that matter. I would very much like to get out of this. Now please. I’d like to just click my fingers and just be magically out of it and back on the piste. But that is not going to happen. Many people would fall into a panic in this situation. But not I. No... It’s true. I am that cartoon ski person who’s spread eagled a tree. But don’t panic.

I’m only thankful Skater Boy can’t actually see me.

“Gonna have to clip out,” I inform him. Best to keep him in the loop. I hear no reply to this, but the puff of smoke I can see snaking up from behind the drop to the south of me tells me that Skater Boy has hit upon this handy break in proceedings as an excellent opportunity for a blaze.
            In all absolute honesty, I am way out of my depth. At some point, during a perfectly straight forward afternoon’s skiing, he pulled up at the side of a narrow path taking us comfortably down to a bubble lift and peered over the edge of the area between the two pistes at the feathery dunes of fresh powder below. I too squinted down and took in, with mixed emotions, thick, fresh inviting snow decorated liberally with trees, the odd boulder, and the track marks of other idiots who’d thought this was a sensible short cut on a low visibility, high avalanche-risk day. Personally, I was surprised it wasn’t littered with frozen corpses but Skater Boy simply shrugged and said:
“Looks alright to me. Dropping in…” before launching himself over the edge into fresh tracks. This was half an hour ago. Since then each of my skis has deserted me at least once, the first time it took twenty minutes of digging to find because it had somehow got buried vertically. You try finding a white ski tip with the visible surface area of a pencil in a blind, white, three dimensional search area, somewhere inside a tree run, where you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. It would have been a tall order for a professional search and rescue team, let alone someone suffering from disorientation, paranoia and a severe case of the munchies.
The tree run was a lot steeper after we got past the initial gentle entry point and required extremely fast thinking. It was a seemingly endless series of tight, winding turns through this admittedly breathtaking glade laden with snow, dodging branches and making split second directional decisions. Very technical and quite literally terrifying. It was only a matter of time until I made a serious misjudgment.
“You alright bird?” some moments later I hear his voice again. I’m panting a lot, and swearing, trying to get myself upright, get this fucking tree out of my face and my skis back on. He can probably hear all of this.
“Yes, uh, fine. Coming…”      
            Actually I’m knackered and not a little bit humiliated. It’s my own fault for trying to look like a big, clever girl in front of him. The man is a fine skier. In fact, I think he’s possibly sexier on skis than off. He spends most of his time looking for large precipices to fling himself from, usually stoned off his tits. All wrong for me. I am exceedingly earth bound. His inappropriateness for me has been increasingly apparent, thus I have been trying to wean off him, and failing, since the chewing-gum-in-arse-crack incident.
Waking up each morning in the tiny apartment of this absurd, stoned, grubby mountain-bum is like coming round and finding you’ve been handcuffed to a Tasmanian devil, particularly when there is blue sky and powder snow around, when he will dance round chattering and searching for his essential paraphernalia – ski socks, one-piece, t-shirt, 80s headband, goggles, Rizlas, baccie, weed and mobile phone. These are usually either in a crusty heap, underneath something Scruffy-but-Handsome owns, or wedged down the side of the bed, covered in the ash he flicked there the previous evening. He can veer from quiet contemplation to possessed gremlin in a flash. One moment nursing your sore shins with arnica and soothing words, the next prancing round the room holding his nuts in a 'brain' shape, or bursting into the bathroom, leaping on you and pretending to rut you before pulling his pants down, tucking his testicles between his legs and demonstrating what he proudly announces is called 'The No-hander Man-gina Fruit Bowl'. There is no escaping the party. It bounces in the door and comes to you.

....want to read more? Watch this space for more excerpts and the book launch coming very soon!



Friday, 22 November 2013

First season: The Truth behind the Lies!

So basically, Whitelines asked me to do an article for them, and being a lazy bitch I couldn't be arsed to write two seperate blog posts...

So this is all you're getting this week darlings...enjoy

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

How Not to Run a Chalet

I have recently received somewhat of an ear bashing from various quarters (uptight, grumble fairies suffering from a chronic sense of humour failure, if you’re asking) about certain elements of the somewhat questionable advice that I frequently dispense herein. 

I have a hunch one or two of the above mentioned work for tour operators and therefore I’m probably not at the top of their lists of ‘favourite people’ anyway, but still. Sidestepping the many petty quibbles we could get into over the fact that some of these tit gypsies are willfully missing the point of most of what I say, I thought that in fact it was probably about time I used my popularity for a good cause.

By that I mean stop simply telling people to drink their own urine and sprinkle their pubes in people’s ski gloves and provide some useful information that a newbie seasonnaire may take with them on a season, to avoid getting fired / alcoholism / fatal injury / genital warts.

The other day, a very nice lady from Alps2Alps, with a sexy name, invited me to do a guest post on Ski Accommodation Finder to offer some helpful advice the common-or-garden innocent holiday-going punter this coming season of ski-ness. This was a request to which I gladly acquiesced in the most flippant way I could think of. Here, you can read it: How to Have the Worst Ski Holiday of Your Life.

In return, the lady with the sexy name sent me what follows; A narration of a rather irksome-sounding chalet holiday. Most of what the writer experienced is pretty standard stuff and this did much to back up my frequent claim that your average ski holiday is nothing more than a glitter-garnished-pile-of-faeces.

Anyway, I thought this was all rather apt and might act as a poetic counterpoint to most of the other ramblings on here, which generally vilify the hapless punter.

Suffice to say, whoever this Chalet Bitch was, they were taking the chronic piss…

[Alps2Alps, by the way, in case you didn't know is the 'affordable airport transfer provider for all your ski transfer needs.' In other words, call these guys if you don't fancy being driven up the mountain this winter by a half-cut 19-year-old in a clapped out minibus with no wing mirrors...] 

How Not to Run a Chalet

If, like me, you thought that resorts like Megeve were these days finally free from dodgy dwelling and awful apartment owners, allow me to educate you. 
Not even close!

I recently returned from a pre-season break to what’s become my favourite haunt and to be perfectly frank couldn't wait to share my experience…for all the wrongest of reasons. In the five days I resided in a chalet block I shall not name for fear of being strung up before the courts. I experienced what I’d consider a ‘Chalet Management 101’ guide as to how NOT to run an establishment. 
It even got to such a point that I couldn't even begin to remember each and every horror of the days and nights, so I took to taking notes. That’s the first time I’ve ever compiled a fact-file of how hideous a stay in the Alps has been and hope to God it turns out to be the last. 

There aren’t enough pages on this whole site to go into full detail, but just to illustrate the point, here’s a brief look at a few of my personal favourites:

AWOL on Arrival
Ah, there’s nothing like turning up after a delayed flight only to find your ‘helpful’ chalet managed has already buggered off for the day with your keys. Cue a three-hour ordeal of phone calls, taxi rides and plenty of swearing before finally getting the things…only to be made to feel it was your fault! 

Personality Transplant
The above was just the first instance in which it seemed our plucky host has undergone a personality-ectomy. A frown that could ruin any Christmas, body odor strong enough to melt the ice caps and a tendency to only ever grunt a response while clearly too busy on Facebook. 

AWOL on Breakfast
Why bother paying for breakfast if the bloke that’s supposed to put it out doesn’t bother showing up? His excuse was that he was told nobody had paid for breakfast…interesting seeing as he checked up on and confirmed breakfast times just the night before. The downward spiral went on. 

Brits Abroad
Who in God’s name puts a five-room stag party of blokes from Birmingham above a family with two young kids? That’s right – our heroically incompetent chalet owner…sleepless nights a-plenty and I think my youngest picked up a few swear words for free. Marvelous! 

Hygiene Horrors

I won’t get too graphic in case you’re eating, but it seems there was still a good 15% of the prior guests still present in the room in the form of body hair and stainage. Seriously, you could clone a whole family from the DNA left behind…yuck!

Local Knowledge? What’s That Then?
I only asked one question and that was enough to know he wasn’t going to give us any help at all. I needed to know where the nearest shop was, he said he hadn’t a clue and didn’t know if there was one…it was three doors down on the same side of the street. I gave up. Waste of time. 

Twice Your Pain, Twice the Price
And finally, just to add insult to injury and round it all off in style, we got home to find we’d been charged TWICE for our delightful stay. This then resulted in a four-day campaign of trying to convince the chalet owner we weren’t taking them for a ride and demanding a refund. 

We’ve been told we will get one…and it might even be with us before the New Year. 

...Now, I must say in closing that it is, in fact, more than likely that someone you work alongside this season will get a complaints letter that looks an awful lot like the above. You could take this post as something of a cautionary tale. On the other hand, if you take nothing else away from this than a list of ‘possible ways to make your job easier’ that’s fine. But chalet bitches, may I refer you to rule number 18 in the Seasonnaire’s Survival Guide. Take Heed:

Photo sources: feepourvous.com - flickr.com/photos/darkdwarf - flickr.com/photos/marcokalmann

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Newbie Seasonnaires: Stuff you might not know you'll need

In my travels around the webosphere this week, I see and hear a lot from the newbie seasonnaire who is unsure what to pack / take with them on their first foray into the alpine underbelly.

Bridget Jones' Cunt

Ahhh, my dear newbie seasonnaires, allow me to assist. The fact that you are asking these questions is good. You have foresight. You will do well. I have foreseen it!

The next 6 months is your big chance. If you do this right, you're in for a treat...

Stuff you might not know you'll need:

  • A 4 plug strip socket with at least 2 metres of cable - believe me, you will thank me.
  • A multitool - in case you drunkenly destroy anything in your accommodation and need to fix it.
  • Some extra cash for the avalanche training and beeps you will inevitably want once you get a sniff of going off piste with your insane room mate.
  • Some really loud speakers for accommodation rave ups

  • A shit load of condoms
  • Bondage tape (my personal preference, but you never know who'll you'll want to tie up and spank)
  • Yorkshire teabags (if you value tea as much as I do. The French / Austrians / Swiss do not understand these things)

  • Branston pickle (same reason)
  • Download a shit load of films in case (in the highly likely event) you can't get wifi in your accommodation
  • Hide my Ass VPN - so you can watch BBC stuff on your laptop while hibernating under your duvet on a hangover / whiteout day.
  • Spirits - If you're in France this is particularly important as the only decent shot they have is that revolting shite Genepi which tastes like your Granny's perfume.. Seriously it's the most foul tasting thing you'll ever experience. Also, booze is expensive in ski resorts so it's good to have a stash.
  • A hip flask. Always a good bonding strategy with new chums on a chairlift.
  • Head torch - for lights-out-cunnilingus

So hot right now

  • Fancy dress - I'd suggest a Gorilla costume or something similar. Otherwise you'll end up having to go to every themed seasonnaire evening as some kind of tin-foil-cardboard fuck up. Don't buy a Kigu they are so 5 seasons ago.
  • A full course of antibiotics
  • Swimming stuff ( in case you start shagging someone who works in a private chalet...although come to think of it you probably won't need the swimmers in that case)
  • Flip flops - a must for end of season sun
  • A jacket and a pair of gloves that you don't mind getting covered in shite (stacking wood / partying)
  • Waxing and edging tools - will save you money / buy you street cred (might even earn you some cash if you do your friends' skis)

Stuff you might not know you won't need (are you confused? I am.)

  • Half the clothes you've packed
  • Anything fancy
  • Ugg boots, trainers, ballet flats or doc martins - firstly because you don't want to look like a cunt, secondly because they are totally useless.

Get a pair of these:

Oh yes. Also ....leave behind any ski equipment you bought prior to being a seasonnaire. Remember that Spyder ski jacket and blades you bought? Yeah. They're not cool, I'm afraid. Steeze yourself out.

Also, watch this film

Pay heed to this

...and some words of advice....

Say yes to everything, see everyone as a potential buddy, don't stay in, go out... shag wherever possible... don't whinge....do your job properly...and for Christ's sake...SKI (or snowboard)! Even if you've had 1/2 an hour's sleep and worked a six hour shift and you can only fit an hour in...SKI! Don't be a pussy.

There, consider yourself initiated.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Ski Helmets: How to look like a non-twat

16 October 2013 08:58
Belle I love you! 
Can you do another little post on ski fashion? This may sound really stupid or superficial, but are there any types of ski helmets that are just plain lame? I'm going out for my first season and want to try not to look like a giant nerd with a HUGE helmet. Merci beaucoup.

Sigh...Now that I reside in the stinky smoke, I cycle to work. The tube, as you will know from reading previous posts, makes me want to press hot coals into my eyeballs. It's nice to hop onto two wheels and cruise around, (niftily avoiding being crushed to death by errant bus drivers and cunts in Porches). In fact, I think it's the closest feeling to skiing you can find without snow. My ride takes me through Hyde Park where it has recently become the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness. I get that buzz of approaching-season-excitement. Then I realise - fuck - I appear to have signed up to stay in this shit hole for the entire winter. That rather takes the shine off the Autumn splendiferousness. So today, I am going to console myself with a rant about ski helmets and I have a handy segway, here, in the guise of the ski helmet's geeky cousin. The cycle helmet.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is in fact impossible to look good in a cycle helmet. Even Wiggo can't manage it and lord knows that man's got a cool yellow lid and some sinewy sex appeal, (particularly if you're into tall, gangly, Richard E Grant types, which I am.)

Ski helmets on the other hand, are fucking awesomely cool. And therefore, there is no excuse to go out on the slopes looking like a complete goon and / or as if you're about to be fired out of a cannon:

You may not realise it, but it is in fact possible for everyone, yes everyone, to look good in a ski helmet.This is an opportunity open to all mankind. All it requires is a bit of thought and an iota of taste and self respect. 

By way of help, let me just give you some very basic guidelines here.

Not Cool:
Only the very biggest cunts go about on the slopes wearing something like this. Usually in groups with another dickhead sporting one of those novelty raccoon tails off the back of their helmet that makes them look like they are being squeezed out of a rodents' arse. Their friends also wear those ridiculous spiky hats with bells on. Sad. So very sad. It screams desperation. You may as well tow a flag behind you that reads: "I’m a soporific dullard trying very hard to make myself look madcap!" Don’t do it. Just no. Not only that, but novelty headgear is also likely to be cheap. And this is not going to help you when you skid on some ice and your head smacks into a rock. And to add insult to injury you’re going to look like a priapic dolt.

Not Cool:

The set up itself is not bad, but watch it with this look. Unless you can pull some pretty impressive rail tricks in an urban setting, wearing a hat underneath your helmet can just make you look like you are trying a) much too hard b) to imitate a policeman c) to audition for the changing of the guard. Really and truly, there is no good, practical reason not to just use a buff instead of cramming your hat under there. It makes your head look three feet tall and it's not a good look unless you're skiing in Norway in January, in which case you're excused.

Anti Matter


These helmets fill me with an overwhelming sense of despair and apathy. Not only because they exist, in the first place, but that there are miserable, dribbling, cretinous lumps of flesh out there who have so little self-respect as to wear them. They reek of tepid, indifference to life and anything invested with any kind of joy or style. They are a black hole of credibility. Mostly sported by the dumpy, the guileless, the harassed frumpy Nanny from New Zealand and your Mum. Steer clear.

Vents are not cool.


What are all these vents for? Yes you need a couple…but…but…I don't understand! 
Such headgear is never acceptable unless you are going to a Tron-themed revival party in the Alps.

Actually, now you mention it that's not a bad idea.

Definitely No: 

Weird futuristic, flame-shaped motifs – this is not the sixties and you are not Buck Rogers. We get it…you’re so fucking speedy you might burst into flames at any second. Also, avoid anything shiny unless you are actually called Hugo Zacchini, in which case, fill your boots, irony is the only thing that’s going to get you through life.

No Bling. 

What the fuck are you doing? You're not James Fucking Bond. And he couldn't ski anyway and had a shit set up! This is very important. No black (particularly if the rest of your clobber is also black) and no matchy-matchy.

Now, a rule of thumb. Make sure the fucking helmet is the right size. Not too big. Not too small. Take your your goggles with you to the shop when you buy it so that you don't end up with a bare-naked spam like this guy:

Two words: Head. Freeze.


 Choosing the right gear can be difficult difficult lemon difficult, so I have designated these helmets cool to give you a helping hand. Take note. And if you're crap at choosing stuff then I recommend heading for a fine establishment like The Boot Lab - a lovely, little boutique ski store where some very talented free skiers have curated some of the trendiest kit out there for you already. 

Now this.... could be the ultimate in cool:

As you can see, this geezer is so cool that he's actually breaking quite a few of the rules  here. Dodgy florid patterns, a peak...and it's the same shape as the horrific one with the green mohawk. He's carrying it off though, and that's mostly because he's fucking awesome. He probably needs this getup because he spends his days doing back flips off the Matterhorn. A warning to everybody else....you should not attempt a peak or anything remotely racy or free-ride-esque unless you've got the skills / balls / cred / insanity to back it up, which, if you're a newbie, you probably don't.

Of course… there’s no point having a cool ski helmet if you wear it with sunglasses like this tit:

…Or if you have purchased some atrocious goggles…like these:

My uncle owns a pair of these. The shame.

…but goggles are a whole 'nother kettle of worms for a whole 'nother day.

A spy you are, James. An expert on ski fashion you are not.

Next: Jeans - how to look like a non-twat part 2.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Essential Seasonnaire Lingo: Part 1

Perusing the clandestine world of ski forums such as www.natives.com recently I have been enjoying the opportunity of dispensing all sorts of (highly suspect) advice to newbie seasonnaires. Those that know me might detect an overtone of slight bitterness, but this is mainly to do with the fact that I myself am not actually doing  a ski season this year.

Still. I like to use my experience for a good cause. So I've been putting together a glossary of essential and pretentious terminology for the new-kids-on-the-mountain so they can stride about resort with confidence, come December. Ladies this is particularly useful for you  when you're being chatted up by some snowboard bore in the local bar. You know, the overenthusiastic retarded type with a ridiculous goggle tan who can’t talk about anything except with detailed descriptions of all the tricks he did that day…

“…and then I did a heelside turn and just corked  all the way down…blah blah blah…”

At least if you're genned up on lingo, you can a) have a fart's chance in understanding what he's blathering on about b) know that he's talking shite and punch his lights out.....

So here you go:


Punter – A paying ski customer/ anyone sporting an all-black ski outfit or gear made by Spyder with some sort of silly hat and / or wankers who wear sunglasses with a helmet.

Name: Punter - Common or garden variety. Also called 'wanker'

Riding switch – The art of skiing backwards. Usually the practice of show-offs, lunatics, park rats, and beginners who have lost control.

Park Rat – Casual, Alpine-getto-garbed hoodlums who are not happy unless sailing through the air upside-down all day. Often to be heard boasting about various shattered limbs.

Cool? 'Fraid not.... 

Onesie – All in one ski suit. Your common or garden variety usually comes with a bum bag, big pouffy shoulder pads and is often worn by awesome ski veterans or 19-year-olds who think they are being ‘ironic’. Camel toe is a given.

Sailing pretty close to the camel there, if you ask me, Maz.

Fresh Tracks - The golden fleece. When achieved is arguably superior to any other feeling on earth. A single line, cut through a field of pristine, untouched virgin snow.

Beeps – Avalanche equipment. Only twats attempt fresh powder without it.

Pow – an abbreviation of ‘powder’ used by individuals who are either too lazy or too important to say the whole word. You should not attempt to use this terminology unless you are 100% certain you have achieved the necessary level of mountain credibility or you will look like a dick. i.e. Imagine this phrase from the lips of Piers Morgan: “Right, let’s go and shred the pow guys. Yah.”

First Lifts – The first round of chairs before the lift completes its first rotation in the morning. Often intended, rarely achieved, by boozing punters the Alps over.

If only they'd taken this from the front.

Dins – DIN settings. A German standard for the release settings on your ski bindings determined by a combination of your height, weight and boot…Fairly important to know about if you want to avoid rearranging your joints.

Bluebird – It has snowed all night and then you awake to wall to wall blue sky and fresh, untouched powder. A feeling akin to Christmas morning when you’re six years old. Possibly better than sex. Well, oral sex at least.

Cum, in my pants.

Corduroy – The corrugated trails left on the piste first thing in the morning after they’ve been groomed. Very satisfying to ski on. Punters often mistakenly think being the first one to hit this stuff is the same as getting first tracks. It’s not.

Gold Rush – The last two weeks of the season when everyone panic shags.

Jager Bomb – Foul, repulsive drink invented by Satan. A shot glass of Jager dropped inside a one third full tumbler of Red Bull. Toxic. Starts your engine like a mother fucker though.

Jager Mega drive – A Jager Bomb with an added shot of blue Curacao and Cassis. What to drink if Jager Bombs aren’t working.
Part 2 coming soon...

In the mean time here's all you need to know about seasons in one informative video...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Social Hand Grenade

Image: Modern Toss

Six months into my flash new job in Mayfair. I'm clinging onto a beading glass of champagne, whilst surreptitiously helping myself to more than my fair share of buffalo mozzarella from the circulating platters at a gallery launch party in Chelsea. The room is an elegant sartorial soup of cosmopolitan design-cum-artsy types and this glacier of a Norwegian chick in tortoiseshell-rimmed glasses has just struck up a conversation with me. I'm desperately searching for things to say that won't make me sound like a complete berk. She is the very picture of tousled perfection. Grey trouser suit, minimal make-up and red velvet kitten heels. I keep longing to ask her where she got them but that would be social suicide.

As a person who lives in continual terror of sticking her foot in it I never like to find myself the more verbose half of a one to one conversation. It's quite simply a countdown to launch until I say something ridiculous. This girl is of the indifferent, dead-pan variety. That type who is genetically evolved not to mind uncomfortable silences and almost goes out of her way to create them. She keeps asking me questions and then saying, "Mmmm" and gazing through me as if I'm made of glass and there's something fascinating occurring on the other side of my head. It doesn't, of course, help that she used to have my job, is two years younger than me and has now moved on to, in her words, 'greener pastures.'

"Sometimes it seems a bit of a shambles, don’t you think? Nobody seems to know exactly what it is the company does," she says silkily as I cram another handful of cheese into my mouth, concentrating hard on not letting the sweaty champagne flute slip through my fingers. "At least that was how it was when I was there...but that's creatives for you..." a flutter of knowing laughter. I notice she hasn't eaten anything whatsoever and is drinking mineral water and for some reason this makes me feel at an extreme disadvantage. 
"Yes," I say, trying to look sage. "I agree. We really need to redefine the way the company represents itself to the consumer, particularly online." 

Where is this bullshit coming from? I wonder; and how long can I keep it up for?

"Huh," she gives a Gallic shrug and smirks. "Nothing changes."

The fact this girl used to have my job and looks like Vanessa Paradis' long-lost younger sister has done nothing for my ego. Next to her I look like an elephantine fashion victim. It's rather shattered my illusions about being the 'hot, mysterious new girl in the office'. I feel like H&M threw up on me. Six months on a moderately decent salary a Burberry frock does not buy.

"So," a slow sip of the mineral water. "What is your background?"

Oh balls. I hate this question. I pause to construct an answer that sounds better than, "Umm...three ski seasons and a healthy dollop of bugger all."

"My core experience is in the digital sphere,” I coo, loathing myself. “Really the creative industry is new territory for me," ...nicely done...surprisingly eloquent...why is she still looking at me as if she's expecting me to say more? Why hasn't she replied? Don't panic...Just stop talking..."Actually I was expecting the industry to be full of bitchy idiots with their heads stuck up their arses. You know, people with designer beards, minimalist personalities and those uber trendy rimmed spectacles, but everyone I've met so far has been, you know....pretty normal."

...and there it is. The clanger. Hanging in the air between us like a sundried fart. Proof unequivocal, I think, as she adjusts her specs and glances over her shoulder at the owner of the gallery (who has a very lush, very bushy, rust-coloured beard) that I am an imposter.

"Er...I must just pop to the loo," I say, before she has time to think about it too much. "I'll leave you to your drink."

The thing is I'm actually really trying not to internalise London too much. All the bullshit parts I mean. It’s fun to play around until you start believing it’s really, genuinely important - the pressure to be in the know, to have fabulous taste and antique jewellery that you picked up in Burma, and a Marc Jacobs business card case and a rose gold Michael Kors watch. The pressure to record your every fart on twitter accompanied by an exquisite Instagram snap that perfectly captures the moment. I am trying, but it's hard, because I feel like an imposter and I have done ever since I got the job. Ever since the interviewer asked what I'd been doing with the last three years and I replied, "I took a career break to write a thesis and did some seasonal work to supplement my income." Not technically true, but sounds infinitely better than, "I had a mid twenties crisis because I was engaged to a psychotic cunt and then my best friend died so I freaked out completely, stuck two fingers up at the tube and sold my ass for a ski pass." 

Hilariously they bought it, and here I am, flying the corporate flag once again. But even with my fashionable new wardrobe (leggings and hoodies replaced by high heels and fitted frocks) I often feel I'm only a child playing at being this new grown-up version of myself. I have convinced myself, also, that it’s only a means to an end. The means – accruing the skills and experience that will enable me to make mountain life sustainable long term with a business of my own. That's the big ambition - to go back to the mountains. But not (as last season) to work for an ego maniac prick with an iceberg for a wife. And not (as in the two seasons prior) to be made scapegoat for the fucktardedness of others.

In the mean time let me take this opportunity to offer myself as a source of (slightly controversial) advice and inspiration for anyone out there considering doing a season.

Anyway. Back to the party. 

I've just reached the front of the busy queue for the loo, where the espresso I necked to sober myself up is starting to take effect in the worst possible way. I need a shit. It's knocking on the door and won't take no for an answer. The loo is unisex and crammed with people who look like they only crap apple blossom and orange mist - and there are no windows, of course. The trouble with minimalism is there's too much of it about. 

I flurry past a willowy goddess in desperation, lock the door and drop my load. But, horror of all horrors - it's a non-flusher. This turd just won't go away. All the loo paper dissipates swirlingly from around it, leaving this lump just floating there, mocking me. Winking at me. 

Christ. What d I do? I can't leave. People will know it's mine. I can't exactly walk out into a crowded loo of absurdly stylish and distinguished art professionals and announce, “that's not mine."

In blind panic, now, I try to batter it into submission with more loo roll but it still won't go away. It smells too. And now I've turned around quickly and knocked over the remains of my champagne where the flute combusts into millions of fragments on the polished concrete floor. 

How has this fucking well happened?

As I open the toilet door, an array of perplexed, designer-bearded and bespectacled expressions greets me. And here is Miss Norway, poking her head round the door and surveying the wreckage I've left in my wake.

"Could someone call the concierge, please?" I say, desperately trying to feign inner-poise and stepping gingerly out of the cubicle.

"Ooh. Who did this?" asks Miss Norway, dead-pan.

Alright darling. You've busted me. I'm a slumdog seasonnaire; a philistine masquerading as someone with dignity and qualified prowess. I can't walk in fucking high heels and I love cheese. I'm making my job up as I go along and until last week I'd never even heard of the owner of this gallery. 

As SbH's Mum likes to say: "What? I bet you’ve got a hole in your arse, haven’t you?"

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Je Suis un Skieur

A chalet bitch friend once said to me "The quickest way to lose all faith in humanity is to serve it food and clear up after it..." Never a truer word was spoken as far as I'm concerned. It's astonishing some of the rancid living habits one is exposed to on a daily basis in this job. For example, why do some female guests feel it's perfectly acceptable to leave their dirty, stained period pants in the middle of the floor for you to pick up? Or leave a rank Gillette shaving razor on the sink with crops of (astonishingly long) pubic hairs sprouting out in all directions for you to see when you're cleaning up?

Some other choice grievances I have picked up in the last few weeks:

Towel thieves
If you're ever staying in a chalet never, I repeat NEVER take towels out of the cupboard without asking the chalet host. You must understand that you are interfering with a finely tuned system, here. There is a finite number of towels. There is a finite number of bathrobes. If you fuck with the system the host will run out of towels for the next changeover before the laundry comes back. This will mean she'll have to wash them herself, in house. And this will make her angry which in turn will make her clean the toilet with your toothbrush.

People that pick themselves in the night - spots, noses, scabs etc - and decorate the freshly laundered, crisp white sheets with specks of claret and puss. Fucking disgusting, can't you just leave yourself alone?

Retards who think it's necessary to open French windows by flattening their hand against the glass and pushing. Use the fucking handle, numb nuts. Furthermore, what is it with children and French windows? It's like, do they really need to dip themselves in butter and marmalade and then press themselves up against every available glass surface? Or lick the windows just after they've eaten maple syrup?

Child abusers
People who think it's fine to let their children play around your feet in the kitchen during service under the mistaken presumption that you think they're cute. I don't think they're cute. I'm seconds from cutting off each of their digits with a bread knife and serving them to you as a canapé.

Those who take it upon themselves to rearrange things. Cleaning products in the cleaning box, items in the kitchen drawers, the contents of my dry goods cupboard. Be my guest! In fact perhaps I'll rearrange the set up in your bedroom while we're at it. I could swap the toilet with the wardrobe and take a shit in your knicker drawer.

As you can probably tell, after three months of this shit, fatigue has started to set in, not lessened by the crew of drunken oafs whose recent rambunctious behaviour has rendered the hot tub unusable for the rest of the season. Who knows what the disgusting foamy stuff that started appearing on the surface of the water was, but suffice to say, it got into the filter and now the thing won't heat up. Hot tubs, as the guy who installed it told me in no uncertain terms, are absolutely disgusting things. Basically a giant Petri dish of gunky old bathwater riddled with every other person who's ever been in it's bodily fluids. Small children have been in it too, so think on.  Luckily it's currently warm as toast outdoors (that disappointing noise of trickling water you hear when you go outside in the morning) but as soon as the temperature drops we're going to have a giant ice cube on our hands.

Anyhoo, it's not all bad. The skiing has been truly incredible. Unfortunately though, it's now got to that time of the season where seasonnaires, cocky from three months of every-day skiing, start getting a bit complacent and hurting themselves. Today, from the safety of the bubble lift, soaring a hundred feet above the piste below, I saw a guy without a helmet wipe the entire length of a run. From top to bottom, at bone-cracking speed on sheet ice, unable to stop. About half way down, his limp body hit an obstacle and began to tomahawk. After completing a course of two or three complete rotations he had pretty march yard saled his entire outfit, skis, goggles, gloves, poles. His body bounced like a child’s toy thrown down stairs. He eventually came to a stop in a forlorn, unmoving heap in the crevice below one of the steel chair-lift supports at the foot of the piste. Whatever he was, he certainly wasn’t conscious.
  Scenes like this remind me why skiing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

That said, I do firmly believe that people who won’t even try it are weedy pigeons.

I appreciate that to the uninitiated it looks like the occupation of a bunch of rich snobs with too much time and money on their hands. Ridiculous to nail oneself to a sharp plank covered in wax and then cry when one falls to one’s death off the side of an icy precipice. Having to spend weeks being cold, wet, terrified and having a bruised arse in order to ‘get the hang of it’. Hmmmm. No thanks. I hear you say. I’d rather coil one out on my own chest and then fester in soiled undergarments for a week.

Well, fair enough. But there’s a reason people love it so much. Singing, laughing, shouting your way down any accommodating hill you can find with a bunch of elated ski bum friends. Speed junkies that turn every run into a race, flat lining everything. Caution to the wind. I am a mountain worshipper. Je suis un skieur! That feeling of the sweeping turn, covering huge, epic expanses in only a few seconds. Freedom to explore places unreachable by others. Soaring on clouds. You can’t beat it. It’s the best feeling invented by humans since we discovered our genitals. In the same way that they leap out of aeroplanes and attend Glastonbury when it’s under eight feet of mud, people persist. Because it’s the best fun you can have that doesn’t involve some form of coitus.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Common Freakery

Just lately, something has been preoccupying me. The something is a question.

 “What next?”

This friend of mine has got me into a panic because, as she quite rightly pointed out the other day over a vin chaud in the creperie, there are only about 8 weeks of the season left.

It is an unsettling idea when you feel you've only just settled in.

A text from my Dad a few days later fanned the flames:

“Poppetto. Hw’s life? Missing u. Hv fwdd ur post to chalet as rqsted. DD xx”

Good. This means he hasn’t been opening it all himself and reading it like he usually does. Also, in this age of unlimited text characters you have to love my Dad’s incredibly unnecessary and inventive attempts at txt spk.

I reply:

“Thanks Dad. Xx”

Then a few moments later, another text.

“Just wondered. Are you going to pay Southern Water? Only they’ve sent three or four demands now and they’re starting to get nasty...”

Oh fuck. Bills. Reality.  It has been all too easy to sink into the protective cocoon of routine around here, and forget, almost completely, that this life has a sell-by date, and that I have a past. The idea that only a couple of months ago I was living in a house with utility bills to pay seems totally alien, as if it was a life lived by some completely different person in a different dimension. I vaguely recall having had some notion I’d pay it off after the first chalet paycheque came in, but that idea went out of the window long before I spunked the entire amount on a new pair of ski boots.

I reply:

“How much?”


Bollocks.  “Thanks – will deal with it. Don’t worry.”

I am now swimming in an emotional whirlpool of indecision.The age-old question. What to do next? The problem is I've been offered this amazing job back home and it's a beguiling thought at times. The posh office job, me tottering into work wearing a nice little pencil skirt and carrying a brand new laptop. I'm not immune to mid-season fatigue and homesickness. The thing is, I love my friends, really I do, and I miss my family like crazy but, you know, going home always seems like a great idea until I get there. And then after about 2 months I find that nothing has changed. Nothing.It’s just the same people doing the same shit coke at the same parties, having the same conversations because their lives are no different. Pleasure-seeking in darkened rooms or thinking up ways to avert the boredom, like getting hitched or popping out a sprog or buying a new sofa.

I have this friend. Lets call her Peaches. Elegant, refined, adored and revered by everyone around her. A brilliant career-woman, home-owner, mother…. Exquisitely beautiful.... And a kleptomaniac. Constantly five finger discounting objects of various value from large retail outlets, supermarkets and stores. Knows by heart her optimum thieving hours - what time the security guard switchover happens in John Lewis and they switch the cameras off for 15 minutes. A master at work.
“I have this impulse” she said to me over dinner once with a gleam in her eye, “When I stay at a friend’s house, to steal things. Small things that wouldn’t be immediately missed. Earrings, an ornament… Am I crazy?”

Then there’s DeeDee. Who confuses excitement with anxiety and therefore spends her entire life locked in a glass cage of emotion. Whose constant hunger for attention turns every day annoyances into a Shakespearian drama. Facebook is a stage for her very own real life soap opera, where every fart is photographed, documented and put on show with accompanying running commentary. She generates her own infamy online by tagging every tiny event in her life and posting a video about it.

I know a couple who spend every weekend blowing cocaine up other couple’s arses, consorting with sexual deviants of an evening while their baby son slumbers upstairs. They get no sleep but are up at out at 8am to take him out to the park or brunch or a parents' meeting as if they are as square as dice.

I know another woman, happily married with children – who has a secret double life as an internet pornographer. While her husband drives the length of the South selling software and bringing in the bacon, she cavorts on a four poster with two Chihuahuas acting out the fantasies of the hairy, the housebound and the kinky. She doesn’t need to do it. It’s all for shits and giggles.

Then there’s Brian, who claims the only thing getting me through the day is the knowledge that every shit he takes while working at his office is a paid shit.

Then there's me. I do seasons. I think part of me likes the to have the fear every six months...

But really, perhaps I should stop worrying. SbH doesn't seem in the least bit worried, after all. In fact all this reminds me of a moment in my first season. I’m walking down the road with SbH and two large bin bags feeling grubby and tired and suddenly I feel impelled to ask him:
“What are you going to do in the summer?”
He doesn’t hesitate for a moment. He knows. “Going down to Palma to look for a job on a yacht.”
“You won’t go back home then?”
“Maybe for a week or two. See the olds. But not for any length of time.”
For some reason this idea makes my heart sink. The thought of him being suddenly so far away from me and this cosy little intimacy that we have each evening makes me feel lost in the middle of a huge raging battle. A battle to keep good people in your life. I think of the vast ocean and him afloat on it somewhere miles away and feel tiny and insignificant and alone.
 “What will you do?” he asks.
I don’t know.
I burst into tears and squat down on my haunches in the middle of the road.
“Hey,” he crouches beside me and holds each of my shoulders. “Chin up,” He stands me back up and puts a comforting arm around me. “You worry too much.”
“I can’t help it. I don’t know where I’m going.”
“Worry less. Do more…” he says, with conviction and starts to guide me down the road again. I wonder at this certainty and at how untarnished by life he is. It strikes momentarily that he is naïve. Or then is it quite the opposite?

We continue down the road. As we walk towards the poubelle with our bin bags I look up and see between the crevice in two huge shoulders of the mountains butting together in the distance a fragment of moon shining almost too brightly to look at directly. We stop and watch as the earth visibly revolves under us and the moon creeps outwards, from just a chink of light, until eventually it hangs between the jagged jaws of the rocks, a full, dazzling pendant haloed in gold and bruising the clouds above it in maroon and silver.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Alarming ski fashion

Can someone please explain the thinking behind this to me?

The lavender. The green triangle patterns. The flying goggles. The pointy elf hat. The ancient boots. The bum bag. It's all there. It's like.....text book.

It was all I could do to stop myself from leaping onto this man, wrestling him to the floor and screaming "GIVE ME YOUR OUTFIT! IT MUST BE MINE!"

Do you think this bloke realises that in seasonnaire terms, he is a fucking style icon? A beacon of outstanding naff ski dressing in a world of stease and advanced technology that takes itself waaaaay to seriously?

Whoever you are young man, I salute you.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Giant Punter Slalom

I think it's safe to say I am skiing like a total retard at the moment.

It doesn't help that I am so terrified of shagging my knee off again that I have my din settings set to 5. This means they come off when I crash. Which is great. It also means they come off if I'm ever approaching a dip followed by a sudden rise in the piste at any kind of speed.  The problem is I don't trust my shaky technique enough to set them any higher, which basically means I'm just eating snow the entire time.

SbH has become annoyingly good on skis. He can do that thing where you ski on one leg and is always off 'hucking' things with various hairy reprobates one of which told us on the chairlift today with some pride that the evening before he had fallen asleep with his face still in the girl's growler. Excellent story. Glad to see modus operandi around here is just as it should be. Sadly, though, that was the extent of amusing chairlift chat for me today because shortly thereafter they whizzed off down the back of something steep and inaccessible which I had no hope of surviving intact and since I'm too mortally embarrassed to actually ski with anyone else I know I spent the rest of the afternoon sulking on my own. Well, that was until the aforementioned din-setting issue reared its ugly head again and I found my nose connecting with the piste most unexpectedly after executing a perfectly reasonable left hand turn.

To the obliging punter who retrieved my ski for me,  I'd like to say 'Thanks, but no thanks'. I knew he was going to fuck it up the moment he ground to an inexpert bandy-legged, splayed-armed halt a few feet from it and started prodding it ineffectually with his pole like a child poking a dead rat. He eventually managed to actually pick it up (you know, with his hands) and, you could call it - I wouldn't - skied towards me with it. Sadly though he found himself unable to stop. When he realised he was going to miss where I was by a good 20 metres he simply shied it at me with such incredible force that it bounced off my helmet then slid off again down the piste, ending up further away from me than it had been in the first place.

"Er....sorry," he said, as his compatriot came shooting past me and showered me with snow.
"Don't worry. Thanks" I said, waving a hand and wishing they would both just fuck off and stop making the situation worse / more humiliating.

This week there seems to be an inordinate number of fucktarded punters of this ilk veering about like lunatics with the sole intent of taking me out. Inevitably when skiing down a narrow pathway I always find I'm quite a bit faster than the average skier leaving me no choice but to stick to the very edge of the way or whizz through the gaps whenever possible. Why is it that just at the moment you do this, the aforementioned punter feels the need to put in another completely pointless traverse so that you are left no choice but to cut them up brutally and / or ski over their tips? I mean, how many fucking turns do you need to fit into this 3 metre-wide Norfolk-flat pathway? Are you going for a record?

...Oh and woe betide you if you're one of these types and you get caught in the path / slipstream of an express train of seasonnaires trying to do a 10 minute red run in 2 minutes 43 in order to get back to the chalet in time for tea. You'll be blown off the hill.