17. Looking Up

The end is coming into sight, only 4 weeks to endure after this. I’m nearly, but not quite as desperate as that first season. It has been strange to be writing (editing) about those months, 4 years ago, in parallel with the present. Some aspects have changed: We’ve watched the whole series of West Wing instead of Breaking Bad; I’m a better, more confident skier; I can cope with guests and feel less subservient without, hopefully, being too strict. The pleasanter I find guests the more flexible I am, so it is on my terms, which I can live with, and our feedback reflects very positively. Coincidently I received an email from the original company and have been offered a chalet co-host in Meribel, where we thought we wanted to start, for the rest of the season. Roger says I’m not taking it (I’m not.)

Roof snow clearing

Our 14 guests last week were a nice bunch (bar one who was just a pain) and exactly what we needed after the previous week. This week we have only 7 so this has given us what feels like our first reprieve of the season, which has been compounded by some of the worst weather in the Alps for years, just at the time we’ve had to cope with a vehicle (for no extra pay as it would be a benefit to us! We’ve yet to reap that.) I can honestly count in single figures the number of mornings when we haven’t had to dig, chip or scrape it out, sometimes all three.

With low numbers, (8 or less) we both go in for morning service and prepare everything for the evening. We then alternate the evening shift which is a wonderful break although it still equates to a 40 hour working week. Not quite the ‘easy week’ its been referred to, but then that is relative.

We had 5 people booked in for next week (late bookings damn it) so had arranged the fortnightly shop 2 weeks ago, as requested by the owners, so were less than impressed to be told 3 days before (on our day off) that there would be an additional one arriving on Saturday. Not a major issue but a principle that had been agreed that bookings would not be taken after the shopping order was sent. The bunch comprise a party of 3 middle-aged male boarders, 2 Scotts plus the new one, Dad of a colleague from our first year. (We’ve brought in £12k worth of business this year, some hosts get 5% commission!) Unfortunately we have 3 separate arrival times and they all want to be picked up in town but the van has broken down! (quiet yippee!)

The view from the door as I set off my morning commute, back on foot.

The current guests have accepted the situation with a degree of tolerance, they’re a nice bunch but not too happy about losing their transportation. We’ve started receiving more calls and texts from future guests trying to arrange their pick up and ski pass collection in advance, one particularly persistent guy on our day off. (I’ll excuse him as he wouldn’t necessarily know, even though it is on the website.)

The past couple of days-off have been super. We skied for a few hours each time and last week went to Undies for Apres, something that hasn’t changed. At the end the only people left were ourselves and Adam and Gareth, the owners, so had a good chin-wag which we/they rarely have time to do. This week our day off was probably the most glorious Wednesday of the season. It would have been nice to go to Serre Chevalier, the resort we said we’d return to when the weather was better and is included for three occasions on our lift pass. But no, we couldn’t, the van is kaput. The last of all the things we said might go wrong in relation to the vehicle has done so. We had accepted coming back with the vehicle on the basis that not everything we said might happen would, perhaps just some of them but no, all the incidents we suggested could happen, have, every single one!

So we had to make do with spending a few hours on the slopes of our own super resort before indulging in an hour basking in the deckchairs at Le Spot in advance of another apres session at Undies. Owen and Mark, bar staff from our first year are here on holiday, looking very fit and healthy plus considerably younger. I didn’t even recognise Mark as he looked so well, just shows what 5 months of hard work, hard play and hard drinking does to a person. Owen always looks annoyingly young.

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