Departure day

The final sunrise over my morning mountains.

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Can’t believe we skied down here last week!

Signal sans snow!

Signal sans snow!

We left our little refuge at 11 am, abandoned on the balcony by the agent and our resort manager as they closed the shutters on us. It was actually an easier route to the car park than via the staircase. Our luggage was dropped off at the hotel where the staff were ready and waiting for the 8pm bus! We had been drafted back to Breche to help with the inventory. Despite this, I was almost barred from going upstairs to check the rooms by one of the ‘residents’ who’d cleaned the floors and staircase, incase I messed them up!! I did have to point out that I’d kept them clean for 5 months, not 10 days, clearing up other people’s mess, not my own! She was ok with it in the end.

We had a lovely time at the final BBQ last night, just a pity that we hadn’t got to know the place earlier.

Roger with Dave and Owen from Undies

Roger with Dave and Owen from Undies

Kat, Adam, Owen and Meg

Kat, Adam, Owen and Meg

Only just managed to pursuade Dave to play briefly. Amazing what you can do with a pen and a beer bottle!

Only just managed to pursuade Dave to play briefly. Amazing what you can do with a pen, an elastic band and a beer bottle!

It’s 6pm now and we’re off to catch the bus. It’s early coz everyone is virtually ready.

We should be back in UK in the early hours of the morning, hopefully catching up with you so let us know if you’ll be free.

The next chapter will start in June from Canada – yee-ha!!

 

Last day

It seems very strange to think that we are leaving tomorrow despite wishing this day to come sooner not that long ago. The whole area is beginning to look very different, much how it was when we arrived but as we were so unfamiliar with it then it does seem as though we are seeing under the snow for the first time. We have already started the strange process of doing things for the last time, which after 5 months, is quite a wrench, particularly after 6 days a week. We had a lovely lazy afternoon yesterday, just lounging on the grass outside the chaletIMAG0875IMAG0876IMAG0877IMAG0880 before staggering down to the hotel for a farewell BBQ.

Meg's feet are the outcome of the chalet floor!

Meg’s feet are the outcome of the chalet floor!

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Roger taking the burgers to the BBq

 

Jack, the naked barman. Not sure how he'll fit in as an accountant!

Jack, the naked barman. Not sure how he’ll fit in as an accountant!

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IMAG0887IMAG0885IMAG0889 Sunsets over the Alpes.

 

Owen Dave and Kat

Owen Dave and Kat

We have our final BBQ party tonight at Capt. Sandwich which is conveniently close to our flat. Yes, we have managed to retain our abode until tomorrow which is great. Just some illustrations of the curently state of the chalet to hopefully prove that I’m not being too precious.

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We’ve had a lovely last day starting with breakfast of smoked salmon and Camembert omelette on the patio (again) after a little bit of cleaning and packing!!IMAG0891 Then we ventured up the hill again but sans skis.IMAG0892IMAG0893IMAG0906 Views from the yoghurt pots.

It was necessary to make full use of the ski pass so we took 2 lifts and then walked to our lovely restaurant on Lac Besson without knowing if it would actually be open, fortunately it was but it was a beautiful walk anyway even if a little soft under foot. IMAG0898IMAG0899IMAG0903

The paths had been pisted but many of them run over rivers and streams which are beginning to reassert themselves so we had to be a bit careful.

IMAG0900IMAG0904 Whilst the restaurant is lovely the access can be a bit of a challenge!

IMAG0902IMAG0905 Everywhere is so photogenic!

 

 

So close

Final guests have left and with glowing reviews, despite expectations to the contrary. 11 hours of cleaning followed, but not on the same time scale as previous Sundays, just more actual cleaning. We were sent a crack team, of 2, from the already closed hotel. They pushed on with the bedrooms whilst we concentrated on the communal areas. Our standards have been set pretty high, much higher than my own home, so it is a bit galling to determine that certain aspects haven’t been as clean in years, never mind months but still may not be good enough. We continued today and were a little disheartened to find our criteria to be lacking, everything needs to be perfect for handover. It quickly became apparent that the smallest speck of dirt becomes magnified when all around is spotless whereas if it is basically clean, one doesn’t notice these minor infringements. So another full day cleaning today, the owner inspects tomorrow and doubtless there will be more to do, so we abandoned ship at 5pm after a leisurely and very welcome 10am start.

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Morning mountains in the evening

We are currently sat, sipping wine on our balcony, in the evening sun and sheltered from the cool wind. The weather is quite a conundrum at the moment; in the sun and out of the wind it must be in the 20s and definitely suitable for sunbathing and sunblock. However, one is brought back to the reality of an Alpine spring when observing the surrounding mounds of snow in the shade, particularly where there have been great dumps from roofs. Our own snow ridge along the north side of the entrance walkway is diminishing rapidly after resembling a whale’s ribcage when sliding off the corrugations of the lean-to roof. The other anomaly is the emergence of various bods, skis aloft and dressed up in full salopettes, ski jacket, hats, gloves, helmet and goggles after their descent from the tops, walking past the scantily clad sunbathers, breaking into a sweat at their mutual notice. We’ve been in both circumstances.

We have managed to resist moving back into Breche so far. We were due to move in today and despite our initial excitement at the prospect before it actually came to the end of guests there, I, particularly, but even Roger, would prefer to stay in our little cave than move into that dishevelled and neglected, most expensive chalet in the resort! They had made more mess in 48hours than I cleared up in the total of the previous 5 months I maintained the housekeeeping. We are just keeping our heads down and saying that we’re not ready to move if asked. As it is a 16 person chalet, currently housing 15, we aren’t quite sure where we are supposed to fit, without annoying someone or 3 by making them share a twin room. Hopefully, common sense will prevail. We are going over twice a day for lunch and evening meal and looking forward to Elie’s curry tonight, but that’s enough, I could weep at times and told Elie that I couldn’t help her prepare the food as the kitchen was such a tip. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. The owner, who we have met on numerous occasions over the season, being a delightful, reasonable bloke, is coming for a handover tomorrow evening. I think he is going to be quite devastated as he was so pleased with how we were maintaining his asset. He’s in for a bit of a shock, not sure whether we want to be there or not.

Elie's curry night

Elie’s curry night

Penultimate guest day

This is our final serving day! Yippee!

These were my morning mountains this morning. Usually I’m peering between the cracks in the security grille but that would have spoilt the picture. If i cant see them I know that the weather is poor. I will miss this fantastic vista.

This morning

This morning

 

This is they this afternoon on my way into our final evening service, yippee2!

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Roger had gone in for the early shift so I wasn’t able to show him these unusual cloud formations, this one surrounding just the restaurant at the top of Signal

The top of the restaurant peeking out above the cloud shroud

The top of the restaurant peeking out above the cloud shroud

…and finally the clouds pouring over the top of the ridge along from Signal IMAG0863  silhouetted by the evening sun. Amazing Alpine views, not to be repeated for us. Only 5 days of cleaning left!

Countdown

Can’t believe we’ve nearly finished, less than 2 days to go, just tonight’s evening meal, full day tomorrow and quick breakfast on Sunday morning and we’ve finished with guests so all pressure off then.

As we’ve only 4 adults for the evening meal after 6 kids for high tea, it is much lighter workload. Roger and I are taking it in turns to come in early, 4.45PM,  whilst the other can roll up at 7pm for company and support more than anything else. These guests are not the easiest and have caused problems for some of the other staff including our lovely rep which was just mean. We have avoided their ire as yet but perhaps they realise that we could cause them more problems and difficulties, they need us. This isn’t the first time this type of scenario has arisen so wonder if it is our relative maturity that keeps us immune from petty complaints.

Anyway, nearly finished, just cleaning out the chalet after departure on Sunday then our accom and believe it or not, Breche, again! I won’t be happy if it isn’t in the state I handed it over only last Sunday but perhaps our input would be more useful in sorting out the inventory. Apart from this week, we are one of the very few who have been at the same chalet for the whole season and therefore know it inside out.

We went out for a super meal last night with the rest of the hosts and some people from the hotels who we’d barely spoken to all season. Many of them departed today so it seemed more like a farewell to them but no-one seemed to mind our attendance. We were talking to one of the hotel chefs who knew all about workaway, the company through which we are going to Canada. We’ve put so many of the staff onto them that if it was a profit making organisation we’d be looking for commission. It is one of the few true win/win situations.

 

Winding down

What better way to wind down after a day skiing, well a few hours anyway. IMAG0853Here we are enjoying a glass or 2 of Cotes de Rhone on our very own balcony in the late afternoon sunshine with patches of snow still in evidence in the shadier parts of the ground. We even stretched to tea outside, very continental in style, having a left over Camembert and smoked salmon from the chalet menu accompanied by some verres du vins. I think we are really beginning to feel that the pressure is diminishing, finally.IMAG0855

A significant marker of the last stages is the closing party at Undies. This place has been our alternative refuge during the season and we have got to know the owners and staff quite well. They are a great bunch and have helped us retain our sanity at times as well as being a strong pull to return next winter although probably not quite strong enough. We have bedecked ourselves with their trademark T-shirt to remember them by. Unfortunately I can’t get a photo of the inside as it tends to be rather dark and I’ve no flash on my camera. IMAG0857This is a photo of the flame thrower who turned up outside during the closing party, anything can happen here.

The lovely Sorcha looking so serene

The lovely Sorcha looking so serene

The guys are off on their annual trip kayaking down the Ardeche gorge for 4 days, hopefully the weather will improve for them as it’s raining today and there may even be some more snow tomorrow. All our hastily acquired tans from the past 10 days will fade if we don’t get a chance to top them up before our return to the UK.

We have just been informed that we will be returning a day earlier than previously thought, leaving here on Thursday evening and getting back sometime on Friday. Hopefully it won’t change again and it is fortunate that we didn’t actually get round to booking the hire car yesterday as we’d intended. We are going to be dropped off at Gatwick, which is infinitely preferable to Reading, particularly as we fly from there on 1st June for our next adventure.

We are planning a round country road trip to try to catch up with as many people as possible but you may not recognise the lithe, toned, fit and tanned paupers turning up on your doorstep or in a pub near you!

Nearly there!

We’re getting the chalet sorted, not exactly deep cleaned as these have to be the messiest guests we’ve had all season so that would be an uphill battle. There are areas which probably haven’t been cleaned since Kath left! It is actually a rather nice little chalet and an absolute doddle with 2 people, particularly after Breche. The weather is great at present as well so showing it off to its best. (Hope these don’t make you feel too nostalgic Kath)IMAG0837IMAG0836

View from the balcony

View from the balcony

View from the kitchen window where we can watch Pic Blanc change hue in the setting sun

View from the kitchen window where we can watch Pic Blanc change hue in the setting sun

We had a lazy afternoon yesterday; someone had found some deckchairs so Roger, Sorcha and I appropriated them as we’d had the time when the others were still cleaning. We had to go back in for evening service and Sorcha had smashed her chalet cleaning. Needless to say, we got a little sunburnt. We had no idea that we’d need to bring out a summer wardrobe as well as all the winter clothes but beggars can’t be choosers.

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We went up on the slopes for a couple of hours today for possibly the last time as the snow conditions are really deteriorating so we had to go to the glacier. (There are rumours of more snow this weekend tho!). At least we were both intact, just about. Roger had fallen and hurt his recently healed ribs again and I’d had 2 falls in close succession bashing my knees on each occasion.  One involved an altercation with a snow cannon on a particularly icey run – must have been the only one left in the resort. The other had been slightly more embarrassing when I fell over in the dinning room during service. Fortunately I was on my way back to collect plates to deliver to the table so my hands were empty as I cornered too fast in my slippy shoes and slid rapidly to the floor, narrowly missing cracking my head on the serving cabinet. Perhaps I should wear my helmet at all times! My pride transpired to be more injured than my body but our lovely guests came to the rescue both of myself and of the dinner.

View from the top, a mere 3330m

View from the top, a mere 3330m

Me!

Me!

Looking down on the start of our favourite run at the top of the Alpette gondola

Looking down on the start of our favourite run at the top of the Alpette gondola

At the very bottom you can just see the walkway we had to negotiate suspended over a lot of fresh air that I put up last time

At the very bottom you can just see the walkway we had to negotiate suspended over a lot of fresh air that I put up last time

Coming back down from the glacier in the gondola

Coming back down from the glacier in the gondola

And possibly our final outing to Le Spot where we bumped into our co-hosts

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Me, Hazel, Laura and Rhona

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Hazel, Laura, Rhona, Holly Katie, Ferg, Jack

 

and some more crocuses outside our apartment IMAG0838

 

 

New chalet

We are settling into our new chalet. It is very bijou and rather nice without guests! 2 couples and their combined 6 children do seem to impose somewhat. It was surprisingly tricky to take up in a new abode from where we’d left off in Breche. It was even a bit of a wrench to leave it in the hands of our colleagues but with less than an hour’s break yesterday and pinging back and forth between the two to pick up what we’d left behind but also to supplement the equipment deficit with just the odd saucepan or 2 I don’t really feel to have left yet. In fact I’m sitting on the sofa there, using the internet to write this, so we’ve not really left at all and we’ll be moving back in next weekend.

We’ve just been up on the hill again in the glorious sunshine. The slopes are almost deserted so its like a private ski resort in places and no queues at all. Even Le Spot was so quiet we had a choice of where to sit and snooze. The views haven’t diminished though and there is a carpet of tiny, almost transparent crocii (crocuses) everywhere, just with a vague tint of lilac.IMAG0830IMAG0832IMAG0833 The snow at the top is as good as ever and we have to negotiate this feat of engineering at 2800m where the gondola berths beside a quay reaching out into nothing. No good for those with a touch of vertigo!

Walking across the grating

Walking across the grating

I struggled to get close enough to the edge to take this

I struggled to get close enough to the edge to take this

Don't look down!

Don’t look down!

The 'drop' for a mere 160 people per trip

The ‘drop’ for a mere 160 people per trip

We were sorry to see Nik and the guys leave but it had been a great week to finish on ( I know we haven’t actually finished but it feels like that was the last proper week). This week Undies closes so that’s going to be a bit of a bash tomorrow apparently. It’s been brought forward from Weds which is good as it’ll be our day off afterwards instead of having to be up even earlier to do breakfast. Because we have children going to kids club we have to have it ready for 7.30am so a slightly earlier start but we are a few minutes closer to the flat. The building had been a hotel but has been divided into 3 chalets; ground and first floor, second floor and third, we are the middle one in this picture, behind the big fir tree. I’ll get some photos of the inside when it’s clean and tidy!IMAG0835

Busy, busy

The problem with writing this blog is that when we’re busy and there’s lots to write about I don’t have time to login, when I have time it’s usually because not much is going on. This week has been rather frantic in a lovely way; we’ve had friends with their friends coming to stay. The surprise arrival of ‘The bad boys’ went well, more or less as planned, and meant that we and everyone else could use the chalet as a house party. IMAG0821The 5 inch fall of snow (at chalet level) on Saturday night resulted in fabulous skiing this week and amazing suntan and goggle marks. The spring sun has done it’s best to melt it but has only succeeded in bringing on the crocuses around our accom, there’s even a few straggly ones outside the balcony.IMAG0822 The remaining untouched snow has gained a pearlescent sheen and looks rather beautiful in the sunshine. Our balcony now has sun all day as it is now higher than the adjacent building.

We’ve skied 5 days out of the last 6, the most we’ve managed all season. It’s been lovely to meet up with the guys at lunchtime and earlier in the week, take them to some of favourite runs in the afternoon.  But already the afternoon snow has significantly deteriorated that we are aiming to get out of tye chaket early and go back in earlier to do the food prep. This works really well when we are happy to see the people in the chalet but means that we’ve had little spare time at all. We even got dragged up to one of the nearby nightclubs on Weds, where we hadn’t even ventured previously despite its proximity, and managed to drag Nicky to Undies on Thursday so that was a couple of late nights. We spent all day with them on Weds, taking them to more of our favourite runs, to have coffee and chocolate chaud (despite the heat) at Le Spot IMAG0815and lunch off piste on the lake. Before settling down to pizzas and a comprehensive and very professional music quiz evening later, Roger and I went to Undies to show our face at their BBQ which was to have been the wedding reception but this had been cancelled once the date was changed as too many key people couldn’t attend.

Hazel and Sorcha Rhonda and Elie

Hazel and Sorcha
Rhonda and Elie

The BBQ went ahead anyway as there had also been cross-piste treasure hunt awards to be given out. Our team of about 20 managed to get disqualified for running over time. A team of 6 won! Did I mention that the team I was in won the music quiz?!IMAG0819IMAG0818IMAG0817

It’s all change tomorrow. There are no more guests booked in to our chalet so all the staff are moving in! No, we’re not looking after them. They (not us fortunately) have to move out and deep clean their accomodation before starting to shut down all the chalets bar the two who have guests next week. We have been given one of the 2 remaining chalets to continue hosting next week (yes Kath, yours!) It usually only has 1 host and there will be 4 adults and 6 under 10s! But it needs a thorough clean before closing down early the following week. This will probably be preferable to spectating the destruction of my lovely clean chalet which we will not need to go into after it has been our home extension for the past 5 months. It will be strange moving into this new chalet in the middle of the day tomorrow as we’ve barely seen it and not since early days of training. We’ve refused to go until our guests/friends leave at lunchtime but have only 45mins before the new guests arrive at our replacement chalet. We’ve had to be up at 3am to see of people we dont care about so are not prepared to miss saying gooodbye to our friends. We’ll be prepping the meal in our current chalet and running across the piste with beef casserole and raspberry cheese cakes along with potatoes, carrots and broccoli as well as possibly the mini BLTs  and goats cheese balls canapés!  We keep being assured that we’ll be fine, it’s just been let go a bit, whatever exactly that means.

Last week’s guests turned up trumps with a generous tip which we think was arranged by our potential complainant as we went back into the kitchen on Sat eve after we’d said our good nights as we’d forgotten the bin bag and she was getting an envelope organised. What a shame the visit was tainted from our perspective as we also received very good feedback from them and have heard nothing about a complaint as yet. Such is life in the hospitality industry I suppose.

Withheld

Snow's back again!

Snow’s back again!

I wrote this last week but, for reasons about to become apparent, couldn’t publish it until both situations were irreversible.

Our head office colleague called us aside on Tuesday morning to tell us some ‘gossip’. The previous evening, after we’d left, one of the other guests stated that they would look for something about which to complain in order to try to get some compensation/refund. This left a very bad taste in the mouth and an extremely uncomfortable feeling. We know that we do a pretty good job however, in the interest of retaining our sanity and making this job or work/life balance manageable we have cut corners. Therefore if they really wanted to look for something to complain about they would find it or them! Not a great attitude to take on holiday. On the other hand, we feel that we owe the company nothing, they’ve had our blood, sweat and tears, literally, so if someone wants to make a valid claim for compensation, let them. This has been our response but it does go against the grain, I’d much rather they couldn’t find anything but am not prepared to work more hours to ensure it doesn’t happen. At least they didn’t get custard poured down their back, although the red wine did land on his, fortunately bare, arm.

It is very difficult to look at guests like this in the same light as there is now a total mistrust of their actions.  Was her offer to clear the plates genuine or would it be flung back at us as ‘we even had to clear the dishes ourselves’. Her complaint that the foccacia was inedible was supported by her husband and another but all the other 9 guests seemed to have no problem with it. She did manage to dislodge a piece of wood from the staircase which is used by people in ski boots so the alternative of having to take their boots off upstairs and carry them down would be less popular and considering she was in her socks and the piece of wood was off to the side it is a little dubious. They actually seemed nice people when they arrived but being Met police officers I guess they know their way around the law. Anyway at the time of writing this we have less than 24 hrs before they’re gone. I wonder what their evaluation will say and if they’ll leave a tip, presumably not if they are looking for money back rather than spending more. I’m glad I declined her request for ice cubes even before we knew of this deceit.

Morning commute after fresh snow

Morning commute after fresh snow

The other secret will be revealed tomorrow night when the other 2 guests, who are not part of our friends’ party, arrive. They are actually 3! and are the other friends who ‘didn’t ‘ get the booking so surprising them. Nik’s party arrive at lunchtime and will occupy the 7 larger rooms. The 3 guys arrive in the evening and are in the smallest room which barely takes 2! But we can’t let on to anyone although there will need to be some bed and room movements in order to fit in the camp bed in the only 2 rooms possible.

We will be a bit cramped, the chalet can barely cope with 16 adults, the only time we’ve had 17 the extra bodies were children so this will be a real stretch but it is eminently preferable that they/we are all one party. We had half hoped that we could deter the strangers and have a room there for ourselves, unknown to management of course, but now the sofas will be the only option and I’m not sure I’m that desperate, even if they have proved popular in the past.

Roger and I have to keep quiet for about 6 hours whilst, no doubt, there is much speculation about the compatibility of the ‘others’ or tactics debated as to how to get them to request transfer to another chalet, it’s happened before. By the time you read this, all will have been revealed, including precisely how we are going to get them in the door without being spotlit by the outside lights in full view via the patio doors in the lounge.