Our half term holiday was brilliant but also had some serious moments of disaster running through.
I am going to try and make it as condensed as possible but I have a flair for the dramatic so bear with me. I’ve broken it up into three parts so you can dip in and out!
Part i Wales;
It is my friend’s birthday soon and we were going straight from school to Wales, a 3.5 hour journey, for a lovely weekend of celebrating. I picked the kids up from school and marvelled at my organisation as I bundled them into the van and we were on the road within 20 minutes of me picking them up.
Well, I say marvelled at my organisation but actually, I was a little stressed, I had inadvertently double booked us. My lovely parents had given us a skiing trip for Christmas and when my Mum was checking dates with me, I just didn’t have it in my head that we were away that weekend. So on Friday I was driving to Wales and then Sunday back home and Monday down to Gatwick. That was ok though, as we had the weekend and lots of lovely plans.
Half way to our destination my son starts crying. He’d had a snotty cold for a while but he starts wailing that his ear hurts. I have no idea what to do. I know there is a supermarket coming up and it’s as far back as it is on. I figure I get him some meds and some food and see how he is. I push on with him really crying in the back, I know that stopping will be pointless as there are no shops to get him any help, it’s also snowy and my sat nav has taken me a way I’ve never been before so we are negotiating this tiny, snowy, dark mountain pass which I have no idea where it ends up. He then coughs so hard that he is sick. Thankfully it wasn’t much and we have a bowl in the back for this very reason as the Welsh roads make my daughter’s travel sickness a zillion times worse.
Luckily we get behind a supermarket delivery van for the very place I’m aiming for and I stick to their tail all the way to the shop. My plan was to get them some food in the safe, but despite it being before 6pm, it’s closed. I stock up on all the meds I can get my hands on and then we drive to the popular (and frankly pretty unsatisfactory!) take away. Which apparently seems to be the Friday night venue of choice for the entire town. The drive through is backed up into the car park so I somehow squeeze Wilma into a space in the cramped car park and we head in to get a meal to go.
We finally make it to our destination but have a night of the three of us sharing a bed and my son crying in pain so much that we resort to going down to watch tv at 1am for a few hours. The following day I decide to get him a doctor’s appointment as he is still saying his ear hurts and we are flying on the Monday. Eek.
Easier said then done. I wait three hours for the Doctor to phone back and he calls us in to the hospital where he is seeing emergency patients. Which is 45 mins away. Off we go. We finally arrive and see the Doctor. Who is clearly exhausted. He checks him over and tells me he is happy that there is no chest infection. Which is great but I remind him that we’re here about his ear. He looks again and decides that it definitely requires antibiotics.
Given a prescription, we have a slight misunderstanding regarding the pharmacy, from my understanding, I have 30 minutes to get the the town near us before the pharmacy shuts. It is exactly a 30 minute drive. There is no signal on the way so entrust my husband to phone and let them know I’m coming.
There is thick fog on the pass to get back and my fuel has mysteriously dropped from 85 miles left in the tank to 25 miles. The stress! I make it to the pharmacy with 4 minutes to spare. And see that it is closed. It closed an hour earlier. I am screwed! There is no pharmacy open. I have no fuel.
Luckily the local hospital are amazingly helpful. I can get the prescription there, but only if the Doctor faxes them. I phone again and am put into the queue again. 2 hours.
3 hours pass and I call again, the doctor has assumed it was an error and closed the case. Finally I get through to him as he is leaving and he sends the fax.
By this time, it is my friend’s big birthday dinner. I have the starter and then go to the hospital. Everyone there has clearly been rooting for me and I get a lot of ‘you made it!’ comments which is nice! I also got the medicine and rushed back to rejoin the birthday meal. It has now been 10 hours since I first phoned!
The next day we drive home uneventfully and I unpack and repack for the next trip.
Part ii Italy;
Arriving in Italy with no incident, we get to my parents’ house and have a night there. I am exhausted after the dramatic weekend packed with driving and just want to sleep. Dave makes me get up and we drive the 2.5 hours to the town where our hotel is.
When we arrive, we go for lunch and phone the hotel to arrange getting there. Apparently due to the snow, it isn’t possible to drive up and a skidoo ride is required. So far so exciting. Except, the language barrier proves difficult. It seems like we can’t go up until after the ski run shuts. And we have no idea where they mean and our batteries are both dying on our phones! We have 3 hours to find it! Tempers flaring, we drive around until we find a spot where the road becomes a ski run. This looks like the a logical pick up point. We still have 2 hours to kill though. We’re all tired and just want to settle in but go and rent skis and also take advantage of their plug to give myself enough phone juice to last the next few hours.
Finally the time arrives and we return to the meeting point at the arranged time. There is no-one there. We phone again and the hotel sends someone down. We have a very exciting ride up and try to quash our disappointment when we get to the hotel and realise there is nothing there. We are staying in a chalet which is a big pine room with a pine bed and bunk beds for the kids. Basic doesn’t quite cover it. Hostel maybe!
The food is fantastic though and we have a lovely meal. Due to the ski run situation though, we need to be out in the morning by 8.30am meaning breakfast at 7.30. And no return until 4.30pm. Eek.
We drive the 20 minutes to the slopes and buy our lift passes.We have a lesson at 1pm. Once at the top we start kitting everyone up….and realise one of us was given two left ski boots! No wonder he was moaning that they wouldn’t go on!!
I volunteered to take him back down, (15 mins each way) and rehire him some kit. Eventually we make it back up onto the slope and have some wobbly runs.
My parents are meeting us there and we have plans to eat dinner with them that evening. We decide just to hang around their hotel and eat in our ski clothes. We get back that night and go to bed. At 10.30pm we have just got the kids to sleep and are settling down ourselves when some new guests arrive. They are staying above us in the chalet. It sounds as though a herd of elephants in ski boots are holding a tap dancing convention. It goes on for hours and we are thoroughly miserable.
The next day we check out a day early. The hotel are very understanding and only charge us for the two nights we stayed. We don’t even stay for breakfast and just get out of there as soon as we can!
We try to check into the hotel my parents are in but they don’t have any rooms for us, luckily her friend has a family room at his hotel and we can go there straight away. It’s in the town and we can park outside! Brilliant.
It is excellent, despite the fairly heavy scent of cigarette smoke around the place, (despite never seeing a single person smoking!), our room is lovely and spacious and the food is insane. A buffet to begin, then a starter, a main and a dessert buffet table! Food overload!
We enjoy it so much and decide to stay an extra night as the skiing is so good.
Part iii The Fall;
We had two days of lessons and then on the third day, decide to go off and try some blue runs as a family as we have all improved so much. My husband is a great skier and had been higher up exploring while we were wobbling down the learner zone and merrily led us off. It started out ok but then got steeper. It was also the longest run we’d ever done and my legs were killing. It was fresh powder and it was new to us.
We get to the bottom and hop into the chair lift back up. It’s so fancy it even has a shield that comes over to protect you from the freezing temps. So far so good, until we get to the top. It opens onto a plateau and then the only way out is a sheer drop. All the way down people are struggling, with instructors trying to help stuck learners. It’s a long way and very very crowded. We start trying to make our way down gingerly but are struggling with the tight turns. Both kids end up falling. In trying to help them, I make the fatal mistake of taking off my own skis. The thick powder means I can’t get them back on, even when the lovely mountain rescue guy whips my little boy up over his shoulder and skis down with him. I’m stuck trying to walk down in ski boots. Who knew how badly they function in snow. It’s so steep and I’m terrified.
Finally I make it down. Unbeknownst to me, my husband hadn’t been on that chairlift before and so my fear fury at being in this situation was misdirected as I hissed at him on the slope. It was a bit funny when the children merrily told me parents that ‘Mummy said she had never hated Daddy as much as she did in that moment but it was ok because she was just really scared and she finally forgave him when we were safely back at the bottom.’ At least they understand that being scared can make you say things you don’t mean. Much!
So, Saturday, our last day. Our plan is to drive back through the night and get the Chunnel so have one last day on the slopes to ‘make the most of it’! The weather is poor but all the runs are open and the ski lifts are busy with people having fun. We have a few more hours of runs. All is going well but the visibility is really poor now, making it hard to see where we are going. I enjoy it so much and finally feel that I’m ‘getting it’ and being all swooshy instead of looking like a constipated T-rex that I ask if we can just do one last run.
Half way down, the rest are in front and I’m not sure what happens but I loose control. Suddenly I’m in my air and then I’m not. I hit the back of my head so hard that it bounced around inside my helmet I’m seeing literal stars and my goggles are knocked off and hanging round my neck. I lie there in shock and then hear Dave calling me. I try and sit up and communicate that I’m not ok without scaring the children. A kindly skier gathers up my poles and the ski that has ended up scattered across the hill. The British side of me forces me to stand up and be ‘fine thank you!’ as I limp down to Dave. He helps me to gently snow plough to the bottom and I sit down for a bit, dazed and with the worst headache.
We decide to abandon the plans of driving home as I feel sick and my head is killing. We go back down and return our skis and collect our bags. Half way home, my vision goes all funny and the whole of the left side goes blurry.
When the headache is no better despite painkillers and my Mum starts to really worry that I don’t look right, we go to a+e where I get a neck brace and some amazingly disgusting painkiller that works a treat with orders to return the next day for X-rays.
After a long wait the next day, (and X-rays taken by a man in a tracksuit!), I finally get told that although they can see something on the X-ray, it isn’t a fracture or break. I’m diagnosed with whiplash and given more painkillers.
We end up flying back a day late and in considerable discomfort. Thankfully things are much better already, possibly thanks to the tablets but hopefully there is no long term damage, although there is still an lot of aching.
And as for skiing? Well, it hasn’t put me off. It was a big deal for me to try skiing in the first place and although I feel some trepidation about doing it again, I won’t let it stop me.