most importantly, smile…
Picture the scene, beautiful blue skies, pure white slopes, green fir trees and me skiing gracefully down the slopes at a precarious, yet somehow amazingly controlled, speed.
Yes. Hold that thought.
So Saturday was our date with the slope, and after a three and a half hour trip up to Mt. Buller (and a 4:00am start) we were there. It was snowing (which, by the way, I have not seen for months, nay years), it was cold but fresh, and George and I were suited up to the rafters to keep out any trace of moisture.
[Comedy note for the poms – apparently, when suited up with bobble hat, I looked just like Benny, the simple window cleaner from Crossroads. Unfortunately he is the most difficult person to find a photo of on the Internet… maybe later.]
Our first date was with the lesson that we had booked – a two hour beginner lesson that we decided was essential, it being about ten years since either of us had been skiing (and me never skiing on snow before). Our instructor was Xavier, from France (much to the delight of George), whose most redeemable characteristic was that he thought I was great. It soon became apparent that the beginner lesson was wasted on us, and we started to itch to get on the lifts and reach the top of the mountain. But first, we needed lunch.
Suitably reenergised we hit the lifts and started our many descents – sometimes stylishly, sometimes scarily fast. I seemed to have no control over which of these happened at any particular time, and so just went with the flow.
The weather was as you would expect – snowy – but in the afternoon the fog rolled in, obscuring our views of the runs and of the other skiers. Both of these, I hope you would agree, are not good things to obscure from the beginner.
After we had mastered the main slope, we decided to tackle some of the other green runs (the easiest ones), but after a slight misreading of the map we found ourselves hurtling down an ice-covered blue run. At the bottom (with pants now warm and in need of a change) we scrambled over to the T-bar:
“Does this take us back to the main run?”
“No, but take it to the top and go left across the mountain – follow the red poles, otherwise…”
And so we also tried cross-country skiing, without really wanting to, trying to get back to the main slope. Bearing in mind that now all we could see was white, with the occassional skier flying in front of us. This wasn’t the best part of the day.
But we eventually made it, and after a few more runs down the slope it was time to go – after we squeeze in one more go. Now believe me when I say that this last go left us literally ten minutes to get to the bus before being stranded. Some James Bond-like skiing down small wooded paths was required to get us to the shuttle bus, and we made it with only a minute to spare.
After a three hour bus ride, Caspar the Friendly Ghost and a barbecue, we made it back into Melbourne where we promptly fell into bed, shattered. I still ache today.
But, all in all, it was great fun and will probably be one of the highlights of my extended Aussie-trip.
And remember that thought?
Well, it was nothing like that…