Creigiau 23 Skiing Trip

Act One: ALPE D’HUEZ OR BUST

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Who needs a helmet !!

Spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch and don’t forget the passport – oh and member number 8. Knobby (more of him later).Well, the magnificent 7 (and Knobby) arranged to meet at the appointed time for their inaugural ski trip into the Alps. Looking dapper in our white tour T-Polo shirts only 2 were late for the bus so it was a promising start.

On the way to Bristol airport the driver inspired us with tales of the places he had previously got lost on this route. In order to alleviate suicidal tendencies he suggested we guessed how many traffic lights we would go through on the way to the airport. We could only imagine what fun we missed by not booking him to take us all the way to Alpe D’Huez.

1 hour after leaving the McDonald mansion we arrived at the provincial airport of choice (the tour operator’s choice), Bristol Airport. Twinned with Entebbe I think.

We checked in and went for a beer and watched the ethnic staff upset the UK guests in the restaurant. The Polish manager seemed to be the director of the Preventative Sales Department and successfully wound up two or three groups who left without ordering. A rare skill, but a bountiful land where you get paid regardless.

Strangely enough all the people on the flights out of Bristol were British. Maybe there is a clue here regarding our economic demise.

The flight was quick, and waking from a microsleep Chambery airport loomed in front of us. It’s a narrow valley where aircraft both land and take off in the same direction – so it happens in rotas. Either in or out.

As the aircraft went up the valley and turned it seemed more like the dambusters than a skiing trip but we got down ok.

The two hour trip to the resort was easy enough with the final twenty odd excruciating turns up to D’Huez being the King of the mountains route in the Tour de France. It was tough on the bus. No wonder the Italian racer Marco Pantani took drugs and indirectly killed himself a few years ago. This is goat country or helicopter land. My advice leave your bike at home.

Arriving at 10pm our hotel got the chef to cook for us and on arrival a large group of English guys described us rather unkindly as the “Saga Trip”. We very quickly put them straight and established borders for the forthcoming week.

Food was fabulous and accommodation everything we needed.

Some folk could not read room numbers and went to the wrong place but c’est normal.

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Just like being on Pentyrch Hill really !!

Up early and first day skiing was millionaire’s skiing. The weather and snow conditions were the stuff of holiday brochures. All we needed was a millionaire. Luckily we had two – Mighty Mac and also Mr.Chairman, Dave B, Mr.Eves, Johnny B, Amodeo and Edmunds with pooled wealth and debt.

Owing to tiredness, mental fatigue and occasional bouts of insanity we split up on the way back home.

Dave TB lost a tooth somewhere in these first 24 hours but that was incidental really because Johnny B actually lost the Hotel and ended up at the bottom of the village on his lonesome. After some good boy scouting he found his way back as it got dark, just in time to jump in the Jacuzzi avec les fleurs des montagnes. (the womenfolk of some other tribe in the hotel)

Halcyon days but Johnny found it hard skiing today and took a few pitstops on the way around. Great day. Heavy night and not just the snow.

Act Two: ROBBERY WITHOUT VIOLENCE

After a few après ski beers and a wonderful meal we decided to go out in the heavy snow to a nearby bar called the Underground. Nothing strange about that except we went in our polo shirts. Real men. Real stupid.

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Cheers !!

The drink affected us extremely badly. Maybe it was the travel, maybe the exercise, maybe the altitude but I know it was the price. 7 euros a pint. Robbery without violence we thought, although we did get agitated there was no violence.

You can get three pints in Creigiau for that Johnny said. In fact he said it about twelve times so it may possibly be true.

Mike A introduced Knobby to the Danish folk in the bar. Mostly folkesses in fact. They were very Eurovision and enjoyed playing with Mike’s prop. Knobby enjoyed playing with them and all was fine until Dave TB jumped on him.

The problem was of course cider. They had it in the bar and so did Dave. We made friends with the resort manager for Crystal and his delightful new Swedish bride Eva or was it Godzilla. Dave enquired of our new friend “how an ugly bloke like him caught a good looking bird like that.” I asked the band to play louder.

In fact I asked for Suspicious Minds but they told me Elvis had left the building.

As sense and sensibility were disappearing into a hazy distance for some (the free shots at the bar did not help) we decided to follow Elvis and left also.

Strangely we got back before Elvis and Knobby was fit to fight and ski another day but not everyone was................

Act Three: WATCH OUT WHERE THOSE HUSKIES GO

Watch out where those huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow! – after that you are pretty much on your own, you versus the mountain.

But on day two it was versus the mountain, the galloping gutrot and heavy hangover for some. What happens in Vegas stay in Vegas but there were some brave soldiers that day.

Not only dealing with personal issues but also the mighty weather. It was a whiteout with a massive snowstorm.

Only mad St.Bernards and Welshmen go out in the midday, out in the midday or any other bloody time!

Some stayed in bed, some went to restaurants and some skied but all were off the mountain and in the restaurant by lunchtime where a few beers and a superb omelettes were the order of the day.

Day three followed a similar pattern with little snow but terrible flat light where you have no perspective and skiing is both dangerous and extremely difficult. After several pitsops for hot chocolate we returned to base and walked around the town.

We forgot we were on holiday. Why feel guilty?

Incidentally haven’t seen Elvis for a few days but we haven’t drunk as much as Sunday. Knobby thrives, the waitresses and female guests love him.

Vivre la France.

Act Four: BETTER THAN WORKING

The last four days the weather is fantastic. We ski the longest black run in Europe which is 16km. From the top of the Pic Blanc you can see a fifth of France from a height of about 3750 metres.

Great visibility, excellent company and exhilarating skiing.

The hotel does us proud and we go out on Wednesday night for a meal as it’s staff night off in the hotel.

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Who said we were off the Gunniess !!

We reject the Guinness as their is a problem with the gas.

However, we are served by a Benny Hill type waitress who is well in touch were her major assets.

Brian tells her she must do something about the size of her portions – they are very large.

Everyone laughs, Johnny asks what did he say.

By the last two days both John and Brian are skiing superbly considering they have only been away once before. They will excel in future trips and as they gather speed the mountains will get smaller.

Mike has to be congratulated. He calls himself an old fart but there are not many who would compete with him. Maybe a lifetime in the drug industry has paid off?

So it’s the last night, a few more beers and then we are left to engage in that very best of sports, reminiscing – where you get the cost of your holiday back time and time again.

No one can take the memories but it would be handy to have some photos. Brinky has promised them several times so watch this space.

If anyone wants to come next year, you don’t have to ski if you don’t want to, then contact the chairman Mr.B.

We are planning to go in second week of March if possible and hopefully Val D’Isere. All standards from zero to hero welcome.

So it’s Bonjour, Bon Soir, Bon Voyage and Au Revoir from me.

Knobby the one foot wonder bear and Creigiau 23 official mascot is hibernating. He will be back out very appropriately around March 1st.

See you at the airport!

'Eagle' Eves

Posted on April 8th 2009