On our last skiing outing for the season, we headed to La Clusaz. We might have been on the French side of the border, but like the Swiss, they too revere their dairy cows and idyllic alpine scenery. Picture a hotel room completely done in carved in knotty pine with floral curtains and you'll see why the lift door here was one of the more understated bits of decor.
Out on the slopes, I managed to get on and off the ski lifts without incident and stay upright for the entire morning session. After three hours, my body was screaming for a break and my gut was groaning for some grub. The highlight was the break for lunch at a restaurant on the slope itself. Diners are greeted by the dog, 1664 (yes, named after the beer) who is seen here trying to grab one of Simon's poles.
To gain entry, you literally ski up to the entrance, unclick your skis, jam 'em into the snow and drape your poles by their straps over the pointy ends. Then there's a few metres of stiff walking like robots in unwieldy boots with a grunt after each step due to protesting muscles starting to untwist themselves and throb angrily at the treatment they've just been subjected to.
With helmet-hair and red marks from the goggles still on my face, I peeled off my gloves and gratefully slurped my bowl of hot chocolate. Bowls make sense here as they warm up the fingers.
We all enjoyed lunches of BBQed steaks, tuna, quiche gruyere, chunky chips, smoked pork and a bit of red wine to wash it down with. Conversation was bright, the sun even brighter and I shared my finding that farting in your ski pants (salopettes) isn't a good idea because the gas travels up your body and poofs out at the top of your jacket, resultant stench sailing straight up the snout.
Love Chunks, now a confirmed addict for alpine activities, inevitably looked at his watch. "We'd better make the most of it before the lift closes," he said, clicking the strap of his helmet under his chin, his eyes looking not unlike Milly's when the word 'walk' is uttered out loud.
Clunking our awkward disjointed way back to 1664 (who was busy chasing a slow learner around the other side of the building and not interested in patrons who were leaving), we reached for our skis.
"These aren't mine," I said, noting that the stocks were white and not brown.
"Are you sure?"
It was then that Simon recalled seeing a woman fumble about in the general vicinity of our skis as he ate. "As we were diving into the creme brulee, I remember noticing that the clumsy way she tried to put on her skis made it pretty clear that she wasn't a natural and was still most definitely in the Beginner category."
"Like me, you mean...?"
"Well, now that you mention it......"
We stood around the alien skis, wondering what to do. Gianna, the fluent French-speaker among us, went back into the restaurant and left our contact details should the woman realise her mistake and return. There were no 'hire' barcodes on them, so they were privately owned. Stealing didn't seem likely. "And of course the stocks would be my size or she wouldn't have been able to slip into mine if they didn't fit," I concluded. "She'll probably get home and one of her teenage kids will say, 'Er derr Mum, they're not your skis!"
There was really nothing for it but to put them on, keep an eye out for a woman with largish hooves on white skis with brown stocks (and bent ski poles) and see if things couldn't be set to rights. Not so easy in practice when on a steeply sloping field hosting a couple of thousand skiers, none of whom stayed still long enough to let my eyes focus.
Over dinner, I again pondered the fate of my still very brand new skis. "She's left me a pair that have a few scratches on them, but at least her poles are straight."
Simon got his iPad out and did a bit of research. "You're in luck, Kath. Her skis might be slightly broken in, but they're a current brand and model that's still available. How much were your Rossignols again...?" Tappita tappita tappita he went, beer temporarily forgotten as he delved deeper into the details.
It was time for a glass of champers: the value and quality of my skis had doubled in a day.