Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The end of our Winter season :(...

We are all done. Ski season over...

After waving goodbye to our last week of guests, Kerry and I enjoyed a well earned lie-in  before setting to work turning the chalet down and locking her up until the next season's seasonnaires arrive in 6 months time.

Our home for 4 months
The cleaning was a bit surreal really because there was no one there... No guests to tend to, no new mess being made. Once I'd cleaned the toilets and showers, no one used them to make them dirty again!

We had about 3 days to get the chalet ready for an inspection on the 4th day and were then to be moved 20 minutes up the valley to Tignes Lavachey to help out in a 24 bed chalet there.

On our last day we took to the slopes to say thank you and farewell to Sainte Foy. Unfortunately it was very icy and we only felt brave enough to chance one run, scared of picking up an injury on the last day of the season! But we snowboarded from the top of resort to the bottom, taking in the sights for the very last time.

We passed our inspection and told we had a lift to Tignes the next day at 13:00. So after a lazy morning saying goodbye to a few people and one last Diabolo Pizza (Spicy hot!) in the Pitchouli bar we met our manager and lugged our bags down THE stairs for the last time. 

Our season in Sainte Foy was finished. I had loved it too... There is no better way to live than on a mountain. And whilst I was skeptical to start with, Sainte Foy was the mountain for me. 

The Chalet got messier to get cleaner!
We thought we were just going to be helping out in Tignes. A bit of washing up, serving the guests and making a few beds, with the promise of a Tignes area lift pass for the last 3 days. How we were led on. The chalet normally operates with one chef and 2 hosts. One of the hosts had gone back to the UK for a few days training and Kerry and I were filling in her space. That is until we were in the van to Tignes. Then it became apparent that the chef had complained of an injured ankle and that Kerry and I were to cook that evening. 

Bleugh ... more work. I wasn't very happy. Kerry and I did not want to work in Tignes. We loved Sainte Foy and now that we had shut up shop just wanted to get home. We seriously contemplated leaving of our own accord on the Wednesday and heading home, but negotiated with the company and were assured that our commitment bond and retainer would be paid (Approx. £250 each) as well as a flight home on the chartered aircraft this coming Sunday. We figured a good deal for 3 days of tidying and hosting. 

Not so much for cooking for 21. 11 of which were kids, meaning a whole different course.

Marshmallow topped mountain from our chalet balcony
When we arrived we introduced ourselves and had a look around. The chalet was of a lower grading to ours. It wasn't as new, the furnishings weren't quite as nice, but functionally it was fine. If it was cleaned. We didn't know how the chef must have worked before. And if I'm honest, how no one had gotten ill. The kitchen had old grease smeared down the cupboards, every plate, bowl and piece of cutlery was dirty. The guests brought some mugs up to the kitchen to be cleaned as they had baked on scum around the rim. And the smell.. I'm not sure what it was but it was foul!

That evening Kerry and I cobbled together one of the meals we were used to cooking. A simple task you'd have thought... seeing as there is a comprehensive cook book that everyone is meant to adhere to. Not so when the chef had taken it upon himself to serve different food, resulting in the shopping not matching the ingredients. 

With the kitchen being as it was and the obvious discontent from the guests at the state of the place Kerry and I chose not to board the next day and instead devoted the time to deep cleaning the kitchen and dining areas. Basic stuff that Kerry and I would do every day... sweep and mop the floor, clean away all dishes in to the dishwasher, clean the windows, lay out afternoon tea.. all weren't done. And what go to me more was that the 'host' working with us had left by 9am! ... It's HER chalet!

The same palarva with dinner happened again for 2 nights. I hated it. This wasn't how a chalet was run and now I was working in it... making do with little support. I was literally counting down the hours until we were to go home. On the last night one guests in particular showed his disdain and started swearing loudly. I agreed with everything he said. I just wanted to get home.

View from the Grande Mott - Tignes
The last 3 days of our season were a nightmare and something I don't wish to happen again... But it's important that they don't detract from the whole experience. I've worked on a mountain for nearly 4 months, hosted for some amazing people, received job offers, expressions of people wanting to invest in Kerry and I and all while being able to snowboard pretty much every day.

There is nothing I would want to change about our season in Sainte Foy. It was simply... perfect. And I know it will be tricky to match that next year.

Over the 4 months Kerry and I have managed to not spend our wages. Living off of tips and the good company we kept. So with those wages we have decided to blow them all! Next Wednesday we jump back on an airplane and head for sunny Tenerife, Canary Islands for a week of all inclusive food and beer, 22 - 26 degree heat and most importantly ... someone waiting on us!

We already have some plans for next Winter season... but we can't tell you just yet ;)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Month of Snowboarding bliss...

I've had the time of my life and I'm now exhausted!

We have had 4 weeks of perfect guests. One week we only had 4!

Phil and Claire, good school friends of mine, came out for a week which was really nice. They were initially going to try and find a different operator to stay with, And meet us out on the slopes. Sainte Foy being what it is (Quite a well-to-do, "oh yaa darling" type resort) meant that our chalet turned out being the cheapest and they succumbed to staying with us!

Kerry changed her rental board for some ski's so she could whizz around the mountain with us all and we had some brilliant weather.

The beginning of the week was a little sparse on the fresh stuff so Phil and I plucked up the courage to try some daring traverses. Real 20p - 50p stuff! But were rewarded with some lovely lines.

Then the heavens opened and we got a couple of feet of snow at the top! Another long traverse, known as Crystal Dark, later and another powder run to the piste.

All of the guests kindly banded together and bought Kerry and I a lovely steak at La Bergerie restaurant on the Wednesday night.

We even stuck a GoPro attachment to Phil's helmet so there should be some awesome footage of me in the next video! I jumped in to a particular tree run I love. However when I rode it this time I'd had a 9% Duvel (beer) and the snow was... sparse to say the least. I was clattering in to branches, climbing out of tree wells and then jumping down bare earth until I plopped out the other side, a little battered but ok.

Kerry celebrated her Birthday on the 25th March and we had some awesome guests to go with it. The two kids, 6 and 9, were adamant that EVERY single birthday decoration should be put up. There were balloons and sprinkle bits everywhere as well as two hand made cards.

 I gave her a very special, all gold, Pandora charm to  complete her bracelet. If there are any blokes out there dieing for ideas for what to buy their beloved better halfs... go with Pandora! There is a charm for all occasions and it's kept me out of the dog house for a good 2 years.

Now that it's full up however, Kerry will be able to change out any old charms out for new ones I buy. Even though she'd adamant on another bracelet!

I was able to meet up with the maintenance guy from another chalet company for an afternoons riding. We did an off piste run called the Col de Granier which runs from the top of the resort on the North face of the mountain down to a small stream and then down to the village at the bottom of the mountain.

The powder here was beautiful. There had been hardly anyone down it and because it gets very little sun the snow was top quality.

The whole thing took about an hour and we had to walk the last few hundred meters as the snow had melted lower down. I was knackered! All that fluffy stuff had tired me out and the pint in the pub at the end was well earnt!

I actually felt rather sick after. Then when I got back to Kerry she reminded me I hadn't eaten since breakfast and had ridden all day!

All in all it's been a brilliant season. I wouldn't change it for the world. And while I was very skeptical of the small resort we were placed in I'm glad we were now. Our boarding and Kerry's skiing has come on leaps and bounds and we have been on the slopes nearly every day. This is no doubt because we haven't been hitting the sauce every night like other resorts. We cannot imagine skiing in a big resort! Who wants to queue on holiday? I want to Snowboard!

Chalet clean down, linen returns, oven blitzing and general admin stuff to do this week. Then over to Tignes for 3 days to help out with a different chalet and finally a flight back to blighty on Sunday.... While I love the snow, I'm now itching to get in the van and to get some heat!