Hello and Happy New Year!! As this is my first blog post of the year, I thought it would be a good time for a quick reflection of the one we have just departed. In a nutshell; 2014 was fifty shades of cray. I’d definitely say it was one of the best years of my life which has put me in very high spirits for the upcoming 365 days. The Jack Experience was launched in September and I haven’t looked back since. My ‘little project’ has quickly become a major part of my life and I’m loving being part of such a fantastic community. I’m somehow now even featuring in magazines and being nominated for an award courtesy of your votes and support – the perfect ego-boost I really didn’t need. Seriously though, thanks for sticking around – I promise 2015 is going to be another fantastic year.
I actually concluded 2014 in the same place I started it; Courchevel, France. This was my second skiing trip to the French Alps, though I’d be lying if I said that our journey to get there was easy. After a detrimental lack of snow, the mountains were hit with a massive dump on Boxing Day; the day we set off in our car. We somewhat optimistically expected a 12 hour journey, but the sudden arrival of snow proved something of a problem on the unprepared motorway. Cars were flipped, fires started in tunnels and chaos ensued. Our travel actually took a disgusting 33 hours. In fact, I was sitting in the same position for so long that I ended up with a massive bruise on my right buttock (or derrière, if we’re sticking with the French theme) as an unsolicited souvenir.
Though it sounds ridiculous, we actually did quite well in the given circumstance. While others were diverted and forced to sleep on shop floors or in school halls, our marvel of a sat-nav managed to detect a miraculous slip-road which avoided the stand-still traffic. We counted our blessings (and raised our middle-fingers) as we skipped the ludicrously lengthy wall of vehicles. Ultimately, it could’ve been worse. We did spare a thought for those who’d had a rubbish week of skiing due to terrible conditions, only to be caught on the way home because of excessive snowfall. I learnt two things from my experience: 1) no matter what, I will never, ever be able to say that I am bored again and 2) when desperate times call for desperate measures, people will actually urinate anywhere if necessary. Oh, and I mean anywhere.
12th January 2015
Skiing in Courchevel, France
However my first hour on the slopes (two days after we set off, incidentally) made the entire journey worth the trouble. Courchevel is one of the most beautiful places I have ever witnessed and I would most certainly stay there forever if the opportunity arises. With more fairy-lights than a teenager’s Instagram, the place is perfectly picturesque. When I wasn’t photographing everything in sight, I actually decided to ski. They say skiing is like riding a bike because you never forget. I was a little dubious of this and was desperately praying that I would still be able to stand on two skis – let alone fly down a mountain – but it’s absolutely true. The conditions were perfect and the sun was shining… nothing meriting complaint from me.
The second-highest-but-who’s-counting-anyway point in Courchevel is a stunning run called Pyramides. To get here, a rather long trip via drag-lift is required. For those who haven’t been skiing before, drag-lifts are basically the Piers Morgan of the lift world; everybody hates them but they’re still everywhere you go. This lift is like a small button on a stick of which you put between your legs as you say goodbye to any feeling in your general ‘down below’ area. On this particularly lengthy lift, I managed to get myself into a rather uncomfortable position. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details but let’s just say I feared for Jack Junior – you know what I mean. Anyway, as I reached the peak, I found a man I assumed to be my father. “Say goodbye to your grandchildren” I said jokingly, to which I was confronted by a horrified German man clearly under the impression that I was threatening him and his family in some way. This warranted me ‘Dick of the Day’ from our group. Yep, while some families focus on what they’re proud of from each day of skiing, we prefer to take the piss and ridicule anyone who steps out of line. I believe the official term is ‘banter’ but I’m no expert.
The following day, I experienced my first real skiing crash. It was New Year’s Eve, so I was standing before quite a steep slope taking everything in. I feel it’s extremely important to frequently take a moment to yourself in order to appreciate how lucky you are to live the life you lead. So there I am, waiting for my friends to catch up, at the brow of a hill, just thinking what a brilliant way this was to end such a productive year. The next thing I remember I was rolling sideways down a hill at a speed Lewis Hamilton would be proud of. When I finally stopped myself, about eleven rolls later (I’d travelled quite an impressive distance by this point), I expected to open my eyes to be welcomed by an adoring crowd and four judges standing each with the number 10 scribbled across placards. Instead I was greeted by a sunburnt and unfortunately mono-browed French man apologising profusely. He and his wife were very kind and clearly felt very guilty for sending my hurtling down a hill. I picked myself up and told them I was fine – lying to strangers is fine if it clears their guilty conscience – and chuckled to myself. My body still aches a bit now, though I imagine the sight of me suddenly being catapulted down a hill and being thrown from my philosophical reflection of 2014 was pretty hilarious. Lesson learnt; stay well-clear of sunburnt French men In the future.
Each afternoon after a day of hardcore skiing action, we returned to our chalet for afternoon tea laid out by our chalet-maid, Sam. The food was consistently phenomenal and I must admit that I still miss coming home to a baguette and freshly-baked cake after a strenuous day of school. We justified the nightly three course meal by the fact that we were actually doing sport all day. Apparently skiing is justified as a sport, though I actually find it enjoyable so this surely cannot be the case. Our group of eight were the first to reside in the newly revived chalet. Everything was stunning and meticulously decorated – it was very clear that the owners had put a lot of time and care into the 200 year old building. The dining room table had been created from old floor boards and there was a clear ‘stag’ theme running throughout the house. I felt extremely tumblr, which is apparently now an acceptable adjective to describe nice things. For those interested, I also uploaded a coinciding photo gallery of my trip, which includes images from the chalet (which, may I say, was very photogenic – a blogger’s dream) and the slopes. There’s the odd selfie too, but what did you expect? Click here to view.
With reluctance, I was forced to leave Courchevel on the 3rd Janurary. I put up my skis for the last time that week feeling extremely confident in my own ability and generally very happy. My new found skiing competence is mostly thanks to my amazing personal instructor, James. He taught me loads of great skills and techniques, perfecting my parallel skiing. If you're considering a skiing holiday - I can't stress how much I'd recommend it. There's something about the mountain air and extraordinary views which just denotes solace to me. I’ve entered 2015 the best way possible; full of optimism. I’m really excited for everything this year holds and determined to keep working hard at this website. For me personally, 2015 is a big year in regards to my education. My resolution is therefore to appreciate all of the ‘last-times’ and to enjoy all of the ‘first-times’.
I'd love to hear your New Year's resolutions - tell me in the comments below! Happy New Year and have a lovely day. Until next time, au revoir!
By Jack Edwards