My non-skiing skiing holiday

Allalinhorn, Alps (Switzerland). Panoramic vie...

Allalinhorn, Alps (Switzerland). Panoramic view from the top. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Half term ended – tick. Children back at school – tick. All back from skiing holiday in one piece – tick. Relative calm and good humour resumed – tick. General irritation with British weather – high.  Desire to see snow again in the next 9 months – zero.

So I’ve returned from my oxymoronic non-skiing skiing holiday.  The advantage of such a holiday is not to be underestimated, largely as this year I am in one piece, standing on my own two feet and not doing battle with the well-intentioned, woefully underfunded NHS. That said, to guarantee this outcome it did mean giving up an integral part of a skiing holiday, the skiing.  Did I miss the skiing? Yes.  If I’m honest, although I had a lovely time (largely because I had a non-skiing friend there too), there is something a bit odd about choosing to spend a week in freezing temperatures whilst not indulging in the one activity in which everyone else is indulging.

With this in mind, it will come as no surprise to you that much like my faux-exercising (ie dressing up as though I am/have been exercising, remaining dressed as such all day and being mistaken for a member of the “smug women who do actually exercise every day” group), I was attired in full ski gear.  Somehow I didn’t get the same satisfaction out of this duplicity as I do from my pretence at exercise.  I guess that’s because those wearing ski kit were actually doing something I wanted to be doing too.

There is something rather sad and pathetic about coming down a ski lift (especially in full ski regalia) – no-one does that, do they?  Well, I did, every day.  Although I have to admit coming down in glorious isolation is infinitely preferable to being squashed into a transparent box, dangling in mid-air, with an unnatural proximity to total strangers, playing the “avoid the ski-pole in the eye” game all the way up the mountain and worrying whether you will get off the lift in one piece, with all your skiing paraphernalia and pick up your skis (and not someone else’s – are you reading this, Mr Pain in the Backside, who took my husband’s skis?)

So I’ve established that, for me at least, it was not a skiing holiday.  Actually at the risk of being accused of pedantry, “holiday” doesn’t really cover it either.  Certainly there were elements that come under the verbal umbrella of “holiday” – eating too much (not a good plan when you are not skiing to work it off, as the scales screamed at me this morning), drinking too much and laughing (a lot) with friends.  However, there were also elements that transgress any trades description of “holiday”, most obviously “children”. I have long ago stopped calling going away with children a “holiday” because it simply is not a “holiday” in the sense that you might have used the word in those halcyon days of youth and no kids.

No, with children, a holiday is more accurately described as a “change of scenery”. Obviously this “change of scenery” is very welcome although often more challenging than staying at home and never is this more true than on a skiing holiday.  Trying to get three children (four if you count a husband) dressed in 200 layers, fed and out on the slopes before 9am requires a herculean effort. It is not possible to get through this daily trial without at least 3 missing gloves, two full-blown tantrums, serious over-heating (not surprising with thermals and 199 other layers – the timing of layering is crucial), at least 15 mentions of “you don’t know how lucky you are to be skiing at your age, we didn’t do this when I was young”, at best 2 out of the 3 children requiring a loo visit just as you are exiting (which requires removal and replacement of 200 layers X 2 to accomplish) and of course you still have the dubious pleasure of carrying all their skis to the slopes as they walk/slide/fall over alongside whining about how cold it is (whilst trying to stop yourself from shouting, “Well, what the bloody hell did you expect in a country covered in a metre of snow?).

Yes, I definitely missed skiing.  I hope that I shall ski again. However, there is nothing quite like the piercing blue skies in the mountains, the perfect white duvets of snow and the odd glass of wine (medicinal of course) to lift the spirits and the best thing of all, watching the children thoroughly enjoying – for the  most part –  an outdoor activity which doesn’t involve hours glued to a screen or tapping away on a keyboard.  If you’re going to have a “change of scenery”, you can do a lot worse than the mountains – I always find the grand, awe-inspiring scale of the scenery puts everything into perspective and makes you glad to be alive!

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CORE blimey…

I don’t think I am going to be alone in this one although I suspect this again is something only relevant those born before 1980.  Am I the only person who is baffled by the command to “engage my core”? Everywhere I go, every article I read about exercise is banging on about your “core”.  This mythical part of the anatomy is somewhere in the middle I guess judging from its name but further than that I can’t really speculate.

Now maybe I’m wrong but I don’t remember anyone talking about your “core” in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s – this is a very modern phenomenon.  As far as I am aware, the human form has not anatomically altered during the last decade (although my own personal anatomical form is not what it was 20 years ago!).  Is the “core” a recent biological discovery?  Call me cynical, but I can’t help think it is yet another of those new-fangled expressions which exercise types like to throw at us to confuse us and make us believe that we are inadequate in the strength/fitness department.  As for “engaging my core” – that just sounds painful and I have to admit when asked to do so, I nod sagely and do precisely nothing – mainly because I have no idea what to do.

On the subject of exercise, I must just share with you my most recent strategy for appearing to be exercising when I am not.  I don’t think this is a particularly radical strategy and I suspect quite a few people I know employ a similar strategy but won’t admit to it.  About once a week I will don tracksuit bottoms and trainers and one of those micro-fleece tops (so beloved of exercise types), not wear any make up and step out to face the world, a fully paid up member of that smug subset of the human race, “sporty (and hence healthy) types”. It amuses me no end that to become a member of this elite group of beings, you need to do nothing else other than look the part and perhaps the greatest irony for me is that in order to achieve this look, you really don’t have to bother much at all with your outfit, make-up etc. Of course the truth is that the closest I get to exercise on these days is crouching down to do up the laces on my otherwise under-utilised trainers.  To make sure that I give the most impact on these days, I do not change out of my sports gear all day hence ensuring that I give off a nonchalant air of casual sportiness to the maximum number of people.  Although if you were to ask me what sport/exercise I was undertaking, you would find that I would answer with the deliberately ambiguous, “sorry must run…”

So next time you see all those women in exercise attire and you feel that pang of guilt at your own sloth, just remember it is quite possible that appearances are deceiving you and that the only thing that these women are engaging are the gears in their gas-guzzling 4x4s and that rather like you, they do not get even close to “engaging their core”.

Curso de Instructor de Pilates

Curso de Instructor de Pilates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)