Monday, February 25, 2013

Putta putta putta PARP!

Regular readers will know that I fart (often) and ain't afraid to admit it.

The relief of being open about this might be a reaction to the first twenty years of my life when my brothers remained quite convinced that girls (or, at the very least, their sister), never ever needed to pass wind.  To counteract this belief, they would regularly take gleeful pleasure in 'performing' a few right in my face in order to remind me that such a bodily function existed.  Both brothers would be out of the door and way out of dead-leg range before I could struggle to my feet from my half-lying stance in the beanbag.

By age twenty five I had found Love Chunks, we were newly engaged and thrilled to rent our first place together; a shocker of a 1960's flat with cement brick walls, pond scum carpet and a head-sized hole in the bathroom.  His illusions as to my fart-free status were shattered in minutes after mock chasing me into the living room in an attempt to 'dack' me.

To non-Aussies, a 'dacking' usually involves:
a) cleverly spotting that your victim (the 'dackee') is wearing a skirt, pair of trousers or shorts with an elastic waistband;
b) noting that the dackee is in a relaxed state and easy to tackle; and
c) seizing the chance to run up, dive into a rugby pose and PULL DOWN THEIR PANTS in a nanosecond, all the while hoping that their undies stay up.

Love Chunks was in the midst of this manoeuvre when my defence mechanism - for so many years kept hidden - went into full defence mode.  Putta putta putta PARP PARP PARP!  For a moment afterwards, we both froze. I was half bent over, in shock and embarrassment at the enormous fart that had emerged; LC was just in shock.  "Bah hah hah hah hah...!" he went, doubling over himself, before wisely deciding to stand upright again and wildly open the door to and fro in an effort to get some fresh air into the room.

That occasion, with its total lack of dignity, freed me up to let it out and be proud. In the ladies' toilets at several work places, I'd be aware of women in the other stalls doing their best to whizz silently against the bowl, or cough when a Tony Abbott or two was about to drop.  "Hey there!  We're all in here for the same reason - drops and plops - so why bother hiding it?"

And thus, with the nineties and noughties long behind me and the teens continuing, my rowdy rear end continues to seek the limelight, whether it's wanted or not.

With Sapphire away in the UK for the weekend with her friends, LC and I took the opportunity to go skiing with two other couples in nearby La Clusaz, France.  Now, LC is utterly hooked on this hurtling down icy sixty-degree-angle mountain sides on skinny planks malarkey whereas for me it is rewarding and occasionally exhilarating but always terrifying.  As such, he's lining up for the lifts as soon as they open and has to be pushed off by the snow plow drivers at dusk but I'm ready to quit at lunchtime and have a nanna nap/spa/shower/inhale chocolate/read magazines in our room.

Luckily for me, Slimey's wife Gianna is of a similar disposition.  We'd done a full morning and my legs were no longer listening to my commands, preferring instead to point in the direction of the chairlift back into town.  At one stage they'd buckled underneath me and I found myself on my stomach and legs spread rather unflatteringly in both directions. All I need was someone to draw a circle around my fallen figure in the snow and a human Peace Sign would be evident.

Time to call it a day.  LC and I had already checked out of our room after breakfast, but Gianna and Slimey were there for another night. "No problem, Kath. Get changed in our room and use Slimey's towel - he won't mind."

Now, I've only known Gianna for two years but already love, trust, admire and enjoy her company immensely. We'd shared many stories and adventures together and I always looked forward to seeing her when she was in Geneva. Getting changed in front of her was a new level of intimacy for sure, but not one that phased me. 

It was what occurred in her bathroom a minute later that had me in an anxious sweat.  

Putta putta putta PARP PARP PARP!  Yep, my ginormous glutes decided to emit their version of a loud gaseous staccato roar that swept out of the bowl, across the tiles, out the door and through the alpine valley causing trees to quiver and drop their icicles onto the slopes, creating avalanches that swept down into the township below.  

As with Love Chunks' first experience of my articulate arse, there was a silence from the other side of the bathroom door.  It was me who broke it. "Er, I'm guessing that staying in a wooden chalet hotel means that you heard everything my 'tocks just tooted...?"

Sniggering was all the answer I needed. "I'm married to Slimey," she managed between gasps, "but I'm not entirely sure that he didn't also hear it up there on the red run."  

"Don't worry, I'd already taken his bathrobe off...."

There really is no going back after farting in front of a friend.

When we arrived home last night and downloaded our photos, this one seemed eerily appropriate.  Camera angle or honest truth, it was a blessing that no-one sat on my right hand side.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cemeteries, castles and cows' stomachs

Munching in front of a Monument again: this time it's Edinburgh Castle.  Yes, I've used shortbread but, true-to-my-nature, it has a thick layer of chocolate on the top.

After all, why not pop over there on a cheap flight for a few days during Sapphire's half-term break. And don't get me started on why kids need a week off after only six weeks of school and then a pupil-free day the following Monday...  Love Chunks was left at work (with a couple of days to go skiing too, so don't feel too sorry for him).

The above photo was taken by a rather hungover young gentleman who was heading home to bed after a big Saturday night out just as we were heading up to the castle for an early Sunday morning start.

Sapphire beside a tiny window inside the St Margaret's chapel in the rocky grounds of Edinburgh castle. It's the oldest still-standing building there dating back to the 11th century.  It was surprising to discover that the castle is still used for army training and large areas were blocked off. A few Chinese tourists didn't read the 'Private Residence - No Entry' signs and opened the front door and wandered inside a rather lovely looking terraced house, no doubt surprising (or annoying) the occupants.

My observation to Sapph: "It must be terrific to live in such historical buildings and locations, but - whatever you do - always remember to have clothes on when you fling open your window or need to dash outside to whip a dry towel off the clothesline."

It was hurtful to receive only a eye roll for my sharing of wisdom.

Greyfriars church, in the heart of the Old Town at the base of the castle, was a spot that was regularly dug up by body snatchers keen to earn eight quid (half a years' wage) for each fresh(ish) one found.  Therefore, grim-looking headstones such as this one (see the two coffin and shovel icons left and right between the skull and crossbones?) were designed to warn potential carcass criminals to bog off and try somewhere else. Richer graves even had locked gates to prevent being disturbed whilst poorer-but-determined families sometimes forced a relative to sit on a new grave for at least a fortnight. After that, the bone burglars knew that the contents inside would be too decayed to interest the nearby medical school.

With an atmospherically gloomy day to help us, we tried (in vain) to find the Thomas Riddle gravestone that JK Rowling borrowed for her books.  We did, however, see a few other key character names amongst the tombs - McGonagal etc, and had lunch at the cafe she still credits for being kind enough to let her nurse a cup of coffee all day to stay warm and write the first Harry Potter.

The waiting staff there were keeping sharp eyes on any lingerers though, having suffered through a few other billionaire-wannabes trying to get a sniff of the inspiration JK found in their cafe.  The cappuccino cake was nice though, and Sapph thought her lamb and mint pie was pretty decent too.


Great achievement - Encyclopaedia Brittanica - but a very, very unfortunate name.  William Smellie......  In Australia, the cheaper and local version was 'Funk and Wagnalls.'  Adverts at the time would feature a kid asking something improbable like, 'Where do sesame seeds come from?' and a voice-over would gleefully say, "Look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls!"  Best not to say that phrase too fast or with a mouth full of toffee.

A unicorn, resting a hoof on the Scottish coat of arms whilst also holding up the St Andrews flag along the Royal Mile.  It's tempting to now write, 'your argument is invalid' ala the popular meme or 'enough said' but he sits proudly at the top of a small stone tower used to make (yell, presumably) announcements to the local populace.  

On the ground were wooden doors that were used to punish shop lifters caught red-handed at the nearby market. If captured, the thief had their ear nailed to the door and had a terrible choice to make:
A) To remain there for twenty four hours without touching their ear and endure the encouraged likelihood of locals kicking, spitting or emptying their night jars on you as well as enduring hunger, cold and wet pants; or
B) Leave the post at any time within that twenty four hours by tearing your ear off the nail.

Unfortunately the first case would undoubtedly cause you to perish in the night or endure a terrible, deathly infection and the second resulted in a missing chunk of ear that instantly identified you as a thief and therefore likely to be refused jobs, food or even permission to live in the town.  I wonder if that's where the term 'ear marked' comes from?

Bobby the dog was owned by a local policeman, John Grey, and always accompanied him on his rounds in the very dodgy areas of Edinburgh.  Several years later, John contracted TB and died and Bobby stayed by his grave, living for at least a decade afterwards.  He became rather famous and was looked after by the Greyfriars rector and locals, who regularly left him food and treats.  It is now a tradition to leave sticks for him to chase at his grave.

What I forgot to take photographs of:

  • Sapphire trying and enjoying Haggis.
  • "Aye, but ye canna go roond that whey," said the taxi driver and Sapphire whispering, "Can you actually understand what he's saying, Mum?"
  • Bag pipe players. EVERYWHERE. In fact, the above pictures are rare for NOT containing any of them, but their strangled beagle sounds were always heard.
  • Our deliciously hearty English full cooked breakfast but with Scottish extras of haggis and oatcake. Sapphire was primed to tell the waitress that she wanted a 'full English breakfast' but came out with, "I want the FULL SAUSAGE."  I'm still wondering if I'm a suitable role model because we laughed and joked about it for the rest of the trip.
  • Nits. Again.  "No, I don't want to do it monkey style," said my younger Foghorn Leghorn when I suggested a quick check.  More immature giggling ensued; mostly from me.
  • Me and cider. Local brews and a gorgeous strawberry one from Sweden. Why hasn't it travelled across the channel to mainland Europe...?
  • Cadbury Creme eggs all over the place and for half the price they'd be in Australia.
  • A tray of beef lasagne abandoned in the crisp packet aisle in Sainsburys.  Obviously bought out of habit before the brain started to ask, "But is it really beef, or is Phar Lap's descendent in there too?"

...and heading back to our cosy room to flop on the bed, enjoy a cup of tea and read all the broadsheet weekend newspapers with my darling travel companion.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pees Orff

Geneva is like a pimple on the face of Europe in that it is almost entirely surrounded by France.

Swiss flags might be everywhere but the lifestyle and attitudes are mostly French. Croissants instead of Bircher muesli; 'La Poste' on the sides of yellow delivery trucks instead of the rather forbidding 'Die Post' further north; and Fashion over Sensible Footwear.

The official branch of the bank that is used by Love Chunks' UN agency closes down over lunch, so any workers who want to pay bills or open an account have to sneak over before midday or after 2:00pm.  Everything is closed on Sunday, so if you haven't done your weekly shop or wish to visit a restaurant that:

* has decor later than 1978
* is vaguely affordable; and/or
* serves food that isn't Kath's One Pot At Home-standard of pasta or pizza

..... you'll starve.  It is the official Day of Rest and judging from the silence of our enormous apartment complex, residents are either attending church or lying mutely in the dark for the entire day.

Despite this, there's enough Swiss influence to ensure that public transport runs precisely on time; recycling depots are on every street corner and just moving to a different suburb requires you to notify and register with the local commune (council).  Cafes stay open "non stop" which is not 24/7 but means that they don't close for their own lunch break.

This is not the case a mere five kilometres away.  Where the edge of CERN's enormous underground Hadron Collider borders France, things change.  Prices of food, shoes, clothing, pharmaceuticals, gifts and furniture are markedly cheaper.  Same goes for meals at restaurants and bistros.

Kate and her daughter Imogen took Sapphire and myself out for a little excursion to Val Thoiry; a well known shopping destination for frustrated Genevan Meat Tourists* and for those tiring of only being able to buy their clothes from H&M and therefore match the 99% of the population who are not Rolex-wearing multi-millionaires.  I can spot a striped H&M t-shirt, one-pocket stud jeans and funky trousers a mile away these days.

Trudging through the snowy car park, we found ourselves in a northern hemisphere version of a Melbourne 'Home Maker' centre: enormous shop fronts, oodles of free (outdoor) parking and all manner of things for sale.  We'd been living in Geneva too long and had forgotten just how much choice is on offer if you're permitted to purchase items that aren't necessarily grown, invented or manufactured by the Swiss. 

Prices had me gobsmacked. "Kate, look at THIS! It's only ONE EURO! How on earth.....?"  A fellow shopper looked over at me in a kindly manner. She recognised a new recruit; a Meat Tourist now given the keys to purchases and choices beyond beef mince and deodorant.  "WHY is this two Euros here but eleven in Geneva, Kate? WHY?"

With shoes, birthday presents, Vag Fresh mints, kitchenware and chocolate purchased, our rumbling stomachs informed us that it was high time for lunch.

A cafe beckoned; its winking lights, front bar filled with warm-looking patrons and an extensive blackboard menu bragging about daily specials, two course deals and burgers cementing our decision. "Let's go here. Look how cheap the food is!"

Not so fast, the waiter seemed to say as I pointed to a large, empty booth inside the restaurant and he instead grabbed my elbow to steer me away. "Your table eeez outside."

Er, what?  

Admittedly, it was undercover and warm, but the cafe itself was empty except for the front bar.  Perhaps they were cleaning all the table tops?

The waiter returned. Sapphire asked in tentative French for the advertised burger, salad and fries.  My language skills were limited to understanding only his "Non."  She then tried wood oven pizza. "Non," he said again, pointing (with some force) at the laminated menus that also served as place mats on the outdoor table. "Just zeeeze," he said in English.

Kate nodded, finally understanding the waiter's lack of enthusiasm. "It's 1:45," she said, pointing to her watch. "We're too late for lunch and they wanted to close the kitchen."

Ohhhhh. The front section was full, but not of eaters. They were all busy chatting and slurping coffees, beers and wines, pausing only to flick their cigarette ash out behind them into our section.

All four of us dutifully pointed to the least offensive items on the menu. He nodded, relieved that these tardy clowns had got the message.  "Four lasagnes, eh?"

"Er, Oui. Please."

When our meals arrived - and they were good - the waiter sidled past every couple of minutes or so, meaningfully staring at our table in a very clear Hurry the Hell Up manner.

This, of course, had the opposite effect. We took our time and, somewhat ironically, had an interesting conversation about how often we must offend other cultures/countries/people unthinkingly.  

* Meat Tourists:  Frustrated expats who drive to France to buy cheaper meat and groceries.  Border control can stop your car and ask you how much meat you have. Maximum permitted is 500 grams of red meat per passenger in the car. I've been stopped twice in two years and have only ever had two kilograms of chicken breasts which they weren't even remotely interested in.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bonza blogger River from Drifting Through Life has carried on the Sunday Selections tradition of sorting through photos yet to be seen on your blog, posting 'em up and explaining why.

Being very new to the world of smartphones, I've had a ball taking snaps of anything and everything that takes my fancy. No worrying about lugging around the heavy SLR in a big black bag that screams, "I'm a tourist! Come pick my pockets" or the smaller digital version that Love Chunks insists is his and his alone. "Where is MY camera, the one that *I* bought?"

To be fair, though, these have mostly all been placed on Facebook and it's very easy to click the link, add a line (a slight challenge with my man-sized fingers that end up pressing 'ASD' instead of 's') and posting it up.

A 'selfie' taken slurping coffee on our balcony during a blizzard. My cup was topped with snow by the time I took a picture that was acceptable to share with anyone, so try and imagine those that were rejected.

Milly in front of at least twenty discarded Christmas trees, left by the big bins near our apartment.  Silly season was well and truly over.

On the Number 22 bus to the UN stop. I tend to select the double seats near the 'accordian' divider of the bus so that Milly has space to sit but she is terrified of the moving circular floor, undulating folded curtains and how it bends......

......and usually, therefore, ends up cowering under the seat.  This maneouvre provides an additional bonus in that fellow travellers feel sorry for her and she ends up receiving loads of pats, coo-ed endearments (in French) and ear ruffles.

Milly's nemesis: a fellow apartment-dweller, the Tabby Cat.  She enjoys sitting on the heaters in the lobby on cold days and the vantage point gives her plenty of notice to escape when Milly eventually spots her.  The cat watches as my darling dog's paws skitter on the marble floor before she ends up slamming into the glass.  She eventually recovers her poise only to see puss out in the garden looking disdainfully triumphant.

She can only be photographed (and petted) up close by me when Milly's not around.  On warmer days she perches in the enormous flower beds, waits for Milly to see her and automatically jump up in response only to have her nose swiped at by the cat before she shoots off.  It is only when Milly smells squirrels in the trees that she ignores the cat.

Milly with her sleepover buddy, Alfie the chocolate lab. Milly is NOT nice to other dogs; making it very clear that she'd prefer a world where she is the only canine and all homosapiens adore just her, but she's slowly getting used to seeing Alfie. He is the perfect host and when she visits him at his abode, he trots over with a toy in his mouth to offer her.

She snaps at him - "Don't YOU be taking liberties with ME!" and he wanders off with a "Whatever, lady," response to the other side of the living room.  Eventually Milly climbs down from her high horse, gives his butt a careful sniff and they're friends again.  Alfie is a patient and true gentleman.

Two friends found in the park that Milly can tolerate. 

Sometimes, our dog does have cruelty inflicted upon her.  Forced to wear a bra whilst enduring Sapphire's and my ridiculous laughter is not fun.

Then again, being my 'secretary' during freelance writing gigs isn't too bad.

G-strings, doggie winter coat version.

Rebel dog. When we first moved here, I saw the red circles with dogs in them and thought, "Wah hey, they welcome dogs here - a garden just for them!"  Fratman the concierge soon set me straight. Red circles don't have to have a line through them to mean 'no.'  It is with great thankfulness that Milly has a section of the garden filled with trees, bushes and lively squirrels where she is allowed to whizz and play.

Sapphire likes taking 'anti-selfies', partly to make fun of various FB 'friends' that take photos of themselves at their very, very best and caption them with 'I'm so ugly,' the universally-recognised plea for compliments or the 'Look at the snow outside' pose when the majority of the screen is filled with their figure artfully on show to display everything at its best.  

"But surely, Sapph, sometimes you could put a photo up that shows you looking, if not show-offy, at least a bit normal?"

She then gave me a lesson in how the Show Offy Gals do it: tilt the phone so that the eyes become enormous:

Ah. Imagine her halfway in between.

Sometimes, a purchase just has to be made, despite much eye-rolling from Love Chunks.

A Swiss marmot, ready to hike in the snow, on a bottle of wine.  Three euros.  And yes, I will drink it.

And, drum roll please for the phinal phone photo:

WHO made the yellow snow?
Milly did!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Corporeal Contraptions

At the risk of the blog turning into a Medic Alert memoir, when I was lying down in a stranger's room with only my knickers on, my mind invariably started to do an anatomical audit.

"Are you OK," the doctor asked in a kindly voice.

"Yep, it's nice and warm here and I can't feel a thing."

"That's good. If you're comfortable, I'll leave you here for ten minutes; come in and check on you and leave you for another ten if that's-----"


My blanket slid to the floor and the acupuncture needles in my ears and head waved in the breeze as I  sat up in shock. "What the hell is that?"

"Oh, not to worry," he said, waving it away. "It's the annual testing of the bomb shelter alarms all over Switzerland."

"Ah," I said, lowering myself back down, trying to ignore the wedgie I'd just given myself.

He popped a couple more needles into each wrist. "Actually, right now would be the perfect time to attack us as we'd all shrug our shoulders and think it was just part of the process."

I decided it was appropriate to pick out my wedgie right there and then even though he was still in the room: no-one wants to be caught in dodgy underwear during a surprise missile crisis.

Back to the body catalogue.  Today it was tiny pins all over my body, but what else do I rely on to survive?

Anti-depressants. It might seem an oxymoron to have to take a tablet to make me feel like me, but they work. So I will.

Weird Achilles heel protector sock bandage thingies. It's only my right Achilles that keeps playing up, but the doc says I should wear them on both feet. With a sewn in heel pad and tight sausage-shaped compression doo-whats-its that push against the muscle, I'm struggling to stay in my shoes. So far though, they're working.

US, English and Australian-sourced packets of painkillers for Mr Migraine's increasing number of unwanted visits. Note that there's nothing from Switzerland. The strongest stuff you can get from the chemist here is Panadol with caffeine: not a good option at night time.

The long-serving mouth guard, cleaned regularly with thrush, sorry, Swiss 'Candida' brand toothpaste.  This passion killer and lisp-inducer stops me from cracking my crowns due to grinding and/or clenching in my sleep and more than once I've walked out the front door ready to take Milly for her morning constitutional before eventually realising that the damn thing is still in.  "Bonjour Kath! Did you win your boxing match?"

Hot water bottle, Arnica gel and a not-so-good imitation of Deep Heat creme. Neck aches and shoulder pain see these used more often than preferred. Love Chunks is often called upon to apply these various gels and unguents and they all seem to smell bad enough for Milly to snort and move to the other side of the room.

Nearly forgot the decade-old orthotics...  Transferred from running shoe to running shoe.  Had a second pair in bright purple but lost them along the way somewhere.  I assume they still work at, um, whatever it was that they were supposed to do back in 2003.

All of these help me stay upright, keep moving and complain (slightly) less, but here are the three essentials.

Love Chunks: eighteen years of marriage and still my favourite boy to hug, sleep alongside, talk to, make plans with and smell.  Tickly moustache, glinting blue eyes and kindness by the bucketload.

Sapphire; thirteen-and-a-half and growing almost visibly in front of my eyes, astounding me with life lessons learned, observations made and potential yet to be realised.

Sweet little Milly.  Nine years young and still the best working buddy ever; albeit with the worst breath. A privilege to have her in our family.

Chocolate, coffee and wine help too.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Pants. Seat of

So the tumour is 4.4 millimetres which is genuinely micro in terms of what is allowed to live behind your eyes at the base of your brain. 

Blood tests are imminent, as are some acupuncture sessions to persuade Mr Migraine to bother someone with a 'macro' tumour who is not a nice person, or Tony Abbott; whatever's easiest.  Nothing unfamiliar for me to worry about, but I won't be upset at not having to wake up with a faceful of Exedrin and go to bed with a codeine nightcap.

On to nicer things.

As regular readers would have guessed, we Locketts are not known for wild and crazy purchases.  Darling DeLonghi coffee machine was Love Chunks' essential buy, as was my treadmill (used for hanging damp bedsheets on when my Achilles is playing up, but gratefully used again today after the flu symptoms have largely gone); and Sapphire seems pleased enough with her H&M threads that are, thankfully, viewed as acceptably cool by even the rich kids at her school. No, she's not one of them.

So, when LC suggested we pop into the city to get him a skiing helmet and then a coffee, I was only mildly interested in going.  Enjoying his company was the only reason that got me onto the tram, as Manor in January Sale mode is not a fun activity.  Rich Genevan women are just as aggressive when fighting over cheap knitwear as pensioners in Harris Scarfes.

But then, we saw them.  Vertical lines of gleaming new skis, column after column after column.  Prices were reduced by fifty percent and nearby the helmets lurked, the perfect size for LC's rather compact-sized noggin. In a split second, he shoved one on my small-sized skull as well. It fit like a glove, even if I did resemble a black billard ball with green boogers for eyes.  Damon came over and pointed upwards to a sign dangling from the ceiling. "Take another twenty per cent off everything."

We were hooked.

An hour later, we farewelled Damon, our new best friend, and sidled rather awkwardly out of the sports section and up the escalators to the tram stop, laden with two sets of skis, poles, boots, helmets, waterproof pants (LC), goggles (moi), carrier bags and gloves.

"I'm frightened now," I whispered to him on the tram. "This means that I'm committed, doesn't it?"

He answered only with a big, smug grin.

And so, Sunday saw us get up at the crack of seven AM to meet up with four other crazies in Crozet to ski.  My fumbling fingers nervously tried to zip up my warm boots, idly noticing the appropriateness of the brand......

...... and hoping that the rest of my gear would somehow camouflage me so that when I invariably fell people would only see a foolish beginner and not some clueless knob in brand new clobber.

Having endured several weeks of migraine, flu, uncertainty, unfair disagreements and friends suffering all manner of awful accidents and undeserved misfortunes, I wasn't feeling particularly brave when Steve pointed down the very steep, icy hill and said, "Yes, it's a shocker of a way to start, but if you can survive this, you can survive anything."

Off he whooshed, grace and style packed into a six-foot-four fifty-something frame.  Twenty year old Chrissie bravely jumped off next, youth and confidence instantly remembering the first and only skiing she'd done in year eight; and Pommy bloke Tim and LC stood next to me.  "Just follow us and take your time. We'll wait for you."

And wait they did. All four of them. They must have desperately wanted to go for red runs over my sedate green and blues but not once were there any obvious signs of boredom or impatience or eye rolling.  My skills were the bottom of the barrel to their shiny apples floating on top but they generously peppered me with praise, provided some useful (and non patronising) tips and truckloads of encouragement.

It wasn't the horizontal snow storm, bracing winds or lingering cold that caused my eyes to fill with tears; it was the realisation that I was gliding down what was a summer road now all powdery white, edged with nothing but Christmas card pine trees and silence.  Tim saw me get out the tissue. "This is what we all moved here for," he said, Russian hat-flaps flying like beagle ears in a BMW as he slid past.

By lunch time and eight runs down the hill with Lake Leman glinting in the distance, I was triumphant: not one fall.  Even light-on-his-feet Love Chunks had almost gone for a gutzer but miraculously managed to save himself by doing a rather good version of the splits in his polyester pants. He swiftly recovered to zoom ever onwards. 

Sadly, as in all good stories, my reckoning was yet to come. With a belly full of hot chips, raspberry tart and pineapple juice, my nemesis was waiting: the six-person, open air chairlift.  This souless set of mechanical seats was encrusted in ice physically and spiritually, accepting no fumbles or clueless newbies. The other four were standing on the right mark, butts poised, ski poles in hand. I can't honestly recall where my feet, arse or poles were positioned but obviously not correctly.  

WHAM! the foot rests of the chairlift smacked me flat to the ground and somehow my brain had enough functioning cells to force me to stay lying there as the cruel metal contraption ran lightly over me and continued on its merry way, my four faithful companions now swinging over the peaks and waving frantically at me. "No worries," I croaked, "I'm fine."

Queueing onlookers may not have cared so much for my well-being as my clumsy collapse caused the entire lift to shut down when an attendant hoisted me to my feet, found my left ski several metres away and shoved me onto another one with a taciturn Italian snowboarder. 

"You eez new to these sport, eh?"  Er, yes, as it happens.  He pointedly started the other way for the remainder of our journey to the mountain top.

Reckonings continued as I discovered just what veterans of the slopes mean when the body says 'no more, even if you think you've still got the energy for it and the light is still good.'  By 3pm, my legs and arms refused to obey even the simplest of commands and my considerably-large rear end ballooned even larger as  my pants filled out with fresh scrapings of snow after each skidding cartwheel.  LC rescued me many times, my limbs now actively declining to function - let alone assist him - to lift my reluctant weight out of the side of the mountain and back up onto two thin planks of forgiving plywood.

With a slightly dented right-hand pole and ice shavings in my eyebrows, it was time to call it a day.

"I was so proud of you up there," Love Chunks said, swishing over in his waterproofs to try and fit his arm around my goose-down-packed parka-clad waist. 

"Me too," I replied, feeling the beginnings of a bruise on my knee and elbow.  "When are we doing this again?"