Snow is on my mind. The far north is blanketed in the stuff and there's a cold weather alert for the next couple of days, with temperatures predicted to drop to minus ten degrees. Brrrr.
Further south there have only been a few flakes, but I saw loads of snow yesterday when my son asked me to drive him to Milton Keynes for a snowboarding session.
SNO!zone (above) boasts an indoor ski slope made of 1,500 tonnes of real snow and he reckoned it would be the perfect place to hone his skills for his forthcoming school trip. He could hardly contain his excitement as he hired his salopettes and board. But I was distinctly underwhelmed. Why? Because just watching the scores of skiers and snowboarders whizzing stylishy down the slope at SNO!zone reminded me of my ultra-unsuccessful attempts to learn to ski.
The first time I tried was at Aviemore, when my mum’s best friend Sally sweetly took me and my sister on a skiing holiday. We travelled overnight from Victoria station on a Wallace Arnold coach and the moment we arrived we headed straight for the beginners' slope.
The biggest ignominy was that neither of us had any proper skiing gear. We’d learned to sail that summer and for some reason everyone thought sailing waterproofs would be fine to ski in. I’ll never forget the horrified look on our ski instructor’s face as we pitched up in bright yellow oilskin trousers and tops (mercifully we left our matching souwesters at home). Worst still was the fact that the oilskins had no grip at all – so every time we fell over (which was a lot in my case) we slid embarrassingly to the bottom of the mountain.
As well as having no aptitude whatsoever for skiing, I couldn’t get to grips with the dreaded T-bar lift at all. Almost every time I used it I fell off halfway and couldn't scramble out of the way fast enough with my skis on. The upshot was that the whole system had to be stopped countless times as irritated instructors hurried across to disentangle me.
As I watched my son zig-zag elegantly down the slope at Milton Keynes I sat in the café and read my book. Skiing and snowboarding are clearly great fun – but they're not for me.