Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts

Monday, 6 February 2012

Why this year's snowfall made me sad

We were walking along St Giles when the first snowflakes fell. With temperatures below zero and our feet turning to blocks of ice, the snow had been threatening to arrive all day – and finally it had. With a vengeance.

My teenage son took one look and immediately walked faster, keen to get back to the warmth of home and the excitement of his Xbox. I felt a bit sad. This was the first time snow hadn’t made him leap up and down in excitement. Up until a year ago he’d take one look outside and think “sledges, snowmen, snowball fights with the boys next door.” Before I knew it, he’d be grabbing a jumble of clothes (no coat of course) and would be frantically unlocking the back door, desperate to hurl himself into the wintery world outside.

He’d be as happy as Larry all day. He’d get through four changes of clothes (all those snowballs), build a snowman taller than himself and rootle about in the garden shed for the sledge my mother gave him. I remember the year he came back inside at the end of the day, soaked to the skin, exhausted and beaming with happiness. He then rushed upstairs to post a cheery message on Facebook. “Yay, no school,” he wrote. “Thank you snow.”

But now he’s 17 he’s not interested in a paltry few inches of snow. It might make the dreaming spires of Oxford look even more beautiful, but he needs several feet of the stuff to play in. He wants to leap off mountains and do scary twirls in the air on a snowboard. Sadly, our current frosting of snow just doesn’t cut the mustard as far as he's concerned.

PS. My husband times his work trips to the Far East impeccably. While I’m gingerly picking my way along the icy Oxford pavements in my grippiest shoes and wondering whether I can get the car out, he’s on a flight halfway across the world. Next stop – Kuala Lumpur. Temperature – 25 degrees C.

Image: Oxford snow by tevjanphotos, Oxford Light

Monday, 30 January 2012

Snow - and my embarrassing attempts to learn how to ski

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. 
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