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  • Gemma Speakman

To the heady, vertiginous, snow capped heights....


From afar the thought of an escape to the mountains for a holiday seems so impervious, so far away so hard to reach. You're right. The joy of skiing downhill is bitter sweet. It's taken everything in you to get to the resort, get to the ski hire shop, get yourself strapped into your (very uncomfortable) boots and into your (tight) bindings, a pained hobble to the bubble in said boots (trying not to drop your skis on the way) and up the steep mountain , then onto the chair lift to find a run that's worth doing and then before you know it you're back down again and the process is repeated. No wonder apres ski is so gratifying. But perhaps that's why the descent down feels so good. Because, you've actually earned it.

Let's face it, it's really not a normal or sensible thing to repeatedly attempt to turn/swish/dance/crash-land on extremely slippy floor. But when you do it, it's hugely satisfying because you have to try and it requires a lot of consistent concentration. Especially when the visibility is nil, the wind's howling and you've found yourself atop a black, with no other way down AT ALL. Then you have concentrate, a lot. Much of the base camp buzz at a resort is surely a collective daily celebration that 1) you've made it down in one piece and 2) you've avoided being consumed by an avalanche 3) you're very hungry and very thirsty and the beer & raclette look good.

The beer tastes better after earning it

But, even with all that clobber, the pained walking in ski boots the naked anxiety handily masked behind your goggles as you saunter effortlessly down the black run, for me there's something that is still so glamorous. The snow, the log fires, the fresh air, the exercise and the gluttonous aftermath. What's not to love. For all your seasoned and novice skiers out there yet to hit the slopes this season, enjoy. For those who can't imagine anything worse, tag onto a holiday and be a professional apres-skiier (it's really easy).

Graymalin

If like me photographing ability is compromised with snow, persistent condensation in the wrong places and awkward ski gloves take a look at the beautiful Graymalin site which has taken, edited and photoshopped the most beautiful snowscapes all ready for you to buy in their 'Ski Chalet' collection. If SAD has taken over and you are in need of sunnier vistas, they also have a beautiful selection of hotter climes - roll on the heat (not from a radiator). www.graymalin.com/ski-chale

Cosy up your space

Ok we don't have the altitude, the snow, the views etc so going hard on the ski chalet chic interior thing is easy to get wrong or look completely out of place. Still, it's doable. Mostly it's small decorations and soft furnishings. So think furry throws slunk over some wooden chairs or your sofa or a sumptuous rug under foot with some texture. Also some wall art or macrame looks good. And of course don't forget the ambient low lighting (turn off the big strong lights overhead and buy a couple of lamps - charity shops are good for these) and of course, make the space cosier with loads of candles and even better if you have an open fire with real wood, strike a match to it and let the natural wood aromas pervade. Try these bark heart tea light holders from 99p in Asda. To enliven the aural senses add some mini bells like these ones that can be hung on a door to tinker when you open it.

Where to stay

It seems to be a common theme on the HIYOS blog to imagine money was no object, (a daydream game I play a lot). How about the Kulm Hotel in St Mortiz? An 'icon of hospitality since 1855' and clearly doing something right as it was crowned Hotel of the Year 2018 by the prestigious GaultMillau and Carl F. Butcherer award recently. If snow really isn't your thing many mountainous resorts (including this one) open all through summer and are really stunning - check out their site for what it looks like in the summer, http://www.kulm.com/en/

Gear up

In keeping with the money being no object, and this time to robing yourself in the finest ski attire, it has to be the all in one suit by Perfect Moment Allos ski suit complete with archery inspired sleeve caps.

Don't sweat, there's no danger of getting because every size is sold out.

And I can see why. Look, lets be honest, all in one suits are highly impractical for skiing but who cares when they look great - when has fashion ever cared for its boring sibling practicality? This suit is refined elegance and it looks great when you're standing up and posing in a ski bar. But it might look a bit ridic when you've caught an edge and you're on your back getting soaked as you try to untangle yourself from your skis and get back to standing. Also at £545 (yes, no decimals), it's steeper than the runs on a heliski drop.

I have an alternative that I unearthed in Decathlon before I left - a pair of wonderful ski goggles with a similar colour scheme to the 'Allos' and a very helpful yellow visor which aids bad visibility and will set you back a very humble £20. Recommended.

Music accompaniment

It has to be French. We're not talking repetitive bleating accordions here. For a track to help you jolly down the slopes to a fervent beat, try Laisse Tomber Les Filles (Leave the Girls alone) by France Gall and penned by the inimitable Frenchie, Serge Gainsbourg. Listen here

Carb Up

Ok so I'm not going to recommend a far flung little chalet style French restaurant that's very out of reach and frustrate you with its' inscrutability but instead let you know about a pasta place that I've heard very good things about. For some of the most beautiful pasta dishes hand made and presented with such simple, classic flavours try Flour & Grape. in Bermondsey. Complete with exposed brick and wood furnishings its setting reflects the good honest food it serves. The perfect pre-ski holiday restaurant for all that energy you'll need on the slopes and of course, and an excellent antidote to 'Veganuary.'

Charity Shop Find of the week

This beautiful textured brown mug that looks like it had a luxurious coffee on its outside is now mine. So I bought it for £1 in a charity shop not far from me and filled it with coffee inside and created a perfect inside/outside symmetry. Add a Chole's Continental Hazelnut and Cocoa Wafer Roll and its mid morning bliss in a cup.


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