I've now returned from the snowboarding, safe and sound. Actually, I do have a small gash in one arm, but that's just from slipping down the stairs on the first night, rather than an actual injury from the slopes.
We flew to Geneva on Thursday evening, then drove to France. It's very scenic there, with rustic cabins covered in snow. I was rather shocked to discover how little of my GCSE French I remember after 11 years. Still, it started to come back to me over the next few days. When we got to the chalet, I did some shovelling, to clear the snow away so that we could park the cars. In retrospect, I could have done some better planning for this trip, since I didn't actually take any ski clothes with me (I thought I could hire it there). However, I was able to borrow stuff from other people, so it turned out ok.
On Friday morning, we went to the shop to get skis etc. The shop assistant asked whether I was goofy?! Apparently this may have something to do with whether I'm left-footed or right-footed. One word of advice - I normally wear size 9 shoes. The boots I rented were 9.5, but they turned out to be too small, and I had to take them off every few hours on Friday/Saturday, so I swapped them for size 10s on Saturday which were a vast improvement.
Then we hit the slopes. (We were skiing on a mountain in Samoens, at 1600m.) I joined the "boarding party" - y'arr! In all honesty, this didn't start out too well. One of the other guys from work taught me the basics, but for the first half hour I didn't enjoy it much. It just seemed really difficult, and even the green slope (from easiest to hardest they go green->blue->red->black) seemed very steep, so I was thinking "I can't do this. Whose stupid idea was this anyway? I don't like this, I want to go home." However, I stuck with it, and it did get better. I left a lot of bumprints in the snow, but it's a fairly soft landing (certainly better than a dry slope). I also had a private lesson later in the day, which helped a lot. So, by the end of the day I was starting to get the hang of it.
On Saturday, it really started to be fun, after the first day's learning curve. My first "lap" of the green slope on Friday (going down, then coming back up on the drag lift) took about 1 hour. By the end of Saturday, I could do it in 5 minutes, almost without falling over at all. Mind you, I did still have my share of fairly spectacular falls, where my sunglasses and hat went flying off down the slope.
I took some photos (and had some action photos taken of me), which are up on the web:
These will move to a permanent location later, once I've had a chance to edit them properly. I may also be adding a few extra pictures from other people's cameras.
Edit: Now at http://www.golgotha.org.uk/photos/ski.html
On Sunday, I moved onto the second green route, and after a bit of practice I was able to do it perfectly. I then went back to the first green route and did a huge belly-flop. Oops. Ah well. In the afternoon, I moved onto the blue slope. A few of the others led me down it, which helped a lot. Then after they went elsewhere, I did it again on my own. I fell over loads of times, but I'm glad that I achieved that.
One general thing I found is that confidence is important, and it helps a lot to be relaxed. And I'd certainly like to go snowboarding again. I've done some dry slope skiing in the past, and I found the 'boarding a lot easier, mainly because I didn't have to worry about the skis crossing over each other. On the other hand, I think it's easier to learn on snow than it is on a dry slope. So, I may try skis again at some point.
The return trip yesterday took a bit longer than expected - we got up at 6am (5am GMT), and got to the airport for 8:45, to catch the 9:40 flight. Unfortunately, the airport then closed down because of bad snow. We eventually flew out at about 15:40. I have also discovered that steel toe-capped boots and metal detectors aren't a happy combination, so I wound up wandering around the airport in my slippers, to save taking the boots on and off repeatedly. Still, on the plus side, I spent the day reading Star Trek novels rather than actually doing any work in the office :)
Got home, after a detour to a nearby pub for dinner. I think I've had my cheese quota for the next month or so while I was away; France doesn't have a huge veggie selection, so I had 3-cheese pizza on Thursday/Friday, and cheese fondue Saturday/Sunday! Anyway, I had a non-cheese-related dinner, then a long soak in the bath, which was good.
Incidentally, my PC still is still a bit iffy (the new graphics card I've ordered seems to be out of stock everywhere), and I've received hundreds of new emails in the last day or so. Admittedly, a lot of them are spam/viruses, but I've still got a bit of a backlog, so sorry if I haven't replied to you yet.