Thursday, February 21, 2013

yes, still more snow

How fast things change.  The excessive snow seems weeks ago now and the resort is back to normal.  There is still plenty of evidence on the hillsides, with bare earth and vegetation exposed by the countless avalanches and huge piles of snow along the roadsides where clearing has been necessary.  The signs on many of the pistes are buried or are poking out through the snow even though they are on poles that are a good six feet tall.  Netting safety barriers are stretched to their highest positions or in some places completely buried.  Many of the drag lift routes have been cleared so that there is enough room under the wires for them to work properly, giving the impression, in places, that one is in a corridor of snow.  The huge icicles and overhangs of snow on the chalet are beginning to melt and drop from the roof causing hazardous areas underneath, hopefully they will all be down by the time we are inundated with children next week.  It’ll be impossible to keep them away.

Chalet wise, we have a full team again, all up and running well, it’s taken a couple of weeks of additional input and encouragement to form the team but the results are well worth the effort.  Unfortunately two of the three newcomers are only staying for a shortish period of time, so we’ll be doing it all over again before too long.  Each time it gets a bit easier, though learning peoples characters and how they respond to learning/teaching methods always takes a bit of time.  Slightly disappointed that there aren’t any real skiers amongst them, I go out on my own a fair amount or occasionally find guests that are happy to have a guide from time to time.  Whatever, it’s great to get out at every available opportunity right now as the holidays are about to be upon us and then we’ll be too busy and the pistes too crowded for skiing to be so much fun.

I am still toying with the idea of trying snowboarding.  Each season I arrive here, at the start of winter, with the thought that I will donate a week or so to learning, but so far have not actually mustered the enthusiasm to spend the better part of a week arse or face down in the snow.  I have been as far as the ski hire shop to get equipped for the mission several times before turning back to get my skis and enjoying the day.  I don’t know if I shall this season, but if I do, it will be after the holidays and I have more than sufficient time to study video tutorials and get myself mentally prepared for the challenge.  But then again, it’ll depend on the day.

the usual table shot to see the depth of snow

two cars

yes, I am standing up

tree with snow and sky background

they blocked the road with snow to stop people getting caught in avalanches lower down

the only way in, and out....

amazing morning light over Saint Lary

clearing the road ..........   again

mung beans

My green fingers are keeping busy this winter too.  When I arrived, Clare and Mark came and found me in Toulouse and we visited the Asian supermarket on the way to the chalet.  Mark was in his element and would have filled the car with tasty ingredients.  They had already made a list and it was difficult to keep him on track.

One of the extras was a bag of Mung Beans.  It didn’t cost a fortune and is proving to be very good value for money.  Every few days I put a few into a large jam jar, leave them to soak overnight and them rinse them three times a day till they fill the jar.  This usually takes about five days, but Mark if often so involved in preparing us asian dishes whilst there aren’t too many guests, that they get used as soon as they look edible.

It’s good to see things growing here in the mountains in mid winter where there is snow everywhere albeit in a jar on the kitchen counter.  We are using the fresh shoots in stir fries and curries, a little sprinkle on side salads for the clients and apart from one over planting, there never seems to be enough.  Long live the bean sprout.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

still more

Avalanches around the chalet last week 

Icicles on the washing line

Lea enjoying a forest walk

snow everywhere

where it's sheltered the snow sticks to everything, beautiful.

The latest news from the Pyrenees is that it has the number ONE resort for snow fall this year, Cauterets has over 5 metres so far, beating the number two position of Mammoth Mountain in the US of A.  Impressive for such a small mountain range and challenging for the maintenance teams here to keep the ski stations open and running.  

We’ve just had another good 48 hours of with strong winds, closing the resort for another day and the road down to the valley for fear of avalanches.  So far, close to the chalet we are OK, though they didn’t bother to clear the snow from the road, concentrating their efforts on the other side of our little valley.  

I did get an amazing day on the slopes yesterday, blizzard conditions but great fun none the less.  There was hardly anyone out and very few lifts open, but the pistes that opened were knee deep in powdery snow.  Our baker, from down in the village had a day off and asked if I fancied skiing, it was great to hit the slopes with someone new and a good skier who knows the resort well too.  We made the most of the morning, returning to the chalet for a late lunch, one of Mark’s amazing curries before heading back out to finish the day.  

I’m finally mastering the skill of skiing in new snow, it’s been an ideal season for it so far, and very different from enjoying the flat groomed surfaces that are usually there.  I got the last bus home, tired and a little achy from trying too hard just in time for a shower, change and dinner.  

Today has been entirely different,  I started at 7.30, baking croissants and sorting out breakfast for our guests, followed by an hour of ironing whilst the snow howled past the chalet.  The wind dropped, giving me the opportunity to start clearing a bit of snow.  I’ve given up trying to calculate the volume of snow that I move to any exactitude but am guessing a good 30 cubic metres each time it snows.  The wind blows and all the access paths get filled in and then the sides get higher.  It took a good two and a half hours today to clear the necessary paths and also uncover one of the cars, it ended up being a pointless exercise as the car couldn’t gain traction with it’s snow tyres and ended up remaining in it’s place outside the chalet.  My fear of not getting enough exercise is well and truly put to bed for the moment.  I’ll surely sleep well tonight.