Well! What a week we had!! After a horribly early start (04:30 meet at Gatwick) on Saturday, 30th December, the Junior Ski Trippers made their way to Claviere, Italy. Our journey could not have been easier – flying with BA was definitely a bonus, and the coach at the other end was very quick!
The benefit of our early start was that we arrived in time for a late lunch and then to ski fit – meaning we had plenty of time to arrange our rooms and play in the snow before the day was out! As our skis etc were all organised New Year’s Eve saw us heading straight out to the slopes, ready to start our lessons bright and early – and bright it certainly was, we could not have asked for better conditions. The week before we arrived they had over 1m of fresh snow, and the day we arrived another foot fell – throw in the glorious sunshine and it was perfect!
Our instructors were lovely – so patient, kind and encouraging, pushing each group to their limit (yes, that did mean Mrs Tanner had a heart attack every time an icy slope or jump was thrown at the Intermediates/Advanced skiers!!)
These conditions followed us every day, bar one, when we got hit by the storm that seemed to be sweeping everywhere – half way up the mountain our chairs rocked, but we were not put off. However the proposed slalom course was abandoned for the safety of slightly further down the mountain – we were all ready to do another run but unfortunately the lifts then closed. Not to worry – the DPS Beauty Salon and Spa was born! A quick trip to the local shop for supplies and soon the boys (and teachers) were enjoying a full range of treatments – including foot spas, massages, hair styling and nail painting! I haven’t checked nails since our return but am fairly sure all have now been cleaned!
Our evenings were as busy, if not busier, than our days. We, quite literally, jumped at any opportunity to play in the magnificent snow – quickly discovering that snow slides and tunnels were easy to build and super-fast to travel down; this normally happened before dinner. After food we participated in a number of fun activities.
One evening we rode skidoos up the mountain, where we tucked into the thickest hot chocolate you have ever seen, accompanied by delicious crepes. The snow was falling heavily all night and covered us from head to foot as we rode up and down the mountain.
Another evening saw us pop over into France, from where we snow-shoed back into Italy, through the mountains in the pitch dark, the only light being the wax torches held by our lovely guide, Tom at the front and rep, Bradley at the back. Once in Italy we found our tepee and stopped for more hot chocolate (a definite theme), a warming fire and to share our Indian Chief names. After we were rested we shoed back in to France, by now rather weary and looking forward to our beds.
Bumboarding was a definite favourite – it is incredible the speeds you can get, especially when the adults are bigger kids than you!!! A number of the children mastered going in a perfectly straight line – however, they did tend to be sliding backwards!!!!
Games night with another of the equity rep’s was a huge success, so many games in so little time; and also a welcome break from being outside.
Another trip to Montgenevre (France) provided an opportunity for some of us to learn how to throw a dart (not particularly accurately it has to be said) as well as allowing us to tuck into some incredibly delicious crepes – perhaps unsurprisingly everybody opted for sweet, not a savoury filling in sight!
On our final evening the torchlit night descent was spectacular. After catching the last lift up the mountain and being fed with more pizza, cake, flan and crepes (oh yes, and hot chocolate) than I would have thought possible, especially as it was only supposed to be a snack, all children were given an electric lantern, similar to the Olympic torches, with the colours replicating the Italian flag. Then, when it was completely dark we set off down the mountain, not the easiest ski, without poles – but all the children managed it fantastically.
All in all, a very successful week was had and I think it fair to say that much sleep was needed at the end of it!
A very big thank you to our Bursar, Grant Abbott, without whom we would not have been able to run the trip. He readily threw himself into everything he was asked to – and the children have all learnt a good number of survival and assault drills as an added bonus!