Easter Holidays 2014
What are WE doing in the Easter Holidays this year?
Ha Ha! If ONLY we were going skiing. Well actually maybe not. I love the idea of us all flying off to the Alps and shwooshing elegantly down snowy pistes in the bright Spring air, then gazing out of a chalet window over a crisp mountain landscape as we cradle a soup bowl sized hot chocolate, and after the kids have gone to bed, an even bigger soup bowl sized mulled wine.
Even now I look at the ski brochures with pictures of attractive families with flowing hair, goggles and brightly coloured outfits, before forgetting how long it takes to wrestle a child out of its boots and many layers to do a poo, and how to stop it eating yellow snow “No, I don’t think it’s Maple Syrup, darling”.
Wind back the film to me aged 9 flying back to the UK with two friends after an expensive version of a dump-the-kids holiday in Switzerland. We all had ‘UNACCOMPANIED MINOR’ notices around our necks. My 11 year old sister wasn’t with us.
On the last day, we had been skiing down a steep, icy Mont Blanc slope (which should have been closed to all but expert skiers), when my sister skidded on the ice and fell. Very badly. Her leg was fractured in three places but I don’t remember her screaming. Or the paramedics’ stretcher they put her on to slip-slide her off the mountain.
I know the brain can sometimes shut down after a trauma, and I have no recollection of the accident itself or getting back to the hostel, but I do have a VERY clear memory of the huge box of Lindt chocolates that were next to her hospital bed the next morning, and wondered how many could I get away with eating.
Having fallen on harder times if not harder surfaces, (not to mention dodgy knees from too much cross-country Canadian skiing in my husband’s case) we don’t go on ski holidays now, but instead have had a great time visiting friends in Scotland over the last week. Some of the other benefits have been:
1. Not being asphyxiated by Saharan air pollution down south
2. Getting to visit the fantastic though oxymoronic 4th International Hawick Film Festival. Even if you go next year and don’t get to see one of the 70 odd films, do visit The Damascus Drum. It’s a cafe/bookshop/restaurant in a little street just behind the Arts Centre where all the action takes place. It’s a real hidden treasure and the lovely staff don’t even mind if you’re English.
3. Gaining in-depth knowledge of nearly every service station on the M6 due to pee stops, snack stops and horrendously long traffic jams. A chance to hear our (my) favourite music for once, though suspect Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits was repeated once too often, and nearly ended with one of us threatening to get out and walk (not me).
If you can’t stand car journeys though, make an exception for the wonderful Award Winning Tebay Services on both sides of the M6 motorway between J38 and J39. They have delicious meals supplied and made by local organic farmers and an inviting dining space. I wish I did paid reviews because then they might bung us some Thai chicken curries and lamb stews on our next visit!
They also have lots of wildlife including a duck pond overlooking fabulous Cumbrian mountain views. In short, if you ever find yourself pining for a skiing holiday you can’t afford, just nip up the M6 and you’re almost there. And the chances are you won’t be coming home in Plaster of Paris with half a box of chocolates.
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