Christmas is over for another year and I hope you had a magical day with your family and loved ones. Your family though should really be included in the ‘loved ones’ category, unless of course, they’re like mine and made sure you received no presence or presents come Christmas day.
Speaking of gifts, I received a very interesting present this year, a chest infection with a side of cold. Ooooo you’re thinking.. How different? How original, how very on point. It’s hideous I tell you. I need to sit that bearded, rotund fellow down and have a one on one chat or, should I say, a stern discussion. You see, I know that on his scale for bad boys and bad girls, a cold sits right at the top of the naughty chart. The unpleasant, Christmas feast-hindering medical condition is reserved for those true bad to the bone characters. He knew to get me where it really hurt, my taste buds. I was blocked up and my sense of taste drastically diminished on both Christmas and Boxing Day. What a cruel man you are Mr S. Claus.
I cannot recall a year when I have dreaded the 28th of December quite like I am this one, when the mere mention of the date has me feeling like I should hide in bed. Tomorrow is that auspicious day which in past years would have been spent relaxing on a beach or beginning a journey to a New Years Eve destination. Tomorrow my friends, myself and my germ-riddled body will march to Stade Jean Bouin stadium to watch Hugh play a rugby game at 9pm. Doesn’t sound so bad you think? Let me rephrase. He is playing at 9pm, on a day where the high is one degree and the low is minus three. SOS! HALP! His team is the only team in the competition that hasn’t lost at home and he assures me that it will be a full stadium. I am relying on strangers’ body warmth and I am considering strapping a hot water bottle around my stomach to create a belly-warming belt. Knowing that I need to get a head start on my niceties to improve on this year’s shit of a gift from Santa, I plan to pop Hugh’s headgear and socks in the microwave just before he leaves the house, because that’s love and not dangerous at all.
Earlier this week (Monday) Hugh and I excitedly began a six-hour drive to Chamonix, where we stayed for two nights basking in the frigid temperatures and enjoying the festivities of a small alpine town. The smell of wet ski gear as we walked past tired and cold children took me back to memories of my own family ski trips where my dad would strut around Cardrona in in tight, navy blue, flared ski pants and a bright red beanie.
From each vantage point and turn of my head the scenes were breath-taking! We didn’t ski, as the snow fall was fairly minimal – only three lifts were open at the field closest to our hotel. Side-note: Hugh’s not allowed to ski due to the risk of injury so it would have just been me pushing him around on a toboggan. If you’re picturing that ridiculousness you’ll understand why we passed. Instead, we took two cable cars 3.5km directly up Aiguille du Midi – the highest cable car in Europe. At the summit I was feeling extremely woozy. I had managed to find some cold and flu medicine (featuring Pseudoephedrine) and needed to consume it at haste. So in the cable car it was! The writing on the side of the packet may well have said “not to be taken while in a cable car ascending rapidly up a mountain” but it was in French so how was I to know! It made for a very interesting mountain top experience that’s for sure.
Ahhh beautiful Chardonnay, I mean Charmonix, pronounced “Sham-oh-knee” or “sha-money” if you’re gangsta.
We stayed at the Grand Budapest Hotel it was SPLENDID!
Ok, we didn’t, but I did think it was relevant to add in a small map to show where we were. That’s us, that little star, near Italy and Switzerland but still in France..
As I was saying… TA DA we arrived! Look at me! With the confidence of a semi-healthy gal, unzipped jacket, smiling with careless abandon, I do not realise the plague that will soon be set upon me.
For some reason I didn’t expect the locals to speak French. Don’t ask me why, small fry.
The hotel featured a cosy fire and a startled cow, everything one could possibly need..
After settling in we decided to go for a stroll to stretch our legs. Now is when you should start playing ‘Bon Iver’ and perhaps some rain music overlapping.. I’ve actually added in a link to ‘rainy mood’ for you so click here and adjust to your preferred rainy taste. I know that most reading this will be experiencing the early, dazzling, hot New Zealand summer (oxymoron?) or the early, dazzling, hot Australian summer (maybe still an oxymoron) so use the rainy music to get you in the zone.
Ok, this next one is a challenge to test your creativity. Look at the snow photo – the snowto – below and leave a comment on this post if you can see what I saw…
Potential album cover below for Hugh’s highly anticipated single “My Nikes and I.”
After our strut we headed into the town centre for dessert. Big dog was hungry (Hugh’s words not mine).
It was straight home to bed to digest and prepare for our mountain goat adventures!
DAY 2: early morning in Chamonix passing Skiers and classy snow ladies in the street..
After lining up for 30 minutes we set off in a cable car. I was convinced I had EOF (early onset frostbite). I imagined myself lying in a hospital bed, waiting for the doctor to finish examining my frozen feet. He would gasp and announce “we’ll have to cut them all off”. Hugh would being to weep inconsolably as he repeated over and over “I should have bought you some snow boots, I should’ve listened, why am I such a silly man”. And I would smile safe in the knowledge that I was right. Although my smile would fade quickly and I would begin to sob as my purple concrete toes were removed one by one and I accepted the fact that all ‘open toe shoe’ options were forever out the window..
Hugh losing his cool with my hair. Get it, losing his ‘cool’ HA.
A well timed go-pro selfie.. “WHERE IS ONE MEANT TO LOOK WITH THAT TINY LITTLE LENS AND NO PHOTO PREVIEW?”
I love those pointy peaks!
We hurried back down the cable car as we were due to meet our friends Amy and Jono for lunch! The food was delicious, and the menu had a large list of various burgers. It pained me to note that they had not gone down the obvious naming route with an “Iceburger” but some people just can’t be helped. Amy and Jono had driven two hours from Grenoble to meet us. It is so good to catch up with them to compare and contrast stories about our lives in France. Jono moved from Australia to play for the Grenoble team around the same time that Hugh did and Amy joined him a few weeks after I arrived in Paris so we are adjusting to French life at the same pace in different places! After a deeeelightful lunch we set off to find some cheese as Amy was on cheese duty for the Grenoble expats Christmas Eve lunch. NB: Cheese duty is VERY important indeed… incheese.
This next shot is really one of my finest, I don’t know what I’ve done to my bonnet (beanie) or my face. I think it’s meant to be some sort of sassy wink? But it looks like a squint or as if I have something in my teeth?
The timber man was searching for something with his torch. At one point he directed his torch straight at me and I screamed…inside.
It was fabulous nonetheless, and I wanted to shazam the music as I was all about it. The cold was really setting in and had turned from fridge to freezer temperatures so we decided to drive back to the hotel. After a soak in the tub I was able to cure my EOF and we drove back to the main town for dinner. All you need to know about dinner is depicted in the photo below.
We woke to Christmas Eve with a full day of… DRIVING ahead of us. HUZZAH! Actually it went rather quickly, and it was another glorious sun-shiney day, plus I can’t exactly complain when I was a passenger for the entire journey.
We arrived back in Paris at 6pm when I transformed into a Dom.G (domestic goddess) and baked a brownie and reindeer cookies for the expats Christmas lunch the next day. On Christmas morning, Hugh made a Jamie Oliver leg of lamb and I made a roast vege salad. We turned up to the lunch with our picnic basket straining and Hugh was starving. “I’m not used to cooking something and then not eating it straight away” he whined as we drove with the warm gravy just on the floor in front of me.
Christmas day lunch hosted by the lovely Helen and Paul Williams.
And now, the main course, dessert. My poor cookies look like sad Pinterest fails, but at least I tried. And that’s what Christmas is about… trying…
Well, that was the week of Christmas festivities. Our first Northern Hemisphere crack and although we started off wobbly and unsure, soon we were happily gliding down the mountain, that’s until I got hit by a flu tree and really messed up my finish with the cookies. ENOUGH ANALOGIES ALREADY.
p.s. Mother Morrison did in fact send a parcel of possum and merino blend wear for both Hugh and I. We were, and still are, delighted.