Saturday, 23 January 2016

Skis and Flurries

The world high up, the world that sits above the clouds, where the land carries on, is like something I'm not entirely convinced I could have even painted in a dream. Up there, craggy hillocks and snow-littered conifers jut out of the wispy nimbus like desert islands in a world where the sea is made of cloud (I suppose well and truly, that the sea is made of the same stuff as cloud if you want to get pernickety, just in a different state :P) 

I am giddily in love with the concept of the unknown. Although it can be a murky, frightening thought - it can equally be infinitely exciting, because that's the thing, the unknown is infinite. It is anything and nothing and everything simultaneously and this thought tickles my mind and turns it upside down. Last week, as we took the van up the mountains to the 7 Laux Prapoutel Ski station, I found myself facing the unknown. I had never been up high in the mountains before, I have very little participation in sport and had certainly never tried anything like skiing and I had no idea whether I'd be finishing the day being carted off to casualty with broken bones (I tend to be a little very pessimistic when it comes to faith in my dexterity). I wasn't frightened though - for fear of something I don't know isn't something I can grasp. I had no idea what I would experience, so how could I fear it? Sure, I have irrational fears the same as everyone; Spiders, being abducted by aliens and fire but those fears are based on unpleasant experiences (A part from the aliens one, that one is utterly irrational and founded on watching too many dodgy American sci-fi documentaries as a child on Alien abduction and invasion). Having said all this, struggling with the concept of fear and danger is a characteristic of people with ADD/and or Dyspraxia and this would possibly explain my recklessness and apathy towards potentially dangerous activities. This didn't stop my heart fluttering a little when I lost control and found myself drifting backwards on my skis down a slope.  

Stood at the top of the run, armed with only the knowledge of how to snow-plough in order to slow and stop myself, I pushed off and zig zagged down the slope suddenly hyper aware of my body and my surroundings. I could feel the snow flakes on my cheeks, the cold wind around my ears, the ghostly quiet of the mountains and the world stretched out around me like the painting by Caspar David Friedrich. I felt like the wanderer above a sea of fog. I plunged down through the cloud that enveloped me in its fog and I could barely see anything around me, just sometimes the colourful jacket of another skier whooshing past or an occasional buried tree-top peeping from the snow beneath me. It was exhilarating and I learned quickly, I wasn't as frightfully incompetent as I had expected. I could do this.
 "Oh, oh holy moses, no, not a bump! It's coming at me. Make it go away, no, no, please no... How do I stop again? Oh lord, I'm flying. There go my skis, where's the ground. OW. there's the ground. Groan". 
I learned that I wasn't yet able to handle little hills. How did George manage to gracefully leap off of them? I lay on the ground, shocked and in pain. Then came the tears. I'm such a cry baby. 

Tired, aching and a little emotional, we decided around midday that people* were getting a little 'Hangry' so we trooped on over to the apres ski chalet for some lunch. We had packed baguettes but by this time, the snow was absolutely pouring down, we were frozen and our fingers brittle and an outdoor picnic just didn't feel so appealing anymore. A burger, chips and hot chocolate however did. 

*The girls 

By the time the sun began to set, we made our last journey down the slope and the fog had gotten really bad and the snow heavy. We were aching and exhausted and although the guys were reluctant to leave the slopes, Clementine and I were nursing fantasies of hot drinks, duvets and the sofa. Looking back at the experience, I can't wait to get back onto the slopes again and experience that exhilarating feeling of being on top of the world (and zooming down it). I wouldn't be entirely truthful if I told you that we had 'thoroughly enjoyed' ourselves. By we, I mean Clementine and I. The morning went amazingly well, after lunch we felt so sleepy and exhausted that we were constantly falling over (this resulted in frustration, emotion, many strops from me) and I was still holding a vendetta against the little hill that had sent me flying. It took a mini ski lesson from the kind French guy who owned the cafe, a second lunch and a green tea to be able to go out and tackle the slope/get my mojo back. The next day was a complete write off. 

I really enjoyed our trip and would do it all again in a heart beat. The ski pass cost us only 16 euros with student discount and all of our equipment and clothing was borrowed from Clementine, Alban and their friends/family. The place where we went was more of a locals ski station and we kept bumping into Clementine and Albans friends while we were skiing/having lunch. 

I must apologise for the dodgy quality of the photographs. If you haven't guessed already, they're all from my phone camera which isn't the best of quality, even for an iPhone. I've decided to throw all my own pernickety-standards to the breeze and as a result, you're either lucky or unlucky enough to view the rare spectacle that is the junk that fills up my phone library, hasty-snaps and silly selfies with  my loved ones. Although this blog is predominantly photography themed, for me, it's above all a mingle of a lyrical journal & photo album of adventures. To not include such an exciting experience and share it with my family and friends, the very people this blog was originally created for, goes against my grain and so it's with a lot of wincing and a touch of fondness that I share these grainy, low quality pictures with you (and partly because stopping on a steep-ski-slope to take a picture  of said steep-ski-slope required a lot of dexterity and effort on my part and so I feel a duty for these photographs to make an appearance beyond the realm of instagram). It's not all grey clouds though, I actually really enjoy Instagram, it's one of my favourite forms of social media and I love that there's a place where the instantness of a fleeting moment can be captured, shared and stored. 90% of my Instagram feed is photos taken on my phone because I partly love the challenge of trying to make something aesthetic and creative with a simple medium like a phone camera and partly because I'm too lazy to upload high quality camera photos. Mostly the first though :P It wouldn't be so instant and authentic for me if I couldn't share a picture straight from the moment. More on that later though! I'd love to talk about the value of moments and Instagram in more detail but now is not that time. 

On our final day, we climbed to La Bastille in the hills over Grenoble. I had the flu and was aching in places I didn't even know could feel pain, after skiing so I didn't have the energy to take photographs. I just kept my head down and concentrating super hard on not tripping over tree routes. The views from the top were like nothing I've seen in my life. We could see the entire bowl that was the city nestled among all the mountains, and the enormous road that divided the city, stretching out across the scape. Luckily, George did take some photographs and he has kindly let me share some of his here on my blog :)

George has decided to give blogging another go in order to improve his photography and figure out what type of photographer he is. He's been spending a lot of time (hours and days) fiddling with a logo design, customising his layout and design and editing his photographs and he's been getting so excited and proud. It makes him ridiculously happy every time he gets a page view, so please do hop on over to 'The North Wind' blog and leave him some love and support :) <3 I'm super excited for him to be getting all creative and inspired because what makes him happy, makes me happy ^_^

I would love to thank Clementine for her incredible hospitality, for putting up with my shoddy French (and George's non existent French), for not judging the fact that I have weird food habits and also despite no longer living in the same country, making the effort to remain an incredible friend. Please come back to Cornwall this summer so we can have beach bonfires and reassemble the gang ^_^ (sort of like the avengers). 

I've entitled this final image (artfully taken on my phone) 'Adverse weather conditions'. The plane almost didn't take off as we were thick in snow and we were relentlessly showered in flurries. Sadly as we descended into London Gatwick, the hills were their usual green and it doesn't look as though we'll be getting an excuse to buy a sled this year :( . At least I was lucky enough to have at least one snow ball fight this year. 



  1. It sounds a wondrous experience. I am far too chicken to try skiing- I know I would break a bone or die! I like your photos, whether you think they are swell or not- George's are lovely too- off to go and say hi to him!x

    1. Thankyou so much Kezzie for saying hello to him ^_^ He was beaming with excitement over his first comment :D He feels so encouraged <3 Thankyouthankyouthankyou ^_^

      I really enjoyed skiing but I definitely wouldn't 'recommend it'. It's not a sport for everyone, even though it's exhilarating, it's exhausting and tricky >.< Some of us prefer a softer, comfier approach to life :D I'm normally an advocate for the cushy and serene but I do also really enjoy a hearty adventure and getting the adrenaline pumping so I'm really excited to get back on the slopes one day :D

      Have a wonderful evening xxx

  2. Such cute snapshots of your ski trip, Sarah! Hehe it sucks that you had the flu but well done trooper for making it through the entire day - I would've just straight out declined and brood in my misery alone with soup or something... but love these photos, the white from the snow just makes everything so calm and still and faraway from #reallife heh heh. George's photos are super cool, and his blog (I've just clicked heh) is super cute too. AW YOU GUYS <3

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

  3. Wow, these shots are beautiful, I'm so jealous! I'd love to go skiing but I'm so nervous to do it as I know i would fall, and fall, and then fall some more. One day I would love to actually go as I think it would be so much fun to even attempt to ski and also the sceneries that accompany the slopes are pretty impressive...

    Lovely post!

    Infinity of fashion// Lucy Jane

  4. I'm so pleased you posted them, regardless of the quality taken on a phone. I'm also yet to try skiing, even though my family have all been multiple times, it's never quite worked out that I have been able to. I would really like to, but it's just so expensive, and I don't think I'd be any good - dry slope was ok, but I wasn't exactly fantastic - I'm too much of a scaredy cat! Alice xx

  5. Beautiful photos :)
    Maria V.


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