Thursday, 1 December 2011

Love Letters

I went skiing in April this year.
That’s not strictly true.
I USED to ski (badly) but hung up my boots a little while ago.
It’s one of those sports you either love or hate – there’s no in-between or ‘sort of ‘like.
I’m in the latter camp I’m afraid, if hate is too strong a word for it?
Snow is wonderful to look at and even roll about in for a second or two, but when it’s -35C outside and you're skiing on sheet ice on a piste that’s 4 feet wide with a sheer drop to the right – it’s no fun, I can tell you.

On one very memorable ocassion I was so scared I'd fall off  the edge of the mountain I resorted to  snow ploughing (technical skiing term) the 3 and half miles from top to bottom. Needless to say my legs were like jelly and I retired meekly to the hotel.  

 I was always glad at the end of the last run of the day to get back to the hotel in one piece without any major injuries or scary tumbles over a  cliff face into the white abyss. 
And as for the après ski stuff – who wants to listen to ski bores blethering on about their dance with death on a double black diamond run? And whilst we’re on the subject, why is it  these bores are staggering around at midnight still wearing their ski gear and boots?
 (Answers on a postcard please…)                
Now I prefer to wander around little ski resorts and villages taking the odd photo and  hopping on and off the  local transport; let others do the dangerous stuff.

So April arrived and we had sunshine - lots of it - too much according to the hard-core skiers in the family.
  And the snow melted. (Let’s hear a big ahhhh….for the skiers)
We flew in to Geneva over the Alps and there was no snow. I’ve never seen the Alps naked before. They were brown and quite your average mountains, really.
The plane fell silent. A little boy sitting behind us asked his daddy where the snow was. There was no answer. I assume his father was choking back tears.
To cut a long story short there was no snow in the resort either and all pistes and lifts were closed.
So after consoling skiers for at least a nano second, our group re-grouped and we sat down with a map and looked at places we could visit.
All in all it was one of the best non-skiing holidays I’ve ever had. We trundled up and down mountains, negotiated hairpin bends in a clapped out hire car with virtually no gearbox,( let’s hear a big Hurrah! for the driver) crossed from Switzerland to France on a regular basis to feast on 5 course peasant lunches  and had the unexpected pleasure of visiting Lake Geneva on a blue-sky day with temperatures in the mid 20’s.
So, what’s the title of this blog post got to do with skiing?
Well Evian les Bain, (you know, the famous place where the water comes from) sits like a little pastel-coloured dolls house on the shores of Lake Geneva and it warranted a visit just so we could say we’d been there.

It has to be one of the cleanest, tidiest places I have ever seen. Too clean for my liking, more your clinical clean - possibly OCD clean. Must be all that water they have.
Being British, we forgot that most European shops open at some ungodly hour like 7.30am and close just three  hours later for the longest lunch hour in history. So wandering round an empty, silent Evian was indeed a pleasure. The only shops left open were the local café and an antique shop hoping for passing trade.
I for one could not have been more delighted! I love a good rummage in anything old and dusty.
Piled up outside the shop was a cornucopia of odds and sods, including a child’s iron bedstead that I would dearly loved to have taken home.
Precariously teetering on top of the bed were various cardboard boxes of all sorts including an old shoe box full of ancient musty letters and postcards.

Now, being a compulsive hoarder and collector of anything, I tried to resist the shoe box but it kept calling me and waving at me until I could resist no longer. I grabbed the box, paid the somewhat bemused gentleman in the shop his money and left feeling quite elated.

Here’s the beautiful bounty in all its faded glory.

Miniature envelopes, ink stained love letters, French stamps, old receipts and long forgotten post cards.  All kept by the same lady for over 80 years.

A life in a shoe box. 


  1. Great posting dude! I have to say this blog will become very popular in upcoming days! Keep posting.

    Sample Letters

  2. Thanks for your comment!