Friday, 22 April 2011

End of season

Samoens is entering hibernation.

Seasonnaires are staggering back to what is mostly described as a grey reality, the last tourists have gone back to their lives and the all year residents of the village are starting to crawl out of their dungeons, in which they've lived the lives of slaves, serving demanding chalet guests over the lucrative winter.

We've moved into a basement apartment under chalet Moccand, a ten minute walk across town from our last place. It's a bit bigger, it's got wifi and we don't sleep directly next to the stove. The downside, however, is that whenever there's guests in the chalet above we can't talk too loudly or run around naked. Another con is that we only live here for a month so we live pretty much out of suitcases. Whenever there aren't any guests we can use the massive garden, barbeque and hot tub - fingers crossed we'll have at least a week without any guests. Sometime around mid May we move into a central flat, an infant's stone throw from the local...

Duties at work have changed slightly, from being strictly cleaning we are now getting more maintenance work.

After the worst (most snow lacking) winter since 1949, trees are already green in our valley, and it's pretty cool to, every day, see the green line little by little walking up the hills around us.

Carl got second and Sally first price in the end of season cleaning competition.

The last carve of the season was done in Chamonix - four runs in Grand Montets before walking bow-legged through town where we managed a bit of window shopping and a cold beer before heading back.

There's been someone leaving every day, so the leaving parties have been back to back, which is why I'm writing these last words with twitchy eyelids.

Tickets for home visits are booked; 30th May - 6th June Stockholm, 6th June - 13th June London, then we've hopefully got a couple of weeks work at Glastonbury Festival lined up. See y'all soon!

Good night,

Lots and lots of love

PS. If you fancy a holiday in the french alpes, contact us, we can hook you up with either free or cheap accommodation, lots of fresh air, good walks, climbs, mountain- and road biking, rafting, sun bathing, wine drinking, cheese eating and/or sitting-on-your-ass-doing-nothing in a friendly, genuine town.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Wet dreams of powder


We're alive. April flew past and left us slightly over worked and hungover. Sally was 27, now she's 28 and now it's March and Carl's turn to turn a quarter of a century.

Last Monday was a good day. It was our day off in the week and it just happened to be the day following two days of constant snow fall, so we went up with the first lift and got covered in beautiful untouched powder snow. Worth mentioning also is that our sister Emma was over with Sanna from Sweden and came up on the mountain with us. Unfortunately Sanna couldn't saddle up, due to a much too recent operation in her knee - bless her for being strong and giving us the awsomest week in spite of her missing out.

So with Sanna and Emma leaving last Wednesday after a week of wrecking every soul in the village, we are starting to feel human again and can get back to life in an alp village in its last week of mid term hysteria.

Within a month, half of our seasonnaire buddies will be packing or already gone back to where they are going and this week we are making big decisions for our little selves, whether to stay or to leave and if so: where to go? Decisions decisions...

Well, that's all for this time.

No, it ain't. We could use a new name for the blog. Suggestions?

Godspeed You followers of the world's most unfrequently updated blog

See ya

Sunday, 30 January 2011

and then the snow came...

No, it didn't. It just got colder again.

However, the drop in temperature has allowed the snow canons of the Grand Massif to operate and most pistes and lifts are open. With a shortage of nice fluffy powder, we decided to have a go at snowboarding.

For Sally this meant, after only having a few weeks of learning to ski, she was back to square one. After two weeks on the board she grasps balance and turns very well, but at the moment she's back on skis, just as a reminder of how a run without falling over can feel like. She is adamant to pick the board back up and learn it - she damn well better after all that moaning!

Having tried boarding back in his mid teens, Carl found it easier to pick it back up and is still going strong with it, even though the icy slopes have brought a fair amount of pain and anger. The other day a somewhat clumsy child (with a stupid hat) fell and could have been crushed into fine mist, had Carl not, with the reflexes of a jungle cat, risked his own skin by taken evasive action and had a gracious fall on his ass. Some might argue the child deserved being crushed which would have saved face for our modest, everyday hero. Nobody went home in a bag that day and that's what matters.

Yesterday we finished up quickly (big up to clean guests), and went for a stroll in and around our town. Visited Samoens humble, but cosy botanical garden. Explored the river side and had hot chocolate. At some point, possibly delirious from the kick of newly arrived smuggled Galaxy chocolate, Sally said she'd swim in the river. Not when summer comes, or even spring time, but now, Winter time. Any other time the river will be too wild. Carl will be there with dry clothes, towel and camera.

We've chosen not to bore you further with tales of work and Carl's developing human hair phobia, so that is what we have to share this time.

Until next,


PS. If you find yourself with a spare minute, don't hesitate to do us a little snow dance.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Pics and quick update

So far so good, 2011.

Been skiing a few more times since last, no snow though, so the billion tourist who came over xmas seem to have taken the snow back with them, the mountain is close to bare.

We went up Monday and Tuesday and had a good time though. Monday we met up with Sally's work friend from London, Kevin, who is doing an off pist course in Flaine (the biggest resort in Grand Massif), but he was pist off :) about the lack of snow. We had a go in the pist with him and his friend Daniel but they soon had to continue with their afternoon classes. So we met up with Paul and Hayley from work and together we had a few good runs and explored further.

Tuesday we went up with Lewis and Becky, from work, and they took us around Morillion. It's a smaller area than Flaine, but better when visibility is low due to the pists being narrower and surrounded by trees. Sally had a gracious fall when she had a go at a small jump (it's a hobby she's picked up on her own). She lowered her speed to next to stand still and on the top of the jump, she now glided over, she accidentally put a pole between her skis and went over it. Flat on her face with skis lying scattered around her Carl finds her.

New Year's Eve we had friends from work over for drinks and cheese and face paint. After pre drinks we went to the local for count down. At ours the face paint action got out of hand along with drinks - Lewis had a female breast on his bald forehead, Sally looked terminally ill with blisters and black eyes, Carl was a STI rebus.

Lots of love from us

Stolen Christmas tree & smuggled presents

View from 1600m

Flaine, 2500m


On our way up from 700m to 1600m - where fun begins

Thursday, 23 December 2010



We arrived, colder than hell, in central Geneva 6am on Wednesday last week, 20 hours after setting out from London. You're probably thinking "they must've been stuck at Heathrow for ages, just like everyone else - stop moaning!", but we weren't stuck anywhere, except for an hour in Paris for coach change and under gun point in French customs.

"Have you got anything to declare?" - We're not supposed to open half our packing 'till the 25th.

"Are you carrying more than €10 000?" - What do you think?

We were picked up from Geneva Airport by Gillon, a manager at the company. He took us to Samoens and the flat we'll spend our next five months in, and invited us to meet all the co-workers for dinner later on. We put our bags down and that was about it for floor space. So it's not big, but it's got the necessities: bed, shower, kitchen. Another thing that came with the flat is a balcony as big as the flat. Unfortunately, since we're on ground level, we can't store anything, like skis, on our balcony.

We were served a three course meal by two colleagues, and all sixteen of us at Alps Accommodation sat down to eat and chat. After dinner sixteen sets of red wine stained teeth went to a seasonnaires party at the cinema. We met some people and drank more wine, but walked home reasonably early after our knackering journey the previous night.

The following week was spent training as professional property assistants(/chalet cleaners), or, in the Grand Massif, skiing. We'll tell you more about the latter.

The lift map is huge. We live in Samoens, we have a bus that takes us to our cable car lift each morning. Our cable car lift, Grand Massif Express, takes us from 700m above sea level to 1600m, and from there we can get straight up to 2200m for a wide selection of pistes (or powder between the pistes). We had almost perfect conditions on the first day, new snow, empty slopes and sun.

Three days followed with us working mostly and when we went back up the mountain on Tuesday the temperature had risen and a gazillion people had arrived only to turn the white tip into a sharp point with spots of brown sorbet. We did go to the other side of the Grand Massif (where it reaches over 2500m), as far our lift passes take us, but still have many lifts and even more pistes to go up and down, up and down, up and down...

Our three days in the piste have brought us joy, fatigue and some anger - it usually depends on the weather, the amount of people in the slope or how many jagermeisters were consumed the night before. Covey's Irish pub seems to be our new local, who would've thought.

We bought each other a Christmas helmet to save the little brains that remain. Sally has developed her skiing massively over these days and doesn't have a problem keeping up, even in the red pistes. Soon she'll be better than Carl, yes, we all realise this.

Christmas Eve tomorrow, off work for two days, weather report says snow - fingers crossed for some ski action on Christmas Day. If not, we're all chipping in with some Chistmas buffet smorgasbord fillers and secret Santa for Christmas Day, so we'll have mulled wine and mince pies to keep us amused.

Merry Christmas

Carl and Sally

PS. This is the company website, check it out. If you're planning a ski trip this winter or spring, contact us, we get discount on accommodation for family and friends!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

off ski

Bye everyone!

Our coach leaves Victoria station in an hour and a half and at about 7am on Wednesday morning we should roll into Geneva.

Sorry to all you who we didn't get a chance to see!

Take care, merry christmas and a happy new year!

Carl and Sal x

Friday, 15 October 2010


I'm sorry for being so shit at this blogging, but in my defence, I have been busy.

Ok, so what's happened since Lisbon? I'll write you through it quickly and I'll write some more about the highlights.

We left Lisbon and went down the coast via Setubal (where we didn't see any river dolphins), Santiago do Cacem, Odemira, Aljezur and then reached Lagos on the south coast. We went along the Algarve in hope of seeing some amazing streches of beach, but saw mostly northern europeans and shopping centres since the road following the coast is further inland so we spent our days savoring the moments when we catched a glimpse of the sea. We passed through Portimao, Lagoa, Albufeira, Faro, Tavira and in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, we crossed the river mouth over to Spain. On a beach near Isla Christina, we unrolled our ground sheets and parked our bikes for two days and two nights, slept under the stars and woke up with the sun.

Finally, on the third day we set off again to Huelva where we caught a train and started our journey through the south, south-east and east of Spain. We went through and had short stops in cities like Sevilla (where we got lost trying to find camp grounds ), Cordoba, Jaen, Alcazar de San Juan (where we were going to sleep on the platform but were instead shown into a, usually locked, waiting room by the nice station staff (he even woke us up)) and finally stopped in Valencia. We stayed in Valencia for five days. All the other tourists were there for the Tomatina festival. We missed it by an hour. Intense, barely legal brits, aussies and kiwis at the camp site at night and refuge in the hot city at day. Valencia is beautiful, with the dried up river bed turned into an enormous park, the restaurants, the architecture and is a definite to return to.

Almost a week of not cycling any great distances except the 15km between camp site and city, so needless to say we were eager to set off. Castellon de la Plana, Vinaros (where we camped by a male nude beach, with an awful lot of spectators literally staring down at the rocks with all that washed up flesh), Tarragona (lunch stop, needs revisiting: beautiful), Calafell, Sitges and then cycling a little too much on the 8 lane motorway to get in to Barcelona. Terribly difficult to find alternative routes into the city. 'Neways, we're alive and we've arrived in Barcelona. We stayed for six nights with Rudie and Sarah, two friends who got tired of London, moved there and are, after almost two years, understandably, still happy. We were well looked after by our generous hosts and we took in lots of good food, beer and art and did lots of walking.

From Barcelona we went north towards France. Girona, Figueres, the majestic Pyrenees (which we crossed with road N-11 which doesn't really offer any climbs or views, so we took a little detour for two days and saw some picturesque villages, high mountains and deep valleys), Thuir, Perpignan, back to the coast by Canet-en-Rousillon and followed it up to Narbonne. We had now started asking at vineyards we passed if they had any work for the grape picking, but with no luck since the harvest had already started and was done mainly by machine.

Some internet research had taught us that we wanted to go further north in order to catch up with the harvests, so we took a train via Avignon to Vienne, one stop south of Lyon. Disappointed not to find any vineyards in the area, we took off to Lyon and literally passed through it trying our luck further north. Note that Lyon was amazing - although a little hard to get in to by bike - and deserves a proper visit. Asking around at the vineyards revealed that the combination of a bad grape year and the economy offered less work, so we decided to start making our way towards Paris.

However, passing through the village Beaujeu, we popped in to a winery that was too close to not try. At first 'pas de travail', but as we were walking up the drive way, the woman in the office opened the door and asked us to come back. They'd gotten on the phone to a patron to find out whether he needed more 'vendangeurs', and yes, eight days decent paid work, accomodation and food included. We worked at two different farms, of which the second was connected to the winery so we could pop down after work to see what the result of our hard work was. 15 days of killing back aches and millions of cuts - shallow and deep. We met some really nice people and some really horrible people. Some had only half as many teeth as we and some wet their beds at night - yes, they were bunk beds and he was on top - poor Ludovic. We were given wine at nine in the morning with brunch in the fields and with every meal for the rest of the day. First week it was sunny, second week it was raining. All in all we can say it's a good way of getting over a fear of spiders, it's lots of fun and easy money but it's painful to the point of tears.

With pockets full of cash we jumped on a train to Paris to visit Alain and Jean-Christophe, who put us up for three delightful nights in this city of romance. It wasn't as much romantic as it was crowded, we calculated early on. Our hosts took us out in their car one evening to see Paris after dark and it changed our initial idea about it. After that we'd just avoid the touristy bits we'd already seen on the first day when we took a river boat with guide and all, this way it was easier to find good sights and nice shops.

After Paris we took another train to Calais, where we got on a ferry to Dover, to finish the rest by bike. Slept a night in a cow field, cycled to Rye, where we popped into Hannah's mum, Sarah's, cafe and ended up sleeping on her floor - thank you so much! The following day Sal's knee was tender after starting cycling again after such a long break, so we relaxed and did the remaining 100km to London in two days, with a night in Tonbridge, at The World Famous, in Tom's caravan.

That wasn't supposed to be that long. I was gonna do it in like one paragraph. Oh well.

And now we're back, since Saturday the 9th October, the date our travels were over. Until December, when we go to France to do a ski season, but that's another story and I'm sure we'll tell you even less about it.

Fun facts: our body weights are the same as when we set off. We have both done what bears do in the woods, in the woods. We're still a couple. We cycled 4550km/2844 miles. Fixed four flat tyres (one tyre four times actually, Sal's back). Our most common breakfast was porridge. Every three days Carl boiled his socks. Our highest speed was a modest 58.7km/h. Carl hasn't shaved since the beginning of June. We have had water thrown on us (from pedestrians and moving cars), been shouted at (pedestrians and cars), been spat in the face (England) and had fingers given to us (England).

I, Carl, am back working in the pub. Sally is decorating christmas trees and selling wild beef at Borough Market.

Good to be back with baked beans, pint measures, gloomy skies, people shouting 'wanker' and most of all our friends. A month and a half and I think we can't wait to go again.

Thanks to everyone we stayed with. Thanks to everyone we met.

Thanks to you for reading,

Much love

Carl and Sally