Having survived, not only the ski season, but the return coach journey from Val d’Isere to London Victoria, and from there the train journey up to Preston we spent a happy few days with Ian’s mum. After packing our boxes of essential purchases for the boat we posted them to ourselves as we ourselves set off for Manchester Airport at 0430hrs to catch a flight back to Catania, Sicilia. Friends from Marina di Ragusa, Bryn and Jill on Fly the Coop) picked us up and we were whisked to Decathlon for Ian to buy his latest mode of transport; a push along scooter, on which he can bomb about the marina. (Much to the amusement of Keira and Erin!)
We passed a delightful lunchtime at Donnafuggata eating mussels baked in the oven with a pizza lid, washed down with beer and wine, as we whisked off our socks and shoes and basked in the spring sunshine – great company and a warm and welcome meal to mark our return to Linea.
We were delighted that the boat was fine and the bilges perfectly dry and clean. Just a little dust and sand on deck but otherwise in great nick.
For the next few days we would be gradually reversing the winterising process: trying to remember where everything went and prepping the boat for the sail over to Greece. This included food provisioning for the trip and visiting The Fratelli Mazza wine wholesalers. We now have 50 litres of wine stashed in every available locker.
Soon our crew arrived for the sail across to Cephalonia. David Heane on Friday afternoon and Bill Dear during evening happy hour. A good few beers were consumed.
Today has been spent putting the sails back on and we are very pleased with our repaired Genoa which is now trimmed in a sand coloured UV strip to match the spray hood and new bimini, so we are looking very smart. (The sail bag is on next year’s expenditure list!) Also, we are delighted at our newly upholstered saloon cushions, which look clean and fresh and are super comfy.
So, we will set sail as soon as our parcels arrive. The boxes we dispatched from home are now subject to a delay due to public holidays in Sicily. A five day delay – In getting them from Milan to us! Hey ho!
Today, we are watching Optimists bob about the bay as they race to be the champions of Sicily; the monthly angling competition and large numbers of scouts milling about building tents and bridges and all manner of structures. So, ‘Molti manifestioni’ as they say here.
We will be back in Sicily in October/November. It has been wonderful to catch up with our new MdR fellow yachtie friends and we look forward to catching up and exchanging stories when we return. In the meantime, there is plenty of sailing to be done.
Our first winter season is drawing to a close. It’s been hard work but mostly great fun with just the sadness of my dad passing away mid-season putting a dampener on the winter. We are already contemplating another season, will it be Val d’Isere or shall we try another resort? Perhaps St Anton. No doubt a topic that will be discussed frequently over the coming months.
We have a couple of weeks skiing left, the conditions are fantastic, but our thoughts are now turning to the summer and our sailing adventures. Work that should have been carried out on the boat whilst away hasn’t been done so we will probably have to spend some time in a boat yard at some point but essential purchases, and a few non essential, have been made and it’s all getting very exciting. There are several days work to get Linea ready for sea but the aim is to depart Sicily around 1 May, head east to Kephalonia, through the Corinth canal and on into the Aegean.
I recently came across the Bryan Adams track “18 til I die” which gave me an idea for a little video montage of our season, here you go……
Having followed our ten steps to skiing off into the white yonder, we are already four weeks in and Christmas and New Year are behind us. What an incredibly busy and ever so slightly chaotic time it has been.
On our arrival we completed the three and a half days’ training prior to the start of our paid contract – no messing, straight off the overnight bus from London! It was fun to meet all our colleagues and to find out more about what was to be expected from us over the course of the season.
We have been ensconced in a fab little bedsit just ten minutes walk from the town centre, a bit worn and tired in decor but perfectly adequate for us and, once we had sorted out the water heating problem, fully equipped with plenty of piping hot water. After a summer on the boat, the space and litres of plentiful hot water were indeed special luxuries.
In the first instance, we were anxious to get into our beautiful and amazing chalet (five bedrooms, five bathrooms, six loos, hot tub and sauna). We wanted to get it up to standard rapidly, as our first guests were due on the 10th December and we had not yet been given any linen or had an opportunity to shop for food.
However, on Friday, the day before their arrival, I got to go down the valley and proceeded to enjoy a ten hour marathon shopping adventure in Bourg St Maurice (in a huge supermarket – you don’t know where anything is or which products are the best to buy and you are about to feed ten people for a week!)
After filling three HUGE trolleys, I was pretty much passed it. I came back to the chalet virtually catatonic with weariness and Ian and I put everything away and staggered back to our little apartment to fall into exhausted sleep.
On the Saturday we had a few hours to finalise the bed making, cleaning, food prep, etc., before our guests arrived. Our first guests were a delight, we enjoyed hosting them and they were very magnanimous in the face of being our Guinea pigs, to all intents and purposes, this week being the first time we had delivered the menu plan in full.
The first few days flew by in a whirl of cooking, cleaning and collapsing into bed knackered. Until Wednesday 14th December when finally, our ski passes were ready and we had a few wonderful hours skiing despite feeling absolutely exhausted.
After a day on the slopes and a little apres ski with Erin, we prepared a slap up chicken dinner and spent the evening preparing ourselves mentally and physically for the next six days’ work.
So far, we have lost weight from the simple expedients of not having time to eat regularly, not feeling like eating when we’ve been cooking all day, and using up incredible levels of energy; a) walking to our chalet in the mornings and evenings b) walking up and down four flights of stairs in the chalet to either collect stores form the ground floor or move between rooms. c) using a Hoover, cleaning showers and baths daily, and sweeping pine needles and or snow from the balconies and outside areas.
Full on calorie burning exercise!
We are definitely getting fitter and stronger. Who needs yoga?
We are enjoying the fresh air and amazing views all around. So far the weather has been clear and bright most days. It is a truly magical place and we are enjoying it despite the physical and organisational challenges presented in these first few weeks.