I wanted to go anyway as I love the idea that one day we will have a Brady Bunch style holiday where the most exciting thing that happens is my mother burning the toast. Because of this tragic dream I assured the boy things would be different and I actually believed it, there would only ever be four family members together at any one time and there was going to be partners and friends to force us all to be on our best behaviour.
For the first four days everything went well; there were no sulks, no snarls and even sarcasm was kept to a minimum. I started to feel smug at how dull we had become and even considered making cookies for us all. I should have known it would not last. The giant enjoys his space as do we all and in the absence of yoga, Facebook and Sky television the tensions began to mount and all it would take for things to explode was a happy hour combined with an empty tummy too many.
As I am not really meant to be drinking I usually try to back away from situations where I feel obliged to drink. Après ski however is a traditional part of mountain culture and is one of the nicest parts of the skiing day. After the lifts have stopped the skis come off and people gather together with their friends, family and travelling companions upon the terraces which look up to the slopes and swap anecdotes of a day spent with their heads above the clouds. When everyone suggested an après ski drink I could not resist and over a cold beer we had a great time dissecting our day and congratulating ourselves for surviving a blizzard to come unharmed through the other side of the mountains mist.
The problem with drinking after a hard day on the slopes is how quickly the alcohol goes to your head. I have fallen foul of the beer fairy before and in doing so have ruined myself for the slopes the next day; with this thought in mind and an overwhelming desire to finally get up to date with my blog I headed home leaving the others at The Rhododendron; the cheapest and most cheerful pub in the whole of Le Praz. I was feeling quite proud of myself for recognising the limits of my liver and treated myself to a strong coffee and hot shower to ease the aches of the slope.
I do not know why everything went wrong but I do know when it started to slide downhill. I had curled myself upon the couch after returning to the apartment alone and was looking forward to spending some time alone. I had just finished coming up with a concept for the day’s blog when my thought structure was interrupted by my sister’s partner crashing through the door upon the arm of my father’s godson. Admittedly he had been moaning while we were in the pub and had asked for a cold pack but we had all assumed he wasn’t too injured as he had skied down the mountain on it just fine only an hour before. One look at his face convinced me he was not faking, he was pale and acting as though he was in total agony. Though I do not have the most maternal of bones I felt I should at least attempt to care for him. His knee was the size of a tennis ball after all and with my sister absent and my mother back in the UK I applied the medicine of every good Irish woman, a cup of tea and a sandwich.
After adding to my cure a couple of painkillers and some snow packs, (my father’s godson’s innovative invention) ,it was clear he might need more medical attention than I could provide. Although I did a first aid course when I was twelve all I could remember was something about a triangular bandage and I didn’t really see how that could help us now. It was about this point that I started to panic.
My sister and the giant were over at the bar with no idea about the deteriorating knee situation. Though my sister had said she would return home after one more drink I had little faith in her keeping this promise. I have echoed the same spiel myself when the boy has rang to see when he could expect me home. Though one likes to believe one will be home in a jiffy the craic of the bar will always outweigh any call to come home, especially as the caller will usually be a cross patch by the time you get back and be none too amused when you tell them you wuv them very smuch indeed.
As I feared she may not be in the mood for problem solving when she returned I had sent a messenger to find out whether there was any hope of getting help on a Sunday and found out that the nearest hospital was forty minutes away. When I heard this I had another unpleasant realisation; I was the only one capable of driving and I haven’t been in a car since December. I was beginning to feel rather overwhelmed by responsibility and upon hearing another groan from my sister’s partner I realised I had no choice but to get the doctor involved. When she arrived she seemed quite concerned and advised a hospital visit for X-rays and painkillers. After deciding it would be best to wait till the morning to take him I began to feel relieved that something had been done.
My sister had returned just before the Doctor got there which left me free to return to my writing whilst she played at being nurse. Just as I had settled into the couch however and opened up a monthly magazine, the giant returned. If it wasn’t for his rosy cheeks I probably would have jumped out the ground floor window upon seeing the look on his face. The giant had been unaware of the developments in the knee situation and as far as he was aware I had called out a seventy-five euro doctor for no reason and was a bit of a fool for doing so.
There is little point in going into detail about who slung the mud and how deep was the colour but what got said tonight has destroyed the delicate peace of the last few days. I feel foolish for coming away and annoyed because come the morning I will be the only one who will remember the harsh words spoken. The boy is perhaps right, maybe the time has come to call a day on the annual family hell-a-day.
- Today’s dress is another loan from my sister who also took the photos from today. It is from Hennes and though it looked great with a beret all of us were feeling a bit too bitter about the rugby to promote French culture any more than we had to. The mountains in the background by the way are Swiss.
- FYI – The reason I am smiling in the pictures is they were taken before everything kicked off when we were still on speaking terms. I do hope our family will be at peace again., I just find it hard right now to imagine how.
Though the giant and I have a terse relationship when we are skiing we somehow manage to put our differences aside and enjoy each others company. When I was nine-years-old my father decided it was time to take me along on the O’Neill family annual skiing holiday. My mother has never been a big fan of the sport so she tended to stay at home with whichever tot was too young to come along. Although I was a daddy’s girl when I was younger by the time my first skiing trip came round my feet were planted firmly at my mother’s side and the idea of leaving her to go away with the giant seemed to me like an act of treason. In the end our darling Catherine managed to convince me that skiing was “really good fun” and I conceded to join her and the giant in a trip to Austria. I must admit I did not immediately take to the activity, it was freezing cold and no matter how many times I sucked on my gloves my fingers felt like icicles. By the end of the holiday however I was hooked; I loved the way the wind whipped through my hair as I hurtled down the slopes, I loved how fast me and my sister could fly down the flat runs, pausing only to size up the best path for show jumps and I loved how well we all got along without the pressures of two other siblings, housework and homework. My sister, my father and I would get up and out by half seven and stay out on the slopes till the last lift of the day. The flights back then used to cost a fortune so we would save our money by bringing Mars bars from home and the occasional slab of Milka to keep our energy levels up throughout the day. My father would share it out between us on the chair lift and we would chomp it down before embarking upon another run.
The best holidays were always those where we split into ski school groups during the morning then met up at lunchtime to swap stories. I do not know why it is we get along OK when we are skiing, perhaps like our shared love of football, having an activity which we both enjoy means we have something in common other than blood. Whatever it is we always seem to have a good time up on the mountains and we have spent whole afternoons together tearing down The Alps, racing and seeking out new challenges, chasing the sun and attempting to escape the cloud and the mist.
I feel privileged that I have been able to go skiing from a young age, although me and my sister were taken out of school I do not think we missed out on any where near as much as we gained from going. Some of my favourite and most traumatic childhood memories are from these holidays, such as all the times my sister and I used our sunglasses to check out hot men on the slopes or the time my father fell over the side of a cliff and we had to beg passing skiers to stop and help us drag him up. For some time my father and I were at a level with our ability but sadly he has now overtaken me and it makes me a little sad that we no longer ski in union. We had a race today and for the first time in years he beat me leaving me with a burning desire to get my fitness back on track as soon as we get back to the UK to make sure this travesty never happens again, I mean for goodness sake he’s practically retired!
- My sister kindly took the photos for today and we tried to get a backdrop of The Alps but the railway crossing got in the way a little as well as some rude drivers who seemed to think they had the rights over the road . Today was supposed to be Little Black Dress Friday as started by The Uniform Project a couple of weeks ago to promote creativity and sustainability. Unfortunately it has been postponed till next week but as dress supplies out here are as scarce as the snow in the valley I decided to wear my long black dinner dance dress regardless. My mother bought it for my dinner dance when I was 16 and since then I have worn it on only five other occasions; four of these were to dinners and evening dos with different boyfriends, the last was for a visit to the opera in Verona with my father, my brother and my mother. I love it to bits and even though I look rather different in it now to when I was a slender sixteen-year-old, I still think it is one of the most beautiful dresses I own.
Today I fell off the wagon rather dramatically. In my defence I have been doing fairly well; other than a few drinks on a couple of special occasions over the past four weeks I have been surprisingly sober. I can not deny that I haven’t missed the drink; I love the grape and the grain as I do a long overdue conversation with a good friend so being without it has left me feeling a little lonely at times, particularly when my society consists of the suitably sozzled.
Though I had decided to do my best to have a booze free holiday it turns out not drinking in France is nearly as depressing as not smoking. When I tuck into a long lunch with a baby bubble beverage rather than one of their sweet stumpy beers I am looked at like a leper and feel like a right old bore. After all I say to myself I am on holiday and after all surely occupation of a different country means one must adopt their laws and customs. Surely I think by not drinking their delicious vino I am causing unintended offence.
After running through similarly logically sound arguments all day I finally fall well and truly off the wagon during dinner. I manage to convince myself that holidays are technically a special occasion and after all I have cause for celebration and this is the first time I have shared a meal with my family after getting my good news. It may be an excuse and I am perhaps kidding myself but it certainly feels like an occasion. We go to our favourite restaurant in Chamonix. Although The Hotel Eden do some of the most fanatic dishes in the whole of The Alps, their prices are pretty high and although I would love to go to their restaurant until I am employed it is just not realistic. Our favourite restaurant is one of the best value in the whole of Le Praz, a small village just outside of central Chamonix. It is only a five minute stroll from where we stay and their menu has I think stayed the same for the last five years.
It is one of those restaurants where as soon as you walk in you know who the owner is. The family who own it are often eating there themselves when we come in and the television stays on the sports channel for their pleasure. The y have not changed their menu or themselves to accommodate the influx of tourists into their village. We order in our very best French, desperate not to seem like the atypical arrogant anglais who can not be bothered to stretch his tongue to please his hosts. If we make a mistake she kindly corrects us and when there is an issue with translating the puddings she will switch to sign language and indulge us in our guessing games but she will not use the English tongue and for this I admire her. Once when we had fondue there the lady who owns the place along with her sports fanatic husband took pity on our peasant ways and showed us herself how best to coat the futons in the melted pot of cheesy gold.
We usually have the same, a special salad which has a poached egg on top as well as little bits of bacon and croutons drenched in oil. It is delicious and if I was more of a fool I would ask her for the recipe. The salads are followed by steaks, chips and more devilishly dressed salad, I do not want or care to know how many calories I consume in this meal but every squat, sit up or stair climb I have to do to burn it off will be totally worth it. Even I, the ketchup queen, will happily go without red sauce because everything is cooked so well it would seem an insult to injure it by adding one’s own accompaniments.
Tonight, there was just a little bit of tension at the start of the meal and as I have been fearing a repeat of last years family feuding I turned to the drink as a distraction. I find it hard to relax and just be and whether or not it is wrong or healthy having a drink just brings me down a level and loosens me up. I am always on such a tightly wound string it is nice to lose a little control once in a while and as I had told myself earlier that day I am after all on my holidays. Though I did my best to take it easy, technically speaking the tablets I am taking do not exactly advise alcohol. Two glasses of delicious table wine later I was feeling fabulously free and when the owners decided after our drunken debate with a table of Irish men about who would win the rugby the next day we all drank to France’s victory with a liquor from 1946. It totally finished us all and the walk back was hilarious. I am standing in the photos but many did not work as I was swaying ever so slightly.
On the plus side on our return to the apartment rather than falling into the trap of desperately trying to keep the party going I got myself a glass of water, watched a bit of the football until I was forced to admit that all I could see was a red and green blur I slid under the duvet, typed a few words of my blog and slunk into the loveliest sleep I have had in days. I may well have fell off the wagon, but at least I didn’t get hurt.
- Today’s dress is a kaftan borrowed covertly from my mother whilst she was away in Chamonix. Knowing the only way she would find out is if she read the blog I decided to chance it as she should be doing her essay so should certainly not be browsing through her daughters drones. I know it is ridiculous but I wore it with a beret as when in Rome and all. The green jumper was loaned to me, with permission and everything from my older sister. I love it and am thinking of accidentally acquiring it during the course and the panic of our packing. We are sharing a room at the moment and it is great fun. The top is apparently from Asda and the shirt dress is from Marks & Spencer Autograph collection. I think it is meant to be a top. The pictures were taken by my sister’s boyfriend, James Cornish who is quite the amateur photographer and kept doing strange things like practice shots.
Hurrah hurrah hurray, the summer is finally on its way. Whether you suffer from SAD, the blues or even just get cold a lot, there is nothing more wonderful than the first real rays of sunshine. Today, in spite of suffering from a collective hangover the Onions boys headed out to play tennis and football at Fog lane Park and me and my boy go on walk about in Withington town. For the first time in months sitting outside to read the Sunday papers seems like a viable way to spend a day and I actually can not wait to get out from under the covers because the sun is streaming through the curtains. I am a bit keen on the idea of going and playing frisbee in the park but the frock I’m wearing today is so pretty and feminine it seems a shame to go out and get it all sweaty and grass smeared. I could of course wear sports gear but it feels somehow a bit dishonest not to stay in the same dress the whole day and in the end I settle for a brisk walk. Perhaps I will have to start hassling Nike for tennis and yoga dresses to stop me becoming a sweaty Betty when wearing pretty prints like this. In just a couple of weeks I will be flying out to ski Chamonix and I am sorry to say that even I am not mental enough to ski in a skirt. I am an extremely cold person as it is and without excessive layering I succumb to hypothermia within minutes of hitting the slopes. I am hoping it will be acceptable to all if I just wear my dresses in the evening rather than on the piste, in return I promise you some brilliant apres ski stories and some of the most stunning backdrops to pictures of the dresses thus far. I really enjoyed wearing this dress today. The boy chose it for me to wear as we are going to watch The Miserable Rich play at The Deaf Institute this evening. As I am heading home in a couple of days he wants to see me in this floral feminine print even though it would not usually be my cup of tea. It is because I am heading home in a few days that I want to wear the dress I know he will like the best; though I do not like to dress for men as a rule, I do enjoy looking nice for him just as I know he likes to look nice for me. I brought him a stripey blue and white polo t-shirt shirt for our anniversary and when he wore it to his gig last night I felt really proud of him, even though his look was jeopardized earlier in the evening by a car of egg throwing bandits. I love finding clothes for him which he likes as he is very fussy about what he will wear and getting him to wear anything other than green, brown or blue is a miracle. Since we started going out however I have managed to persuade him to try all kinds of other colours and designs other than hooded tops and jeans and I once even managed to make him try on an orange t-shirt. I like the fact that he dresses well but is not too into his looks. I have dated men in the past who are obsessed with their hair and refuse to let it be ruffled for fear of wasting their carefully selected product. I once went for a meal with a guy and became utterly convinced he had a twitch in his right eye as it kept flickering to the side of my face; it wasn’t until I got up to leave that I noticed the mirror behind me and realised he had been checking how he looked the whole time. It was funny but also a little sad. The gig we go to turns out to be brilliant and although I am technically wearing black, the flowers on the dress and the cloudless night continue to remind me that spring is in the air. At the gig many people arrived wrapped up warmly in their winter coats of muted colour but as they start to warm up there is a shedding of their dull outer layers and much like the sun which has emerged today from the folds of the bleak winter all around us there are people dressed in bright pieces from last years summer wardrobe. Greys and browns are on their way out at last as colour and cheery clothing is welcomed back at last. Whilst the sun goes to get his hat on lets all go out and play!
- This dress is on loan from Sinead Kenny. It is originally from Wallace and feels beautiful on and the thick lining and structured waist makes it a really elegant fit. There have been a lot of floral patterns coming out lately which are really beautiful, particularly those printed on silk. Economise on the material if you have to but don’t penny pinch when it comes to the print itself or you will end up looking as cheap as your outfit. The photos were taken on our way home from the gig on a green patch of Withington and outside a section of Christie’s hospital. If you look close enough you can see the sign which says do not walk under this barrier, as I was limboing and crawling under it I will hopefully not get a letter in the post advising me of legal action any-time soon.