The morning after from getting fully equipped from the ski store is a very exciting time because you get to use the skis and see if you can rise to the challenge, I felt like a kid on Christmas day.
I was fortuitous because the company that brought me out to Morzine also treated me to a ski instructor.
Now, before I go straight into the action I feel I need to give you some valuable advice, as that’s my job with this guide. Make sure you have breakfast before leaving your chalet, you will burn a lot of energy very quickly and no one wants to be the weak link or the spoilsport of the group. Please make sure you fill up before leaving. I made a crucial mistake when I went to my first ski lesson and that is I forgot to bring water with me. I’m telling you from firsthand experience that you will crave water whilst out on the slopes. Food and drink is an essential please don’t try and skip any of this, you will regret it.
By now you will be in your ski kit and have all your equipment on you, ready to make the climb up to the top of the slopes. You can get the cable carts up there that’s not an issue but you need a ski pass to use them, adult passes range from €44.50 – €900 depending on whether you want a 5hour or a season pass, prices can vary depending what region you’re in.
When I arrived on the slopes the only information I knew about my instructor was that his name is Grant and that he will be wearing all yellow. Which at the time I didn’t realise the complications this could have, and it was only when I seen the hundreds of skiers that it dawned on me.
My lesson was meant to be at 11:00am and I ended up not starting it till 12:30pm because we couldn’t find each other but with a bit off luck and a phone call we managed to get it together.
Grant McNaughton is an instructor for New Generation Ski School, who I would highly recommend. We started off putting one foot in a ski and keeping the other one free from the ski. The point of this exercise is to get a good indication of your balance but also to get a feel for the ski.
The next part major part to your ski lesson and the hardest technique for a beginner is the snowplough. This is where your ankles need to spread as far apart as possible but your toes need to be as close as they can without touching, this will then control the speed you go at down the slope. It took me a lot of attempts just to get it at an average standard but with a lot of grit and perseverance I managed to progress. I will admit that it took me a lot of walking up the slope just to go again and your feet start to go numb from the boots after a couple of hours.
Once you progress on you start to learn how to turn and then things start to get interesting because you can really see the how well you’re doing.
Grant was very encouraging and I felt that he was with me every step of the way and as an instructor he was faultless. Lessons for beginners in Morzine cost between €79 – €99.
I must touch upon something said in the First Time Skiers Guide – Part 1, I was wrong to ever think that the dry slope for skiing would help me.
Overall the experience of learning how to ski was a most memorable one and I would encourage everyone to at least try it once. You will ache, crash and fall but like the saying goes ‘no pain, no gain.’ On my last turn down the slope before the end of the lesson, I opened pointed my toes down on the skis too fast and came to a crashing stop where my shoulder plunged into the snow but you just have to pick yourself up and go again.
Morzine really has everything to offer for the best first time skiers holiday, the chalets are beautiful, the town fantastic and the ski resort is up there with the best. Although if you’re out drinking avoid the beer Mutzig it’s lethal at 12%!
Once we landed in Geneva and collected our baggage we were greeted by Ollie who is a representative for ChaletFinder. He drove us to our chalet and provided us with a document to go and collect our ski equipment and passes.
But before we arrived at our accommodation we were taken to an iced over lake called Lac de Montriond which supplied us with the most peaceful and breathtaking of scenes. It was just utter bliss.
After settling in and unpacking at the chalet we headed down to SkiSet who are a traditional and local company with stores based all around the resort. You can buy and rent skis, snowboards and mountain bikes from them and they were the ones providing us with our equipment.
The first thing they got me to do after telling them I’d rather ski than snowboard was measure my feet to fit the boots. It’s a bizarre feeling when you put them on for the first time because they are very tight, to say they were a snug fit would be an understatement! Also they instantly make you lean forward, which is a good thing, as that will help you when learning to ski. It’s like having a pair of ice-skates as boots, that’s the best way to describe them. I’m just giving you the heads up now so you know what to expect. Also whilst we are on the subject of the ski boots, I would recommend not trying to walk down steps or anything that can easily put you off balance as I nearly found that out the hard way (phew).
The next step is they determine what skis will suit you best. The way they do this depends on your height and weight and you will find that the length of the ski will come somewhere between your top lip and forehead. Although for beginners they tend to size the ski closer to your chin as it will help with being able to turn. This is what you can expect for your first ski fitting, as I don’t think many first time skiers would have a preference.
Last but not least is being fitted with your ski poles. This is still an important piece of equipment but you don’t really concentrate on using them much when you’re a beginner. The snowplough is the key movement to grasp, as you will come to find out soon enough. Again the poles are based on your height and ideally your arm should be parallel to the ground when you hold the pole.
Going into the shop and being kitted out with all the equipment really is a vital part of your journey to learning to ski. You will never forget this experience.
Part three is the big finale…
Have you ever wanted to go on a skiing holiday but never had the opportunity to go; yet thought what’s all the fuss about and are you truly missing out… well stop searching and indulge yourself into this three-part blog where you will discover my journey. Hopefully you will be encouraged and see that opportunities are always there and it’s about taking them and making the most out of it.
Let me give you some background information about me, and how my idea was brought to life. I’m Reece a third year broadcast journalism student at the University of Salford. I seen an advertisement on a social media website offering freelance journalists the chance to go out to France via ChaletFinder. I found this an offer I couldn’t resist so I pitched the idea of a first time skiers guide to the company and here we are.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank them for seeing the potential in my idea. They really supported me and provided my flights, transfers to the resort, ski passes, equipment and the most amazing accommodation run by Rude Chalets.
Shall we proceed to the beginning of this adventure?
The day had finally arrived to fly out to Geneva and transferred to Morzine, Portes Du Soleil. I don’t think there wasn’t a mode of transport that I hadn’t taken that day. It took a tram and train just to get to the airport, then a plane to reach Geneva and then I was picked up and driven to the French town. Within the time of five hours I had been in three different countries.
We set off at 6:00am to catch a flight departing at 10:50am; my flight was from Manchester airport. ChaletFinder supplied my flight through EasyJet and before you ask the pictures of me in my bright orange jacket were a coincidence and not planned out. Although they complement each other well, as you will see in the photo below.
After checking in all the luggage and camera equipment, Brad my camera operator and me thought it would be a smart idea to go and exchange our currency. A normal and straightforward process you’d think but that was far from it. Whilst we are at the currency exchange desk we deliberate what currency we should get because in our mind we were flying into Switzerland, so we exchange our money into Swiss Franks, forgetting to take into account that Morzine is based in France… and use the Euro!
That’s what happens when you don’t start your day off with a coffee.
We only realised that we exchanged the wrong currency when we were halfway from our destination and talking to another passenger on the plane about our journey. I would like to give a shout out to the lady who sat next to us in row 23 a, b and c. You were very polite in enduring us chatting away to you the whole flight and for the offer of an alcoholic beverage.
It still hadn’t sunk in that I would be learning to ski in one of the best resorts in Europe. I’m going to be honest and tell you that before going out I felt confident that I would find it easy to pick up as I had done one lesson of dry skiing about five years ago when I was 17. I’m a very sporty natured person and extremely competitive, so in my mind combining these two attributes would surely only help me.
Find out how I got on in my next blog post…
A match, whom everyone thought would be cancelled due to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, has turned out to be an occasion that demonstrated solidarity.
The French Football Federation decided the match would go ahead, and The FA backed the decision to have the game played.
France would be welcomed at Wembley in a spirit of fraternity and defiance as an act to stand up to terrorism.
Although France manager Didier Deschamps had offered his players the chance to pull out of the squad before they travelled to London because of the circumstances.
Leading up to the game England manager Roy Hodgson said, The match will be a serious occasion but one that shows that the football world is united against these atrocities.”
Security has been increased in the wake of the Paris attacks, as the Metropolitan Police don’t want to see repeat scenes from Friday happening tonight.
Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations Deputy Assistant Commander Peter Terry said, “we’ve reassessed what security we think we need for tonight’s occasion, especially considering who we’re playing. We’ve assessed what happened in France and we’ve changed what the appearance of what the security will look like tonight.”
In a change of protocol, the away team’s national anthem was sung after England’s ‘God Save The Queen’.
Over 70,000 people roared out ‘La Marseillaise’ as a tribute to the 129 victims of Friday’s attacks, England fans in the east side of Wembley held up cards which formed the French Tricolore.
England was victorious winning 2-0.
France’s captain, Hugo Lloris, thanked England’s fans for their support but admitted the French team found it hard to concentrate.
“All of this has been very hard, but we played the match for our country and for the victims. Tonight was a moment of national unity,” said Lloris.
The result was always going to be meaningless but the occasion couldn’t have been any different and will live in the memory for everyone who watched and attended the match.
After being banned from entering the UK for 10 years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a red carpet welcome from the British government and Indian diaspora on Thursday as he began a three-day state visit to the country.
However Modi’s visit wasn’t welcomed by everyone, and after the ceremony at Wembley stadium had finished, he and all his supporters were greeted by protesters who represented Indian minorities.
There were more than 700 protesters from Kashmiri, Sikh and Indian Muslim backgrounds who gathered outside the stadium.
“We are at this demonstration today to protest against Modi and the Indian government for their illegal occupation of Kashmir and the massacre of our people,” said Najib Afsar, the chief coordinator for Jammu Kashmir Liberation Council.
Indian Muslim Federation, Castle Watch UK, Southall Black Sisters and Sikh Federation UK are groups included in this allegiance.
“This visit is one-hundred-per-cent all about trade, the event speaks for itself. He was banned from most of the west for 10 years and now he’s getting a royal air force display which says it all.” Said Jasveer Singh of the Sikh Press Association.
Over 60,000 people attended the invitation only event and it’s the largest reception any foreign head of government has ever received in the UK.
Virendra Sharma MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on India-UK Relations, “the Uk’s 1.5 million India diaspora are an excellent bridge between the UK and India. As a person of Indian origin, I am hugely looking forward to this defining moment where we can celebrate our democracies and shared values.”
Both Modi supporters and protesters waved flags on the night but the symbols on them and the occasion couldn’t of been anymore different for what they represented.
Bapu Surat Singh, 82 years old, who is a human rights activist is on a 277-day hunger strike in Punjab. Why? This is because Surat Singh is protesting for the release of Sikh and other minority prisoners who have served their sentences but still not been released.
An issue such as this doesn’t just appear out of the blue, there would have to be a triggering point to push a person to the point of having to starve themselves to try to be heard. What would be this big bang that set of these chain of events? OPERATION BLUE STAR.
Thirty years ago, in June 1984, Operation Blue Star changed the course of how Sikh’s would be affected in today’s India. Thus embedding the violence of this historic event into the heart of the Sikh religion.
Operation Blue Star was a massacre orchestrated by the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. She ordered the army to storm, with tanks, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, the Sri Harmandir Sahib complex (also known as the “Golden Temple” in the west) located in Amritsar, Punjab on one of the holiest days in Sikh calendar, knowing the site would contain more people than usual. Eyewitnesses stated that people were allowed in but no one was allowed out, indicating an intention to commit mass murder, an intention that was subsequently achieved with thousands killed, although the government figures put the number of deaths in the hundreds, which are questionable when the sheer scale of the operation is considered. To comprehend the nature of this attack, an example would be if the Roman Catholics were a minority and the Italian army stormed the Vatican on the day of Easter on the orders of the Prime Minister.
The government made it out to be the fault of the Sikhs, citing they did so to flush out alleged “separatists” and “terrorists” from the complex, notably Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who empowered the Punjabi population, actively spoke out against government oppression and the lack of rights in the state of Punjab. The complex is open 24 hours a day but not one peaceful attempt was made to enter and arrest the so-called militants. Even to this day, no one has been put on trial for this heinous crime against a minority population. This operation led to Indira Gandhi being assassinated, which subsequently led to the 1984 Sikh Genocide in Delhi and numerous other anti-sikh government operations.
Surat Singh’s starvation protest has been done in a passive manner, however the Indian police have handled this situation in a completely different way. The effects of his hunger strike have led to him being arrested and repeatedly force-fed. How can the police arrest someone when technically they haven’t committed any crime? Would that not be classed as an injustice or do they have the authority to do this because Sikh people are a minority in India. Surat Singh’s family have also been arrested, harassed and accused of crimes by the police.
That leads me to question if the person were Muslim would that change the way we viewed this story?
What I’m struggling to comprehend is how there has been very minimal or little media coverage on this topic from news organisations around the world, considering Mr. Singh’s hunger strike started on the 16th January 2015. The only press seems to be negative towards this movement and from newspapers such as Hindustan Times and Dailymail India who has labeled Sikhs as “hardliners” and described them as “terrorists” which is coincidental if you really think about it. To emphasise this point, inserted below is a video of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, responding when asked if he had heard of Surat Singh and his hunger strike. The Mayor replies “I will Google it,” this was filmed on July 16th, why hadn’t he heard of an issue of this caliber? Especially considering the established ties through the trade routes between the UK and India, you would think the Mayor of London would know issues such as this, which could affect morale.
The urban activity centre have been open for a few weeks, so I thought I would grab my GoPro and five volunteers to go down there to see what all the fuss was about.
I will be honest with you, when I think of trampolining three things spring to mind; isolation, kids activity and sweat. It’s safe to say that two of the three of my opinions would be changed after my visit.
Upon my arrival, I found myself outside what looked to be an old industrial warehouse, I was intrigued to see how they have transformed this old building into a play area for adults and kids. Freedog did not disappoint, it was as if I had climbed inside my wardrobe and found myself in Narnia because you will be struck by how big the space is and the features within the facility. The park is 36,000 sq ft and boasts over 150 trampolines. A selection of food and drink is available in the arena, and free lockers for you to safely store your possessions.
I found the staff at Freedog were really helpful and friendly, which is refreshing to see as you could sense that they enjoyed their job.
The price to bounce for an hour is £10.00 but on your first visit you will be charged £12.00 as you have to have Freedog’s type of socks, which help give you more grip when doing their activities.
Now to revisit my preconceived thoughts about trampolining, I thought I would have to solo bounce around without really being able to engage with other people, and how wrong I was. The first activity me and my five volunteers done was dodgeball, which was a lot of fun and a great workout. However more importantly I could interact with other people. Fellow trampoliners became apart of a team for the brief period that they were playing. I even witnessed people trying to block the onslaught of dodgeball’s being fired at their team members. I hadn’t anticipated such intensity from other trampoliners, It was like being back in school playing p.e, where nobody wanted to be the reason their team lost so everyone would give one-hundred-percent effort.
The team games didn’t just stop with playing dodgeball, the foam pits became a platform for synchronised flips. I think some people were expecting to stand on a podium at the end of their go and receive a gold medal for the tricks they were pulling off. Maybe that’s the next step for Freedog, who knows but I can just see it now, the future of synchronised swimming being transformed into synchronised trampolining, and all the committee selectors would have to do is visit Freedog and they’d have a team ready to compete.
Other activities available include an open bounce area which offers you the chance to hone in on your bounce skills, and slam dunk which gives trampoliners the chance to dunk a basketball like Michael Jordan.
The other preconceived thought that I was wrong about, was the idea of trampolining being a kids activity. Although when you’re in the park you do feel like a little kid again running around and bouncing all over the place. I would strongly recommend that adults of all ages go down to Freedog and let of some steam and allow themselves to enjoy it. Don’t be the responsible adult taking your kids here and then watching from the cafe, join in and have some fun, let the inner child consume you for an hour.
Unfortunately my idea about the sweat has not changed but what do you expect when you’re bouncing around continuously for an hour.
The urban activity centre is a great new attraction to have in Swindon and will give their citizens an extra spring in their step, just make sure you are ready for a workout.
Below is the GoPro footage of the activities and fun that you can have at Freedog. Please watch, comment,like and subscribe.