Saturday, February 27, 2016

Yes, it was a great week!

Reflecting on the week

The not so goods
Students can be loud at times...
Students can be very untidy at times...
Students are still young and learning social etiquette...
Students can misuse the power of social networking at times...

The goods
Students can be so funny...
Students can be polite and well mannered....
Students can be thoughtful and considerate...
Students can be caring and supportive when the need arises...
Students can be surprising and change the way others see them...
Students are quick to learn the social expectations that are placed on them...
Students quickly learn new skills, improve those acquired and push boundaries to learn...
Students are young people, still learning, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes...

Every school visit has its highs and lows and there were many highs throughout the week that far outweighs the negatives. For the first time ever I would like to have banned mobile phones from the visit because of social networking but then we would not have captured so many incredible images of the week. How much easier it was in the days when we used the telephone tree to share information and to communicate. The overall memories are positive and I would like to feel that this trip may have sparked an interest in skiing that could last a life time as it has done for so many students in the past. The parents of some of the students on this trip have travelled and skied with me before, let's hope that in years to come our students from this trip will encourage their own children to take up the challenge of strapping on a pair of skis and hitting the slopes.

Day Eight

Our departure was set for 04:30 with breakfast at 04:00!  It was off to pack suitcases and bags and tidy rooms for an early departure. Despite an early start it took some time for every to settle a grab a few hours sleep. The 03:45 wake up call went down well and when a student refused to get up for the second time it's amazing how refreshing a bottle of water can be at this time of day! Cases on the waiting coach and everyone into breakfast apart from the only student who had yesterday afternoon to pack prepare and be ready!

The only down as we left was the contrast in the rooms we left. While in some students had sorted dirty linen and towels and done their best to reduce the amount of work for staff a couple of others were disgraceful. Oh yes, the tidiest room on leaving was a boys room of 6 and the messiest a girls room of four! At any other time of the day they would have been cleaning before we left. Staff swept the rooms and collected and returned a range of items left behind from ski gloves and helmets to charger and a phone! In one room I picked up just under 10 euro's in coin spread throughout the room that was left as a tip.

As we set off from the resort we passed the hospital that held fond memories for Mrs Spence and myself and moved from France into Italy as the snow started to fall. Most people fell to sleep quickly although a reminder to one should they wake me up again  "I'll get angry and you won't like me when I'm angry". We made good progress through the Italian ski resort of Montgenevre to arrive back at the Frejus tunnel 10 minutes before it opened. A short delay and then on through the 13 km of tunnel to move back into France.

I awoke at the border with Switzerland and about 15 minutes from the airport. We arrived 30 minutes before we were expected but went immediately through to check in, passport and customs control. Despite reminders a few students had items confiscated, mainly liquids and sprays that should not have been in hand luggage. A minor hiccup when one student realised he had walked off without collecting his hand luggage from security but this was quickly retrieved. After a bus transfer to the main terminal building students were allowed to wander in groups for an hour prior to departure.... Quite quickly the group gathered back at our meeting point most people realising that the airport was quite expensive and few bargains were to be had.

I was surprised although grateful to receive a thank you gift from the group for organising the trip and was genuinely caught out by this.

We managed to get some distance to the gate without losing anyone and were quickly on board. Departure was prompt and soon we were cruising at 38,000 feet and the only visible reminder of the week were the snowlike clouds below.

Back at Manchester ahead of schedule - lets just hope that all the bags arrive this time!

Although some members of the group who will remain nameless wanted to hide Tom's suitcase before he could collect it he was too quick. The last leg down the M6 and we arrived ahead of schedule, safe, sound and in one piece.

29 students returned to their owners!

A great week, I'll sleep until Monday!

Day seven

A lie in! Everyone had an extra half hours sleep before breakfast and what's more the sun is shining for the final days skiing. Although tired everyone is up for a great last day.
The morning session on the slopes was great with a small amount of new snow that freshened the slopes. By lunch everyone was buzzing and looking forward to lunch and then the final session of the day. A few students took the lunch break as an opportunity to do some shopping while others just chilled ready for the afternoon session.
It's an interesting observation that some students have spent out while others have taken nothing from the bank, perhaps demonstrating that the food and entertainments provided were sufficient and any other spending could be seen as a luxury.

Everyone was on time for the final session of the week... Where has the time gone? The improvements from everyone are incremental as each new technique is mastered. Some members of the group have gone from being raw beginners having never even worn ski boots to being able to get down the mountain on blue runs under control and respecting the ski code. I have been pleased with all the skiing this week although our few boarders taking up skiing did particularly well. The advanced group took up the challenges thrown down to them while the intermediate group improved on technique and took on the challenge of steeper and narrower slopes.
Everyone was disappointed at the end of the day when all equipment came to be returned. Despite two poles being broken somehow we managed to return two extra helmets and five extra poles and accounted for everything else.

The ski presentation was led by Francis, Robin and Gaspard our three instructors from l'ecole skis du Francais who were all complimentary about our students who all received their ski log books accrediting their progress by the end of the week. Thank you's over and farewells done our last supper was fish 'n chips followed by fresh fruit salad with vanilla ice cream.

Day Six

Day Six

Oh to speak too soon! Last nights evening activity was bum boarding... Straight forward you would think until one member veers off course to wipe out another student... The best part of an hour later, one doctor two paramedics and the fire brigade to move the said pupil off the slopes, into an ambulance and down to the local hospital ! Discharged at midnight with a clean bill of health other than bruising I'm pleased to say. Pupils were excellent during the incident with thought and compassion being given to all involved.

Breakfast was again up to the normal excellent standard although one student was overheard to be looking for bacon! 28/29 students hit the slopes and all had a great time al though towards the end of the session there was a crash! The instructor from the French ski school insisted that the injured party was evacuated from the mountain and checked in hospital. So one lucky student had the joy of a trip down the mountain on a stretcher before being whisked away to Briancon hospital to be checked. Hospital staff were again excellent and three hours later we were all back at the hotel. The afternoon session again had 28/29 students skiing although. Different one missing the session.
A great afternoon for all with some excellent progress being made and some large distances being covered and some good skiing.

Evening entertainment was the ski show with a variety of presentations including hot dog skiing and a display of the history of skiing finished off with a spectacular fireworks display.

Back at the hotel another  great evening meal and then fun in the games room to finish off the evening. Tomorrow will be the final day of skiing and if everyone is to make the most of it we all need a good nights sleep.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day Five

As expected a few tired bodies but currently everyone is still in one piece, unlike bathe school we are sharing the hotel with who have one fractured wrist and one broken toe! Our toll is one broken bed and one broken pole and a lost lift pass, although ours are easier to fix. This morning the sun is shining and spirits are high....

A great morning skiing with ball three groups reporting they have made good progress and have enjoyed themselves. Mr F managed to find a pole and so hopefully we won't get charged for the one that was broken. With all groups catered for Mrs Spence and Mr Farley took the opportunity to get a few miles in and were amused when they stormed past the advanced group as they fell down a red run.

Lunch was jacket potatoes with a variety of fillings and salad. Food has been well thought out providing a balance of variety and the essential energy foods when needed.

Afternoon skiing was greatly different conditions with the weather closing in, snow at the top of the mountain making things just a little harder for all. It was pleasing that everyone coped with the changing conditions although Leo has complained that Gaspard, his instructor, is trying to kill him.... the jury is out on this one but money has been seen to be exchanging hands! (I'm joking).

Dinner this evening is spaghetti bolognaise followed by apple tart and ice cream after which we are off bum boarding for the evening.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day Four

Day Four

It's stopped raining.... Hopefully the temperature dropped enough over night to preserve the snow on the lower slopes. I'm pretty sure we will have some tired bodies this morning.

Another great breakfast and everyone was ready to hit the slopes and on time. Everyone is making great progress the beginners turning with confidence and occasionally stopping where they want to. the intermediate groups have now mastered falling and appear to be able to do it whenever they want. The advanced group continue to take on some interesting pistes led by an instructor who many would think is "one truck short of a load". Gasperd has the ability to find some of the steepest, lumpiest slopes to take his group down and every now and then they get to the bottom without anyone falling less than three times.

The better weather today meant at the end of lessons everyone was feeling quite upbeat although a couple of aches and pains are beginning to show, wholly down to the efforts that the students are putting into the lessons.

Lunch was greatly appreciated spaghetti And meatballs along with bread and a variety of salad. The break between sessions also allows a bit of time for bodies to recuperate before hitting the slopes again.

The afternoon  proved much cooler than the morning and at one point a few strong gusts of wind were literally blowing people up the slope. If I have to criticise lessons at this point it is down to our students not listening rather than the excellent instruction that is being given. Still some great progress on the week and as I have moved between the groups I am impressed with how skiing has improved.

Getting off the mountain proved a little more difficult today as parts of the piste had become quite bumpy and this challenged many to put into practice what they had learned over the last few days.

Back at the hotel everyone was safe although a fair share of bruises are now beginning to show.

Technology has taken over the slopes and even I am amazed at the number of GoPro's and sat nav technology available on the slopes. In Chantermerle today live video was being streamed from a camera on a skier onto a large screen on the slopes.

Evening meal was great again although not appreciated by some students, you would pay good money in a restaurant for the food we are having.

Evening activities was split into some returning to the bowling alley, although mainly for the access to WiFi while the rest of the group stayed at the hotel for a games evening.