All of this does not change the fact that on a Friday night at 7pm you are boarding a train post-work at St Pancras, and Saturday morning at 7am, still dark, there is the crunch of snow under your feet and the cold, fresh scent of it in the air. And that by 11am you are on the slopes, a million miles away from the artificially lit-office and the post-Christmas, post-New Year blues.
I'm not a particularly hardcore or adventurous skier. I can get myself down a mountain, mostly, and sometimes even with some elegance. But I've never been a first lift up, last run down sort of girl. I like the breathtaking views. I like the peaceful moments on the chairlifts, sun on your face, the soporific swoosh of skiers down below. I like rushing down a slope you know well, fast, thinking about nothing but the moment, then stopping for a hot chocolate. I like the end of a good days skiing, peeling of the layers, toes slowly thawing, stepping into a hot shower, warmth and water enveloping you and an evening of good company and card games ahead.
There were six of us. We mostly skied together, sometimes skied apart. Developed in-jokes and nicknames for each other. Ate lunch on the mountainside. The snow was fantastic, the weather glorious. We took it in turns to cook in the evening, drank snow-chilled beer and wine and cider from the balcony. On the final night ate our weight in melted cheese and could barely move from the restaurant. I practised my poker face, worked my way through a trashy novel (oh Jilly, how you kill me with your similes!), re-read Atonement, tears streaming. It was a wonderful week, and it took a big chunk of January, which let's face it can otherwise be miserable, with it.