Skiing in Les Coches

Sarah and me headed off to Les Coches on 19th March for a cheeky last minute ski trip, going on our first ski trip just the two of us.

Chambery airport is truly awful when more than one flight arrives within half an hour of each other, which must rank up there with airport design oversights. The 1920s airplane hanging from the roof does not inspire confidence either – some of the arrival procedures have probably not changed since the plane was in the skies last.

The bus transfer pretty easy, although our driver got lost in Moutiers which subsequently involved some 20-point turning in narrow streets. Our rep was a little disappointed that we did not want to buy tickets and ski hire from him and could not contain his disappointment when we saw him later after having bought said items from a colleague of his – commission payments are are alive and well!

Our accommodation is nicely placed next to the slopes and only a 10 minute walk from the small centre square of Les Coches. A studio apartment that has a bunk bed and two single sofa beds is adequate for our needs but is definitely operating on the “bare minimum” principle.

The lack of hot water on the Friday night put a dampener on our last evening and the lack of staff on reception did not help.

Les Coches itself is pleasant enough but a little on the small side to not get a little tired of it’s offerings after a week. As far as we can tell there are three restaurants (one of which is a little out of the way for us and the other has very limited veggie/fish choice), two bars plus a pizza place. That pretty much left us with La Poze which luckily has friendly staff and free wifi so pretty much is the only place we went to when we ate out.

Les Coches is situated between La Plagne and Les Arcs and does give you good access to both areas. Given the lack of snow this week I would guess that you could ski back to it throughout most of the season. Although we have coined the run into Les Coches from La Plagne the “run from hell” as it goes on forever, gets increasingly sugary and energy sapping.

The nicest place we lunched was most certainly the Cafe Verdons Sud in the Champany valley, the place is run with a flare and style that is so often missing at the on piste cafes. The music is great, the free sun hats are fun and the staff seem to be enjoying themselves. We visited it twice, and on the second occasion it did feel very much like the melting snow was going to maroon the restaurant in a sea of grass which would be a shame. The second time round, there was a more decadent feel to the place, we sat next to some garçon beckoning Russians, with a group of large cigar smoking Frenchmen forcing one of their party to down ginape from a bottle the size of a small child ginape and a group of loud English people on the other side. While the ice melted around us and we all indulged, there was definitely a strong metaphor or two kicking around.

On another note the restaurant owner could have been my friend James in another life.

Water skiing…
Jumping into crash matt…

Sarah’s mood tends to fluctuate in parallel with the snow conditions – icy slopes bring a chilling in the mood whereas powder on the pistes generally signals a return to powdery loveliness.

Longest sledging run I have ever seen. There were no signs forbidding you to ask your more garrulous friend to lie down on the run while you attempt to jump over them – i looked – so it is Jim friendly.

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Ivory at Whistle Binkies

Mike Evans, Katie Robertson and Paul Murphy on stage at Whistle Binkies, Edinburgh

Mike asked me to film his band Ivory at Whistle Binkies in Edinburgh last Saturday (18th Dec).

There were a few technical glitches in my recording efforts but managed to get some good stuff.

Ivory are:

  • Katie Robertson – vocals
  • Paul Murphy – bass
  • Mike Evans – guitar

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Morzine 2010

A wee movie that I put together from our trip to Morzine 2010.

Thanks to Sarah, Sarah, Chris, Steve, Caroline and james for a great holiday… if only it could have been longer than 3 days skiing!

Thanks to Chris for his additional video.

Singapore

Our friendly taxi driver was waiting for us at the airport to drive to the hotel while pointing out the various landmarks on the way. The highlighting of the various airport college essays for sale terminals less useful than the war memorials and churches.

Sarah in front of our HotelWe settled into our hotel (The Fullerton) and wandered down to take in The Merlion, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and the various shopping centres around the CBD/ Chinatown area. Having never visited Singapore before, my preconceptions were all I had to go on, and were predictably shattered by the reality. Singapore is probably the most overtly prosperous city I have ever visited, by which I mean, well organised and clean while still being bustling and vibrant.

Our expedition to Raffles hotel, delayed by what at this time of year is the inevitable rain storm of the day, resulted in he equally inevitable Singapore Sling. The Long Bar certainly evokes a certain colonial romance, with the distinct architecture, odd fan arrangement on the cieling and the straw furniture. They could charge whatever they wanted for the aforementioned beverage in Raffles and the tourists (the colonial harking British ones at any rate) would still flock. Well that seems to be the policy. It was fun and definitely worth the visit.

Next stop was Muthu’s Indian restaurant on the recommendation of a friend – Thanks David!   Meal was great and the waiter pretty much ordered our food for us, even saying at one point to one of our choices “that is no good” – fair enough as the food was great!

I later watched an American history program on the ancient ruins of Rome that exist below modern Rome provided a contrast to BBC approach to documentary film making, placing enthusiasm way above factual content in terms of screen time… Cut to presenter… “unbelievable”… cut to graphics… “Look at this”… “Wow! Incredible herring bone paving… called that ‘cos it looks like fish scales” – no shit. I kept watching, so I suppose it worked.

We also took a trip to the Night Safari which was really great.

Brisbane City and Australia Zoo

On Sunday 3rd January we headed into Brisbane city to have a look around the State capital.

Our first port of call was The Brisbane Wheel, located on the South Bank… which is not a monument to the invention of the wheel in Brisbane which would have been a bold claim indeed… rather a mini version of the London Eye that affords great views of Brisbane and a commentary to boot. As a way of getting a quick feel for where you are in location to everything else it is ideal.

We decided that as the weather was a little ropey, we would take in Sherlock Holmes at the cinema next to where we had stopped for a drink. It is a thoroughly enjoyable romp so long as you don’t think about it too much – devoid of much of Guy Richie’s standard cockney pishilating, it is actually pretty good.

On the Monday, with Simon working we decided to attempt to go to Australia Zoo again… our first attempt at a visit having being aborted due to an over successful cereal packet promotion.

The great thing about Austraila Zoo is how close and personal you can get to the animals, and it would certainly be fantastic for children of nearly all ages. We saw crocodiles being fed, stroked the kangaroos and had parrots flying so close you could have grabbed them in the main arena – magical!

The highlight was the tigers, simply brilliant and a wonderful demonstration of the majesty of the animal and why it should be preserved in the wild – there are less than 3,000 left.

The slight downside is the disneyfication of the attraction and incessant promotion of the Irwin family which rubs me up the wrong way. Bindi Irwin’s singing was just plain odd.

New Year in Maroochydore

Sarah, Simon and RachelWe headed to Rachel’s dads brewrey (how handy was that) to pick up the beer before we headed North up the coast from Brisbane for Maroochydore to move into our apartment and celebrate New Year.

The apartment was ideal – two bedrooms, sea views and a roof terrace.

The previous evening we had booked (after many frantic calls) a table at Belissimo, a restaurant on the front in Maloolooba. Our expectations tempered by the lateness of our booking, we headed along the coast from our apartment towards Maloolooba. We were not to worry as although not about to make any Michelin guide, it was perfectly placed in the centre and near the beach and provided a perfect vantage point for the ensuing mayhem.

As an aside, I really wish Australia would force restaurants to have toilets… just really annoying.

We were not only see in the New Year but the arrest of a young man and a crowd pleasing brawl involving two young female revellers.

We left our table for The Bells, catching the New Year fireworks from the beach which was fantastic – being the first time I have seen in the New Year in the southern hemisphere, it was a delight to be able to enjoy the balmy temperatures and enjoy the waves lapping against the shore while watching fireworks.

Thanks to Rachel and Simon for sorting it all out and inviting us along!

Brisbane

After a remarkably smooth passage across the 10,000 miles* to Brisbane from Edinburgh via London and Singapore, where we both managed to get a modicum of sleep and flight delays were kept to the minimum it seemed somehow inevitable that there would be some form of hickup.

And so it proved as we stood watching the final items of battered and seemingly deliberately abandoned baggage slip past us for the twentieth time – our bag was not going to turn up.

It was not a complete disaster as our clothes bag did turned up but a pain nonetheless and not the ideal start to our Brisbane stay.

Anyway, we wandered out to the pickup area to be shortly greeted by the whistling Ford Laser and a Simon looking somehow more native than any of the locals despite only living in Australia for nine months or so. We set off for Si & Rachel’s in Brighton the Laser air conditioning keeping the stiffling heat at bay.

Si and Rachel enjoying the 'Club

After settling in we headed for a lovely walk along the sea front and a coffee in a “Coffee Club” where we managed to eat despite none of us holding membership. Our food arrived about two minutes after we ordered which must be some sort of record as at least some of our orders required proper cooking, very impressive! The travelling, quite out of nowhere, caught up with us and Sarah and me crashed out while Si & Rachel bottled some beer in preparation for our stay.

* I have no idea if 10,000 is anywhere near the truth, but seems about right.

To all 'like-minded' people out there

To all like-minded individuals out there, I have decided the term “like-minded” is stupid and has no pay someone to do your assignment meaning, so anyone who thinks that too please leave a comment on my blog.

I might even start a petition to collect signatures of all those that think the same way as me.

OK, so I concede it does have meaning… but there is just something insipid about describing someone as “like-minded”, I am not sure what it is about it.

Perhaps it is because it is usually used in an exclusive manner, being used to invite “like-minded” people to an event is essentially to say “don’t come if you don’t think like me”.

Anyway, just a thought and it is probably just me…

Jesus Laughing… Human Rights Denied

Jesus Laughing Pictures & Human Rights Denied

"Jesus Laughing Pictures & Human Rights Denied"

I took this a while back and giggle every time I see it, I am not sure why I find it so funny…

it just seems like the most ridiculous sign.

I wonder if Jesus is laughing at the human rights being denied and someone managed to capture this momentary lapse in his good nature on camera?

Or perhaps you can only see the pictures if you are willing to give up a right or two?

James is Wolfman

James shows off his collection of wolf related art

I forgot that I had taken this photo of James and his “Three Wolf Moon” t-shirt standing next to one of his man wolf based art works.

He was not holding his Chump lighter but I think it was most likely in his pocket.

For full Three Wold Moon joy see reviews on Amazon.