Saturday 24 April 2010

Fave Friday

Five Favourite Signs of the Season

I had my first British asparagus of the year today, with some super fresh eggs from a colleague and the 8 year aged balsamic vinegar I splurged on in Italy. It was amazing. It's one of my favourite meals, which is why I had it for dinner even though it is usually a breakfast or lunch dish for me.
I am picky about asparagus and will only eat the British stuff, so I love the next 6 weeks.

2. Grass growing.
The lawn is growing quickly. I like it. It means everything has come back to life. I quite like mowing the lawn now, too. For one thing, it means I don't have to be endlessly a little pissed off with Mr Z for not bothering to do it until our property looks derelict. And since it only takes about 5 minutes (our lawn is not very big), I tend to do it upon my return from work at the end of the day, still dressed in a fancy frock and heels, which adds a little frisson to the whole experience. The neighbours must think I am mental.

3. Lighter evenings.
I whinge when the clocks change. I like the dark. I don't like the light evenings to start with. But then I remember how nice it is to have a few hours of daylight when I get in from work, and to kick off my shoes and run outside to let me feet cool down in the grass, and all is forgiven.

4. Sandals.
Oh yes! New shoes. With wedges, and platforms, and toes showing and all that.

Thanks to these little babies, I'm a clear 6 feet tall for the summer. Gladiator sandals wouldn't be nearly as intimidating. One of my year 12s told me on Wednesday, when I wore them for the first time, that he would be behaving in future. YES. The power of the shoe.
Bizarrely, they are more comfortable to walk in than whilst sitting/standing still, which is why I am currently trying to wear them in a bit by wearing them with ski socks. Only in the house, of course.

5. Lessons on the field.
Year 11 and I had our first lesson on the field today. It was an exam-marking picnic. It was hugely successful. Roll on, summer field lessons. As long as the weather lasts, anyway.

I am in a grump about work (just got to keep focusing on the fact that I love my job, it's the kids and other staff that are the important bits, not the "leadership") and this has spilled over into knitting. I am in a grump because I haven't finished my Ravelympics sweater, even though I wanted to wear it to Wonderwool on Sunday and show the Knitwitch how she has converted me to laceweight. In fact, I am struggling to finish anything lately, but I am bullishly refusing to start anything new until I have at least 2 projects off the needles. Consequently I spent this evening in the bath, or reading, or watching True Blood, and didn't put a stitch on anything because it's all dull and I want something new to knit.

I am also considering frogging something. I started a wrap top in Rowan bamboo last year but I made a bit of a mess of the edging and then lost interest. Well, I keep looking at this pattern and thinking it would be a far better option for the yarn. It might not take well to frogging, though; it's very splitty.
On the plus side, though, frogging it would get it out of my WIPs on Ravelry, which is feeling slightly oppressive at present.

Looking forward to Wonderwool. I am going to buy a sheepskin rug. I got my car loan through...

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Tuesday Ten

In what I hope will be an annual series....

Ten Pictures From The Ski Trip

Olympic Women's Downhill at Sansicario - the top, right before I skied down it with my hair flying horizontally out from my head due to my immense speed!

New helmet, bought on the first day, which made me feel a lot more secure - and awesome blue trail leading down from the Sestriere bubble, which had a very steep drop on one side, then both sides for a little way, then the other. It afforded amazing views into France, though I was glad not to lose a ski down there.

Helicopter landing on the piste on the first morning, while we were on the very uncomfortable two man chair. I got a faceful of snow, but was glad not to be on the ground. There were deckchairs and gloves all over the place.

Mooooooooooose! (I know I don't have the helmet on, but I was only skiing a little way and it didn't seem worth putting it back on after the lift. Cara and I were running a bit late for lunch anyway, after an extended hot chocolate tasting session at a pisteside cafe)

Snow Angels. It wouldn't be a ski trip without them. This year I broke up the frosty hard ice on top of the snow before taking my dive, it was much more successful this way.

We bought Mr J a new pair of retro skintight salopettes for the race, since he was desperate to be fastest (he was) and always bemoaning the fact he had become too fat for his 15 year old pair. He was even more pleased with them than we anticipated; others less so - I refer you to Lou's "MY EYES!" pose in the background.

We like it when it snows because Lou puts her hood up and we tease her for looking like a gnome, even making her hold a ski pole in a fishing rod position.

The view from my hotel room. It was an amazing hotel: like a big drum stuck on the side of the mountain; I could see all the way to the tunnel. Awesome. And it has a BATH! I have a good picture of me pointing at it in a delighted fashion. I was so glad I took Lush with me; those baths made all the difference to my poor aching legs. I really noticed the difference not doing circuits made this year and am determined to be properly ski fit for next year. At least my knee didn't give me any problems - at least, not while I was skiing; my other knee, the one I didn't injure, was a bit painful, weirdly, but not very bad and then it sort of crunched and clicked in a very painful way and was OK afterwards.
Should also say that the only thing better than the view/bath combo was the hotel food. Couldn't fault it.

Ski trip FO. Cabled hat of my own design, finished on the Friday for Saturday's skiing (or for wearing while not skiing, since I cannot wear a hat with my new helmet). More on that in a later post.

And finally - Piste Benny. His skis worked much better this year with stabilising cross bars - too well, in fact, as shortly after this picture was taken he escaped and got himself tangled up on the slalom race course next to which Cara and I were sitting. Thankfully I managed to retrieve him before he tripped someone up, but I didn't allow any more Benny skiing for the rest of the week, as he was so aerodynamic on his skis I feared I'd lose him forever.

All things considered? Best trip yet. We travelled with a group from another school who turned out to be really lovely, so much so that we sang Bohemian Rhapsody with their staff at karaoke and totally dominated; I had a lesson in which I was told I was, "Not bad - for a woman"; there were no injuries and no major kid problems, except for a bad case of nits which we treated and then prayed we hadn't caught; many parents followed my Twitter updates from the school phone; Jonts and I went into deep off piste snow to retrieve some goggles which was very amusing; I had a couple of minor falls, during the second of which I banged my head and was pleased to have the helmet; and I FINALLY managed to get my own ski boots, on the second attempt. Sunday's attempt left me tearful (I was overtired and the SA couldn't find me a pair) but on Monday a slightly pervy man from Folkestone was able to provide me with the perfect pair (in between jumping up and down, a curious manoeuvre which he explained by saying, "Sorry, I've got holes in my boxers...." Nice)

The difference a lesson, my own boots and a helmet made was phenomenal - especially when combined with giving myself a stiff talking to every morning: most overused phrase of the week was definitely "Man up" or, for something especially difficult, "Woman up." Tom asked after seeing me ski on Friday afternoon, "What happened to you?!" and I think the answer to that can only be, I've found the joy in it. I love bombing around and even tried a few mini jumps. I thought I had joy last year but this year put it in the shade, it was just so much fun. I cannot wait for next time.

I'll leave you with the video of the Men's Ski Cross Final from 2010. Delbosco hitting the snow is one of my favourite sporting moments. Part of me thinks he is an idiot for giving up his bronze to try and get into silver position; part of me has enormous respect for him for risking it all. Either way it's great viewing!

Friday 2 April 2010

Fave Friday

Favourite Lush Products For Skiing
The annual pre-skiing Lush shop is one of my favourite rituals. Unlike other holidays when I decant and cut up and use up anything that has been hanging around, I buy all new Lush for skiing because it makes such a huge difference to my skin and therefore my whole holiday experience. I usually pick up a couple of new things to try but I also have my staples, to wit...

1. King of Skin
I love this product at the best of times but it really comes into its own on skiing. I use it after my morning shower and I only give it a cursory rinse off, to keep my skin moisturised all day. So, by the end of the week my salopettes smell of it quite strongly!

2. Ultralight moisturiser
I thought this was discontinued but happily not. It used to be their only moisturiser that had SPF in it, and I bought it for my ski trip inspection visit in 2006, so the smell is just all skiing for me. It is rich enough to look after my poor wind burned cheeks at the end of the day but not greasy.
Last year, I bought a tub and started smearing it over my face at the end of the first day, only to realise (too late) that I had bought Ultrabland by accident, which is a cleanser. Doh! Gutted. Now they sell it in a bottle, it's much more difficult to get them mixed up.

3. Wiccy Magic Muscles
Perfect for the end of the day! I use this one after my afternoon shower, on my legs, to take away some of the inevitable muscle ache. I am not mad keen on the smell, but it really works and the aduki beans make it an especially good massage tool.

4. Ocean Salt
Another one that's excellent for the end of the day. I layer on so much sun cream throughout the day because I am desperate to avoid panda eyes, and when this mixes with sweat and other gunk my skin feels suffocated by the end of the day. I like to use just a very little as soon as I get back to the hotel to remove most of the crap, and then I use more in the shower (over Babyface, of course) to get rid of anything leftover.

5. Toner spray
I don't have a favourite but I have bought Eau Roma Water this year because it is supposed to be quite soothing. This comes into its own on the stuffy coach and at lunch time on sunny days when everybody's hot and sweaty and needs something cooling in their face. Totally better than a snowball in the face.

This year I am also trying a new face serum, Full of Grace, which looks like it will be good to put on overnight for extra moisture. The weather reports suggest the week will be cold and the weather changeable - at the moment it says to expect 25cm of snow next Thursday! So I'm going to need all the help I can get. And for the first time ever, I might need to wear my thermals.

I am incredibly excited! Look!

Last year, this ski run back into town was mud past the bottom of the white building on the right, but it's been much colder and snowier this year.
And lookie!

This is the top of the nursery slope, taken a few minutes ago on the webcam. In the top right corner is the 4 man chair we come up first thing every morning. We intend to hang out in full view of the webcame first thing - between 9 and 10am Italian time - so check in and see if you can spot any of us! This year I have grey salopettes and a bright pink jacket. And the ski headwear, natch.