Decision made and bridges burnt, Chis Tomlinson has committed to a course of action – there is to be no Chalet Project this coming season, winter 2019.
There will be no bacon run, no Land Rover angst, no food allergies to dance around and no living with 24-hour party people. But most of all the author of Skiing With Demons is looking forward to skiing without cooking a bucket load of eggs first.
You can make important decisions with your head or your heart. Whichever one you choose, the other organ usually haunts you. But all I feel right now is excitement - I’m actually looking forward to the forthcoming ski season!
It’s September now and the calls are coming in. It seems that everyone is now thinking about booking skiing accommodation. Of course if you want to ski this New Year or half term, you are already too late to book anywhere and you may want to review your decision to have had children.
I did have a slight pang when I turned down what would have been my first booking. It initially felt very wrong to say 'no' to a perfectly good piece of business. Then it felt good, in a wicked way, to be delivering the bad news. However, articulating the very sentence that summed it up, 'No chalet this year mate, I’ve decided to just go skiing', I knew I’d made the right decision.
Surprisingly, as the enquiry emails come in, I’ve discovered what I’ve been missing. I’ve received many invites to go on holiday with former guests and offers of accommodation in Morzine. Even the Ski Nazis*, loyal supporters of my project, have booked their own chalet for next season. I may stay with them just for fun one week and complain about the consistency of the porridge. All in all, I’ve got myself three weeks in Morzine and it’s not even October.
Added to that, the Ski Club of GB have come through this year and are sending me to Saas Fee and Meribel to lead two of their holidays. Not wanting to sound like a vulture, I could also be called upon by them to cover colleagues who get injured. Inevitably someone will break a bone or, like me last year, be felled in action. With no commitments this winter other than having fun, I can fill in as requested.
Perhaps, with a season off, it would be a good time to re-mount my campaign for higher BASI status. Part of me knows I’ll need a skiing goal if the Apres Aliens* are to be avoided. But then I know that BASI courses are purgatory. 'BASI have been ruining skiing since 1963', as one disgruntled candidate once told me.
But on this one, I’m going with my heart (not my head) and say 'no', I’m going to try and actually enjoy my skiing season instead; not toil it away and spend hundreds of pounds trying to ski like a ballerina.
With no chalet to run and no ambitions to become a fully qualified instructor, it might seem like my alpine dream has fizzled out and the Chalet Project is over. I feel like I might be letting down those who have enjoyed my books and foolishly been inspired to create their own Chalet Projects. I’d like to tell them something profound like, 'it’s a journey not a destination', but as the Alps are actually a destination, that’s not going to work.
Metaphors aside, my journey has ended, even if theirs is just beginning. However, even though my alpine dream might need a new name, it is very much alive – it has just become peripatetic.
* Ski Nazi and Apres Aliens are characters in Chris’ books (Skiing With Demons I and II) available at all good books stores and online.