Snowy update

Again, apologies for the lack of pictures but the good news (in case I didn’t already mention) is that Olympus have replaced my camera under warranty with the improved new model. And replaced my underwater housing so that this replacement fits. The former has arrived, the latter is somewhere in the postal system. Top marks to Olympus for that!

These last few days I have mostly been making 3-hour-each-way return drives between Chamonix and Tignes. Firstly to rip apart the training room here in Chamonix and set it back up again in a hotel over in the Tarentaise. This was a right pain, to be frank, but at least I was given help in the form of Mike – one of the reps from last year who’s returned for another season.

Between us we had the whole thing in pieces, in a van and in Tignes in about five hours. I then had another rep, Joe, help me piece everything back together again so that training could be done with our next group. Amazingly, I was done by dinner time and a few of the Child Care bunch kindly offered to share their pizza with me.

The after dinner “just one drink” night out turned into one of those ones that never seems as if it will end. Starting at the Bagus Bar, I had drinks bought for me by a couple of people for helping them with various laptop problems. Then the bar realised most of the people there were seasonairres, so decided they liked us and needed to bribe us into telling holidaymakers what a great place it was.

Out came the free vodka shots and more free pizza. By around 1am, the night still seemed young and what few of us remained went round the corner to Jack’s. Jagerbombs. Jager shots. Pints. Then free toffee apple shots and free halves. I do remember losing very badly at pool and really not caring.

I ended up rescuing one of the staff from another one (she has a boyfriend after all) and she crashed in the spare bed in my room. I’m nice like that. And no, no names!

My thoughts of driving back to Chamonix early morning were somewhat laid to waste by the fact I was in no fit state to get behind the wheel of a Tonka truck let alone a full-grown motor vehicle. Instead, I did some odd jobs around the place before grabbing a filling free lunch in one of the chalets (thanks, chef!) and finally making my way back to Chamonix.

I had dinner at the hotel here with the managers-in-training which was a good laugh. Decent grub and a post-meal quiz which our table won. Free cocktails! Which inevitably turned into a walk down to Bar’Dup where I was gifted another jug of beer for repairing a “broken” external hard drive. Bed at 3:30am…

More catching-up and organising of hardware followed the next day, before driving to Tignes again on Sunday afternoon to deliver some printers. I also had to configure (and remove) a couple of the training PCs as they’d be needed by the hotel staff heading out on Monday.

The drive up was pretty good. Not much traffic on the roads and no snow as yet. I managed to get from Bourge St Maurice up to Tignes in less than the running length of Slayer‘s Reign in Blood. Check out the album details and then look on a map for the route. Suffice to say that had Leah been in the van I’d have been shouted at frequently when she wasn’t busy gibbering and hiding her face in her hands.

Of course, when I got there I was frankly informed by the person running the training that they needed all of the machines and that I wasn’t allowed to take any of them. I pointed out that two of them weren’t even on the network so obviously weren’t being used, so yes – I would. Those two. Ideally I needed two more, but was forbidden. Well, less work for me (though more later in the week).

Including a dinner break (thanks, chef!) I managed to get the two machines set up, optimised, configured, tested and boxed by half eleven at night. Then retired with two cans of lager, some cheap crisps and  the last two episodes of The Dead Zone season 5.

The next morning I found out there’d been a) an overnight snowfall and b) a messup with the transportation. As such, I was no longer meeting people in Albertville to hand PCs over, I would have to bring them all the way back to Chamonix. So I loaded the van, hopped in and made acceptable time on the now more slippy roads.

So, in Chamonix for a couple of days to do some odd jobs before scooting back to Tignes on Thursday afternoon. It really is all go, here. Hotel staff are now in place (or at least, as I type, on the road heading for their resorts) and chalet staff/reps will be zipping off to settle in on Saturday.

That’s about when I start getting a million “my xxxx doesn’t work” calls.

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Regrets, I’ve had a few…

And I regret not bringing a camera with me on this trip. “Yeah, seen it all before”, I thought.

I have seen it all before. But that doesn’t stop Chamonix, particularly after snowfall, being one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. I’m sat in the hotel right now looking out over one of the nursery areas in the direction of the Aiguille du Midi.

It’s stunning. Frankly, simply, ridiculously stunning.

The sun has just gone over the peak so is streaming towards me. I have to shelter my eyes to see the view. Everything’s coated in fresh snow, including the tree in the distance that looks ghostly as a result. The trees on the mountain slope to my left have a dusting while the peaks are now covered in a gorgeous white glow.

Even though the lifts aren’t open yet, some people are hiking up the nursery area and skiing, boarding, sledging and bum-boarding down.

Ha! And I just spotted a snowman on the other side of the street!

I’m sorry I can’t share the view. Believe me, I’m not trying to make anyone jealous. I’m just trying to leave myself a memory as a blog post as I’ll have to carry this year’s images away in my head.

I was going to add a stock image to this post, but I just can’t find anything that would do it justice.

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Midnight Express

Midnight Express is, from what I gather, a superb motion picture. Some may argue John Hurt‘s finest hour since a half-ton of animatronic nastiness exploded from his chest and squirted blood and viscera over Sigourney Weaver et al.

However, I talk of the burger bar in Chamonix.

Oh. My. InsertDeityOfChoice.

You know when you have memories of somewhere and you give it much more credit than it deserves? It was a fantastic holiday and that little restaurant made the best profiteroles in the world? Or the bar with those wonderful canapes?

Then you go back sober and realise they actually kinda sucked?

This will never happen with Midnight Express. I popped by tonight and I admit to having some reservations. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered. How many times was I drunk when I bought one, so I wouldn’t notice that it wasn’t really that good?

My fears were unfounded. A five-Euro burger was enough to remind me that they probably make the best fast food in the world. My taste buds are still bouncing. I have a whack-load of chocolate on my desk and I don’t want any of it in case it takes the taste away.

Oh, I hope Google picks this one up. Chamonix. French Alps. France. Burgers.

Midnight Express. No other option. Forget McDonald’s. Midnight Express.

I want another one.

Now.

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Whole lotta nothing

Chamonix Valley seen from the south

In honesty, just a post so people know I’m still here! Not a lot has happened outside of the working environment since my last post (over a week – sorry) and there’s yet to be any snow in Chamonix. It did try yesterday, but we only managed some sleety rain for a few hours before it gave in.

From what I gather, Tignes has a small amount and La Rosiere has around 10cm lying on the pavements. Courchevel 1850 has quite a substantial amount, but that’s to be expected at such an altitude. You also pay for it there as it’s one of the priciest resorts.

Head chef training has just finished and today/tomorrow all the management trainees will be arriving here to start abusing the PCs I’ve been setting up. The big pain is going to be in around a week when I have to uproot every training machine and lug them over to Tignes for the remainder of training, then distribute them to the various resort staff.

It has been great to catch up with more people I remember from last season as they appear in little groups. I believe we’ve got quite a high percentage of returning staff amongst the workforce this season so we must be doing something right!

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Update from the Alps

It’s been a few days since the last post as I’ve barely stopped working since I arrived back in Chamonix. Maya drove me to Geneva Airport on Monday morning. From there, I was picked up by Peter who I worked with last year. Along with my new boss, two new handymen and a couple more staff from last season we made our way to Albertville. There we separated out into various cars and drove these to Chamonix – airport pickup and vehicle delivery in one swoop! Last year the staff vehicles were Toyota Yaris‘s, this year they’re little Renault Clios. I preferred the Yaris, I think. They definitely had better stereos!

Once in Chamonix I don’t think I even got to drop my bags in my room until almost dinner time. Everyone had little jobs to do, and I can understand why I got a hug from Dave when he saw me. He no longer has to deal with the IT issues now that I’ve arrived! My “to do” list grows longer each day, and there’s always another little something that pops up when someone sees me.

I’m room-sharing with Robin, the head rep for Chamonix and a great guy. He’s usually only around at the weekends right now, as he’s busy helping to outfit all the other resorts. Mind, I don’t see much of the flat anyway as I’m either working or socialising with the other folk here.

The two handymen have been great company all week – Gareth’s about ten years my junior and from London, Steve’s about twenty years my senior and Welsh by birth but living in Birmingham somewhere. We’ve enjoyed the football and beer in Bar’d Up; munched the delicious criss-cross fries in the MBC while supping delicious premises-brewed beers; been fed incredibly well by Luke in the Sapiniere; and gotten hammered around town last night.

So, yes, same as last year. A great, hard-working crew and beer that’s far too expensive. The latter’s about the only bad thing. Prices here are the same as last year, but the Euro’s edged up against the pound so catching happy hour (or going to the supermarket) is the only way to drink affordably.

Posts may be a little thin on the ground as I won’t get a chance to do anything touristy during my 6-week stint. However, there’s always something happenings. And I can always just go on about how stunning the mountain view is. No pictures, I’m afraid. My camera’s off for repair back home.

Oh, and no – there’s no snow here as yet although there was a deluge about two weeks ago from what I’ve been told.

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