Italy - Santa Caterina Valfurva
30th March - 5th April 2018
Each day (technology gremlins permitting) photographs of the days activities will appear here.
We generally upload pictures at the end of the day when the children have gone to bed; it could be later in the evening so please be patient, the children come first.
So you don't have to keep checking back we will send a text to let you know when new photos have been uploaded.
Day 1.... 30th March
Having arrived safely but really quite late on Friday there really wasn't time for blogs or pics - until now!
Day 1 - Woody - The Italian Job
Meet at 1pm in Manchester Airport, a plan simple that would have been perfect if it wasn't for that pesky M62!!
Sometime after 2pm as we were ready to check everyone in only to find the pre-printed boarding passes all had a fault on them!!! Thanks to the really great guy from Easyjet who produced a whole new set but could only hand them out on proof of ID to each individual....sometimes even the best laid plans go awry!!
Eventually we said our good byes to the baggage as it disappeared down the conveyor belt and to the parents as they disappeared trying to work out how to pay for the now ridiculous car park charges......and only a few tears, not sure if they were of sadness or joy??
So on to security, we all diligently removed liquids and electronic devices, and most bags flew through the scanners no problem......however a specific one was diverted to be checked by the scary looking lady who politely asked if she could search the offending rucksack. She very carefully pulled out what could best be described as a stick of dynamite wrapped in silver foil....I think we were all relieved to find the contents were a very healthy carrot!!
With time short we glided through the duty free area via the loos, then straight onto the plane for a perfect on time take off. Unfortunately the Captain announced that Milan airport had carelessly lost a runway due to flatulence so we circled the surrounding hills until we eventually had a smooth but 30 minute late landing......smiles through passport control followed by the old 'half the bags now, the rest when we feel it', scenario and onto the bus.
Mr Stoneham then arranged for a spectacular lightning show as we drove and sang our way up the mountains although the rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round" did grate a little.
Arriving at the Hotel Milan with snow falling just after midnight was quite magical (as were the ham and cheese sarnies) before a lot of very tired heads hit very welcoming pillows........
The next day we headed to Santa Caterina and the Bormio Skating rink .. see below!
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Day 2....31st March
Dancing on Ice
So a nice lie in for us all....breakfast at 8am!! A few bleary eyes but great spirits and a layer of fresh snow outside.
First job of the day is to get equipped with all our gear for tomorrow, boots, helmets, poles and probably most importantly skis....I must add the hire shop has a most unique smell, one that flooded back up my nostrils and reminded me of the great times we had last year ...boy does it stink in there!!!
All kitted out and back for our 3 course lunch high in carbs to keep your energy levels high (apparently), then onto a bus down into the nearby town of Bormio....but why did we need our helmets??
....our drop off point was the impressive local skating rink, skates on (maybe they are more comfortable on the right feet!!) and head in helmets and onto the ice......the arm flailing version of the Bolero seemed to be quite popular.
With all limbs still intact we headed into the town for a waffle, pancake or ice cream.....or in some cases all three!! On the way probably the most unusual sight of the day was a sheep in the boot of a parked car....don't worry all you animal lover, the window had been left ajar.
Back to the hotel for tea and lo and behold our 3 course was rib of lamb....mmmm, coincidence (sorry all you animal lovers!!)?? Although I have to add the tiramisu was to die for.
Final act of the day was the first room theme and room inspection of the week.....and amazingly all the rooms (even the boys) passed with flying colours, a mermaid or two, a shop, and some extremely gaudy lipstick......well done everyone.
Early to bed for all, with a really big day ahead of us tomorrow as we dream of those gorgeous white slopes. The snow falls quietly outside once more.
Day 3....1st April
So here it is, the business end of the holiday....a nice and early 7.30am breakfast. A rousing chorus of Happy Birthday for Mrs McNamara, followed by a chorus of "How old are you now"......apparently not too old to ski!!
Outside the ground is still covered in the white fluffy stuff, the trees are frosted and the the clouds have thinned to reveal patches of beautiful blue sky.....sun cream on!! A spot on day to get on the piste....
Equipment collected, we meet the tall, well tanned instructors and the Woody female adults try to decide which group they would prefer to be in!! Meanwhile the children have their skis on, are assessed (not too many "you've been framed" moments but I do have to pay for my trip somehow!!) and then they are grouped accordingly. For some it is the nursery slopes for others off to the cable car and up the mountain.
After a couple of hours it is back down for lunch with the first set of excited tales of triumphs and wipe outs......another full carb meal and then back out......a great afternoon on the slopes and already a marked improvement in everyone's ability.
Happy faces, get even happier as we stop for a quick ice cream, before a very competitive Easter egg and spoon race in the grounds of the hotel....the VAR system was required to resolve several contentious incidents especially from some over zealous bigger kids!!
Tea (or for the posher readers the evening meal) was taken before a second round of room themes and inspections were held.
Finally we joined with the other primary kids from York for a fiercely fought quiz.......amazing the energy and desire to win everyone still showed even after all that fresh air......eventually 5 teams took it down to a tie break....how many winter Olympic Golds did Team GB win in 2018? Not telling you.....bedtime.
Below are a few pics from the 'blue sky day' and the quiz - hopefully more to follow.
Day 4 - 2nd April
Blue Sky Thinking
Still and blue....the mountains look perfect through the window of the hotel breakfast room....8.15am and we are on our way to the slopes with the anticipation of a great day's skiing washing away the feeling of tiredness and those aching limbs.
The improvement is staggering at all levels, and most of the kids get their first taste of Sunny Valley, a vast expanse of almost empty runs high up above the resort.
Some excitement and delays in the afternoon as a helicopter lands on the main slope to take some old man (no, not Mr Stoneham) away after a suspected heart attack!
Off the slopes and straight back to our rooms.......some of the group are starting to attain the same unique odour as the ski shop, so instructions are given to drain the hotel of all its hot water and within a couple of hours Santa Caterina became a sweeter smelling corner of the earth.
After a slightly smaller tea we headed back up to the floodlit lower slopes, helmets on, to have a session of tobogganing. NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS....the sledges have brakes that usually only act as a means to send the driver into a 360 degree spin before tipping them into the snow....great fun and as an award we have by pizzas delivered to us outside as we finish....delicious.
Have I mentioned the Muppet and Kindness awards? Everyday we try to sit down as a group to share that day's stories and everyone gets the chance to nominate others (regardless of age) for something silly/nice they have done....from wipe-outs to bending your ski pass in half and the asking why it doesn't work, the list is always amusing. After hearing all the tales (and there is always many more than we have time for!!) the group votes on the best/worst acts and awards are made - the prize, for the kindest act performed, a fluffy chick key-ring to be worn as a medal and for the Muppets, a silly item of clothing to be worn for the next 24 hours regardless of what you are doing......kids can be so observant (and so cruel!! :-))
(photos later - SD card is on the mountain!)
Day 5 ... 3rd April
Everyone seems to be in the routine now, dressed, breakfast, kit, slopes....only a few technical issues around fastening boots but otherwise well done Woody.
Another major complement was the very flattering comments from the hotel manageress who told us that they were the politest set of children she has had staying for a long time (well since we were here in 2017!!)
So how do you answer the following question? Is it true that Mr Snowham was an Olympic snow boarder before he became a teacher?
Back on the piste, the weather has changed again and a misty start turns into a fine sleet in the valley and a steady snow falls at the top, giving poor visibility for the skiers....a whiteout....but don't worry to use those famous words from the Falklands conflict, "We counted them all out, and we counted them all back". Progress is good and the afternoon includes some practice for tomorrow's slalom race.
Room inspection when we got back with some more cracking room themes, including a bake off, a synchronised swimming display and several murder scenes.
After tea we hired a room in a local bar for the world famous Woody Talent show. This part of the trip never ceases to amaze me, with a cool Balloon Modelling display, some top class dancing, a repeat showing of the synchronised swimming and Daisy singing Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables...a delight, thank you.
Day 6... 4th April
Last day of skiing and with the prospect of a gold medal the kids troop to the slopes for one last time. The weather is mixed but the slopes are fast and the slalom times are good....all will be revealed later.....
In eager anticipation after lunch we all take the bubble cars to the magnificent height of 2,700 m up in Sunny Valley to an impressive £1000 per night hotel with its own igloo bar. With all the instructors gathered the results are announced in reverse order for each group....everyone gets a medal and there are bronze, silver and golds for the quickest. Finally Gaby won the Queen of the Mountain trophy.....well done all for the massive improvement they have made.
A quick shopping trip for 'tat' and then it's time to pack. Finally the trip nicknames are given out before the mandatory annual showing of 'Cool Runnings'! Bed.
Some photos from the last day on the slopes (via the power of the Whatsapp fairies!) including some medal ceremony pics...
Day 7... 5th April
Bags on the bus, a quick head count and we are away from the hotel by 8.30am. An uneventful coach trip sees us at the airport in what we think is plenty of time and then we hit security......last call for gate E24 Manchester sees us almost chasing the plane down the runway. Phew, all aboard and in the air on time, UK here we come......
Of course you will most likely be reading this after picking up your cherished child and all we can do is apologise for the smells you may encounter when opening their luggage!!
Also please don't attempt to feed them pasta for at least a week!
Signing off until next year....
This is a view of the ski runs in Santa Caterina Valfura.