MOTHER AWAY FROM MOTHER

Meet the second half of our employers, Eliza.

It isn’t easy to write about Eliza in the same way as it is her husband and illusive business partner Johnny. I shall start at the beginning.

After applying for this job we found on the website Gumtree, in early October last year, a phone interview was conducted with matter of fact details of the position and what we could expect to find here at Chalet Eterlou. We were offered the job the next day and made plans to arrive in Tignes les Brevieres late in November.

Upon arrival we met Johnny and oldest son Alex who quickly informed us that they were in ‘Party’ mode as ‘The Boss’ Eliza would not be in resort for another month. We had come early to the Chalet to do some minor repairs and after surveying we asked Johnny for a few extra supplies, three weeks later we had the required materials but not quiet the completed list.

In these three weeks, as we got acquainted with our new home, we were told stories from all perspectives about our new Boss. Some scary tales from people who had fallen on the wrong side, but most from people full of admiration, not only in running two businesses, but also for putting up with, and looking after husband Johnny. Somehow we had developed this fear and anxiety. Words had been branded around: scary, straight, not one to cross but also respectful, honest, even and fair.

Upon meeting ‘The Boss’ Eliza, all of our fear quickly disappeared. A smile on her face was warm, welcoming and approachable. We talked about a few things still needed to finish some repairs and an hour later we had the shopping list in full. We quickly learned not only who ran the business side of the business, but who ran the whole business.

That  evening I dropped a glass at the diner table and thought my time was over. Shaking in the kitchen after the meal Eliza approached us and thanked us for the meal and our efforts. Something we would hear time and time again as Eliza would often venture down to the chalet to see returning friends and regale tales as if they had seen each other yesterday. Such is the ease of her persona.

Upon entering the chalet ‘The Boss’ would venture straight to the kitchen, her first thought would be to make sure her staff were happy and needed for nothing. If everything was in order, a glass of Apremont would be required and only then would she focus on the paying guests.

Such was her commitment to the staff that Eliza was our tour guide around the area, not only on skis but away from the crowds on snow shoes. These snow shoeing trips were Eliza’s personal time away from everything, alone with Poppy and Bella, two black Labradors, her dogs that she cares for more than anything.

Knowing that Eliza, black labs and staff on their snow shoeing tripEliza would be leaving before the season ended, we all went out for a meal to celebrate surviving our time together. Upon leaving the restaurant Johnny walked towards the bar opposite with a smile on his face. Almost across the road his path was blocked by a car he knew well. The window opened and an instruction calmly spoken: “Get in the car, Johnny.” With this Johnny’s smile grew and he did what he was told. Something he won’t have to do once ‘The Boss’ leaves and ‘Party Time’ starts again.

We will be sad to see Poppy and Bella go, but even sadder when our stand in mother leaves us in Johnny’s care. Safe journey to Scotland Boss.

THE LESSER SPOTTED SKIER

Emerging tired and grumpy from his hibernating hire car the lesser spotted skier reaches for the sky with both hands, stretching and cracking his back he yawns and scratches his belly before turning to his uncontrollable screaming infants.

Carrying more luggage than he packed, loaded with ski gear and with an arm outstretched the lesser spotted skier has learnt not to argue after emerging from his den.

Greeted by those providing for his family for his annual expedition to the slopes leaves the lesser spotted skier exhausted but thankful.

On the first morning he rouses his family, gathering at the eating table at an early 8am. Keen to be out on the snow before the hordes he holds his tribe personally responsible if he isn’t on the first chairlift that morning. The scene makes for some eventful watching. Boots of all sizes are forced onto tiny feet and coats, hats and gloves, some too big, some too small are fitted onto their loose limbs and sent to the front of the queue, most of the time without a visit to their bathroom.

He then leads his pack down slopes and back up again in search of lost phones, cameras and ski poles. But the lesser spotted skier won’t be baffled and easily off loads this accusation of not closing his pockets by suggesting that perhaps it was undone because he was leading his family to get lift passes, was carrying 8 ski poles and four pairs of skis. The lesser spotted skier is quick to pass the blame to the youngest member who involuntarily bursts into tears and is treated with care by the mother.

The Lesser Spotted Skier evades the camera.

The Lesser Spotted Skier evades the camera.

On returning to their rental layer that night an argument is spared with the flow of free chalet wine. The lesser spotted skier is let off by the female of the group for slapping the ass of his host because the female is absorbed with her smart phone and complains loudly and continually that the internet doesn’t work. After several more bottles the adults of the group sluggishly retire to their room, fatigued and with a promise of being at breakfast at 8am, they bid a goodnight.

Day by day the group emerge later and later for their first meal of the day, finally arriving at 8:58, they apologetically request the house special whilst running around sorting clothes and skis. A tired and exhausted mother does the final dressing of the cubs as the lesser spotted skier shows no sign of helping.

Without ski school on the final day, the lesser spotted skier knows he will have to wait for his cubs to gingerly make their way down runs he insists upon choosing. A black run never looks so satisfying to the lesser spotted skier than when he is watching his cubs emerge in floods of tears at the foot of the mountain.

The last day of his annual migration towards the snow shows signs of cracks in an otherwise seem less relationship with his pack. Knowing his future hours will be packing, loading, repacking and reloading of his family’s bags, he sits restful with his well earned beverage.

Finally packed with clothes, skis and children the annual migration expires in silence as the lesser spotted skier reverses into a snow marker on his way to the mechanical bird. Ready for a conversation with lines like, let me drive, never again, your fault, soaked to the bone and I want a divorce the lesser spotted skier realises the potential of not being so lesser spotted.