Getting all philosophical now, here's what we learnt on our season in the Alps.
6 things a ski season taught us...
1) There is so much time in a day
On the season you get up, you make full-English for 16 people, you clear up the mess and set for afternoon tea, you bake a cake (although, always double the recipe as cakes freeze delightfully!) you clean a 16 bed chalet, you check the hot tub, you get ready, you ski for at least 6 hours solid, stop for a couple drinks/chill with you mates, back for afternoon tea, start prepping for a three course meal, clear up afternoon tea, set up dinner table, socialise with the guests, cook three course meal, serve three course meal, clean kitchen, clear up dinner table, lay breakfast table, get ready to go out and hit up shot night. You then come back, sleep minimal hours and start again.
Yes, you’re absolutely fucking knackered but look at all you’ve done. Its amazing just how many tasks you can fit into those 24 precious hours when you absolutely have to. Taking it back home can be a real eye opener. Just how much of your time is sat at a desk? Or even worse on a sofa, or staring aimlessly at a screen flicking up looking at how much better everybody else’s lives are? Everybody has the same time in the day but not everyone has the same moments! Go run, go read, go bake a bloody cake if you wish but whatever you want to do, there’s plenty of time to fit it in so stop making excuses!
2) You can function on far less sleep than you thought
What with all the running around, cleaning, cooking, Saturday changover and snow clearing, it’s safe to say that a ski season can be very physically demanding. Added to the fact you’re then skiing and/or boarding in your own ‘down time’, the impact on your body is pretty harsh! Alongside that then, you’d expect to have to sleep even more than at home just to function.
Which isn’t true you’ll be surprised to hear.
Yes, some nights you’ll skip the pub to recover, or you’ll just sleep your whole day off (although, we only ‘needed’ to do this once all season…my god what a day that was!) but on the whole, you’re functioning on 6 hours or less sleep a night. Now fuck me, at home I wouldn’t be able to walk to the bathroom in the morning on that little sleep but out in the mountains it just feels…do-able. It’s not the most pleasant feeling early in the morning and prepping the breakfast but it’s certainly manageable.
The worst night’s sleep (but best night out!) we got was a 3 hour sleep after an explosive shot night (you’re seeing a theme here right!?). But did that stop us from pulling off a worldie breakfast service? Or prevent us from hitting the slopes?
You just find an inner enthusiasm and motivation that you perhaps don’t get at home. You’re out there doing what you love and you’re excited to get up and do it (despite the bullshit guests coming up complaining of their aching bodies) and so in the motto of Nike, you just do it. And you keep doing it. Again and again, until the seasons over.
My biggest advice; Never leave thinking you missed out on something because you were tired. Our best days were always the spontaneous ones with friends.
3) Hot tubs aren’t worth the hassle
I used to think hot tubs were boss. That they just sit in your garden, self-cleaning with no effort required and you can party the night away in them. Jesus-H-Christ I was wrong. 3 times a fucking day we had to check that thing…this was a legal requirement which of course we all abided by too…
Now, it’s not so hard to do this and I know for personal use you wouldn’t need to but you’d want it to stay maintained right? Putting the right amount of chlorine in, the right amount of shock so you don’t burn little Matthews skin away and constantly emptying it and refilling it (which took about 3 hours in total…whilst you’re trying to serve dinner on a Friday evening before changover day!) and then the dreaded filter.
My god throw the fucking things out! Don’t even bother cleaning them they are just pure hairballs. I don’t think a pressure jet hose would remove it and fuck was I getting my hands in there! It makes you realise just how gross hot tubs really are. Particularly, if you’re not as by the book as you should be with unfilling and refilling the water…
But also the guests absolutely ruin the water quality. No amount of shock treatment is going to stop the water turning frothy green with a perfect skin on top when there’s 10 guests in a 6 person hot tub, they’re in there for 2 hours at a time, throwing dirty snow in there (and then complaining the temperature dropped!? Go figure…), beer being dropped everywhere and no doubt the little shits pissing themselves a few times for good measure.
Admittedly, our craziest night was when all the staff members were doing exactly that (plus champagne, and cigarettes and clothing items and waterproof camera’s capturing it all) at 3am in the morning so I mustn’t complain too much. But would I get one at home now knowing that? Not a flaming chance.
4) People, on the whole, are pretty decent human beings
You may have read in our other blogs us moaning about the real shitty things that guests get up to. But, I wanted to reassure you that on the whole it’s not always like that and actually the season taught me to let people in more, because there are some genuinely nice people around.
Like the people who brought their karaoke set into the chalet and let us celebrate a birthday with them that night. Absolute legends every one of them and great fun. And gave our tip in the middle of the week so we could enjoy it on our day off.
Or the group who were absolutely lovely and even offered us to stay in their Oman home with them on holiday some time. Or the other legends who invited us to Melbourne once their YEAR LONG ski trip sabbatical was over (jelous!!).
Or the guests who helped us clean the chalet, clear the snow and prepare dinner.
Or the ones who gave us a breakfast serving off (which led to the crazy night, above!) and all the others who went out of their way to ensure our work was as easy as possible.
Because ultimately, if you are nice to others, and demonstrate your hard work and passion, they’ll be nice back and will want to reward you well. And I’m not just talking tips (that blog is here), I’m talking inviting you to their family get together meal on your day off. Or paying for dinner for you or even just clearing and cleaning the table each evening for you.
All simple gestures but proved to me that people are good and have good hearts. They may have paid a lot of money for your services but most people don’t want you to wait on them hand and foot and many will cut you some slack. So embrace it, make friends and network. We were offered jobs, holidays and some single colleagues almost found girlfriends, so put yourself out there and you never know what the world will give you back.
Urgh, that’s deep.
5) Never take a two day weekend for granted again. Ever.
My god. One day off is just never enough. Do you rest all all day or do you go hard all day fitting in as much as you can? That’s the question you’re posed with given that once that prized day is over, it’s back to work. It also means you’re then plagued with the question of going hard or not on the night before your day off (thus, eating into a considerable chunk of the day the next morning) or the night of your day off (meaning breakfast service could be a struggle!). Ah, first world problems, eh?
But back home, wow, 48 whole hours to do what the fuck I want!? Bring it on! It means you can properly plan for things, look forward to bigger events and alongside number 1 above, have so much room for activities!!
I will never, ever, complain that a weekend is too short again!
6) Sometimes you just have to push yourself out of your comfort zone
Sure, minus the hard work, 6 months in the mountains, skiing every day in some of the biggest and best skiable domains in the world sounds like the absolute dream. What comforts are we pushing there?
But for some, meeting new people every week strikes them down with fear. Living away from home seems an impossible task. Leaving your ‘safe’ job behind to persue what you really love can be god damn daunting. You’re leaving your friends, your family, your jobs and your belongings behind and you’re starting afresh!
Albeit, it’s not for a huge amount of time in the long run but some people turn into year round seasonairres and why can’t that be you!?
Then there is the fear of missing out (HASHTAG #FOMO). The fear that back home something magical will happen that you won’t be a part of. Weddings, birthdays, births etc etc etc. They are all going to happen but you have to remember why you went to the mountains in the first place.
To get away from what society tells you to do. You fear that your friends are all going to progress quicker than you over those precious months, buying new cars and moving into their first homes, but all that stuff would happen weather you are there or not. You don’t have to be ruled by societies watch, you can go at your own pace. The memories we made on our season easily surpass that money and the plans we could/would have made if we stayed.
If it means putting off Uni an extra year after your friends, so be it. Waiting until you get married, so what? Buying your house last in your group of mates? Well, it just might mean you waited for the dream house to appear!
All of these (irrational) fears in my opinion fade away into the darkness the moment you step foot into that chalet. Your interpersonal skills skyrocket from being confronted with new faces each and every week, you manage your time superbly to ensure maximum time on the slopes and you have a kick ass time meeting awesome people and forgetting about any worries you previously had.
The work is hard but it isn’t stressful or necessarily stimulating, so you actually get a chance to clear your head and forget about all the little things that would usually consume you back home.
So sometimes you need to tell that little negative piece of shit in your mind to do one and start deciding on what you want to do, how you’re going to do it and where next you’ll be heading!
We might have sold out and gone back onto societies watch for now (with a blog coming soon), but what we would give to be out there again. We literally can’t help ourselves recommending it to every person we speak too either, so now is the time to apply!
Literally, this time of year the applications are open so go, go, go!!