‘Monty Goes Skiing’ author Richard Liddle writes about a ski trip with his children.
This was the most anticipated ski holiday yet for my family – our first as a family of four, and the first experience of ski school for our eldest daughter, Elin, aged 3½. We’d been on a couple of great ski trips with her in previous years, to Val d’Isère and Les Deux Alpes, and enjoyed them immensely, but this was to be the crucial ‘will she or won’t she like it?’ ski school experience everyone with children has to go through at some point. Thankfully we were part of a group of other families travelling together, all with the same concern.
Having been away with Mark Warner on many previous holidays, we knew the kids would be in great hands with regard to the on-site childcare in the hotel. Our main fear was that morning drop-off and I had prepared for this, like most parents, by gathering many anecdotes and ideas to help justify to my children why the adults went skiing and they went into ski school.
This year we decided to go to the Chalet-hotel Christina in La Plagne, as we knew the resort from previous trips, prior to having kids, and wanted a resort that had the convenience of ski-in ski-out, and the types of skiing we all desired as a group of fairly accomplished skiers.
It was a beautifully sunny morning on day one and the meeting area outside the hotel, at the bottom of the slopes, certainly helped demonstrate to the children how exciting the day was going to be for them. Obviously there were some questions as to how long we were going to be, and why we went skiing without them, but credit to the Mark Warner staff – there wasn’t much time for Elin and her friends to dwell on being away from the mums and dads. They were excitedly marched off, in ski boots, as little penguins to join the awaiting ski instructors at the meeting point not far away. It was a great sight to see them all waddling along like that, ready for their first big adventure in the mountains.
As far as our day went: sun, snow and lots of both were the order of the day. We had all been prepared for a call back to the hotel to pick up at least one of our despondent children but it never came. On returning back for afternoon tea, we were greeted by a lot of very happy and excited children sitting down for high tea. Success! Hurray!
There was definitely an advantage in being in a group with other children, as we managed to get them all excited about how much fun ski school was going to be. That said, they easily made friends with the other children who were in their groups and the instructors also helped to encourage them.
I’d been preparing for this day for many years, though. Back when we first went away with our friends and their first child, I witnessed first-hand the anxiety that both parents and children went through on that first morning before ski school. So as soon as I knew I was to be a father myself, I researched useful children’s books and videos to help prepare my children as to what to expect on a ski holiday and just how fantastic it was all going to be.
This unfortunately drew a blank. So as an instructor and illustrator myself, I had the idea to create a picture book that I could read to my children prior to going away, and while on holiday too. ‘Monty Goes Skiing’ was the result, and eventually I finished and published it late 2013, just in time for my wife and I to read to our children in the run up to going away this year…
I must say, it definitely helped. On this trip I took a few copies for the hotel, which they were delighted to read to all the kids on the slope before ski school most days. I don’t want to say there weren’t any problems with leaving the children every morning, but it was a bonus reading ‘Monty’ to them and also having our friends with us. In the end it resulted in us all having a great week away in the mountains, and by the final day, Elin didn’t want to leave the hotel. She is still asking when we can go back and see Chess and Jodie (her ‘teachers’, as she referred to them).
We had the best holiday yet, and that has to be partially down to the staff, who were always there to help and assist with anything and everything. A big thank you to Charlotte, Chess, Jodie, Julie and Jenna for looking after our children – they had a brilliant week with you! Also, a huge thanks to the brilliant instructors at Oxygène Ski in La Plagne too. Here’s to next year!
See our blog on other books to get kids excited about their ski holiday.