Saturday, 16 July 2011

Snow Angel Nannies

Taking a skiing holiday with children can be stressful. Of course it can also be a lot of fun, and the kids will often take to the snow a lot more readily than the adults. You can reduce the stress with good planning, research and a sensible choice of resort, but there are still many things to think of, especially if you want to ensure you have time to ski or snowboard yourselves.

An alternative which people might not consider is to hire a private nanny. Having somebody to else to look after the childcare can take the stress out of the holiday, whilst of course retaining the fun factor. A private nannying service is much more flexible than a creche - the nanny can bring the children to meet you for lunch or hot chocolate breaks, take them to ski lessons (and collect them afterwards of course), look after in your own accomodation, or take them to activities in the village. Basically, this kind of service gives you the peace of mind to enjoy the slopes, whilst knowing your children are well looked after and being able to see them when you want to.

A private nanny might sound like an expensive option but the service costs less than you might think. One nanny can look after up to four children (depending on their ages), so if you ski with friends, more than one family can share the cost. There are things you will want to check before booking - does the company use qualified nannies, are they properly registered and insured etc. - but if you use a reputable company you can ensure a relaxed and stress free ski holiday, even with the kids in tow.

If you are travelling to the French Alps to ski, Snow Angel Nannies are very professional and have an excellent reputation around the resorts they cover. The company was set up by Alexandra Chapman (pictured above), a ski instructor in Les 2 Alpes after she saw how many of her clients struggled to find suitable childcare whilst they were skiing themselves. All the nannies are fully qualified and the business is expanding to cover more resorts each season. You can book or find more information through their website. Unfortunately they don't operate in Andorra yet, so this is not of much help to people visiting my resort, but hopefully a similar service will open in Arinsal in the future.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ski Servicing Myths - The Fingernail Test

In Europe, if you are going to ski at this time of the year it will be on a glacier. The pistes will tend to be firm, so your edges need to be sharp. If you are not going to ski, then it is a good time to prepare your skis ready for next winter, rather than wait until the last minute. Either way it seems a good excuse to mention one myth of ski servicing which I keep hearing.

The fingernail test, or thumbnail test, is supposedly a way to tell if your edges are sharp enough. Simply scrape the flat of your nail over the ski edge and see if you scrape away a sliver of fingernail. It is certainly true that a sharp edge will easily take away a little bit of nail. The trouble is that fingernail is soft enough that even a blunt edge can scratch it easily enough. A couple of weeks ago I neglected to tune my edges between days on bulletproof icy pistes. I was sliding around all over the place, really struggling to find any grip and make the skis carve in the ice. I learnt a lesson about putting the time in to service the skis every evening when the conditions require it. However, at the end of that day my skis still passed the fingernail test, despite being completely blunt.

The best way to know if your edges are sharp enough is to run your fingers across them (but not along them as you will tend to slice them open). With practice you will learn what a really sharp ski feels like, and what a blunt one feels like.