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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Piste Off

It’s a very expensive way to buy some scent cheap, but the thought of that knock-down, duty-free Miss Dior drew me on through those giddy circles of hell, the online booking forms.
The only true way to afford skiing is to hover like vultures circling the price drops, deaf to the inward tutting at just the scummy places being left, blind to the blanching at the cost of extras breeding like flies.
“Helmets,” muttered Lorraine not quite under her breath, “£42…”
“£42,” I said, joining in. I join in on the silences a lot, I think of it as being friendly, dreaming of a “friendly” button allied to “give big discount” button on their keyboards. “That’s not bad,” I said. “That’s, what,” I calculated, “Just over a tenner each.”
“Nah,” she said. “That’s each.”
“We’ll buy them out there,” I said slightly snappily, consigning the friendly button to the bin.

So, having done the surprising thing of establishing at the beginning of the process that we can afford it, I found myself on various ski sites, chasing deals round the internet and becoming frightfully weary in the process. I filled in Enquiry forms, and made quick checks on various unhelpful helplines (“please note our agents cannot help with ….”)
It was exhausting. So much so that staggered from my chair almost thinking that I had been skiing. Dizzy with alpine views and dazzled from absorbing the inside of each and every chalet in France. Ooh, nice sofa. Hmmm, bleak bedroom. I was in severe need of a vin chaud. Or froid.

I grew to loathe the mouse. Every site required the inanity of details, of clicking, of Inputting my Requirements. 2 adults, 2 children: age? Drag click 12; age? Drag click 14. I’d press Submit eagerly only to have the site collapse on me with a reproachful “select departure airport.” Irritably, I’d snap on South West, cursing (there’s a lot of cursing, the dog covers her ears) that I can’t chose London and South West but I can’t, so I sit back and wait.
“Thank you for your patience,” whirrs the website, giving me a slowly revolving egg timer to assist in the notion that the waiting has a purpose. I picture the website sitting back on its rocker, having a cup of tea and a laugh. The egg timer shooting tetchy glances, “what? You want me to go round again??”

Up come some options. Hoorah. All flying from Manchester at 6 in the morning. I no longer wonder why they wanted to know where I’d prefer to fly from: unless there’s a by-product perk in pissing off the hapless holiday maker by trilling “South West! Peek-a-boo! Can’t seeee yoooo! Heh heh heh!!”
3 chalets with drop dead gorgeous prices don’t allow children (drag click 12 …) and there are endless gummy looking apartments, all requiring us to crowd in together to a 18m square space. Whatever that means. But I’m guessing no love is strong enough to share it with F12’s chaos. What that child can do with an open suitcase would bring dictators to their knees. Where’s Franco when you need him. Same with the unappealing phrase, “quad room.” No, he can share with the luckless T14. Besides, where’s the ‘holiday’ bit in stirring some grim pasta in a bleak flat while damp salopettes steam in depressing contiguity? Carrying shopping in ski boots is not an option.
Option is, however, a favoured word in any given web site but what’s annoying (lots is annoying) is that you have to opt for one thing when you want two: catered chalet, or hotel and when you’d really rather opt not to have one thing, self-bloody-catering for starters. You see. It gets confusing.
Now and again interesting looking possibilities arose. By now the true hydra headed nature of choice has kicked in. There’s no such thing as a “that’ll do,” not when you have the horrors of being able to cross check.

So off I scurried to Trip Advisor to check on the remnants of availability, witness the hotels put through their paces. “A great shame,” puffed one reviewer, “that there were no tea and coffee making facilities in the room; it is on this basis that I can only give 3/5.” What?! Go without. Go to the bar. Another couple had “had” to downgrade their accommodation (how easily one adopts the parlance) due to the “unfortunate incident” involving someone else’s child having been sick on the coach.
Trip Advisor is the home of the green inked psychopath and he’s going to wield his power. A deal is made of momentary power, while the bi-focals are busied about on the bridge of the snout and “a 3? I think? Overall? Muriel? given the scarcity of matutinal bakery items?” The question is of course rhetorical for Muriel is otherwise occupied sorting out the squalid end of the suitcase and muttering mantras of “honour thy husband …. Thou must not stab...”

Half a memory of a really good looking place about 4 websites ago goaded so. Which called for urgent back clicking, the computer freezing, the sites flashing past my eyes. "Session timed out" announced the site in question. "Please re-submit your details." My need for a glass of vin chaud increased to a pitcher.

Then I thought, are we quite mad? The snow’s not brilliant, so round and round the websites once more I went, perving over webcams, gleaning hope or desperation from static shots.
I phoned random people in random resorts, plucked unluckily from pages on Google
“Eeese snn-ow dewww?” they parrotted back at me perplexedly. “Lurrr slurps eese gud.” “Yess Yess,” said another, “hi-yup, hi-yup, eese gud.”

I dithered.
Exit or Submit.
Submit or Exit.
I clicked.

16 comments:

Bluestocking Mum said...

Ahh, I should have told you before -that's why I always leave booking holidays to the hubby (And so we can blame him if it all goes tits up!)

I'm sure you'll have a fab time.
Just remember the perfume after all that ;)

xx

Frances said...

As always Milla, you have got your head perfectly wrapped around all the stuff that some might call modern life.

I so hope that your after that Click, you and yours will have a grand holiday.

What a brave woman you are.

xo

Jen said...

Webcam-perving is always a good way to ensure that your very being aches like mad before you even tackle the business of tumbling down the grassy slopes.

Bubble wrap makes a most economical alternative to crash helmets.

Bonnes vacances!

Potty Mummy said...

So sorry I even suggested the whole skiing idea. (Although, you know you want toooooooooooooo) x

Fennie said...

I thought you dithered briskly? It's the one defining picture I have of you, dithering briskly in the isles of Lidl (or was it Aldi). No if you dither you risk the best becoming the enemy of the good. Accept whatever. Sometims it will be good, other times it will be bad, always it will be spaghetti bolognaise and expensive. Don't break a leg as actors say to skiers.

Muddling Along said...

This sort of thing is why we still haven't booked our summer holiday - too much choice and its all so expensive

Expat mum said...

I hope you're where another FB friend of mine is - she was sitting next to one half of Take That, and they were on the phone to Robbie. Swoon - even though they're not big in the States.

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

My God, how many hours do I spend doing EXACTLY that on the internet. I am the holiday booker in this house and the constant clicking on 2 adults, 1 child (15), choose the airport (why can't I choose Stansted and Leeds/Bradford in one group?) drives me insane.
I still look at TripAdvisor, as you say carefully ignoring the bonkers reviews where the hotel is given nul points because when their plane was delayed the kitchens weren't open to offer them a hot meal.
Have a lovely time!

Edward said...

Besides, where’s the ‘holiday’ bit in stirring some grim pasta in a bleak flat while damp salopettes steam in depressing contiguity?

Beautifully put - who could disagree?

Carrying shopping in ski boots is not an option.

Again, I agree. Much better to carry shopping in carrier bags.

Shiny said...

I stumbled over here from somewhere else and got completely sucked in, spending far too much time reading your blog and ignoring the Silly Amount of Work glaring at me from the corner. Happy holidays! Just keep telling yourself that if it's bad, it makes for fabulous blog fodder, if nothing else. I'll be back x

legend in his own lunchtime said...

It'll probably be an anti climax after all that excitement. You could save each other a lot of money by kicking each other on the shins, then stand in a long line in your underwear until you freeze, while having your wallet emptied by surly French men.
I love your blog.

Janet said...

Hi Milla, just popping in to follow your blog as I won't see you on purplecoo any more.(LL)

Exmoorjane said...

YOu're tagged, madam... :)

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh, god, this has brought back awful memories of mouse, click, pictures, decisions, shall I, shan't I? moments. You are a brave girl for clicking. That is, if the click was a Yes click? Look forward to hearing about the follow on from the click. As in Holiday. x

Joanne said...

Had much the same experience booking for easter not two week ago . I always leave things to the last minute, which only adds to the joys of booking online - are we paying too much for being tardy, or are we getting a good deal? The answer is obviously both at the same time if you disentangle flights and hotels. This time I threw a hissy fit and roped in husband to do some looking too, since he is always shocked at how much holidays cost, expecting 1996 prices I think. After about 10 minutes he was bored and frustrated, and I had carte blanche to blow the budget. I didn't obviously. Where would the fun be in that?

Tattie Weasle said...

Ah cautionary tales Milla, thank heaven you wrote one before I try my hand at this particular foray - will go all old fashioned and go to a travel agent then at least if it awful can blame them!