This week has been all about learning new skills.

First and foremost I went skiing, that is big news for me! George has been trying to get me to go for as long as I have known him and I have always resisted but we have just returned, unscathed (apart from some very achy muscles!) from three nights at Les Deux Alpes.

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The resort takes three hours to drive to from our house, the scenery is so incredible it looks like a film set. It’s very high, over 3600 metres, which means you can ski on the glacier at the summit all year round. It is pretty much the end of the main ski season, so we managed to get some very reasonably priced private lessons with BASS (British Alpine Ski School) for me. Each morning at 9am on the dot I met up with my instructor, Rod, for a two hour lesson.

Having never set foot on skis before, the first of my lessons took place on a very gentle and short slope up at the top of the first lift. The first hurdle was getting used to the sensation of sliding along the snow, which didn’t exactly come naturally and I spent a fair amount of time on my bum. I soon realised that you have to break convention and do everything you think you shouldn’t to remain upright.

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Each day saw a marked improvement (even if I was still falling over a lot, pulling ‘peculiar faces’ and skiing ‘like a robot!’) and I gradually felt more comfortable covering some distance and doing some turns. I gradually overcame my fear of button lifts and also tested my skills on a chair lift with mixed success (getting off it was the hard part!) Thanks goes to George for spending time with me each afternoon once my lesson was over practicing my new skills so I could try and improve a bit before meeting the instructor again the following day. He spent a lot of time picking me up off the snow so a lot of his achy muscles can probably be attributed to me!

We are now home and we seem to have brought the wintery weather back with us. It’s turned a bit cold and wet which is a blessing in disguise as I am not getting so distracted by the garden. We have a LOT of grass at the house, and at this time of year it is growing at a rate of knots and needs to be cut regularly.

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Last week I powered up the tractor mower to do the rounds, however made the vital error of stopping half way through cutting the lawn to have some lunch. When I returned to the mower the battery had died (as it frequently does) so George and I had to jump start it using the car, something I had never done before and it took longer than expected to get it going again.

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The garden is changing so rapidly at the moment, the wisteria bloomed triumphantly but has since wilted away, now irises and roses are taking centre stage.

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Fortunately we have a gardener coming round this afternoon to help us dig the vegetable patch and to do some weeding, a bit of a clean up is in order after the winter months. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the moles who have been making random patterns across the lawn with their mole hills, there must be a whole family of them down there as they are popping up all over the place!

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We also had our first French lesson with our tutor Elodie in a village called Mormoiron (where they have an asparagus festival!) It is not ideal as it took us a while to get over there however she does offer Skype based lessons too, of which we have our first tomorrow, which will save us driving there every time. We were told from the beginning of the lesson that she would only be speaking French to us, which was rather daunting, however we scraped by on what we have been learning to date from Michel Thomas, Duolingo and Rosetta Stone! (and of course, the fantastic Revision Buddies french apps). She set us homework to do, which we must look at again later today in order to be prepared for our next lesson. Little by little it seems to be sinking in but there is still a very long way to go.

In amongst all of the above, I have had a bit of time to sit in the studio and work on my commissions. I have now made use of my new multi-press in it’s laying press format to do a bit of rounding and backing on a stub-bound book I am working on. 

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I have also been having fun doing lots of leather scarf-jointing which kept me amused yesterday when I was recovering from my achy muscles. 

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I need to buy some bookbinding supplies this week starting with some wood veneer. I have got as far as finding out that I need to search for, ‘placage de bois’, so I will have to see what I end up with!

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