What, do you find, is the best way of learning? If you have to put together some flat pack furniture, for example, do you read every word of the instructions, carefully lay out every last screw and nut or do you just sling everything on the floor and figure it out from there? The first way will ensure that you spend a lot of time reading and preparing but you will have a perfect bookcase, or whatever, at the end of it. The second way bypasses the boring bits and may or may not result in a bookcase depending on how many screws you lose and how many bits are thrown out of the nearest window in a fit of frustration…..
I am definitely a ‘let’s get on with it and see what happens’ type of learner…I pick things up as I go along. My husband was quite the opposite; building flat pack furniture in our house was definitely a one man job……I made the tea and stopped the cats from ‘helping’. Anyway, one day, for reasons that escape me, we decided to go skiing; as we lived in Essex the only options available to us were a plane ride to somewhere with snow and mountains or a trip to the local dry slope, we chose the latter. I am a bit of speed freak and was looking forward to hurtling down the slope like a lycra clad rocket; the reality was just a tiny bit different…..
Firstly I was not allowed to buy any type of ski wear because, apparently, I might not like skiing. I argued – I’d be whizzing down a slope with two strips of wood strapped to my feet, what’s not to like? – I lost. So, there we were one Saturday morning in jeans and jumpers (!) full of anticipation and ready to hit the slopes. Well, I was ready, my husband just wanted to listen to the instructor as he explained how to put the skis on. After a few minutes my husband was gingerly manoeuvering himself towards the slope while I was still trying to work out what was wrong with my skis (apparently I was trying to put them on backwards). After the instructor had explained, again, and I had listened, for the first time, we were off…..
I’d seen the dry slope as we’d driven in and I couldn’t wait to get started; it was huge and white and people were flying down it; oohhhh I was so excited!
“Here we are then” said the instructor
He was standing in front of, what I can only describe as a miniature hillock. It was tiny and where we would learn the basics of skiing apparently.
“First we will learn how to make our way up the slope”
“Don’t you have ski lifts?”
I asked after watching the instructor inch his way up to the top, sideways, in a matter of seconds
He and my husband both gave me a look and then ignored me. The ascent was not as easy as it had first appeared and required exercising muscles that I hadn’t previously realised I owned. It seemed that balance was a bit of an issue as well and there was some falling over and quite a bit of swearing before I made my way to the top. Quite frankly, by this point I was bored. This was not what I had imagined when I thought of skiing; there was no elegant gliding, just lots of wobbling and sweating. However, I was cheered by the thought that, after our clumsy ascent, we would now be able to do the fun bit and slide back down again…..
But no. We were given a lecture on safety and then told that we would be learning how to make our way down the slope slowly and carefully. This involved trying to turn our knees inside out in order to bring the tips of out skis to a point, which would slow us down and then stretch thigh muscles to twanging point to part the skis which would enable us to glide forwards. My husband was doing exactly as instructed and asking lots of questions as well; he was given praise and encouragement for his efforts; I was told off for going too fast. You see, I had mastered the going forward bit but my knees didn’t really want to turn inside out so slowing down and stopping was a bit tricky (this is a lie, I was bored and wanted to go faster).
There was a fence at the bottom of the slope so I sort of turned my hips to avoid crashing into it (I have a great sense of self-preservation) and, lo and behold I stopped. I was again told off for not using the method that we’d been taught but I thought ‘what the hell’, I didn’t hit the fence and that was good enough for me! We had several lessons after that and even moved on to a taller slope. My husband was still following every single instruction with great care and progressing well, earning lots of smiles. I was ignoring most of the boring bits and having great fun going faster and faster down the slope; I could stop but still hadn’t really mastered slowing down. I earned lots of frowns, both the annoyed and worried kind.
Finally the day arrived when we were taken to the BIG slope. Hurrah!! This one did actually have a ski lift. It was not quite as I’d imagined as it pretty much involved just shoving a pole between your legs and hanging on for dear life before letting go once you’d reached the summit; it was nothing like I’d seen on the TV! Anyway, we reached the top and I was ready to soar. Both the instructor and my husband were offering last minute advice and words of caution but all I could hear was the wind in my ears; I got into position and I was off…..
It was amazing! I really felt as though I was flying………for about 30 seconds. I don’t really know what happened but I was going off course and heading towards grass…very, very quickly. My turn and stop had worked pretty well on the little slopes but now my hips were pointing resolutely forward while my eyes were fixed, staring at the grass and…..oh shit, the concrete steps that I was hurtling towards. I tried to remember my lessons but there was just nothing (mainly because I hadn’t been listening) so I did the only thing I could think of; I threw myself sideways, crashed to the ground and slid for a bit before eventually coming to a stop, nose down.
It turned out that, what looked like snow from a distance, was actually a lattice work of some kind of plastic. At some point during my tumble my finger had got caught up in the lattice; it had a choice of supporting my entire body weight which was still travelling at some speed or snapping; it chose the latter. I seemed to be missing a fair amount of skin from my arms where my jumper had tried to escape during the fall (I was sure that would not have happened had I bought the appropriate clothing) and bruises were already forming. I cried. I was humiliated and many bits of me hurt….
My husband, on the other hand, had managed a slow but perfect descent and was gaily waving to me as he mounted the ski life for his second go; I tried to smile through the pain! I went off skiing a bit after that and I don’t think we ever went back again. Now, I live very close to the Alps so, come January, I’m going to try skiing on actual snow; I will print off this post and take it with me……….
Have you ever had an episode like that which resulted from ignoring sage words of advice? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!