If I ever go skiing again, this is how I’d do it.

Just in case I ever go skiing again, here is a public note-to-self on what I learned last time – the stuff that clicked on the last day…

Skiing is an odd sport in that for the most part there’s only one manoeuvre you need to learn: the parallel turn. Then it’s just a case of repeating this one move until you reach the bottom of the slope.

But there’s lots to remember when you’re travelling at speed on a 45-degree icy slope at 4pm when you’re knackered from a whole day of falling over. The books try to cover this stuff but each lesson I’ve seen leaves something out. It’s about trying to find the right balance between too much information and not enough. Tricky. Like skiing.

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1. Lean forward in your boots ALWAYS. Feel your downhill shin on your boot’s tongue as you turn and traverse the slope. Not enough to bruise your shins but enough to feel it.

Also lean from the hips not the shoulders. That way, you’ll avoid hunching over. Thrust and stay thrusted!

2. Put ALL your weight on your downhill ski. Think about it like you’re giving your uphill ski a rest. Then swap. Really push that inside edge into the snow so it bites into the slope. Carve!

3. The steeper the slope, the more you need to overcome your aversion to leaning forward. Attack the mountain. Commit to the turn. If your uphill ski won’t turn or catches the downhill ski it’s because you’re not leaning forwards. It would be nice for video replays to confirm this but it’s true.

4. Stand tall. Pop up into your turn and as soon as you’ve swung round, stand up, leaving enough flex in your knees to absorb the bumps. Stay down too long and you’ll turn back uphill and lose control. I stayed crouched (wrong anyway) for too long. Any bend should just come from your legs.

5. Keep your shoulders facing downhill. Resist the urge to swing your body round the turn. Overcome this by making a conscious effort to swing your hips instead of your body. Twist it in the opposite direction to your legs.

The slope at L'Olympique - my nemesis...

The slope at L’Olympique – my nemesis…

6. Get that uphill ski off the snow. The steeper the slope the higher up your uphill ski will need to be to avoid catching an edge. If you make an effort to lift it off the snow, your weight will automatically transfer to your downhill ski 100%.

Not doing this caused nearly all my spills.

7. Keep your arms out on front of you at chest height. It looks amateur but keep doing it until you get used to leaning forward ALL the time. Some tutors suggest you try to push open an imaginary door in front of you. I didn’t try this but you get the point. Keep your weight forward – on your balls, not your heels.

8. Leave the snowplough back at the chalet. Learning the snowplough is a mixed blessing. Yes, it will help you in the short term, but you have to unlearn it to perform perfect parallels. Someone in my group was learning for the first time and the instructor deliberately skipped the snowplough entirely.

It’s easy to mix a snowplough into your parallel turns. This is fine for the downhill ski because it’s essentially doing the same thing in both instances.

However, when a snowplough gatecrashes your parallel turn, your uphill ski will end up pointing downhill at best or crossing your other ski, causing you to fall. Focus on keeping your ankles close to one another, nice and parallel.

If you ‘pop’ into your turn with enough gusto, it’s easy to take all the weight off your inside ski and carry it next to your outside ski.

9. Use the moguls to help you pop into your turn. Bend your knees into the bump, extend as you crest the bump and hopefully land the turn against the next bump. Surprisingly effective and good for making strong, committed turns.

10. Lastly, an observation. This might be completely wrong but in my experience, you’re most stable on one ski than two. That’s counter-intuitive (much about skiing is) but think about it. If your weight is on both skis and one catches an edge, there’s a conflict of direction between the two skis. One ski could easily bang into the other and send you sprawling.

With all your weight on one ski, there’s no conflict. If your standing ski catches an edge you can use your second ski to steady yourself. If your weightless ski catches an edge, there won’t be enough weight on it to cause a problem.

Hey everyone, did I mention I’d been skiing!?

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Snowy Stevenage.

Today made it 2 days on the trot in Southgate. Some kind of record. Impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Yesterday I was here because inexplicably, Danesgate was closed and Swingate and Daneshill were full.

No idea why Danesgate was closed. Funny time to do work on it. They’d have to clear the snow before they could do any road marking. Must have been something that just couldn’t wait.

Being late due to dropping my son off for the school bus this morning, I assumed the situation was the same as yesterday. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Walking to the station from snowy Southgate I could see Swingate had a space or two and Daneshill was open for business again. Gah.

On the far left is the church St Andrew & St George, Grade 2 listed - the largest parish church to have been built in this country since World War 2.

Stevenage Fire Station straight ahead.

So tonight I have needlessly long traipse back to the Focus ahead of me. Oh well, it makes a change from Swingate every day. I could even go for the record 3-in-a-row on Monday.

One can of course have TOO MUCH excitement in one’s life…

One day my international conglomerate will occupy this entire building.

Walkern white-out

Once again, a few flakes of snow cause chaos, wreak havoc and do all the other hyperbolic things the news says it does.

How does this affect Parking In Stevenage? It means I sacrifice the Focus for the BMW. But why, the Beemer’s crap in the snow, right? Dear reader, you are not wrong. With that knowledge, my wife commandeers the Focus for the school runs. Fair enough, I’ve just got a 10-minute run into Stevenage; she’s weaving across most of Herts and crossing the border into Essex. But about that nice new Fiat 500 you bought her for Christmas? That’s what I thought. But apparently changing gears in the snow could be awkward (?) and besides, what if it got damaged? It seems that the Focus is not only sure-footed in slippy conditions, it’s also expendable should anything untoward occur.

The toughest part of my journey is getting the BMW out of the private close we live on. Fortunately it’s downhill to the road, so at least that’s in our favour. I could have done without the car parked across the street from the close. It’s a steep little run and it would be easy to slide into his passenger door. Anyway, that negotiated, it was an east run to Swingate.

But of course getting there is one thing, finding a spot is a different matter. I don’t mean finding a vacant spot’s a problem. If anything, there were more spaces available than usual, but the issue facing me this morning is illustrated below. We’re reduced to parking from memory.

White Lines... Er, where?

Rather than just random anarchy, everyone’s done their level best to park where they think the lines should be. It’d be interesting to see if a sudden thaw revealed how close we’d been. A bit like ‘The Cube’ but outside.

How did I get here?

A reconstruction.

WordPress tells me what search terms bring you to my blog. It doesn’t identify you personally – I just see a list of search terms and how many hits I got from them.

Dwarfing all others, Duncan Norvelle is the most popular search term. Is he gay? Is he married? Etc.

But in addition it does give me a fascinating window on to the kinds of things you good citizens of the internet are looking for.

This is a new type of post. I will update this from time to time with my favourite search terms. And I shall start with these:

– Sue Holderness legs
– Ford pigeon
– man superdry back
– silica gel Stevenage
– duncan norvelle gardener
– kepi blank
– illegal parking on grass
– Brian Blessed wife swap
– Stevenage Taliban
– Tesco ad where man pushing a car all over the place
– crossdress air force
– lost black glove
– “showing a bit of leg”
– how much does Duncan Norvelle cost to book
– wiki duncan norvelle please leave me alone

How to make it snow inside your car.

Come the winter months, my reasonable-in-every-way Ford Focus reveals itself to be more damp (damper?) than the average vehicle.

When it’s parked under cover, it’s not a problem, but when I come back to Swingate in the evening, the frost has not only covered my windscreen on the outside, there’s a thin coating of ice covering the inside too. This is hard to shift.

A reconstruction.

I gave it a go with a redundant credit card combined with the blowers on full. You should try it – it makes your car’s interior very Christmassy. As the scraped ice flakes fall from the windscreen, the fans catch them and blow them gaily hither and thither. They then drift gently down and melt all over my dashboard, probably dripping somewhere mechanically unhealthy.

Plan B anyone?

The heaters don’t really get going until I’ve driven for a bit. Catch 22: can’t go anywhere with the windscreen iced up – it might not be suicide but it’s not a clever idea is it.

I’m leaning towards getting a big bag of silica gel (tarted up with packaging for marketing purposes, of course) to leave in the car and soak up the excess moisture. I”ve found motoring solutions in the past. I can do it again. I shall report back soon.

Hertbeat Highlights of 2009.

Hertbeat is the local radio station I listen to as I drive to park in Stevenage. As a rule, I’m only in the car for 15 minutes but they do a mean podcast featuring the week’s best bits. So here is my own look back at Hertbeat Breakfast’s Greatest Hits of 2009.

Chris, Steve and Dawn (in that order).

11. Steve caught with his trousers down.

It’s true, vacuuming in the summer can get very hot. You’ve got sunshine combined with the hoover pumping out warm air. So how do you keep your cool? Steve decided that being home alone, he was quite within his right to remove his trousers. So imagine his surprise when the Next delivery lady turned up at the back door with a package for Steve only to be confronted by Steve’s package.

And what really made her day was that Steve was wearing his Next pants.

10. The Quest for the Brown Bin.

Hertfordshire County Council are upping the ante when it comes to recycling, introducing new bins for different types of rubbish. This was launched amid much fanfare, but one prominent resident couldn’t join in because they hadn’t given him a brown bin. Steve was reduced to covert midnight missions by the light of his iPhone, sneaking his garden waste into neighbours’ bins.

Steve now has his brown bin, so let’s all try to move on with our lives.

9. Winter comes to Hertbeat country.

In early 2009, snow blanketed our little corner of the UK. Steve arrived on time for his show but couldn’t unlock the gates to the studio because they were iced up. As he was due on air, Steve had no option but to shin over the gates and cover himself in snow in the process. But he made it on time – Dawn take note!

8. Dawn stalking Barry Norman.

Dawn went to the opening of a new deli (not New Delhi) with Barry Norman as the star attraction. Thinking this could be the ideal opportunity to invite him on the show, she blew the stationery budget on gold pens and wax seals to create an invite worthy of Mr Norman. She came away with a signed jar of Barry’s pickled onions – though she did damage it when she dropped it, peddling up a steep hill in Stevenage on her bike.

7. Hertbeat Apprentice.

For a while it sounded like it wasn’t going to happen as all Steve had was the music and a desire to be called SirSteve. But after weeks of wannabes battling it out, Carl Pendlebury won his own evening show on Hertbeat – even though his mum and dad had to ferry him to the studio and back because he couldn’t drive. Bless.

6. 100th Hertbeat Breakfast podcast.

It wasn’t a vintage podcast in the context of some of the previous 99 shows, but it was a fantastic milestone to have reached nonetheless. Happy Hundredth, Steve and the team!

5. Dawn’s dates

Her loss has been our gain, providing us with endless entertainment as her misadventures in love lurched from the ridiculous to plain disastrous. Particular favourites were her slagging off the Brazilian guy she sat next to on a plane and subsequently going out on a date with him, and the man who was weird because he ate all his chips before he started on his burger. Can’t remember if that was the same guy that leant in for a goodnight kiss and received a firm handshake from Dawn.

Dawn may well have found her man, though he doesn’t sound real. His habit of opening her car door for her keeps confusing her into thinking he wants her to drive. He gets up early to cook her breakfast and de-ice her car – though she still has to climb in through the boot when her locks freeze up.

4. Dawn’s willy-towel incident.

Having arrived at her sister’s house in Italy, Dawn felt the need to visit the bathroom to freshen up. She felt much better after washing her face with the small green hand towel – the special towel her sister’s boyfriend uses for wiping down ‘his bits’.

3. Hey Mr DJ.

Who would have thought tha Steve would become a published author in 2009, rubbing shoulders with best-sellers like Kate Price and David Beckham on the nation’s bookshelves. Joining forces with a Russian illustrator / podcast fan, Steve is donating profits of the sale to a local charity. A win-win-win situation for all concerned.

2. A baby Folland.

This is a story that ran for 9 months of the year, culminating in an overdue arrival foe little Fraser. Never mind that Dawn and Benedict forgot to ask what he was called when they spoke to the proud new father.

1. Team Leotard.

For all the joy that becoming a father can bring, top spot has to go to the iconic Single Ladies video from the breakfast team. Who knew that this enterprise would explode from a small studio in Hitchin to backing Beyonce on tour all around the world. Perhaps the best thing about it is Chris’s shame at having taken part, coupled with the fact that the story followed him relentlessly wherever he went and just grew and grew.

Mo’ sno’ on the Fo’.

Running out of snowy puns for captions...

Running out of snowy puns for captions...

Thought we were past the worst of this weather, but my wife hadn’t lied to me on the phone; it really had been snowing again in East Herts. As my train pulled into Stevenage yesterday evening, I felt quite smug seeing the childlike surprise of my fellow commuters: the area was once again wearing its alabaster shroud (that’s trying too hard isn’t it – I’ll stop now). Basically it had been snowing again.

No, it's not a Focus-shaped snowman, it's my motor.

No, it's not a Focus-shaped snowman, it's my motor.

It took a little while to get the snow off all the windows so I could see out. And once I’d got going, I realised that my headlights were pretty useless as they were still covered in snow, so I had to pull into a petrol station and put that right.

It was pretty slippery stuff. The snow was coming down in very fine flakes, so light it was being blown in all directions – often horizontally – and surprisingly it was settling on the road, despite the back end of the rush hour that my car joins most nights around this time.

Saw a few wheel spins but using the driving skills that I’ve been accumulating from the last few days’ I kept the car moving in a prodominantly forward direction – though I could have done without that big van right up my arse for half of my journey (waves fists again – RARR!)…

Parking all over Stevenage.

It’s snow-sprinkled anarchy! Stevenage has turned into one giant car park. People are parking their cars all over the show – mainly because they can’t move them.

Walkern to Stevenage.

Walkern to Stevenage.

Yesterday I spent 2 hours skidding (very slowly) around the outskirts of Stevenage trying to make it to the station. Abandoned cars, a jack-knifed lorry and the abysmal conditions conspired against me. I narrowly avoided getting stuck myself and returned home defiant but defeated.

Pretty. But pretty annoying.

Pretty. But pretty annoying.

Today I persevered but it still took me 2 hours between leaving the house and getting on the train.

Fairlands Way (way slow).

Fairlands Way (way slow).

Gettin' kinda heavy...

Gettin' kinda heavy...

But what a nice train it was – another National Express train making a special stop at Stevenage because of issues on the line and weather and and and… This post was brought to you courtesy of their free WiFi connection.

Snowbound.

There are 3 roads out of my village. I tried my normal one. Fine for the first few hundred yards and then a queue. A long one. The sort where cars are pulling 3-point turns and coming back. I wind down my window and catch one of the retreating vans. There are cars stuck in the snow on a hill and there’s no way through. One down, two to go.

The second road is still going in roughly the right direction but in a roundabout way. It’s also more countryfied and a bit of a gamble, but my options are decreasing.

Whaddya know – I make it through Aston village, past the middle-aged lady in her marooned Clio and make it as far as Stevenage city limits. Civilisation (of a sort). A false dawn. Having made a stop at Sainsbury’s for petrol, chocolate and ‘comfort’ I return to the main road to face complete gridlock. A passing pedestrian happily tells me of the jack-knifed lorry that’s the cause of it all. No joy that way – let’s try the opposite way. Almost as slow. I check my watch; it’s been an hour and 45 minutes since I set off and I’m roughly 3 miles from where I started. Never mind what the trains have in store for me, even if I make it to the station.

Coming back through Aston with my exhaust between my rear wheels...

Coming back through Aston with my exhaust between my rear wheels...

I make a decision. Cut my losses. Go back to the house. Have a cup of tea. Work from home. Struggle up the steep hill, passed the now-abandoned Clio, back the way I came. I’m sliding more laterally than forwards, alarming oncoming traffic but making progress. Slowly.

National Express delivery.

I’m working late-ish on a pitch and I get to King’s Cross to find a huge crowd staring at the big Departure board. Our train is cancelled. There’s an additional screen to the side that display information about an overhead incident at Hitchin – one stop beyond Stevenage. Bad news so far. Reading on, I glean that National Express trains will be stopping at Stevenage (perhaps especially – I didn’t have time to take it all in). As I’m reading this I become aware of a mass exodus towards Platform 3. I search the board; the Newcastle train is stopping at Stevenage. At this rate I might get home even quicker!

It's like a space-train of the future!

It's like a space-train of the future!

Hurrah for overhead incidents. And check me out! Double seat. Swanky interior. Free Wi-Fi. Free magazine (LiveWire – ouch).

I’ve been super-flash and uploaded the bulk of this post from the train. Very 2.0.

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