Alex’ christmas holidays started pretty early this year leaving a whole week before x-mas eve would arrive. Given my apartment is rented out anyway I figured time (&money) is much better spent on the slopes than trying to kill time in London cinema’s or Museums. Alex loves Chamonix anyway – the place of his first time outdoor rock climbing & canyoning (see here) and home of Mt Blanc. Many happy memories for him.
The trip was arguably at the cost of my first year almost without a x-mas lunch had it not been for my good friends Sara & Paul who I visited on the one night i had between Colombia and Chamonix. Both kids including my godson Bobby were thrilled and we had a great time together. In the morning the kids could even reunite with Alex … the only small disappointment when i rocked up alone the night before.
The way to Chamonix wasn’t too bad though with some delays and heavy bags given i carried my snowboard on top of winter clothing and presents. No one was happier than my little prince when we finally got to our destination … temperatures well below zero and loads of snow. Alex wasted no time getting his gloves wet (although he had an entirely different perspective on this). Thankfully the girls from ‘Chalet le Chatelle’ picked us up quickly and soon we hit the bed. I was devastated having had my last full nights’ sleep in a bed 4 days prior in Colombia!
The next days were simply great fun as usual. After 15cm on Monday (read: no sun), we were blessed with great conditions and few other skiers. 3,5 days of good snow action! Alex on ski’s (we’ll try snowboard in Austria in Feb’18) and me on snowboard. His first red run (le cornu in Brevent) still caused some tears, but I know his level and by day two the piste had become his favourite). No issues after that one run, as he rediscovered his confidence. We spent time mostly in nearby Brevent and la Flegere, but also Grand Montets – dominated by red pistes and with a great run all the way down into the valley.
Evenings were usually dedicated to a Tartiflette at ‘elevation 1904’ (tasty & good value at eur11) or the odd raclette in town, the chalet’s hot tub (his russian soul coming to the fore big time ;o) and movie time. Quality boys time!
My two weeks in London went by incredibly quickly mainly due to the time I spent with Alex (who I take care of full time when I am here). School runs, after school clubs, birthday parties, homework, Saturday school and Sunday’s at church were my new routine. When Alex was in school, i had a busy time doing admin stuff, seeing the dentist seemingly a hundred times (finally I got rid of my braces) and paperwork.
I also tried to be extra efficient catching up with friends. This often proves more difficult than it seems. They are stuck in their work schedule while it’s the opposite for me when I am looking after Alex. Still I saw loads of them and chatted away about Russia, their past weeks & months and what lies ahead. Seems there is never enough time to talk though! Also got to see loads of Nepal friends at rory’s child rescue nepal gig and a live taste of my latest musical investment (The Young Frankenstein) with Elizabeth. Ok musical, great evening (I cant recommend enough a visit to Mr Fogg’s tavern for whoever comes to London …).
One fine london morning I also managed to visit a place that I love and hadn’t seen in a while – the Tate modern. When I first came to london in 2002, my first apartment was just on the opposite river bank. Many weekends I would wander over millennium bridge to see some modern art be it alone or with one of the many friends who came to visit. A rather memorable one was of my good student friends Katrin & Ronny and fellow Commerz-banker Andre. I still own the Joseph Beust book they gave me at the end of a wonderful few days with the following inscription:
“Jeder Mensch ist ein Künstler” (Everyone is an artist)
How true in a way though I guess I am more an artist of life than any tangible artwork. On the other hand, even Beust himself considered his pedagogical side his greatest art achievement … to an extent at least I have done some of that too.
It’s always interesting to think back to those moments (or others) in my early days in London more than 15y ago. How much I loved the atmosphere then, how proud was I to show my city to friends & family and how little did i know of the great times that lied ahead of me. Unforgotten and unfortunately hard to get back. Many times I wished to feel again like on that sunny Sunday on 30 June 2002 when I first arrived.
While Germany lost 2:0 to Brazil in the World Cup final, I arrived on crutches & had to hobble to London Bridge to locate a working pub (the inner city is dead weekends) … it felt so cool to be there. I remember well when I called mum to tell her just that (and I don’t often call). It remains a cool place, but also lost quite a bit of touch, something several of my friends share.
Well, enough dwelled in memory for now. Next week is half-term in Alex school and we are on a road trip in the Extremadura region of Spain. Basically picking up on a recommendation I received during a wedding I attended in June near Girona … let’s see! Hasta Luego!
Getting hold of tickets for the new Harry Potter play isn’t easy and that’s well documented. My friend and neighbor Gavin, who is a theatre producer himself, ranks it currently as the hottest plays in town alongside ‘This house’ and ‘Hedda Gabler’. I’d have to add ‘An inspector calls’ to his list having seen it recently and finding me as part of the standing ovation crowd at the end of the show.
Against this backdrop, it was a bit funny to suddenly end up with 6 tickets for part one & two of the production about two weeks ago, as Gavin had sorted a pair for me while I simultaneusly succeded in the auction for the spring 2018 run.
The Palace theatre is one of the largest theatre venues in London and has for many a year hosted ‘les miserables’ – my first London musical in summer 2002 where I fell in love with the voice of one of the singers and purchased the CD right after the show (it remains my all time favorite to this day). The installation on stage was extremely powerful and made use of the whole room beyond the stage itself be it dementors flying over your head, new prophecies projected on the ceiling or Lord Voldemort marching off through the stalls. Most powerful were the magic effects around time travel when the whole stage appeared to whobble or morph or so.
The show itself ticked all the boxes be it that it leaned on many old potter tales and kind of remixed them. A new child generation (albus severus potter and scorpius malfoy) as the main actors – now best friends and both sorted into Slytherin house, with some sup
port from the parent generation harry and draco et al, Voldomort back in action (now even with a daughter) and even Dumbledor adds his wisdom as a painting from time to time. More familiar faces are made possible by the time travelling device that albus and scorpius try to use to prevent the death of cedric digery in the tri wizard tournament. Don’t want to say too much though at this stage. See it for yourself!
Alex enjoyed his time and stayed awake even for the entire evening session. The only time he got really scared was between part one and two … when he stumbled into a dead pigeon. The one time I got scared is when he asked me to visit a seemingly very gay shop soon after the incident above. A bit early I guess ;o)
Alex and myself woke up to a chilly yet beautiful Sunday morning. We greeted it with a choco croissant, finished off the homework quickly (never great to come home after a Sunday out to do spelling and math) and had a quick chat with Flora & Georgia – our two airbnb guests from Greece. They are both students and moved in yesterday. I think their plan was the British Museum. Great choice.
Kiddykicks football, for which I signed him up only yesterday, had been cancelled as the ground was frozen. Good call, but a pity as we skipped church to head for regents park. Anyway, Alex did want to try out his new kit (the mouth guard being the unexpected favorite!) and so we headed over to Paddington Rec for a bit of kicking about. Alex, like me in my days, has an interest in goal keeping. Training ensued (and yes, jumping on hard ground hurts … stop whingeing boy!) though at times interrupted by a dog chasing our ball.
Lunchtime we headed over to Covent Garden for my ice climbing session at Vertical Chill (located in the Ellis Brigham store) and for me to try some additional high altitude kit that had arrived Friday (the Scarpa phantom techs – single layered boot for most alpine and Scottish mountaineering). The session went mostly well. Twice I managed the easiest route (right up the middle) and twice the small overhang (towards the left of the well). My instructor gave me a few good tips here too. After that my arms felt already bit tired, but the overhang killed me off (again). Twice I tried, twice I had to give up. No juice left in the arms. Well, next time! Maybe I should start there. Alex entertained himself in the shop meanwhile. Loads of interesting equipment around (… those shiny ice axes ;o)
Time to refuel! We were both starving and headed to Wagamama’s opposite the shop. I always like to come here. Great food, fresh juices and outstanding service. While I enjoyed my usual chilli chicken ramen, Alex went for rice and chicken from the childs menu. The children chopsticks, which can be cleverly combined with ordinary sticks to form the shape of a plane, were fun to play with yet left a tiny splinter in Alex finger. A flood of tears followed until the staff removed it helped by pineapple as anaesthetics. Alex deserved a present for all his bravery and didn’t take long to dig out a Lego like set at the shop of the transport museum. Time to go home and relax – I could fall asleep on the spot for some reason. Alex wants ice cream. Hurry!
Fresh orange & apple juice was a hit!
Four amazon parcels were waiting at home … including the memory stick for my new gopro camera … I figured it out eventually.