So wanting to avoid sounding like a weird cat person as much as possible, we took our cat back to the UK for Christmas… Approximately 12 hours driving plus a 2 hour ferry, each way. Sounds odd I know, but we figured it was easier and cheaper than asking someone to come in and look after him, or paying for him to stay in a cat hotel. Plus, more importantly, he’s a really cool cat and quite enjoys being in the car!
Just a few highlights from the journey with the cat: feet up on the dashboard checking out the view, sleeping on the gear stick and voluntarily getting out for a wee at a service station. We’re still not entirely convinced he’s actually a cat…!
So it’s been a slow start to Winter in the European Alps by anyone’s standards, a meagre amount of snow in November to get us all excited about skiing, followed by weeks of mild, sunny weather causing what little snow there was to gradually disappear and meaning panic for anyone working in the tourist industry. Most of the Chamonix ski areas were set to open early December yet barely managed to scrape a few slopes open for the Christmas week. We left here before Christmas desperately hoping for some of the white stuff on our return… And thank goodness, we did arrive back to Winter, rather than an even more extended Autumn! The Valley is now thankfully covered in white, although snow cover on the pistes is still the worst I’ve ever seen it for this time of year. There’s an awful amount of grass poking out of the pistes and the artificial snow canons are in full flow, plus it’s well below freezing every day so it’s all about layering up appropriately before leaving the house! But the mountains look beautiful, the sunsets are stunning and it’s always good to be back on the snow, regardless of of how good (or poor!) the skiing is.
So just a few days to go until Christmas, and this time of year should be all about spending time with your family, perhaps catching up with people you rarely see, and most of all, having fun. Although I really do subscribe to the belief that you should always have fun. No matter how old you are, no matter where life takes you or what you choose to do with yourself, having fun and enjoying your life should always be top of the list.
Obviously I can’t speak for every situation or circumstance, but I feel I come across and hear about far too many people who simply don’t enjoy their life. Too many people get bogged down by aspects of life that really don’t matter and really shouldn’t have time wasted on them. Seemingly simple things have the ability to make you so happy and without sounding terribly cheesy, can really change your perspective on those little niggles that were so weighing on your mind. And these things often require very little money, and even less of your time, they just need a bit of imagination.
With the arrival of winter and the dark nights creeping earlier and earlier, it’s tempting to hide indoors, hidden away from the cold, damp weather, but as many of us know, this can lead to feeling heavy, grumpy and generally a bit despondent. Heaving yourself up and out to do something as simple as having lunch with friends or going for a walk or a run can make the world of difference. It re-energises you, clears the cobwebs and makes you so much more effective and useful in whatever else you choose to do with your day.
Maybe working with children keeps you feeling young, in which case I have an unfair advantage, but I recently re-discovered an activity which is clearly designed for children (and only children!) But in my opinion should be enjoyed by adults of all ages at every possible opportunity. And this wild discovery is… Going down the twirly slide at the local swimming pool!
Who says slides are only for kids? Yes a gaggle of 30 year old women did get some unusual, and slightly disapproving looks from both the lifeguards and the serious lane swimmers. However, I haven’t seen sheer joy like that on the faces of my friends for a long time, the kind of joy that is generally only reserved for children under the age of 8.
So I’ve decided, yes it’s important to act responsibly and show maturity in most aspects of your life once you reach ‘adulthood’, but this does not mean that fun has to stop. You can still build a snowman, have a snowball fight, and yes you can go down the slide at the local swimming pool, whether you are in the company of a child or not! Laughter is the best feeling and so desperately important in what can otherwise be quite a serious, stressful and often dull existence. So every now and again, go out, do something that makes you smile and let go. It doesn’t have to involve huge amounts of planning or financial commitment, it could be something as simple as going down the slide!
I remember reading the following quote when I was younger, and it’s never rung truer than right now: “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing”.