The Learning Slope….

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?

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…..

BoredFirstly 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…..

expectation.pngIt 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!

Lisa x

 

 

 

Le? La? Oh La La!

Good morning to all in the World of Blog :O) I have a question for you: how many of you guys have taken it upon yourselves to learn a second language? Most of us were forced into it a school, endlessly counting to 10, learning how to say ‘the monkey is in the tree’ or this is the cauliflower of my Aunt but how many of you have tried as adults? It’s not easy is it?

Good morning to all in the World of Blog :O) I have a question for you: how many of you guys have taken it upon yourselves to learn a second language? Most of us were forced into it a school, endlessly counting to 10, learning how to say ‘the monkey is in the tree’ or this is the cauliflower of my Aunt but how many of you have tried as adults? It’s not easy is it?

As many of you know, I am English but I live in the South of France. This means that I have had to try and get my head around the French language as I need to be able to buy stuff to eat, find out where the toilets are and order a glass of wine (or three). Now, I’m the first to admit that I can be a bit of an airhead at times but I am pretty logical so I have looked for patterns in the French language and it has served me well except when it comes to ‘le’ and ‘la’, the masculine and feminine. For those of you who don’t know, every single noun in French has been given a sex and for those of us who have grown up with asexual words, it can make life a little tricky.

As is my wont I decided to apply some logic and figured that there must be some words that have to be feminine because the words are female specific and vice versa; big mistake! This will give you an idea of what I am up against:

The word for ‘beard’ is ‘la barbe’. Yes ‘la’ which means that the word is feminine. Now whilst I accept that, as we get older especially, some women are prone to the odd stray chin hair there are very few of us who will ever sport full mutton chops whereas men have no trouble at all in this department so why oh why is the word feminine???

On the other hand the word for ‘bra’ is ‘le soutien-gorge’. Why? OK, many men enjoy taking bras off and I’m sure there are some who enjoy putting them on but, as a general rule it’s women who own the boobs and therefore women who need the bras, non?

This leads me on to lipstick; hands up guys out there who wear lipstick on a daily basis…..and now the women….right, based on those numbers ‘lipstick’ should be a feminine word yes? Wrong! It’s ‘le rouge a levres’

Added to this, the French also have a few phrases that I am convinced were introduced to the language for the sole purpose of embarrassing foreigners. The worst of these will be likely to trip you up in the middle of summer when temperatures have risen and you are sweating your socks off. Quite naturally, in English we say, ‘I’m hot’ and people will either agree with you or tell you to stop moaning about the weather because you know damn well it will be raining next week. The literal translation for this is French is:

Je (I) suis (am) chaude (hot)

crowd-shockedUnfortunately, this means ‘I am horny’. This simple error will lead to raised eyebrows, hopeful looks or great hilarity depending on who’s company you’re in when you say it! The correct expression is:

J’ai chaude, the literal translation for which is ‘I have hot’.

Having made many such grammatical errors (including saying ‘I was rogered senseless’ when I wanted to say ‘I got off [the motorbike]’, just don’t ask) I decided to pick my best friend’s brain in an attempt to figure out the logic behind all this. His reply was a typically Gallic shrug and ‘The Academie Francaise’ decides’.

“Yes but how do they decide?”

“They decide because they decide it is like that”

And with that I have to be satisfied until the men in their Eiffel towers decide to offer any kind of logical explanation.

All that said, I adore the French language and learning it is a really fun challenge, not just for me but my French friends too ;O)

I’d love to hear about your experiences with foreign languages so please feel free to comment

Lisa x