Banchory has been closed pretty much all week so I’ve temporarily turned my attentions to a different sport.
Skiing in Scotland has a bad reputation: 100mph winds driving rain into your face that freezes as soon as it hits your goggles; scratching your way down over heather and rocks covered in a thin layer of frost; 20 minute queues to take a one minute long Poma lift then 20 seconds of skiing before you join the end of the queue again; deadly snow fences; grey cups of tea in polystyrene cups; cold toes; lifts breaking down and treacherous road conditions there and back. I’ve experienced it all.
But, as this picture shows, it’s not always like that. On Monday afternoon, Banchory was closed and the fiver challenge was off, again. So dad made an inspired suggestion that we should take a drive up to Glenshee for a few hours skidding around – something to keep the competitive juices flowing ahead of this week’s Alliance at Inverallochy. You might think recreational skiing isn’t very competitive – it can be. Dad and I once had a contest to see who would fall over least during a week’s trip to France. With the score at 37 all on the final run of the final day I can still remember hearing cheers from behind me as I took a tumble on a rogue mogul and went careering into the trees at the side of the piste.
I was initially sceptical about going up to Glenshee, mainly for the reasons cited above. I was favouring the driving range option, but the clear blue skies and still air persuaded me to make the journey west. Jessie (wife) left Flora (daughter) with Anna (Nana) and we headed up the valley.
It didn’t look too promising when there was still no snow at Braemar (just 10 miles short of the ski centre) – I could hear the soles of my skis in the back of the car screaming out, begging to be shown mercy. But, by the time we got to the car park there was plenty of the white stuff covering the mountains in an, almost, complete blanket. The weather was perfect, we had the place almost to ourselves and the snow conditions were excellent. As we left at 4pm feeling pleasantly tired, I was left wondering why I’m spending hundreds of pounds to go on a skiing holiday to Austria next week.
So did the outing have the desired effect at Inverallochy? In a word: no. Unfortunately, the course was on winter tees and greens and it measured only slightly more than the 18-hole crazy golf course on the seafront at Margate. In normal circumstances my score of 68 would sound pretty acceptable. But, when I tell you the winning total was 59, it doesn’t seem quite so impressive.