Working hard (well, one of us is at least)

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January 21st 2007
Published: January 21st 2007
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Hello there everyone,

It’s been a hectic few weeks over the Christmas period, apologies for the lack of communication both via the blog and email, phone calls etc. Hope all enjoyed the festive period. It was business as usual over Christmas here, it didn't feel all that festive. We are still in St. Anton as you can see, however the season isn’t progressing quite like we imagined.

It seems we chose to come and work a season in the Alps the same year that global warming has started to kick in. There is a remarkable lack of the white stuff. If I look out of my window right now, I will see grungy brownish mountains. The temperature is warm enough to go outdoors wearing only a jumper. Rain falls instead of snow. Obviously, none of this is ideal in a town dependent on ski tourism for its livelihood and a lot of the local businesses are struggling to make ends meet unfortunately. There is some rough snow on the higher slopes (and more forecast, although I am starting to weary of these predictions). On a more selfish note, my hoped-for Olympic progress on the slopes has been badly affected, as practising on icy mush is difficult to say the least.

The company we came out to work for seem to do alright despite this, as their bookings were made a long time in advance. They have not exactly been model employers however. We have a whole litany of tedious grievances which I will not bore you with. Issues such as not being paid regularly and being paid less than the contracted amount are extremely frustrating but the little stuff is also annoying - last minute organisation, dramas and outbursts. In his role as a rep Simon had to work quite closely with the management and didn’t much enjoy that side of things, so he quit last week. We negotiated that he can pay the firm rent on the flat which we share with two others. I am sticking it out as I like the occasional nanny work and the people I work with in the chalet. Due to Simon’s decent German skills he was able to pick up another job straight away in a ski hire shop. It’s a pretty cushy deal - two days a week (covers his rent and a bit more) and then he is free to ski the rest of the week. And also practise the accordion - thanks to generous Christmas presents from both sets of our parents he is now equipped with several music books. His current favourite is a book of jazz tunes which he murders cheerfully.

My work is fine. The chalet is a luxury one - imagine lots of white marble floors, Jacuzzis, saunas, champagne and cocktails and you’ve got the right idea. We’ve had a variety of people come to stay, extended families - one of which had a splendid bust-up of an argument - groups of friends, corporate events and so on. The tips are good and the work isn’t stressful, compared to teaching 30 eleven year olds, so no problems there. When I am a nanny - which has been about half of the time - I don’t get to go skiing, but work nine to five, which is surprisingly relaxing after the early mornings and late nights of serving meals and cleaning. The children are mostly very young as older ones go into ski school. I have been lucky and have had really nice families to work with. This week I was supposed to have two little baby cousins to look after, which could have been a nightmare, but one of their mothers got drunk on the slopes on her first day here and then fell over as she skied home and broke both of her wrists. So it was holiday over for her, and an easy week for me as I was only left with one little one.

Anyway, today is the dreaded ‘change-over day’, when we wave goodbye to one group, frantically change all the beds and scrub everything in sight, and then serenely welcome in the next lot. Luckily our second bunch isn’t arriving until later so I could borrow a laptop for an hour. Still, I had better go and see how things are doing. Hope all is well back home and the January blues haven’t hit too hard. Take care.


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