Keith’s Column: Apres Ski
Friday, 24th April 2015
I met my wife Diane when we both lived in Mayrhofen, Austria. Diane was working for Cliff Hards who ran an excellent and pioneering ski holiday company called Ski Plan. Some of you may remember it as it was based in Solihull and specialised in great value trips to the Tyrol by coach. In fact Cliff and his family still live locally and we are privileged to welcome them as our guests several times a year at The Prince.
Me, I was just a ski bum. It was 1981.
My efforts to enjoy a full season’s skiing were wrecked after just one week, when a previous motor bike injury that had not healed properly combined with a twisting fall. The broken leg kept me in Austria but off piste until just a few years ago.
There I was in Mayrhofen, surrounded by snow covered pistes, yet couldn’t ski. I was gutted. The season was a write-off again! Or was it?
I decided to stay on and get into the après ski.
Diane and I met as part of a big crowd of Brits who would gather around 4pm every day at The Sport Hotel Bar. I was on crutches; she had a tight navy ski suit. She looked good; me well I did turn a few heads but that was more about my limp than dashing good looks.
It was the second week in December and there was a great party atmosphere in the Village as the new season got underway, the first guests arrived and Christmas was just around the corner. After a few sessions with lots of friends enjoying the local beer and schnapps, I got to know Diane a little and decided to ask her out on a date.
One bright snowy morning when I knew she was in the Ski Plan office, I phoned in and asked for Diane. Joe my old boss from the summer was in charge and he took the call. Now Joe was a Manchester lad with a keen intellect and good sense of humour. So after a few comments and pleasantries to wind me up, unknown to me, he flicked the phone system to loud speaker and put me through to Diane.
So the entire office then listened with great amusement to a very nervous me asking Diane out on our very first date. Folks took the mickey out of me for months.
Ah as we all know, love finds a way so the next day we had lunch at Hotel Stock in Finkenberg. And that’s how it all started; 34 years and a couple of weeks later we are still having lunch together.
Happy Valentine’s Day!