I don't want to get all gushy, although it might make a nice change from my usual whinging, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to. At least about Canada, Canadians and skiing...
First a week in Whistler. I can't quite yet believe that we managed, with the three girls in tow, to have four full days skiing, but we did and it was amazing. To someone used to skiing in a tiny wee village in France with about six lifts and ten runs, Whistler-Blackcomb was utterly beyond all of my expectations. The width of the pistes, the efficiency of the lifts and staff, the friendliness of everyone, the vast number of ladies loos everywhere you stopped... And to top it all off, I skied well!
Having fairly quickly come to the conclusion that this was my holiday and that therefore however much B wanted to launch himself off sheer cliff faces, I wasn't in the business of scaring myself silly, I spent my four days flying down friendly wide slopes, arms outstretched, wind whistling over the top of my helmet*, huge grin on my face. Can't be bettered.
And all this with free babysitting, cooking and cleaning....
Christmas itself was, well, sort of just another day on the slopes with a lot of presents for the girls and one each for the adults (we'd done a not-secret-at-all Santa which worked out really well).
Then on to Vancouver Island to stay with my brother and his wife. I don't imagine I'd ever have visited Vancouver Island were they not living there and I feel very lucky to have done so. Where we were, on the very southern tip of the Island, is a temperate rainforest, and coming there from the snow was, almost literally, like being hit with a wall of green, an assault on the eyes that took several hours to get used to. And yes, it rained.
The thing I found odd about Vancouver Island is how beautiful the scenery is against how utterly hideous much of the architecture is. Admittedly many of the houses are built in what I presume is the local vernacular - clapboard style - which is (or can be) attractive, but most of the other buildings seem to be chanelling the low-rise strip mall look. There may be some very sensible tsunami-surviving, or rain-repelling or otherwise practical reason for this but driving through it feels a bit like being in the title sequence of a film about the misery of American suburbia - as you pass yet another Lube Center (and, incidentally, can you really build a business on engine oil?).
But that is, perhaps, to complain unnecessarily. We were very lucky to be there at all, and I'd definitely go back to both Whistler and Vancouver Island (although I admit the presence of the lovely S&T is the biggest draw there). The best bit is that I think the girls had, in many ways, a better holiday than all the rest of us. They had 7 adults giving them constant attention and presents too. Coming back to home and just boring old Mummy has, I imagine, been a bit of a comedown.
The downside? Well, not a downside as such, but 12 days with my family deserves a post all to its own...
*three years ago it would have been "wind in my hair" but three children later I've somehow become very aware of how much I need to stay alive.