The kids are playing outside in their snow suits. I took the 15min to insulate them from the weather in the hope that they might entertain themselves for an hour or so. As I walked back upstairs I said to Ali: "It's just a little more of a faff then getting them ready for the beach". I sat down on the couch and put my feet up. Looking out of the window the snow continues to fall, there's 5-10cm freshly deposited with lots more forecast for the rest of the week. Thought comes unprompted; I need to take advantage of the powder when the weather breaks.
In front of me where the old open fire used to be is a brand new stove, it's really neat, it spins 360 degrees helping direct the heat to different parts of the room. They're being encouraged in the valley to reduce pollution (there's constant growth in the number of residences and so more and more smoke). Since it's installation we are definitely using less logs and there's no doubt it emits heat for longer, I would say it's not as warm as the old fire when sitting directly in front however. To increase the heating benefits of the stove we're debating nocking out the old chimney stack entirely and replacing it with a flue. This would add the flue to the stove as a heating source, allow more air to flow around the stove to be warmed up, as well as open up the room - we shall see...
My hope of one hour's kiddy play was quickly dashed by the way, they came in and out every 5-10min (snow in my face, hat itches, I heard an explosion, can I have a snack, etc...), then after the fifth time with G in tears over something or another we had to go through the 15 min disrobing process. I now continue to write with F draped across me playing a computer game.
One issue with the stove is that it takes much smaller pieces of wood. After surviving a couple of days by sawing and chopping a few logs apart, I got lucky. As I was doing a bin run, I was passed by a man delivering a pile of logs to one of our neighbours, I went and had a chat, he said he had no more wood available (buried under snow) but that he'd be happy to cut our stack and would be round over the next few days. Good as his word he was back a couple of days later and we are now set for wood. He's a really nice guy, his family's been in the valley for generations. During the winter, he skis, if the weather is awful he busies himself with odd jobs. The rest of the year he splits his time between finding crystals to sell (above 3,000m) and teaching golf.
His activities seem fairly unusual when seen from a London perspective, but here in Chamonix not so much. Skiing particularly but mountain activities generally have a real magnetic attraction for certain people. There are a number of highly educated, successful doctors/lawyers/bankers who have dropped everything to move here full time, there are lots of less well off people as well working the restaurants and bars and there are of course the chalet workers cleaning or cooking for others before going on to university etc...
These people and/or their partner's are often looking for jobs, any job as long as it's flexible! Someone one day is going to tap into this resource of educated people. Opening a US call centre? start work at 5pm after the lifts close perhaps? Certainly Ali's work seems a good fit, but it's a good fit anywhere.
Before the snow kicked off last night the weather had been extremely mild, the snow was melting steadily at our altitude and we were thinking thoughts of spring and new activities; the kids and I exploring a new path near the chalet.
We came back with lots of new sticks and some nice metamorphic stones.
It just shows how quickly weather can change up here. This is the view outside now.
However harsh and cold the weather can be here, I definitely prefer snow to rain in winter.
Since it's a bit dangerous driving in this, and we need food for dinner we're off to catch a train into town...