Happy New Year everyone!
Apologies for the break in transmission - I've been away in the wilds of New England. Well, not quite the wilds, actually in a very nice civilised ski resort - of which possibly more later, but first of all here is my little homage to Vermont. A state where I would be very, very temped to go and live.
You know you're in Vermont when.........
1. You pull in at a Welcome Center off the interstate (these usually appear just after the border of a new state) and in addition to the usual selection of maps and tourist information you are handed a free cup of Green Mountain Coffee.
2. You seen road signs that say 'Moose Crossing' and 'Bear Crossing'. While you do not actually see these animals, you have great fun getting the children to look out for them - and let's face it, you need all the distractions you can get after an epic seven hour car journey...
3. The roads are lined with log cabins, maple syrup farms and beautiful brick manor houses. Not a Home Depot or Starbucks in sight.
4. You notice the Christmas decorations are far more low-key than in New York. Just a tasteful wreath or two. No inflatable Santas. Interesting.
5. The scenery is staggeringly beautiful, particularly after a snowfall when the trees are caked in powder and the icicles are bigger than any you've ever seen.
6. Lift attendants in the ski resort say 'have a great day' and 'enjoy it up there' as they steady the chairlift for you to get on. (Similar people in France usually just grunt dismissively and let the chair thwack the back of your legs).
7. Your children learn to ski doing a 'pizza wedge' rather than a snowplow.
8. You might not be able to get a vin chaud (mulled wine) at a mountain restaurant, as in France. But then you discover the Black Bear Tavern in the Base Lodge. Which has much more interesting warming drinks. My favourite was hot chocolate with Amaretto and Grand Marnier, with whipped cream on top. Mmm.
9. You wear more layers than you have ever worn skiing - balaclava under a Peruvian alpaca hat, woolly jumpers over fleeces, hand warmers in your gloves and toe warmers in your boots. You also opt for a helmet as someone has told you it's warmer as well as safer. But it's still bloody cold.
10. As a result of 8) and 9) you spend even more time in the Black Bear Tavern. Which possibly improves your ski-ing......who can say?