English Market stalwarts may have noted my absence from the shop for the opening week of this year. I am delighted to inform, in as non-boastful way as possible, that I was skiing in France with my sister and our nephew. Before anyone responds to congratulate me on being flaithiuileach in these straitened times, allow me to share “the deal” which made it possible. New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday. This shifted the normal changeover day to Sunday, meaning the first ski-week of January was a 6 night week (5 days on the snow). Uniquely in France, schools reopened on Tuesday 4th, transforming a normally high-season week to a low-season one, while still a high-season week elsewhere in the Alps. This meant we could pick up a basic but cosy and very convenient studio for €170 (57 each). Flights from Dublin to Turin were €140 pp return all-in thanks to Mick O Leary (though they would have been €50 cheaper if my fellow travellers had committed quicker). We spent the first night in Turin (€99 for a triple room in a 4 star hotel), then train and bus (€32 return, just under 3 hours) through to our small but varied resort, Valfréjus, just over the border in France. Ski-pass (€101) and ski rental (€65) were both reduced due to the low season. I haven’t forgotten the parking in Dublin, tolls and petrol. So, for everything excluding comestibles, we skied 5 days during a 7 day trip for €490 each. New Years day is falling on a Sunday next year, so there may be a possibility of a repeat, though probably just 4 days. I don’t think this would apply in the traditional resorts for foreign skiers, which were all booked up anyway. Our resort was small but had a 1,200m vertical drop with all the skiing above 1,600m. So, if I hadn’t gone bananas on the glorious local food and wines (another blog), I would be looking at my bank balance with less consternation now!