Some friends asked me to look after their chalet last weekend so they could watch their son ski in a competition elsewhere. They only had two guests and they had cooked all the meals, so all I had to do was serve them, and drop the guests off in town. No worries, right? Maybe less worries if my VW Golf was reliable. It’s an old car, but I love it because I can pop the roof down in summer and really enjoy driving in such a beautiful place. There was no enjoyment last weekend. With a piece of corroded rubber preventing the accelerator cable from working, I hitched up to the chalet with a friend who, visiting for the weekend, had a hire car. The guests arrived before us, but luckily the chalet owners’ other son was there to greet them. The three of us fumbled through serving dinner despite the frozen salad and the absence of milk for coffee.
Breakfast the next morning was fun. I had driven the chalet van down to my place the night before so I could get back to the chalet, but with 15cm of snow on my steep driveway and no snow tyres, the van only made it half way up the hill before the wheels spun. I tried to reverse it but managed to stall it, then flood the engine. I rolled it down the driveway where it was avoidable to other cars but still in the way. It wouldn’t restart and I wondered if I’d killed the battery. I borrowed my friend’s hire car which apparently did have snow tyres, drove past the dumped van and my broken Golf and waited for the guests to wake up. They didn’t. The pressure was on to catch first lifts with my friend at 9am and it was now 8.15am. I knocked on the guests’ door and asked if they were coming down for breakfast. As I’d guessed, they had forgotten that the clocks went forward an hour the night before. Eggs poached, toast made, guests tired but full, I avoided explaining that there was no van to drop them off. Instead, I opted to yell out a farewell while they got changed into the ski clothes.
The chalet owners returned just before dessert that night, which was lucky because we couldn’t find it. Panic over and guests fed, I’d even managed to get the van back to the chalet. The problem? I hadn’t taken it out of gear when starting it. A chalet girl I am not.