Friday, 2 November 2012

Half term snow fun with the snow Scrooge (me)


I am not good with snow and ice. It's one of the reasons I loathe and detest winter. If I think it's going to snow, I am very on edge. I am not overly happy about it, unless I don't have to go anywhere and can stay close to home. I have never been skiing. Hardly surprising, isn't it?

Poor husband quite enjoys boarding. We have the Chill Factor-e fairly nearby, which is the UK’s longest indoor skiing and snowboarding slope. It opened when the children were quite small and we've been inside. Husband has been there by himself to go boarding but as you can tell it's not my thing!

The children love snow, as children do. It's just me that's the snow Scrooge. You'd think living on a hill as we do would be great for snowplay but the last few winters have been too much and the best they could manage is snowball fighting and the odd snowman.

Receiving an invitation to come and try out some of the activities at Chill Factor-e's bloggers' party was therefore an exciting prospect for everyone else, and as it fell in half term, it meant something to do for the kids, and as husband works evenings, he could come along for the trip.

On arrival, we were taken to a big changing room and got changed into our ski clothing, helmet and boots, which was fun with other bloggers and their families. We were taken onto the nursery slopes to have a go at two different activities, tubing and sledging.

Before long, I got told I was going tubing. Tubing involves sliding down a slope in a big rubber ring. I watched the children going down in the rings and was not convinced. They seemed to enjoy it, I wasn't sure I did. Eventually, it was my turn. I sat in my ring and someone pushed me down the hill. I can't really tell you what it was like as I closed my eyes and they stayed closed until I came to a stop but I basically slid down the slope, and up again at the end, before the stop finally came. I stood up and could hardly feel my legs. That was my activity for the day, I just spent the rest of the time taking photos. Missy Woo didn't really like the tubing because she couldn't control the speed but Monkey, adrenaline junkie that he is, loved every second of it. To be fair, most people did.

We soon moved on the sledging. Missy Woo loved this much more as she could control the speed with her legs. The only problem the children had was if they put the sledges down too heavily, the sledge would set off by itself down the slope. Husband tried the luge as well - Monkey wanted to try it but had so much fun sledging, he ran out of time to try it.

After our activities and divesting ourselves of all the snowkit, we repaired to the bar, where the children ate copious amounts of pizza and chips with the friends they'd made on the slopes. They had to make more pizza , and more chips - clearly, playing on the snow is hungry work.

Apart from the activities on the lower slopes, there is a lot going on there - including extreme sledging on the main slope, and the world's first snow-sphereing ride, Avalanche. It's nice and if you like that sort of thing, you are spoiled for choice. My one issue is with the price - I know it's manufactured snow and the costs must be high but the total cost for a family day out is huge. Their group "Big Family Day Out" for a family of four can cost from £112 up to £200. And that's before you've bought food, petrol, etc.

I knew that they did children's parties and that they were expensive. We were told that they were relaunching the parties and I saw signs offering party packages from £9 per head, which is a lot more reasonable. However, on investigating it further, that only applies to snowplay parties for infants under 2. The cheapest package for snowplay parties cost £15.50 per head, and the cheapest party with food cost £17 per head, and I just don't think that is competitive. Yes, some people will pay those prices but in the competitive market that is children's parties, there are cheaper alternatives that people will use because they can't afford it. It's a shame really, but it all adds to the image that skiing and boarding is an activity that is for people with money. I am probably being churlish here - tell me if I am, I don't mind - but I can't afford those prices and I'd have to consider alternatives (I don't think I spent £200 in total on birthday parties this year).

Still, we did have a lovely time. Well, I did if you didn't force me to slide down a slope on a rubber ring and the others enjoyed the activities as you can probably tell from the photo of Monkey above. Sadly, it won't be an experience we will be repeating shortly as the price prohibits that if you are on the budget. Therein lies the problem with Chill Factor-e - great idea, way too expensive for the mass market.

(Chill Factor-e invited us to try the activities as above, and provided us with free clothing and boot hire for the duration of the session, and lunch afterwards. I have not been paid further for this post. All opinions are my own.)
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