Why would anyone not think that going to the top of a mountain and sliding down it on skis would be fun? Its a bit of a dichotomy for me. I love it but to be honest it scares me too. Either way it is kind of fun and having had a short break over to the French alps (Courchevel to be specific) I want more. My legs, however, are telling me to wait till next year so that they can recover! My arse is fine though. I was only on it twice.

The Chalet

As much as I like the idea of the hotels, my preference is always a chalet. Even though the single supplement (if you are lucky as some firms will just charge you double) is a bit mad, they do give value for money. Caveated by they give value for money if you like wine. Breakfast, cake when coming off the mountain and then dinner is included. Young people (chalet hosts) who can cook amazing things and generally pour as much wine as you will drink with your dinner. French wine. It is never bad!

The Mountains

The French Alps are breathtakingly stunning. Courchevel is part of the three valleys region so its slopes are connected to Meribel and Val Thoren. However being over in Courch meant that Val Thoren was slightly out of my reach. I am somewhere in between beginner and intermediate. Ok more beginner but I can get down a slope. Ok sometimes I need a lot of encouragement (and even strictness) to get down a slope. Probably because if you start down a slope there isn’t really any other option but to go down. Unless you can find a nice blue run (or even green) crossing it that you can divert to, you just have to keep going.


In most of my skiing trips I have had lessons. Group ones are fab but on first trip I went for a beginner group and they bumped me up on the second day to a more advanced (still beginner) one. I didn’t have the ski miles under my belt to cope with that one so went private. Private lessons where my choice for the next few trips. As long as your instructor is nice (nice looking helps too…don’t know why!) then 3 hours a day with a coffee stop is money well spent. If anything they will figure out your level and advise you on the runs around the mountains that match your level.

For this trip I didn’t get lessons as it was a pretty relaxed short break and the couple (my sister and her partner) are really accommodating with me given they are both good skiers.

The Beer (coffee / food) Stops

I remember my first holiday and was literally amazed with all the places up and over and around the mountains where you could stop for food, a vin chaud, a beer, amazing cakes or coffee. I realised quickly that you need it. In the first 2 of our skiing this year we had covered about 20k of runs. An espresso was needed.

If anyone is in Courchevel / Meribel then go to La Folie Douche. Even if you don’t like pumping music and dancing in your ski gear just go for the atmosphere. You will be warm in that base layer, mid layer and top layer…think about the dancers in their outfits! Usually great DJs and if you can afford it (I stuck with a beer or two) Champagne. If you pay enough you can even go back home in a helicopter. I haven’t seen it done but then I haven’t stayed till 5 as I can’t ski the red run down from there. Anyway, bit too extravagant for me. I was happy just dancing and having a drink.

The Skiing

So maybe the whole point of the post but I feel that on a skiing trip it is the whole experience. It is a million miles away from being stuck up a cold and windy Scottish Mountain. The snow is different (I think it is anyway).

For our trip it was bluechip days every day. There was no wind to speak of unless you count a little going up some of the chairlifts. The snow was so nice. I think I was on only two icy bits in the whole trip. The snow was the best I have been on.

The runs as always were pisted perfectly. The best bit. It wasn’t too busy. If you go in March you can hit into the French holidays. It gets busier but even then the slopes are great. So at the beginning of January it was perfect. There was a few race teams training. Funny thing is though that on a run whilst I was doing my easy breazy big circle turns they passed right by me. I didn’t even see them do it. Just woosh….didn’t even feel the woosh. Those guys are quick! The only reason I know they passed me is because my sister was a bit further down waiting on me and watching them.

I’m still not a great skier but I managed a couple of reds and generally felt really good on the slopes. Minus the last afternoon where my legs gave up and the narrow blue we were on was more tricky in some places than a good red. Shaking legs and the fear – I could have cried. I am sure I sniffled a few sobs at one point. But there is always the option to side slide down sideways on your skis. I had to for a bit. Soooo tempted to take of my skis. Promptly told that you NEVER take of your skis. It is true but the idea of flying down, my arse and sliding off the mountain and slap bang into the middle of the bar below appealed at that point in time. I reluctantly took the advice and made it home…eventually! To more beers, cake and then a big dinner with wine!

Header image Photo by boris misevic on Unsplash

I would have uploaded the video of the violinist at La Folie Douce doing Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s Señorita but I don’t have a clue how to upload my phone videos to here! If anyone does know how to do this let me know 🙂

The only girl in yoga

Girl is probably stretching things but you get the gist. To be fair I have a young face. But anyway….more men are now doing yoga. The percentages reported are still a lot lower than women, but it is definitely on the increase. I think this is a good thing.

Last week I was in yin and half of the class were males. I also did a Hatha class and, even though we were a small class (a mid morning one), I was the only female there other than my yoga teacher. All the rest were men. Not skinny yoga looking men either…a real mix of types, body types and abilities. We had an absolute blast all trying to get into side crow from movement of side lunges. There was quite a lot of near death face planting and falling over. Also a lot of laughs.

Men and Yoga

Yoga is still viewed as stretching and flexibility by most men I know who comment. Sure that is part of it but they clearly don’t have a clue how difficult a vinyasa or Hatha class can be. How the edge in Yin makes it the most relaxing and difficult class at times in my yoga schedule.

Yes flexibility is a benefit. I am not flexible but in a year I can see the change. I can also see the change in my strength, balance, focus and movement. That is definitely down to yoga and I think men are starting to see these benefits too. There is nothing worse than building muscle to the point it impedes movement. That is storing up a whole lot of problems.

Benefits of Yoga

Strength, Balance and Flexibility

Some are obvious. Clearly there is strength and flexibility. There are lots of men on instagram nowadays who have amazing bodies and practice yoga regularly (Andy Raab for example). There are ones who can do a perfect movement into handstand and balances (check out Patrick Beach for this); who doesn’t want to be able to do that!

I know men who can’t touch their toes. To be fair I also know women who can’t do this. Yoga helps. In the long run yoga helps with functional movement and that is a brilliant thing. I jump out of bed now in the morning. Even when I was training with a PT doing lots of free weights and Hiit I wasn’t able to do this. There is something about the core strength and movement you get from yoga that helps. Which leads me on to the next benefit.

Good sex

I am not sure I would know as perfection is hard to improve on (haha!). But apparently yoga helps improve sexual prowess. There are men who really should take note of this benefit.

Weight Loss

Some people will tell you it helps with weight loss. I am not convinced as I still think you can’t out-train a bad diet. My backside will back this up (I really should stop drinking red wine…it doesn’t help).

However the thinking is relevant. If you are more mindful of your body and understand it more then you may be more mindful of what you eat. I get this. I can tell where my posture is good and bad, I know when my hamstrings are tight and which side is more out of kilter.

I might start being more mindful of food (and probably add back in a little more HIIT into my training). No one thing works so why not do a bit of everything.

All the Zen stuff

I am not too overboard with this but yoga does calm the body and mind. Do with that what you will. Different people have different needs when it comes to mental well-being and lifestyle.

For me it isn’t a primary reason to do yoga, for some others it will be. For men, there are definitely some at yoga who have told me their jobs and their lifestyle means that they only fully relax on their mat.

Men in Yoga Class

Bring it on. The studio I go to is only just over a year old. I have seen a difference in how many men are going even over that short time. A class full of men was a surprise, but a good one. The thing about yoga is the lack of judgement on each other. There is enough to be thinking about with your own progress.

I like the observations of others in yoga without any judgement. I’m quite happy to observe men in yoga (I nearly deleted that in case it sounded bad…). At least some of them fall over as much as I do.

Photo by Form on Unsplash

Dancers and Dancer Pose

The start of a yoga class can tell you a lot about who is settling onto their mat. There are different types of yogi’s. It is what makes yoga great – different people with different abilities all working towards the same peak pose, or at least a similar peak pose depending on which adaptation you choose or manage.

There are those of us who just flop down into a shavasana, maybe with a comfy bolster under the knees to get settled. There are the more ‘serious’ yoga folk who go through a bit of a routine. Then there are the ones who clearly have had some training in dance. They are doing the leg stuck out and stretching over it; usually very elegantly.


How do people manage to stretch their hamstrings before they are even just a little sweaty? My hamstrings don’t want to move at all until at least the third downward dog. But hamstrings, chest openers and a bit of a backbend are all needed to get anywhere near dancer pose.


This is another thing to focus on if you want to notice the variety in the class. It is hard not to stack your hips when balancing but the instructors normally do adjustments to keep your hips squared as much as possible. Especially in triangle, warrior 3 and dancer pose. This hip squaring adjustment thing is hard! My body just wants to fall. Maybe my body is just telling me that my bum weighs too much to be suspended squarely in the air.


So tree, floating tree thingy, warrior three and dancer pose. All balancing. All probably my least likely poses to do for any length of time. I have this weird thing where I balance better on one leg than the other but the opposite is true when I try and bind my toes and stretch out my leg. If that even makes sense. Basically I can stretch my legs (hamstrings) better on the opposite leg that I can balance on without falling. Frustrating!

It is a journey (I suppose!)

If this happens to you (yeah probably just me!) then it does get better with practice. In class this week I placed myself at the back. I like to think this was so that I wasn’t going to distract the people behind me with my wobbling. It is hard to keep your balance when someone in front is moving a lot. Ok Ok – it was so I didn’t wobble in front of everyone.

I was however rather pleased with myself that I managed all these poses with my hips squared (mostly). The repetition of triangle helped with the hammies and I didn’t fall out of tree even when I moved my arms up from my hips. So I was feeling pretty optimistic about dancer pose when we were getting to the end of class.

Peak pose – Dancer

I always have a bit of a wobble when I catch my foot. I never understand why I am holding it on the inside of the foot rather than the outside as it feels a bit odd. But foot in hand (on my good leg) I did a kind of dancer. Probably not like the image above. Definitely not like the two girls who were clearly dancers in the class and also like the serious yoga who basically did her own class before the class. For me it was an achievement though and there was a little grin from my instructor before she put me off with the grinning and I toppled over. I won’t mention my bad leg attempt. It was less than elegant. All in all this was definitely progress and I felt like dancing down the road home. I didn’t do that – someone would lock me up!

Growing my own vegetables: not the best year

I decided this year I wanted some pumpkins. Not really for eating…I am not a fan of pumpkin…well any pumpkin related food. I wouldn’t waste them; the neighbours cook odd stuff so I am sure they would have took them off my hands.

My reason for the pumpkins was so that we would have plenty for the annual Halloween party. Who doesn’t like a bit of fancy dress with carved pumpkins around and lots of 🍷!

This year, along with the pumpkins, I wanted some leaves and tomatoes. Maybe it’s been a funny gardening year or maybe I am just rubbish at this but the majority of things (with the exception of some lovely rocket) never turned out well at all.

It’s not like this was my first growing veg year. I have been doing some vegetables in a few raised beds for the last couple of years I have slowly figured out how much I actually need. Usually salad type leaves (rocket and spinach), some coriander, some spring onions and occasionally I have done potatoes and garlic. Sometimes it works. Sometimes they look like the image for this post. This year my veg looked nothing like it!

The pumpkin plant is like a bloody triffid. It sprawled in every direction and produced lovely big flowers with the promise of loads of pumpkins. Every single mini pumpkin beginning (or whatever you call them) has turned to mush. I don’t even know if they have been eaten or are just not making the grade of turning into adult like pumpkins.

The tomatoes (all five plants of them) have only produced two good and lovely red looking tomatoes. You guessed it…baby tomatoes. Why did this happen. They grew, they flowered, little tomatoes formed – but they never really ripened. Maybe it’s a Scottish thing, maybe it is just that kind of year or quite possibly maybe it is my rubbish gardening skills.

It all started off so well. Things did grow. Things didn’t grow up. At least I had some good rocket. At least I don’t put tomatoes in everything (my mum does this with meals…don’t even ask). At least there is a local Tesco to buy pumpkins for Halloween. Next year will surely be better! Or maybe I will grow some pretty flowers instead.

The ‘triffid’

(aka pumpkin failure)

Main Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash (obviously not my produce)

The Benefits of a Really Good Thai Massage

I have been doing a lot of yoga for the past year. I thought I was getting more flexible. I have also been working on my posture and alignment. It has improved. So all good…right? Erm…no. My Thai Massage lady would disagree with my conclusions; and after one torturous, but amazingly good, Thai Massage I am inclined to agree with her.

Side note – whilst getting my Thai massage I would agree with anything she says out of sheer fear :-)…in a good way.

What is a Thai Massage

It is a massage that is not for the faint hearted. No gentle rubbing of the shoulders with a Thai Massage. Basically the Thai massage is one where pressure is used alongside yoga like stretches. There is no oil but they will normally use some sort of balm. The pressure comes from the therapists feet, elbows and hands and pressure is applied along the energy lines of the body. It is pretty easy to find a good one if you are in Thailand but in Edinburgh I figured this might be more of a challenge. It wasn’t. There are some good Thai Spa places and whilst the one I went to wasn’t cheap, it is definitely worth it.

Why Choose this Massage?

To be honest I think it is personal preference. I am trying to work on my posture, allignment and flexibility so this was an obvious choice. I also hold tension without even realising it. It might be a job thing but, regardless, the difficulties I have noticed in my body by doing yoga are ones which a Thai massage can even out (aka pummel, crack, stretch out of me).

I have had lots of different types of massage in the past. From the beauty salon type with hot stones and gentle pressure to the Swedish style for specific sports injuries. Because I hold tension, however, I always think I need the masseuse to be pretty firm to work on any knots. In the past I chose men for this reason. Weird assumption to make given my Thai masseuse was about 5ft, tiny (I hardly felt her on my back) and clearly the strongest person in Edinburgh!

With a Thai massage you feel like you have had your moneys worth; especially when you are still feeling a tad tender for a couple of days but amazingly relaxed.

My Massage…The Fear

I was a little nervous last week when I rocked up to a place I had never tried before, to let someone pummel me with their feet, elbows and fists. Actually I was a lot bloody nervous. My therapist packed a real punch.

Anyway – loose clothes on and I lay down on the floor mattress. Lovely surrounds, gentle music and scents of Thailand. But…. I was still nervous; especially when she got on my back and started. Lots of agggghhhhhh’s (silently of course)….with attempts to breathe through it. This didn’t always work and I full on giggled when things were ‘cracked’. She did ask me to say if the pressure was too much or too little (not a bloody chance of the latter) but I told her to just keep it as it was because I knew it was working.

There was knots / tightness literally everywhere. I thought it was my shoulders which were bad but it was also my: back, hamstrings, legs (every bit of them), feet and toes. Lots of things felt ‘owch’ but I could feel things literally melting away as she did her work.

The ending was just as scary as the rest. This was the bit where she got me to sit wide legged whilst she stretched me back and cracked my back, stretched me in the oddest of ways and cracked my neck.

The Outcome: The Return

She said I would be a bit tender for a few days. She was not wrong! The first night I found it hard to sleep on my back. But despite the tenderness my back felt like it had melted away and I was really relaxed. Everything felt more open. My shoulders are starting to relax into a good posture rather than a tight / rounded posture. My hips are feeling great and my legs looser. Everything just feels a bit more even.

I was back yesterday for a follow up. This time we did an oil massage so that she could focus more on massaging out my back and legs. To be honest I expected this to be like a hard Swedish massage but it bordered on Thai without the clothes on and with oil. It was great, still owch, still scary, but the second one has shown me exactly where I am uneven. I know now why my yoga balances are better on one leg than the other and why I just can’t manage some of the binds.

So am I going back? Yep. It is likely to scare me every time but the outcome and the process is worth it. Massage is something that really benefits people who hold tightness. It benefits the body and it has also benefitted my mind. So it is going to be a regular part of my routine. Hopefully it will also benefit my posture and my yoga. Tips for getting through it – don’t be surprised when she gets on your back and try to smile your way through it. You will be smiling about how great you feel after.