It’s been surprisingly hot in London of late, but we found a rather unusual way to cool down….
Jess writes: Before yesterday, no one in my family had ever been skiing or sledging before – in fact, I was confused as to which one was which! Consequently, we were all really excited to go to The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead to try our hands at both of these activities. First of all, we had an hour-long private family beginner’s ski lesson, and then we spent half an hour sledging. I have created a video of our day, which you can watch below. Watch out for Dad sledging into the side bumpers (and mum laughing as she videoed it!)…
After donning incredibly warm jackets, boots and trousers, we wobbled our way onto the snow with our instructor Hussein. Our boots had such a large heel that Hussein had to instruct us how to walk properly – keep your eyes fixed on where you are going and put your heel on the ground first.
This is what Robert thought of the lesson: As it was our first time ever skiing, we took part in a basic lesson which involved us learning how to walk, turn and ski down small hills. I greatly enjoyed gliding across the snow, even though I did fall over about 20 times. Near the end of the lesson we each took it in turns to go a small way up the slope then back down again. To get to that point we had to hold onto a moving rope which brought us upwards. Unfortunately for me even that was too complicated and I usually ended up being dragged on the ground by the rope.
I learnt lots in that lesson and I really hope to go back and try lesson two. In the future I want to ski down one of the larger slopes. I enjoyed nearly everything about the lesson but the only downside was that the instructor was quite mean and bossy at times when I couldn’t do the thing he wanted me to.
Jess writes: I loved the lesson; even though what we were doing was very basic, it was exhilarating to hold on to the rope and be pulled upwards, and it was a strange feeling to glide down the slope on the skis. I had never realised how slippery the snow was before, making it difficult to turn or move upwards without turning your skis sideways.
Although I think that Robert disliked not being able to grasp everything quickly, I love a challenge and had a really exciting time. Hussein was funny and helpful, and always corrected me so that I could go faster or slide more smoothly. I realised that I have a tendency to wave my arms frantically in the air, and that I am better at skiing than I expected – I only fell down once! I had a brilliant time and wish that the lesson lasted longer, as even though it was an hour long, the time flew by really quickly.
Robert writes: After swapping our ski boots for snow shoes, we returned to the coldness to do sledging. This was extremely fun yet it was really tiring walking up the slope holding either a rubber ring or chair thing. I preferred the rubber ring as it was more comfortable to sit in but they were heavier to carry. I loved zooming down the hill but didn’t enjoy all the snow flying upwards into my face. Some sledges could carry two people and that was more fun than doing it by yourself. It was great.
Jess writes: I really liked sledging. We had to carry sledges or rings to the top of a slope, and pushed ourselves off it. I ended up sliding down really quickly, and getting snow all over me. Robert, Dad and I loved it, but it was exhausting having to walk up to the top again and again. We were in a group of around ten adults and children, but we never had to wait long for our goes, which was lovely.
Although I preferred skiing, sledging was definitely faster and it didn’t take long to grasp. Once, dad ended up sliding into the cushion-y barrier, meaning that Robert, mum and I erupted into laughter. I would love to go sledging again.
After our time was up, we gave back our ski clothes, boots and helmets and went upstairs to have lunch. There was a large range of choices, and a good kids’ menu, plus the lodge where we ate had a very nice atmosphere and you could watch the skiing go on through the windows behind you.
Dad had a mushroom stroganoff, I had the vegetable chilli, mum had a falafel burger and Robert had fish fingers, beans and chips. Everyone was kind, and friendly and the food was very tasty – perfect after being so tired out from the skiing and the sledging. It was also pretty good value, with the kids’ menu costing £4.50 per child, including a drink and dessert, and the main meals costing less than £10 each. Dad and I also treated ourselves to a mouth-watering waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce afterwards…
Overall, we would all definitely recommend The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead for skiing and sledging, whether you are a total novice or a seasoned skier. Everyone was so lovely, and it was so exciting to slide down the slopes really quickly. We were also very impressed by the more experienced skiers who went down the much steeper slops. I had always wanted to see what it would be like to ski and sledge, and my first time certainly didn’t disappoint me. In fact, I want to go back again!
The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead is the closest ski slope to London, and clothes hire is £6.75 per person. A one hour private family ski lesson (two adults and two children) is £165, and sledging is £7 per person. Group ski lessons are cheaper, and are offered for juniors and adults. Our visit was kindly hosted by the Snow Centre, but they have had no input into this article and all opinions are our own.
Hemel Hempstead is in Hertfordshire, about 40 minutes from Central London
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