Tag Archives: sarah royston

26/9/11 – What would I be wearing this week in Munich?

Lea Tucker (centre) and friends, ready to blend in in the Augustiner Tent

This is the second week of the Oktoberfest (http://tinyurl.com/6kv38ym). Each year, I promise myself I’ll go – my last visit was 15 years ago when I was a student and we spent most of our time in the lairy Hofbrauhaus, slept in the car near the Englischer Garten and washed in McDonald’s. I’ve never ventured there as an ‘adult’.

See how versatile dirndls are?

Last week I kicked myself yet again that I wasn’t Munich-bound when I met Lea Tucker, from the marketing team at Aspen/Snowmass, who was heading there as part of a pre-winter European tour. I was impressed, most of all, that she planned to dress properly, in a dirndl.

This made me want to plan my outfit for my hoped-for return. I’m well prepared, as I spent most of my wages as an Inghams rep in the 1990s on dirndls and four of them are still going strong.

At an apres-ski party in Chiswick

Unlike Lea’s, and the ones I photographed at the Swiss Jodlerfest in Interlaken in June (http://tinyurl.com/6zhekyr and other June posts), mine don’t have a frilly undershirt. This makes them more wearable, extending their usability beyond beerfests and apres-ski parties.

My favourite, the cream one (label: Country Line), gets the most outings. It has been to the Tirolerhut restaurant in Bayswater, to the Battersea Beerfest, and it went well with cream ear-muffs at an apres-ski party a couple of years ago. It could get a little tight if you overdid the Bratwurst (not to mention the 1l Steins that the Oktoberfest revolves around).

With a ski-tan at Obergurgl's personnel ball. Resort manager Sarah Royston (right) was an expert dirndl buyer

Next in line is the green one (Sigi Scheiber) with a suede front and edelweiss stitching. It fits nearly everyone and is super-flattering, although the sleeves are quite puffy. You can even ski in it, as shown above.

Next up is the orange one (Sportalm, the priciest of my collection) – best worn with a tan and my sister’s favourite. It’s quite flowery, but it went down well at a wedding in Wiltshire. I like the decorative straps that dangle from the waist, and the buttons and buckle are made of bone.

Then there’s the black one (Berwin & Wolff), which is thick and heavy – I’d call on this in the unlikely event I needed a warm dirndl for proper alpine conditions.

The greatest dilemma is footwear. Lea went for little slip-ons, which I think look fine. I prefer those to boots – but boots might be more protective in Munich.

I’d aim for something in between. I used to have a tan suede pair with a decorative buckle, which were so good for normal use that I wore them out. With a dirndl, they went best with woven ankle socks with a metal edelweiss on the turn-over.

These are the shoes to aim for

The pair in the photo belonged to Sarah Royston, my boss in Obergurgl, who was my partner-in-dirndl-shopping on our days off. With their sturdy sole, sensible laces and dark colour, this would be my top choice of style for the Oktoberfest.

So, girls, no excuse for turning up ununiformed. Sorry, chaps, to leave you in the air on the subject of Lederhosen. All I know is that they are less flattering than dirndls, not as useful back home – and that unless you buy one a few sizes too large, rather easy to grow out of…

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Filed under Austria, Food and drink, Gear

13/6/11 – Chalet girl, chambermaid, resort rep or ski instructor?

Sarah Royston and me wearing our Inghams summer uniforms in 1997

On Saturday I went to a ski jobs fair – not to look for a job but to make what I hoped would be useful contacts in the wintersports world. It was organised by Natives.co.uk (company strapline ‘Knowledge is Powder’), which has found jobs in the alps and beyond for thousands of mainly seasonal workers. As I write, Natives has more than 47,000 registered applicants and around 850 positions , so competition is fierce. Recently, for one especially juicy job, there were 3,000 people interested.

At the fair in Hammersmith, companies such as Inghams, Crystal, Scott Dunn, Skiworld, Esprit, Ski Power, Alpine Action and Ski Total were there to talk to would-be applicants; there were also three operators of ski instructor courses, who send hundreds of Brits to places like Canada and the US to improve their skiing and get a qualification. It is all very well organised and a far cry from when I was 18 and went to work a season for the Swiss Ski School in Anzere, Valais (where I’d skied throughout my childhood).

Back then we took a week’s course with the deputy head of the ski school, were given booklets on the Swiss teaching system in three languages (very useful for terminology) and went straight into Christmas high season. My first group was a Swiss-French-Dutch-English-Belgian-German gang of first-timers aged three to 12. But the most difficult part of my job turned out to be taking tiny kids to the loo in a hurry – on or off the slope – and trying to prevent them peeing all over their salopettes.

Going back further in time, I recently interviewed a brilliant lady called Julia Beldam for Country Life magazine about her days in the early 1970s as a chalet girl – which led to her running a chalet company for 40 years. I loved her stories of near-disasters, eccentric guests and fun times. You can read my article about Julia, from the 23 February issue of Country Life, here – Chalet girl interview Country Life.

I still think it’s far easier to be a rep, ski host or instructor than a chalet host (as they are now known due to the many boys in the job). When I was 23 I shared a room with a chalet girl in Obergurgl, and her job required way more stamina, skill and time than mine as ski host and rep (and I think I was paid more). All those beds to make and an open kitchen where everyone could see if she dropped something on the floor. Another friend of mine cooked for a barrack-load of British army officers in Verbier – quite a scary prospect for an 18-year-old – and another joined us in Obergurgl as a chambermaid in a hotel and was sacked after being caught fast asleep on a bed she ought to have been making.

With Anzere colleagues in 1991 - not a qualification between us, but the Ski School provided good training

By contrast, as a ski host and rep all I had to do was turn up on time and take people for great days out on the slopes – often continuing into apres-ski. I never minded the weekly airport run to Innsbruck – it was a chance to chat to reps from other resorts and read guests’ sometimes entertaining questionnaires. Gripes were few, as Obergurgl has great snow and hotels – and when things kicked off our formidable resort manager, Sarah Royston, came into her own. (The guest who brought his previous evening’s meal to our office hour, asking, ‘Would you eat that?’ got short shrift.) No wonder I stayed  on for a summer – and a second winter – before returning to the real world.

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Filed under Austria, Canada, Food and drink, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw