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27-Aug-2015 18:35 by 6 Comments

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" My ski instructor, Sarah Brocklehurst, deploys that reassuring tone reserved for novices. But hurtling down a mountainside on a couple of fibre-glass planks, with no means of stopping other than falling over? My daughter, naturally, has skiing nailed in no time and is frustrated – and embarrassed – by my ineptitude.

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It has its moments: the adrenalin rush, the dazzling views.We have the hotel pretty much to ourselves, piling up our dripping gear in the basement, sitting together for our hearty meals and gathering in the bar for pre-dinner briefings.Our amiable hosts, Nick Elrington and his wife, Nuria, cater thoughtfully to the group's mixed range of ability and experience. We bypassed the gondola queues, collected our bizarre footwear and drove to a quiet, forested area below the resort.Like everything else around here, snow- shoeing was trickier than you'd think.But Nuria was patient, teaching us how to walk with feet tilted forward, as though on high heels, and legs apart, to avoid treading on the rims. It was slow progress up a steep track into the mountains.But prising off boots and helmet comes as a relief.

And when the others – all experienced skiers – sweep in to join us for hot chocolate, glowing with the mountain and desperate to get back out there, I'm having serious doubts about whether I can manage any more of this. Here, in the Incles Valley, we may be staying at ski central, but we have already learned that there is more than one way to have fun in the snow.

Our base, the cosy little Hotel San Roc Miguel, sits apart from the bigger, brasher establishments just up the road.

The three families that make up our group comprise 16 people, with children from 10 to 17 years old.

At the top we huddled in a mountain refuge with a blazing fire, hot chocolate and the first of many enormous packed-lunch baguettes.

This satisfying activity made for a perfect baptism by snow, breaking us in to a week of gloves, goggles and thermals.

It was also excellent first-day group bonding: by the time we returned down the hillside, the children had formed an unruly snowball-throwing gaggle.