My New Year message to you - great health, bubbling happiness and oodles of good luck - comes straight from the top of a mountain in the French Alps. Yes, I know. Abominable Snowman. Kiwi Yeti. Sasquatch. I've heard them all! You would dress the same if you were standing there in a slapping wind of -5°C (23°F)! By the way, that's Mont Blanc behind me, western Europe's highest mountain (4808 metres). We can sometimes see the top of her hat on a fine day here in Lyon. Here's a closer look at her.
I can think of no better way to end one year and begin another. The sensation of pure freedom when gliding down those slopes is something I first discovered seven years ago - my beloved comes from the French Alps and is a skiing fanatic! This latest excursion to the snow took us to La Plagne.
Every year, without fail, there is that lush layer of new snow, inviting us to go back up to the top of a new mountain and just go for it! We wobble, we sometimes fall, but the thrill and rush of vitality is always there.
Each time I go back into that magical whiteness, I feel as if I am being reconditioned, as if all I need to do is simply push off and let myself slide into the unknown. There is the reassurance that despite the height and the speed, a fall into the snow will normally be relatively harmless.
It's just about putting aside the fear. For me, each new ski season, with all its powerful metaphors of white purity and mountains being conquered, brings on a feeling of renewal. That's why a trip to the alps at the end of the year is so perfect: a new year, a new view!
Wow, that was such a discovery at the age of 32. I was actually able to experience what it feels like to fly. Fast. From the top of an awesome mountain to the bottom. In five minutes. With views that make you want to cry. And if it's not the emotions that make you weep, it's the freezing wind, which seems to have a mission to make us one with the glaciers.
One day I think I will try to write a series of novels based around a snowy mountain. Murder on the slopes! The adventures of a mountain guide! Love in the chalets. Surely anyone who likes to ski would buy them. Think of all those nights that skiers sit around after the slopes are closed, itching for something to do.
I hope Chapter 2007 closed for you in a nice, satisfying way, and that you're now eager to crack on with Chapter 2008! We no longer have last year, and we don't have the next, so let's just focus on this one and make it our year. I wish everyone all the very very best for the months ahead.