An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: A new year to celebrate... of course!

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I’ll assume the ever generous Mr Claus has now officially left your buildings and finally motored up that sleigh and took off.

He’s not getting any younger you know and he needs some well earned rest before operations ramp up for him again this new year.

Certainly a great time was had by all here in Whistler. Many, many a family had their picture perfect ‘white Xmas’ and got their ‘winter wonderland’ fix that I have to say really does add that magical spice into the Xmas feel in resort. I couldn’t think of many better places to find an almost ‘Disney’ feel where practically any experience you can imagine in a snowy dream can indeed be had…albeit for a small price.

The resort was rammed full and quite the wake up call for those workers in town who’ve never experienced these numbers or bustling impact of families and individuals all wanting their needs and fix’s attended to (of course, those around during the 2010 Olympics will remember what ‘super busy is really like!). It’s always somewhat surprising to see just how stressed some individuals still are, even when actually in resort on vacation! They’re easy to spot as most individuals are super relaxed, carry great big grins and are just quite simply super happy to be here. Then of course there are the parents and mums, who are obviously having a slightly tough time balancing the whole ‘vacation’ thing and relaxing whilst their kids continue to rile them, whine, and demand their time and attention. Something of a look of desperation occasionally, not really stressed, just know what could be on the other side if only they could get a few minutes of quiet time without their ‘little angels’! Can’t have it all I guess!

So as the New Years Eve celebrations rolled in, those in charge of keeping score were only too pleased to announce, to very little surprise, that December 2010 was officially the 3rd heaviest December snowfall in Whistler since records began! Well done and thank you La Nina! Will it last though... You bet it will!

So the ‘First Night’ celebrations, which is our official family orientated, alcohol free, outdoor celebration in the pedestrian stroll are of the village, went off to much of it’s usual hurrah! We may be several hours behind other official New Year celebrations around the world and many of our population and workforce who herald from countries such as Australia and even the UK may well have taken this opportunity to start celebrating up to 24 hours earlier. However, whether it was in the alcohol free zone (now where’s the fun in that?!) or amongst the thousands of other revellers celebrating various time zone changes, NYE certainly went down with a bang!

Now, although a little reluctant to ‘stoke any fires’ here, this article can hardly pass without at least some global reference to the fact that the Aussies received one hell of a spanking in their own backyard at the hands of the imperious English lads. Not often do all these words come together in written format, so there it is! Well done guys! As for the Canadians that were riding the tails of the much revered ‘junior’ hockey team that were about to stamp their authority across the world championships, what happened there folks? I saw the score…3-0 up and cruising..???? Always next time I guess then, eh?

In case anyone is in any doubt, as I mentioned earlier, snowfall levels have been nothing short of spectacular and it keeps coming. Outstanding news for everyone on the hills and the resort as a whole as this always positively impacts the tourism levels. However, as a flip side to this, from experience I can tell you that this much snow at the Whistler valley level and even lower (Whistler village sits at roughly 670 meters above sea level), makes driving a tad difficult at times. I had to pop down to Vancouver just recently and seriously took life into my own hands just trying to get there. No-ones allowed to travel along the highway without snow tyres or even chains during winter anyway, but at times, when the snow on the highway becomes hard packed, perhaps freezing level drops and the snow just spits out of the heavens at an alarming rate, it can be too much for the snowploughs to keep clear. Makes for an interesting journey I can tell you! So next time you’re stuck in traffic and compiling a list of why the journey to work by car every day is just so bad, just bear in mind that at least generally speaking, you have a clear road (perhaps a few puddles maybe..) and relatively safe promise of eventually making it! Our choice to live here I guess and worth every hair raising moment!

So as we all continue to come to terms with what the New Year actually represents or promises to deliver, let’s spare a thought for those who’ve already forgotten or given up on their New Year’s resolution. Better luck next year I guess. It obviously wasn’t meant to be!