Getting into the SnoZone
Milton Keynes holds little allure for those not round the twist for roundabouts, but it does hold the UK’s premier snowboarding school. Mark Southern strapped up and took it for a spin.
Right, I challenge you, dear reader, to come up with three remarkable things about Milton Keynes. In just ten seconds. Go!
OK, how did you do?
Now, if you possess a sense of direction like this reviewer, you would have received a point for correctly pointing out that the horizontal and vertical grid does make getting about very handy.
However, for the speedboat, cuddly toy, and chequebook and pen you’re not going to win, you’d have needed to answer that there lurks a facility unmatched by any other of its kind in the UK. This magical monument? The biggest and best indoor ski slope in Britain.
The good people at SnoZone reckon they can get even the most unbalanced buffoon hurtling down a mountainside in style, so I put this theory to the test. Because, dear reader, if I can, then anyone can.
The slope is contained in the XScape centre, and it’s here that I head to start the 8-hour ‘Learn to Snowboard’ experience.
The next thing that strikes me is that we’re going to be snowboarding down a hill with real snow. It’s also cold (which handy for the snow), and is constantly chilled to minus five degrees.
It’s an impressive sight, and very speedily I’m given my kit for the day, and just five minutes later am standing at the top of the learner slope clutching my snowboard. Tuition here is comprehensive and friendly, but keeps me on my toes (as well as my soon to be wet-through posterior, which is landed on with frequent and depressingly predictable regularity).
I’m in a class of seven and, although the other learners from other groups get in the way occasionally, it works surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that in just two hours I am actually snowboarding my way down the slope. The afore-mentioned rump is still getting plenty of opportunity to top up its blossoming relationship with the snow, but there is no denying I feel confident about what I am doing.
A tea break after a couple hours lends a false sense of smugness to the occasion, which is swiftly punctured just three minutes into the second session, when it becomes apparent that I may actually be the first punter to cause them to not live up to their bold claims. However, trying, trying, and trying again is the name of the game, and once again I am dangerously close to ‘getting it’.
Lunch is a nice break away from the snow, but then it’s back into the waterproofs and onto the slope for more punishment / tuition (delete as appropriate).
The afternoon is harder, with more tricky techniques added into the mix, but the combination of supportive teaching, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get up to speed means that I am soon whizzing down not just the learner slope, but the main slope too.
The day finishes, and my legs ache like they havent in some time. However, I have a warm glow inside in the knowledge that I can now snowboard to a decent level and, or so the instructor tells me, it’s like riding a bike and now I’ll be able to do it forever.
I feel excited about my new-found life skill, and make a mental note to check for snowboarding holidays online when I get home.
However, home ahas to wait as to make a weekend of it I’m staying at Milton Keynes’ only five star accommodation which is, wait for it, a B&B. “A luxury Bed and Breakfast?”, I hear you cry with disdain, which wasnt too far off my own thoughts until I saw it with my own eyes. South Lodge is only ten minutes from the ski slope, and is a genuine jewel in this town.
I wake in the morning with a few bumps and bruises, but a feeling of accomplishment after a good night’s sleep. I’m still not overly sold on the town of MK as a whole, but for a weekend away where you’re not given a moment to think about work, this is an experience not to be missed.