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The three most important seasons for most men are on the horizon. The football has started, with much excitement and anticipation after a summer of new players and managers arriving throughout the premiership. Rugby clubs are back in training, with Martin Johnson announcing that he now has the strongest selection of England players he's ever had to choose from. And last but by no means least the winter season is finally approaching, holidays are being booked and new kit is starting to hit the shops.
So with all this in mind I set to thinking about how I'm going to combine my favourite sports for my holiday to Meribel. I'll be arriving in resort a couple of hours before the England v France match, a game not to be missed. Also with Champions League games on mid week throughout the season, Monday night football back on Sky and those Premiership games on Sundays, I decided to compile a list of my top bars to watch the match on holiday.
Despite what people may think when it comes to watching football and rugby size doesn't necessarily matter. The important factors are: atmosphere, screens, beer, bar staff and the locals.
Atmosphere is always a biggie, whether the bar fits 50 or 500 people you want somewhere full of passionate fans, singing and of course the commentary. The only thing worse than listening to Brian Moore during the six nations, is well... not listening to him. I hate it when bars play music, we want to hear the commentary and the noise in the stadiums.
Screens are obviously paramount to watching the game. Now size here is important, but isn't the be all and end all. I would rather be in a pub with plenty of LCDs throughout the venue that you can see compared to one with an old projector or low quality screens. Obviously in the perfect world there would be an HD projector and a a handful for 32" HD TVs.
Beer, bar staff and locals are again essential. When in the Three Valleys or Val if you pop into the wrong bar you can find yourself paying €9 a pint. Also you are looking for a venue with friendly and welcoming staff and locals. There's nothing worse than being in a bar and feeling like you're not wanted.
Pub Le Skilodge, La Tania. Now the Skilodge may not be the largest pub in the Alps but it has to be my favourite place to watch the England v France Six Nations matches. Tim the owner is English and Tristan his right hand man is a Frenchie (well sort of). Cue lots of banter, drinking and an over exuberant set of celebrations when England win, and pretty much the same if they lose!
Pacific Bar, Val d'Isere. Again not one of the largest bars in the Alps but probably one of the most renowned for the footie. The mantra here is as many screens as possible. You'll find this place packed full of seasonaires and holiday makers alike cheering on their teams every week.
The Doron (The Pub), Meribel. As well as being a great venue for watching live music five nights a week the Doron is Meribel's best football bar. One of the largest in the list, the combination of the huge projector, countless screens and post-football bands makes for a great Champions League venue.
The Frog, Val Thorens. The Frog is a real local's pub. The owners are real characters, Duncan may not know a huge amount about either sport, but since they play rugby in Cornwall he's a big fan. The Six Nations are always a raucous affair, full of great banter and drinking, and the locals make the frog a great football pub. The highest pub in Europe definitely has one of the top atmospheres you'll find.
Scotty's, St. Anton. Located beneath the Chalet Hotel Rosanna is St. Anton's main British pub. The bar is an ex-pat haven, so expect big crowds for all the British football and rugby teams. Great atmosphere and cheap(ish) beer.
So there's my top five alpine bars to watch the match but wherever you're heading this winter there is bound to be a great bar showing your favourite team. Here are a few great venues that didn't quite make the list but are worth a mention.
If you have any other favourite venues or hidden gems drop me a message in the comments below, or post a comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages
Now the summer solstice has passed, the longest day of the year was three weeks ago, we now have the shorter days of winter to look forward to. The peak time of year to organise, plan and book ski holidays is now upon us.
With that in mind I took to thinking what can I do this winter to make sure I'm fit enough to make the most of a week in the mountains? My pre-season trip last December finished early with a damaged ACL in my right knee, so this year I want to make sure everything is in full working order before I go.
As I'm not a gym bunny, and many of us aren't, I decided to go down the doughnut-friendly and non-scientific route. After a few conversations with the Igluski experts and the help of Iglu's friends and fans from Facebook and Twitter, I have come up with a few helpful tips on getting ready for your skiing holiday. Some of these activities need months of practice, others can be taken up a few weeks before you leave.
Now skiing holidays don't merely involve skiing, there is also the three course meals, carb cravings and the odd après ski drink to prepare yourself for. Not all of us have the ability to eat Christmas dinner proportions of food, followed by skiing the next day for a whole week.
So it may only be July, and the only skiing or boarding I'm likely to do over the next five months will be at one of the fridges in Milton Keynes or Hemel Hempsted, but it's seems as good a time as any to let the training begin.
So where to start?
Bend it like Beckham One of the first suggestions we had was to try Yoga or Pilates, as they are good for core strength and flexibility. And according the Brad Friedel, yoga is the reason he is still a top goalkeeper at 39. Ok so football isn't exactly skiing, but 'keepers spend a lot of time either in the air or throwing themselves onto the floor, and that I can relate to!
Head to your local dry slope Instead of handing over £20 to ride the carpet like slopes, another suggestion we had involves both exercise and a real commitment to skiing. Help relay the slope's dendex, this way you experience manual labour, to burn off the summer's ice-creams, and the added benefit of getting in a few turns afterwards.
On you bike One of the most popular suggestions is among the most cost efficient and easiest. Either jump on your bike or get your trainers on and go for a run.
Don't take the lift Burn off a few more calories and stretch those leg muscles by taking the stairs instead of lifts or escalators, another free exercise for most office workers or commuters on London's Underground.
Work those hands My personal favourite. Our in-house ski instructor, August, suggested a great way to improve your ski pole grip is to... squeeze limes. Yes that's right squeezing citrus fruit is good for skiing!
Get your drinking jacket on According to our sales manager AJ drinking two shots of Jaegermeister a day after work will improve your après ski fitness.
Another colleague in the Iglu team mentioned the biggest mistake he ever made was having two weeks without drinking before a holiday. During which his ESF instructor plied him with a little too much Genepy one lunch, writing off his afternoon on the slopes.
So there you have it. Take a yoga class, use the stairs, go for a run and squeeze some lime into your pre-holiday drink. Now there's a training plan even I could handle.
Written by Stephen Adam
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