It’s a little known fact that I’d love to be an ice dancer. Years ago, I wanted nothing more than to be Jayne Torvill – the trouble was, I was a terrible ice skater.
Then, we moved to Minnesota – which, for at least four months of the year, turned into a magical, winter wonderland. Fresh, fluffy snow would burst through the clouds, and the lakes would freeze so deeply that you could even drive cars on them. The sky was nearly always sailor blue, and when a blizzard started, the snowflakes would lightly touch your face, attaching to your lashes and tickling your nose. (Sigh, I still miss it – or am I forgetting shovelling my way out of a six-foot snowdrift?)
I finally learnt to skate in Minnesota. I had lessons at our local ice rink, and practised outdoors whenever I could – even on a huge frozen puddle outside our home. I loved it, but before you start thinking I was any good, I should add that, despite learning to swizzle and being able to get round the ponds and canals at Centennial Lakes Park, I wasn’t a natural, by any means. Then I got pregnant, and that was pretty much it.
Fast forward nearly 10 years, and I find myself looking at my ice skates longingly. “Let’s go skating at the Dubai Mall,” I tell my family, admiring the gleaming silver blades on my still new-looking, lace-up, white skates. (“Let’s take gloves,” I add, imagining the serrated toe pick going over someone’s little fingers.)
So, on Friday morning, we head to Dubai’s Olympic-size arena, before the mall gets too busy and the rink becomes like Sheikh Zayed Road on ice. We get the children booted up, lug two huge Penguin Pals onto the ice (utterly wonderful, sturdy inventions that kids can cling onto to learn to skate), and we’re off …
Except it wasn’t as easy as that (what was I thinking?). It felt nerve-wracking, and slippy; my feet skidded unsteadily in different directions, and just balancing was tricky. While the boys shuffled off with their penguins, DH took my hand and guided me round (he’s pretty good, having grown up in Kuwait, where he ice skated during the hot summers). Until finally I got my confidence back, and could glide – cautiously – by myself.
A few laps later, and I realised I couldn’t feel my feet. Not because of the cold (the rink felt pretty warm). But because they’d started tingling. My boots, which fit perfectly well a decade ago, were clearly too tight, and as pins and needles started spreading from my toes to my heels, I had to concede (sniff) that it was time to hang up my skates. (Darn it! How is it that 10 years and two children can not only make your hips, waist and tummy expand, but also cause your feet to get bigger?)
I’ll be back though – the hired boots felt much better, and while I’ll never be able to spin or jump like Jayne Torvill, I’m actually really pleased I was able to stay upright. One-two-three-gliiiiide.