In the ski business we are often asked to write about some celebrity's "perfect day". Well for once this is - self-indulgently - about my own. A sort of "my perfect day selfie" if you like. Or at least my perfect ski weekend. But to be honest it didn't start out perfectly. I recently returned to one of my favourite skiing haunts, the bijou Italian resort of Courmayeur. And while it doesn't have the most exciting skiing on the planet, the scenery (with the focus on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps) is second-to-none, the little old climbing town, with its pretty much pedestrianised Via Roma main street, and the enormously welcoming Maison Vieille mountain restaurant, run by the devastatingly handsome Giacomo Calosi, bring it very close to perfection.
So what was the snag? My skis, that's what. Or should I say more correctly, those are what. Because I wasn't expecting to ski much off-piste terrain, I rented some pretty standard "all-mountain" skis. Without getting too technical, these work fairly well on and off piste, but if you're really getting into the "steep and deep", they don't work too well. This was quite embarrassing in front of my peers, including our host, Craig Burton, the boss of the UK operator Ski Solutions, which specialises in weekend ski holidays. Of course, he skied like a dream!
What I really needed, our instructor Aiace Bazzana ("just call me Ace" he said modestly) told me, was some really big fat skis. "I have a pair of new Völkl 1s" he said. "Do you want to borrow them?" Didn't I just? Anything to stop me tumbling over far too often on the rather unsuitable skis I was using. The transformation was immediate. While the huge fat blue skis were a bit cumbersome on piste, it was like skiing on two snowboards or surfboards in deep snow. I was a different skier - I could relax and let rip to my heart's content. What's more, for the first time in my life, I became a fashion icon. Apparently my huge blue skis (with green bases), green jacket and blue-green tinted sunglasses were quite the ensemble!
And so, led by the Ace, we romped down every bit of exhilarating off-piste we could safely ski - wallowing through the trees, round the trees and zooming through the wide open spaces. If it hadn't been for the fact that lunch would be in my favourite restaurant in the Alps - or any other mountain range come to that - I would have been reluctant to stop, I was enjoying myself so much. But I wanted to surprise my old friend Giacomo, who greeted me with a huge hug, a vast grin, and a big plate of steak tartare.
There are few restaurants anywhere that I normally allow to devour too much skiing time, but lunch at the Maison Vieille is not to be rushed. By the time we'd got through all the courses - and Giacomo had produced a bottle or two of exceptional red wine - it was almost time for the last run of the day. A near-perfect, if not entirely perfect day. My perfect day.
What a shame I had to return those jolly green giants to Ace. But trying to steal them - or smuggle them out unseen under my ski jacket - would have been just a little too ambitious. Hell, I didn't even nick a bottle of Giacomo's wine!
Ski Solutions (020 7471 7749, www.skisolutions.com ), which specialises in weekend ski holidays offers four nights' half board accommodation at the three star Hotel Pilier d'Angle in Courmayeur, Italy from £645 per person. The price, based on two adults sharing, includes flights and transfers departing London Heathrow on March 17, 2016.
For more information on the Aosta Valley, visit www.aosta-valley.co.uk