Ice-Skating in Reunion

I’m going to share a secret with you, in my dreams I am a champion ice-skater.

Whenever I watch ice-skating on TV, I can hear and feel the blades cutting into the ice.   Intuitively, I can recognise the precise moment when the skater inclines his foot and changes from the outside to the inside edge of the blade.  As a child I skated regularly. Later in life there were few opportunities to skate and my boots were often out of sight, but never out of mind.

Before moving to Reunion, in July 2000, my husband diplomatically brought up the subject of my skates. “Sheila, what is the point of taking your skates to Reunion?  Tropical islands don’t have ice-rinks.”

Well, of course he was right. For nearly three years they lay at the back of the garage gathering dust, until one day, out of the blue, I noticed a poster in town. Wow! A former French Olympic Champion was coming to skate on a specially constructed outdoor rink in St Denis where I live!

Back home, I dug out my old, shabby skates and polished them, much to the amusement of my family. I was now a woman with a mission. I was going to skate in the tropics.

Several months later, I drove down to the venue. I hadn’t managed to get an invitation to skate even though I was a client of the main sponsor. Not surprisingly, the security guard at the gate wouldn’t let me in. Stubborn as ever, I decided to hang around outside.

There I was, standing at the entrance, skates flung over my shoulder, when a large car pulled up at the entrance. The driver was involved in the logistics for the ice-show. Staring at my skates in sheer disbelief, he stuck his head through the car window and listened to my story. With a ‘tranche papaye’ smile, as they say in creole, he told me to come back the following day. I was on cloud nine and rushed home to tell everyone the news.

I remember vividly the strange sensation of skating outdoors in light summer clothes, trying forgotten figures and a simple jump, only to fall on my bum and get soaking wet! With dripping clothes and a bruised ego, I got up determined to make the most of every second. In no time at all I was bone dry again and smiling.

Reunion Island had come out tops once more with this amazing one-off skating experience.

Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea to bring my skates to Reunion after all.


ice-skating = patinage sur glace
blades = lames
out of sight but never out of mind = loin des yeux mais jamais loin du cœur
to bring up the subject of = aborder un sujet
what is the point? = quel est l’intérêt?

dust = poussière
out of the blue = en sortant de nul part
outdoor rink = patinoire à l’extérieur
to dig out = ressortir, déterrer
shabby = usé, miteux

stubborn = têtu
to hang around = trainer
flung = jeté
to pull up = s’arrêter
I was on cloud nine = j’étais aux anges

to rush = se précipiter
bum = fesses
bone dry = complétement sec
to come out tops = arrive en tête
one-off = un cas unique

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