Steel City Marketing boss on the drive of his life

James Biggin, MD of Steel City Marketing, Allen Street, next to his Skoda Octavia VRS Estate. Picture: Andrew Roe
James Biggin, MD of Steel City Marketing, Allen Street, next to his Skoda Octavia VRS Estate. Picture: Andrew Roe
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The drive of my life was a 14-hour, 1400km journey from Sheffield to Meribel in France for my first skiing trip as a family man.

I got bitten by the ski bug on several school ski trips. At Northumbria University, my interest continued. In fact, a big attraction to study International Business Studies was the opportunity to spend my third year skiing in Champery at the foot of the Alps while expanding my A-level French.

After university I got my foot on the career ladder, then met my wife and started a family. Work was full-on and skiing opportunities were few and far between. Until I met Andrew Johnson.

Our wives had become friends at antenatal mummy yoga with our firstborns. We got on well from the start. And he was also missing his skiing.

When our children were two, we managed to persuade our wives to grant us a pass for a long weekend of skiing in France, and decided to travel in Andrew’s Nissan Navara pick-up to save money. We planned to drive there overnight, setting off on a Wednesday evening, arriving in Meribel by Thursday lunchtime. Our ambitious aim was to leave on the Sunday so we could be back in work on Monday morning.

At 9pm we literally threw our gear into the back of the pick-up and by midnight we were on the Euro tunnel. We headed down the French motorways, taking alternating three-hour stints at the wheel so we could drive non-stop.

The plan worked - by 11am we had arrived in Meribel and booked into the hotel. Everyone was already out on slopes, there was not a cloud in the sky and blinding sun was bouncing off the mountains - there was no chance we were going to try and catch up on our sleep!

We dumped out stuff in the room and made a beeline for the ski lifts. An hour after that 14-hour drive, we were tackling a black run that led onto a challenging red - in retrospect, probably not our best idea!

It was one of the 6 Nations weekends, that sorted out our après ski.

We maxed out on the slopes on Friday and Saturday - and on spotting all the ski schools congregating on the Sunday morning decided the most sensible thing was to abandon any plans to get back on skis, pack up the car and set off for home.

We took the same route on return - the French motorways are fantastic, so we didn’t contemplate the minor roads to save on tolls.

We were back at our respective homes by midnight - and at work first thing Monday morning. When we spoke later that day neither of us we feeling smidgeon of tiredness. In fact it went so well, Andrew and I did the same trip the next year with another friend - in his Skoda Octavia Estate. I was so impressed by the car I went out and bought a Skoda on a lease agreement. I’m now on my second , the estate this time, so I can fit the kids’ bikes in the monstrous boot. It is ridiculously comfortable, has great performance and engine capacity.

Eight years after that first ski drive marathon, my wife and children came skiing with me in February 2014. Sensibly, though, we decided to go by plane!