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Champagne On Ice In St Moritz

It hasn't been cold enough yet for polo on ice, horse-racing on ice or cricket on ice - those will all come later in the season when the lake is frozen to an acceptable depth. But there has been plenty of champagne on ice at the Swiss resort of St Moritz, as the pride of the Engadin celebrates 150 years of winter tourism (which was all started by the Brits of course).

The events to mark the milestone have been non-stop, with this glitzy and fashionable resort in frantic and frenetic festival mode. One night we stood clutching cups of gluhwein as we watched head-to-head ski racing on a remarkable little course built entirely in the town centre.

The next night we watched a rock concert in the same square by German soul and R&B star Xavier Naidoo (yes, he'd slipped under my music radar too - maybe a British act might have been more appropriate in view of the huge UK connection to the celebrations, but Xavier kept the party going well enough, tucked up in his overcoat).

Then I bumped into ski racer turned film-maker and ski fashion guru Willy Bogner, who bears an uncanny resemblance close-up to Richard Wilson. He kindly took me for a glass of champagne in his shiny store in the town centre and not once did he say: 'Ich glaube es nicht', so that was ok and I didn't say: 'It's Victor Meldrew letting his skis run to win the Lauberhorn by 1/100th of a second'.

He did actually win the Lauberhorn (the World Cup downhill race at Wengen) in 1960 at the age of 18. Willy Bogner that is, not Richard Wilson.

'I still ski as often as I can, I still love it,' he told me. 'With the film-making I find myself skiing all over the world. But I love the Engadin Valley. And I'm very involved with the fashion side, yes, very hands on. It's fascinating - the big thing now is for ski clothes to be functional, very technical as well as good to look at...that's what people want.'

He was very enthusiastic about the 150th anniversary. 'It's very important to celebrate it,' he said. 'It changed everything for the people of this valley and the British played a very big part in it.' And he was very excited about a large part of the new James Bond film being shot in the Alps (although in Tirol, Austria, rather than Switzerland) - Herr Bogner has worked on a number of the 007 films requiring complex ski footage, including On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and A View to a Kill.

Rob Freeman celebrating 150 years of winter tourism in St Moritz

But the best way to celebrate was on the slopes of St Moritz - where the snow was in incredibly good shape for early December. With squeaky snow and blue skies at both Corvatsch and Corviglia it felt like the depths of winter.

And the St Moritz experience was complete with a fabulous (if ridiculously extravagant) lunch at La Marmite in the top funicular station at Corviglia (yes go on then, I'll have the crayfish cocktail followed by white truffle pizza, pate de foie gras, smoked salmon, lobster and venison with truffle-scented polenta - and all right, just a drop more champagne, after all we are celebrating 150 years).

The fabulous Kulm Hotel, where the whole wintersports holiday business started, came up trumps on the night of the concert, when we arrived back tired and chilly, by laying on a supper for us in the kitchen. That has sort of capped things off beautifully - the kitchen brigade turning out mini-masterpieces at midnight involving prawns and pasta and beef. Oh, all right, just a drop more champagne. Did I mention, we are celebrating 150 years. And there's more skiing to come tomorrow.