When you’re in a place like Scotland, you might as well make use of the abundant natural resources.
So when we had a mini heatwave in prime skiing season, the rain and wind rescued us.
Lecht 2090 ski centre – named because it sits 2,090ft above sea level – has its own snow factory capable of making 1.5 tonnes hourly.
Water from an on-site spring is frozen, crushed and then blown into tiny particles.
Ploughs spread it overnight on two nursery slopes to virtually guarantee some skiing time whatever the weather.
The whole operation is powered by a wind turbine so it’s eco-friendly, too.
While at Lecht 2090 – known locally as the Lecht – we were treated to Scotland’s hottest seasonal temperature in 122 years, meaning much of the natural snow had melted.
But thanks to the snow factory the Lecht was open and even Team GB’s snow sports athletes were able to train there.
The Lecht, in the stunning Cairngorms National Park, is perfect for relative newbies like us. The gentler slopes are right in front of the main building and two “magic carpet” conveyor belts take you to the top, avoiding tricky lifts and tiring walks.
On-site you can hire equipment as well as ski wear – particularly handy if, like us, you take the train to Scotland and don’t want to be bogged down with bulky luggage.
Affable instructor Gordon was the brave man tasked with reminding us how to ski. He was the perfect teacher, full of encouragement and humour.
Skiing on “fake” snow felt just the same as on normal stuff, and by the end of our two-hour session we were ready to head off alone and try a blue run that was somehow still open.
The busy school offers more than just skiing and the next day the children – Freddie, 10, Rosie, 13, 16-year-old Max and Harvey, 18 – tried out snowboarding.
It takes longer to grasp than skiing but the three boys found it more fun. It was amazing to think that without the snow factory we wouldn’t have been doing winter sports at all.
We were staying a 25-minute drive away in pretty Ballater at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch Lodges.
The six of us had a two-bedroom lodge, with space for two more in a clever pull-down bed in the large open-plan kitchen/diner/lounge.
Two bathrooms and a sauna were bonuses, as were a washing machine and drying cupboard – handy for damp ski gear.
We loved the two large pools and hot tubs and also spent time in the squash court and table tennis and snooker rooms, all bookable for free.
The Cairngorms National Park – the UK’s biggest – offers loads to do off-piste and the award-winning Deeside Activity Park in nearby Aboyne provided heaps of family fun one sunny afternoon.
Alongside rearing fine Aberdeen Angus cattle, local farmer Ken Howie offers everything from clay pigeon shooting to karting (activities from £30pp, family packages available, go to deesideactivitypark.com ).
We tried archery then headed to the shooting range where we fired air rifles at targets 80ft away. They were light with no kick, so even Freddie could have a go.
After a break we headed off on quad bikes for some serious off-roading. Ploughing over ridges and around muddy bends was great fun.
We had headed up to Scotland by train on LNER’s direct service from London to Aberdeen.
It’s a seven-hour trip but is relaxing and offers fabulous scenery. It’s also generally cheaper than flying and avoids luggage restrictions, queues and cramped cabins.
In Aberdeen we picked up a hire car and drove to Ballater just over an hour away.
One evening we had a family meal at the Deeside Inn, a friendly Ballater hotel with a homely tartan-clad restaurant lined with fairy lights (see crerarhotels.com ).
For starters we couldn’t resist the haggis fritters – light, tasty and very moreish.
My venison main, with whisky and peppercorn sauce, was as tender as could be, while my husband Tim’s Balmoral chicken breast – stuffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon – oozed flavour.
The older boys opted for burgers while Rosie and Freddie loved choosing from the “wee ones” menu with homemade soup followed by mac ‘n’ cheese or grilled chicken with dip.
Haribo ice-cream sundaes to finish took some beating. Perfect apres-ski.