My Top 10 European après-ski resorts

By Tim Scrafton, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on Austrian Alps.

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If après-ski is as important to you as it is to me, in order to enjoy a ski or snowboard holiday, then check this guide. This is my fun-filled list of the top 10 Alpine party destinations in Europe

Traditionally, the après-ski begins when everyone parks their skis and boards after skiing (hence the term) and hits the bars still dressed in their ski gear to toast the day's activity on the mountain. I am a keen golfer as well as a skier, and the connotation is much the same as for "the 19th hole" – which basically means the bar. That, however, is where the similarity ends.

Après-ski has become synonymous with partying – and all the places mentioned below are great party venues. Some of the more enthusiastic resorts, especially in Austria, have moved the goal posts (or should that be ski poles?) by allowing their clientele to start the drinking, singing and dancing on tables in ski boots well and truly in the middle of the afternoon, when there are still a good couple of hours of snow to enjoy before returning to the village (a drunken snow-cannon slalom anyone?). From then on, the après-ski party never stops until après midnight, often rocking on until the very early hours.

Telephone numbers are provided where deemed necessary, such as when booking a table for food.

AUSTRIA

Austria is the undisputed capital of après-ski. In truth, it could more or less supply the complete top 10 list on its own. I have picked out three of Austria's finest: Ischgl and St Anton, in neighbouring valleys, and Mayrhofen, the country's snowboarding mecca.

Ischgl

Here, the winter is actually called the "party season" and the predominantly German clientele arrive in droves to ski, snowboard and party like there is no tomorrow. Ischgl starts and ends every season with an amazing free "top of the mountain" concert in which world superstars perform. Last season's top billing was US singer Katy Perry, and the act to close the season was superstar diva, Alicia Keys on 1st May 2010. The concerts are held on a natural plateau near the top station of the Silvretta and Fimba gondola lifts with the fabulous backdrop of the Silvretta mountains. Access to the venue is via a valid lift ticket.

As soon as the sun starts to disappear behind the mountains, Ischgl is transformed into one big jamboree with crowds of revelers spilling out of packed bars and on to the pavements – so it won't be hard to find a village hotspot. Here is a list of the five best places and what to expect at each.

Five best bars

Schatzi
(Hotel Elizabeth) My personal favourite – packed by 4pm, pumping music, pretty mädchen "dirndl" -dressed dancers (see my picture slide show). The bar oozes camaraderie and atmosphere; expect pyrotechnics inside and out! The fun is intense and finishes at 8pm – but it will feel like midnight, and you will be back for more tomorrow (see the video at end of this guide).

Niki's Stadl (Piz Buin Hotel) From the outside, you can barely hear the rumpus. Head inside this rustic cabin, however, and you will feel like a fly on the wall witnessing a full-on German party with countless über-sized steins of beer being drained amid bizarre sing-alongs (umpah! to a trance beat anyone?)

Kuhstall (Sporthotel) In a convenient position straight off the main Silvrettabahn, the Kuhstall is always overflowing out on to the street, adding to the village atmosphere. There is a good mix of all ages knocking back the local Erdinger Weissbräu lager and shots. Open until late.

Feuer and Eis Across from the Kuhstahl, and just as popular, this modern venue has a DJ who plays to revelers inside and out, it morphs from an après ski bar into a thumping night club, there is a stylish, chill-out bar upstairs to give your ears a rest.

Trofana Alm. Central just off the main street. A pulsating and famous cabin on two floors, which is literally packed to the rafters! a rocking atmosphere with dancing on tables and impromtu congas much like Niki's Stadl. To get in here you need to arrive early, with so many people inside you can’t get to the bar, so they bring the beer to you!

Where to stay 

Hotel Elisabeth 4* Fimbabahnweg 4. At the foot of the Fimbabahn slope it is ski-to-door and houses the best bar in town – the Schatzi. A very comfortable and popular choice, like many Ischgl four-star hotels, it isn't exactly cheap, but it ticks all the right boxes for location, food and entertainment.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseeksischgl

St Anton

St Anton, in the neighbouring Arlberg valley, has long been regarded as one of the best après-ski resorts in the World. Two of the most celebrated bars in the Alps, the Mooserwirt and KK (Krazy Kangaruh) kick off proceedings up on the slopes from mid-afternoon, there can't be anything to choose between them in truth, but the Mooserwirt claims to sell more beer (5000 litres) per day! than any other bar in Europe, (this is hard to dispute - except maybe by the KK) As they start so early, maybe we should christen this simultaneous ski and après ski experience - "pendant-ski" perhaps? Or more appropriately as the Austrians created the demand for it, während-ski.

Five best bars

Mooserwirt (+43 (0)5446 3588) Situated down Blue 1, keep right past the Krazy Kanguruh. Book a table in advance and watch as the electric shutters descend, the light show begins and the party really takes off.

Krazy Kanguruh (+43 (0)5446 2633) A world-renowned après-ski bar on three levels. The party starts here early with the Aussie bar staff playing perfect hosts as people dance on tables and then attempt to slide the 400m back down to town after a skin-full.

Griabli (+43 (0)5446 3673) Next to the Mooserwirt. Great live rock, blues and jazz music most nights with a slightly less rowdy atmosphere than the neighbouring bars, the Griabli also serves great food (and huge portions) with excellent service.

Funky Chicken (+43 (0)5446 22690) This place is jam-packed every night and especially at 11pm when "Funky Margarita" hour kicks in. The beer is the cheapest in town. If you like a crowded, party-animal atmosphere (and chicken), you will feel right at home here.

Kandahar (+43 (0)5446 302) With its international guest DJs, this is a top bar-cum-nightspot that morphs from a cosy (and excellent) Thai/Indian restaurant into a music bar, then a pulsating nightclub from 2-6am.

Where to stay 

Sporthotel 4* Dorfstrasse 48. Very popular with UK tour operators, situated in the central pedestrianised area and convenient for all the bars, this comfortable, traditional hotel has a steak restaurant and excellent half-board dining. Other facilities include an indoor pool and a nightclub in the basement. Generally the best value choice in town, though I feel that at Christmas the prices are somewhat over-hiked.

Read my guide 

www.tumbl.it/simonseeksstanton

Mayrhofen

Another Austrian fave, Mayrhofen has an energetic and youthful après-ski scene fed by a year round hard-core snowboarding fraternity, it is also World renowned for the week-long free-style snowboard and music festival, the British-run "Snowbombing" (3-10 April, 2010) which has been likened to "Glastonbury in the Alps".

Five best bars

Pilzbar At the Penken cable-car top station, it gets busy from mid-afternoon and does a roaring trade in Jägermeister shots and is a perfect place to warm up before taking the gondola back down to town.

Ice Bar Situated in a covered terrace at the Hotel Strass right next to the Penkenbahn. I have been here during Snowbombing week, and every effort was being made to substantiate the claim for being the bar where the most Grolsch is consumed in Europe.

The Hotel Strass (+43 (0)5285 6705) Encompasses several busy bars and venues, including the Sports Lounge which has daily live music, and is always busy. Besides the Ice Bar, the Speak Easy Lounge and Arena are the focal point for guests during the week-long Snowbombing festival. It is also the main base for the event organisers.

Happy End (+43 (0)5285 62333) This bar gets packed out, as it is just across from the Penkenbahn, they also serve some decent pasta dishes here.

Scotland Yard Pub Adopted as the main port of call by the town's snowboarders you can't fail to miss it, there's a traditional red English-style phone booth outside. The pub has Brit favourites such as Guinness and Walkers crisps, plus a pool table and darts. 

Where to stay 

Hotel Strass 3* Hauptstrasse 470. The perfect place for partygoers – but not recommended for those who want peace and quiet! The Strass, as detailed above has some of the best bars and a nightclub within its walls. Other on-site facilities include an excellent spa and swimming pool. The main Penken gondola is right on the doorstep.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/mayrhofen

FRANCE

Val d'Isère

Val d'Isère is the original home to the ever expanding Dick's Tea Bar chain of nightclubs, it has a large British contingent who lead the way with loud beer-fuelled fests in funky bars, while the French add a bit of sophistication to the mix with intimate cocktail bars giving a nice blend of refinement to add to the raucous fun.

Five best bars

Folie Douce (+33 (0)479 06 01 47) At the top of La Daille gondola. Lively from lunchtime onwards, with DJ's and regular live music and dancing on the terrace.

Bananas Back in the village by the Bellevarde Express chair you can ski straight to the door of Bananas where the party is in full-swing, try the green 'Kamikaze' cocktail if you dare!

Café Face (+33 (0)479 06 29 80) (Hotel Christiana). Directly opposite the renowned Dick's Tea Bar. Café Face is suave and stylish yet serves the cheapest drinks in town which of course makes it lively, the beer starts at €2 a pop and rises 20 cents per hour.

Moris Pub (+33 (0)479 09 87 35) One of the largest and busiest venues in the village, quality live bands entertain. Opens daily 4pm-2am and from 12pm on bad weather days with daily happy hour promotions and live TV sports events, they also do a delicious gourmet burger.

La Saloon Bar (+33 (0)479 06 13 51) At the foot of the slopes at La Daille. La Saloon bar has a terrific terrace view of the famous World Cup Downhill ski slope. Inside, there is a blazing log fire… a great place to enjoy happy hour as the days skiing ends.

Where to stay 

Barmes De L'Ours 4* Chemin des Carats, in the village centre. This is a superb hotel with three restaurants and one boasting a a Michelin star, so you will be assured of fabulous food, it pampers its guests with possibly the largest spa in the French Alps, with pool, sauna, hammam and fitness centre.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseeksvaldisere

Méribel

Méribel – the very belle is a veritable Little-Britain-in-the-Alps, and if you happen to be a Sloane you certainly won't be the "only one in the village". You would be right to expect a vibrant après-ski scene here, given the high volume of repeat British skiers and snowboarders – testimony to that is the nightclub chain Dick's Tea Bar which has now also opened in this resort.

Five best bars

Rond Point des Pistes (+33 (0)479 00 37 51) A famously popular venue with a large sun deck that gets crammed out before 5pm. Plenty of live music and dancing, order beer by the jug or the house speciality toffee vodka. Get there early.

Doron Pub (+33 (0)479 08 60 02) The largest pub and busiest sports bar. There is live music most afternoons from 5pm and then again at 10.30pm. 

Scott's (downstairs from the Doron Pub) This place offers a more chilled-out vibe. Live music on Wednesdays from 10.30 pm and the ever-popular happy hour every day from 4-6pm.

Le Poste de Secours (+33 (0)479 00 74 31) Unusual in Méribel, this bar is actually French-owned and Méribel's most classy and stylish venue, serving impressive cocktails, a bit pricey but in-keeping with its more refined ambience.

Jack's Bar Opposite the Olympic Centre. Jack's is a Méribel institution with regular live music from 5-7pm and serves the strong Mutzig lager.

Where to stay

Hotel Allodis 3* (Le Belvédère) Perfectly located for skiing. Wonderful warm and stylish interior design, and the renowned restaurant serves the best food in the whole of Méribel.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseeksmeribel

Chamonix

Chamonix attracts the World's hard-core extreme skiers and boarders and it provides the same energetic entertainment when it comes to the afters...

Five best bars

Chambre Neuf (+33 (0)450 55 89 81) Opposite the train station. A good mix of locals, Scandinavians and Brits flock here early for the regular drinks promotions. There is regular live music for a boogie.

Elevation 1904 (+33 (0)450 53 00 52) Across the road from Neuf and just as lively, Elevation never fails to rise to the occasion, it opens for breakfast, serves lunches and is a perfect après ski bar that rocks through to the early hours.

l'Arbate Cafe (+33 (0)450 53 44 43) Attracts a great mix of locals and visitors, a two level restaurant-bar and club, the DJ's play some of the best music anywhere in the Alps to a discerning crowd.

Monkey Bar (+33 (0)450 96 64 34) 81, Edmond Desailloud, Chamonix-Sud. One of the best bars in town, serves good pub grub from 4-11pm and has regular happy-hour offers, accompanied by live music from 5pm daily, followed by DJs until 2am. Live TV sports and free Wi-fi.

The Jekyll (+33 (0)450 55 99 70) 71, Route Pelerins. Happy-hour deals start from 4pm, with live music most nights from 6.30pm and always popular with the Scandinavians and the Brits.

Where to stay

Grand Hôtel des Alpes 4* This stylish, luxury hotel is close to all the main bars and restaurants, with views of Mont Blanc from some rooms, usefully in Chamonix it has an underground car park, amenities include a sauna, steam room and swimming pool.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseekschamonix

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland has joined the après-ski party. with many of its resorts showing how to do it with some style, Verbier, Saas Fee and neighbouring Zermatt all have a vibrant night-life, here are the best five bars to head to in each of them.

Verbier

Verbier used to have a "Hooray Henry" persona, but these days it attracts some serious "snowheads" who like to ski and snowboard to the extreme and follow this up likewise with a wild party and Verbier duly obliges with numerous cabins, pubs and bars to get into the party mood.

Five best bars

Powder Spirit Bar (+41 (0)27 771 32 91) Great name, great views; situated at the top of the Attelas 2 cable car. Popular with snowboarding 'dudes' it has a funky bar, a relaxed pasta restaurant and a colourful lounge area, it also has a great terrace with resident DJ's.

The Offshore (+41 (0)27 771 5444) Rue de Médran. A super-cool bar near to the Médran base station, perfect as a first stop of the evening. It draws in a large snowboarder contingent probably dazzled by the pink VW Beetle parked inside, opens again at breakfast to cure the inevitable hang-overs.

The Pub Mont Fort (+41 (0)27 771 4898) Behind The Offshore – next to the Médran lift. A traditional, famous Verbier restaurant / bar venue which is open 3pm-1.30am, the restaurant serves great food until 10pm then turns into a "shots bar"… if you're still standing.

Hotel Farinet (+41 (0)27 771 66 26) Place Centrale. Home to two of Verbier's most popular venues. The après-ski bar is situated in a terrace-cum-conservatory with a sliding roof hosting (often dubious) live music, later on you may fancy the more laid-back lounge bar which is a stylish whisky bar open until 1.30am.

Central T Bar (+41 (0)27 771 50 00) Just next to Farinet, a stylish modern bar and popular for its large screen live events coverage, it serves excellent cooked breakfasts and tasty lunches before playing the perfect host during the après-ski hours, it also has a well-liked sunny terrace. Open all hours from 8.30am to 1.30am. 

Where to stay 

Kings Parc Hôtel 4* Route de la Poste. A chic boutique hotel with 17 spacious suites, plus the superb Asian fusion restaurant, the Kings bar and the ultra-exclusive Farm Club. A bonus is this hotel does do three- to four-day extended weekend breaks subject to availability.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseeksverbier

Zermatt

Zermatt is well renowned as the gourmet capital of world skiing, but it also has an intimate and intoxicating village vibe with the gorgeous smells emanating from the Crêperies and little kiosks grilling sausages, it also has some great and varied bars to suit all tastes.

Five best bars

Hennu Stalle (+41 (0)27 966 35 10) Situated on the lower part of Furi, this cosy chalet-style mountain hut is also accessible on foot from the village. It gets chockablock with bright happy people enjoying live music, it has a large bar and terrace, plus glüwein, beer and shots a plenty.

Papperla Pub (+41 (0)27 967 39 20) Steinmattenstrasse 34. Again, just above the village but accessible on foot. DJs entertain the packed house at this popular post-ski stop-off, serving good Tex-Mex food as the beer and shots flow.

Hotel Post (+41 (0)27 967 19 31) Bahnhofstrasse 41. A "one-stop shop" of bars and clubs, the Post has long been a Zermatt institution,  popular for its teeming Brown Cow snack bar and pub, popular with the seasonaires. The Pink (live music), the Broken Bar (disco) and the house music being spun in the Village. For a chill-out, head for the Papa Caesar's cocktail lounge.

Grampy's Pub (+41 (0)27 967 77 88), Bahnhofstrasse – across from the Hotel Post. This is a god value pub and disco favoured by Zermatt's army of off-duty hotel workers, waiters, bartenders and ski instructors. 

Vernissage  (+41 (0)27 967 66 36) Last but certainly not least is this brainchild of Zermatt artist Heinz Julen - it is an amazing bar, lounge, restaurant, cinema, club and art gallery, perfect for the discerning visitors of Zermatt and a truly unique venue for any resort to be proud of, well worth adding to your après-ski itinerary.

Where to stay 

Hotel Post 4* Bahnhofstrasse 41. The Post is the funkiest hotel in Zermatt – stylishly refurbished into a chic boutique hotel in 2007. It has no gourmet restaurant, but a host of informal, great-value eateries serving Tex-Mex, pasta and pizza, and steak and chips. This hotel offers stylish contemporary design, a great central location and the best bars in town all in-house.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseekszermatt

Saas Fee

Saas Fee has a quaint and traditional exterior but is also very young at heart with a strong snowboarder contingent adding a joie de vivre to the après-ski scene.

Five best bars

Popcorn (+41 (0)27 957 40 06) Hotel Dom. A snowboard shop by day and bar that morphs into a really buzzing pub/club after hours and has rapidly become a renowned venue with regular live bands especially among the snowboarders, where they also like to 'chillax' in the  'Living Room' bar also in the Hotel Dom.

Nesti’s Bar (+41 (0)27 957 42 11) This bar gets packed out early with revellers downing shots as if they are going out of fashion, the atmosphere is really friendly - get here early or you won't get in.

Zur Muhle Situated by the slopes, the terrace of Zur Muhle catches the last of the sun's rays so it quickly becomes packed with people fenced in by their own skis planted in the snow from mid-afternoon.

Black Bull  Like Zur Muhle, this rocking bar and terrace is packed as it gets the last of the sun’s rays. The music is pumping from the afternoon until late.

Hotel Metropol. (+41 (0)27 957 10 01) A four star hotel with a number of popular bars in-house including the Metropol lounge with pool tables the stylish Sans Souci bar and a smart nightclub.

Where to stay 

Feriernart Resort and Spa 5* The best in town - a wonderful chalet-style hotel with an ideal slope-side location, five superb restaurants and the "Vernissage" – its in-vogue cocktail bar. Amenities include a full sports centre complex and a top-class spa and pool, this is an outstanding luxury hotel.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseekssaasfee

ITALY

Sauze d'Oulx

A hugely popular Italian resort with the British who invade ‘Susie’ every winter - Sauze d’Oulx in the Via Lattea ‘The Milky Way’ leaves many a reveler seeing stars after a night on the town, it has a quaint old town with laid back wining and dining suited to the many wealthy Italian Turiners who visit, and the new part of town which is littered with bars and pubs catering to and dominated by the boisterous Brits.

Five best bars

Village Café/Bar (+39 (0)122 858 660) On Via Miramonti, at the bottom of the last run into town. It's the biggest pub in town and rocks on until late, and to get you properly in the mood your first beer is free!

New Scotch Pub (+39 (0)122 850 785) on Via Clotes. Most people like to start the night here, it serves British ales and always has a cracking atmosphere.

Moncrons (+39 (0)122 858 051) at the edge of the village, next door to the Derby Bar and Hotel. This British-owned bar serves the best cocktails in town and also has regular quiz nights.

Vagabondi (+39 (0)122 858 257) Centrally located, this place provides a lively mix of Italian and British music played live every night from 11pm.

The Cotton Club (+39 (0)122 850 777) on Piazza Assietta. This is one of the best bars in town and certainly the liveliest. Great music played loudly to a friendly crowd. Gets very busy late-on.

Where to stay 

Il Capricorno 4* A well run and welcoming hotel with a cosy rustic feel; spacious, clean rooms; a great slope-side location; and a very good restaurant.

Read my guide

www.tumbl.it/simonseekssauze

Use the links to go to any of my Simon Seeks ski guides which comprehensively cover all the resorts above, they feature all the best bars and mountain and village restaurants and places to stay including all the contact details.

Please reply to this guide below to let me know if you think I have missed a deserving entry into the Top 10 Après-ski Resorts and most popular venues.

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More information on My Top 10 European après-ski resorts:

Author:
Tim Scrafton
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
3
Average: 3 (2 votes)
Total views:
3050
First uploaded:
15 February 2010
Last updated:
3 years 49 weeks 6 days 19 hours 57 min 56 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Food and Drink, Nightlife, Winter Sports
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
ski, snowboard, clubbing, apres ski

Tim recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Hotel Post
£76
N/A
2. Hotel Ferienart Resort & Spa
£250
N/A
3. Hotel Elisabeth
£201
N/A
4. Hotel Strass
£46
N/A
5. Barmes De L'ours
N/A
6. Il Capricorno
N/A
7. Kings Parc Hotel
£280
N/A
8. Hotel Des Grand Alpes
£213
N/A
9. Sporthotel Manni
£189
N/A
10. Hotel Allodis
N/A

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Community comments (3)

Rating:
3
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I quite liked this guide, and I think it is something that would be helpful if updated. When I am booking a winter holiday, I look at the whole package, which includes the quality of the runs, the costs and the "apres-ski".

Tim is obviously well travelled, and sharing his experience of the resorts, preferably beyond a simple top 10 would be a guide worth reading.

What I note particularly about Tim's guide is that he appreciates the difference between Apres-Ski (i.e. what happens when you come off the slopes) and nightlife (i.e. what you do in the evening). I have booked several resorts based upon reviews which claimed that they had good Apres Ski, only to be disappointed.

For example:
Pas De La Casa. This is a lively resort in the evening, but Apres Ski is very low key.

Les Deux Alpes. Apparently a lively resort, ok in the evenings - but zero Apres ski apart from one bar in the mountains.

With regard to Mayrhofen - pretty much a spot on review.... but... seriously, you cannot have Scotland Yard on the list and miss off the Bruckenstahl is my favourite bar for Apres. Cheesy German music. Full of people of all nationalities drinking singing and dancing straight off the slopes. Everything you'd want from proper Apres ski!

Dave

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Rating:
3
1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

Tim, I can see what you are trying to do – repackage material from your excellent ski guides, to replicate the success of Top 10 European Ski Resorts for Guaranteed Snow. However, this approach just doesn't work for bars. First, the idea isn't clever enough; you need to take your thinking to a whole new level, either by giving us much more personal insight, detail and charm (eg, My Top 10 European Après-Ski Resorts and Why I Love Them – homing in on just one bar in each, say, and really describing the clientele, the atmosphere, the drinks, the music) or by making the theme much cuter and sharper (eg, Pub Crawl on the Piste: 10 Après-ski Bars Linked by Ski Route; or 10 Après-ski Bars that Brew Their Own Beer; or The World's Top 10 Après-ski Moments – based on particular experiences, recounted beautifully). The problem, as always, is that you are trying to write War and Peace when a haiku will do. You need to narrow your focus and make your task more manageable. The other problem is that there is not much of interest to say about bars: all your descriptions sound the same, and it ends up being a rather degenerate, laddish romp about happy hours and dancing on the tables. Finally, you have let yourself down again by not writing in proper sentences (some tracts are just stream of consciousness with a few stray commas) and by being inaccurate: is it Kuhstal or Kuhstall (you have both)?… and après-ski should always be hyphenated. I began to edit this – and it is in slightly better shape than when you submitted it – but I just didn't think it was worth the time investment of your other guides. I have therefore given it a lower score. If readers disagree, please say so. Is this the kind of thing you find useful?

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Hi Andrew,

... Ouch!

Thanks for the comments though.. all very helpful.. as you don't just kick, you explain why.. which is the really important bit.

Nevertheless, if I was to reconstruct this guide I would have to place - on personal experience and number of times visited - the 'Underground' in St Anton (now a slightly smaller venue as it is sited in the owners own house!) and re-titled 'Underground on the Piste', and the 'Shatzi bar' in Ischgl as my top 1 and 2.

re: German spelling of the bar Kuhstall - that is the correct spelling, it literally means 'cowshed' which is most probably what it was before we invaded the cow's party.

The review comments are appreciated and taken onboard.

Cheers Tim.