So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Taking a break

Hi Folks, I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from posting for the moment. I’ve been diarying all about how things are going, but after some comments (not on WordPress), am not going to continue to talk truthfully about how this move is both blessing and frustrating me. I’ll just post some piccies instead!

When we arrived in Cardiff, these Buddleia were flowering everywhere and I’m sure, in years to come when I smell their heavy, musky scent, I’ll be taken back to this time.

Your support is so appreciated and when we are in our new home and settled, I’ll be back.


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The Call

During my last broken night, in the early hours of the morning, when the streets were quiet, I had the most extraordinary experience. A man’s voice, calling out at full blast. It was both primal and feral. It wasn’t a wolf’s call or distress. It was a communication and put my hairs on end. In a matter of seconds, I heard a reply, quieter because it seemed more distance. Not the same, but alike. Like a signal. It wasn’t a dream. In these big cities, there must be many sub cultures, not just the drunks and the beggars. An underworld of hidden community. Good or evil who knows, but it had me thinking of those post apocalyptic films, a world beyond the every day.


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Meltdown

Tuesday morning, I woke up so low, after yet another broken night’s sleep. Fed up with just wasting time here, filling days trying to find things to do. Stuck in this room, and all the extra dosh it’s costing. If it hadn’t been that Mark had an opening and we wanted to move before the restrictions changed for the worse, I would have hung on, less frustrated a bit longer. Everything just getting to me, I even ended up in tears, a rare thing for me.

Dave was brilliant and made me tell him all this. We decided to walk down to the Bay and have another look around. This time, we found the old docks. More information would be great, there was none there. We’d had a lie in, so we had at nearly lunchtime cake (yes GF Free) at a café, and chatted to an old lady about her old dog. We followed a sort of path by a hotel which lead us to a marsh area, where Swingle finally got a cooling dip. We then found ourselves on the round the Bay path, discussing which houses we would like to live in, finding out more of Cardiff. Near Cardiff dock, we found a restaurant and feasted on gammon and Dave streak and Ale pie -see my earlier comments! It took us about four hours and it really took me out of myself. We saw so much, ending back up on the barrage, where Swingle had a big swim. Aching feet, but a peace that we had found a great day out, weren’t just killing time. Now crashed out again in the room. Almost the best day yet!


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So it goes on…

Saturday and a week here. It poured with rain, and we popped into the town for some shopping and got soaked. But I had the totally luxurious pleasure of reading the Saturday telegraph, sat on the bed and time to do it. What am I enjoying being home? Shops, familiar products and shopping, as I’ve said before, staff here are trained to be friendly, don’t care if they don’t mean it, it makes me realize how unfriendly Austrian ones are. When I need to ask something, I’m still rehearsing it as if it was to be in German! Mr Whippy ice cream. Understanding most of what is being said around me- we are in an international hotel. I’m still thinking I need to change the time zones, and suddenly realise I don’t! For a gluten intolerant person, I’ve found great ways of finding food for our picnicking. But eating out, the menus go from fish, chips, burgers, to all sorts of odd new dishes that I don’t even know what they are. English cooking has changed, no more gammon steaks, cottage pies, pie and mash, roasts, or am I more than a decade out?

We aren’t doing a lot, with no car, we’re fairly limited. Parks here have dogs off leads, and now Swingle has caught up on herself, she’s loving meeting lots of new dogs. Dave and I are picnicking with food, there’s a Coop across the road from the hotel. But I’ve had baked potatoes and cheese from a stand, wonderful!

We’ve explored all around the Cardiff bay area, and are fascinated by all the old feeder canals leading into Atlantic wharf, where they used to ship coal. Very little information, what a lost opportunity. I’ve photographed the whole network. We’ve been to Cardiff Bay, a huge tourist trap where Dr Who has been filmed. The huge shopping centre we’ve also explored, but thankfully for our bank balance and due to the dog, not much shopping. There are a lot of beggars, some of whom I think are fake, as they seem well dressed with phones. But one old guy, with tattoos on his face, who is out long before the others are up, I’ve given to several times.

Swingle loves the endless sniffs, other dogs and now is sleeping at night. The first few sleeps, she had us out in the early hours, maybe because her system was out of sync and she was drinking a lot too. She’s had more exercise than for years as we explore! We do think that the journey took a lot out of her. We had several broken nights where she began wriggling and tail wagging in the dark like when she needs to go out. And she did. But on one night, on the last we got outside and she just looked at me. The next time, I stroked her and comforted her, she jumped on the bed and settled. Panic attack? It’s still going on, but she is settling. She’s back to swimming at every opportunity, especially in the big park in Cardiff. Most embarrassing was when she did an enormous pee right out side Cardiff station, I make a point of helping her to find places to go now!

I’m soooooo looking forward to being in my own home, not just one room, getting my house ready, gardening, shopping for the house and having a car!

Sunday, we took the train to Barry Island, and Swingle had a ball. Sandy beaches, and she ran like a nutter, although not as much on her first trip in France. She’s seven now! She met so many dogs, who were also off the lead. She was in heaven. She did spoil it by rolling in seagull poo… The sun shone and we found a food caravan that did a gluten-free bacon and egg roll, I’d almost given up with such stands. Sheer bliss! Barry island was so quintessentially English holiday with crowds of people, glad I won’t be there on the Bank holiday! We looked for the railway to keep our street cred up with George, but it seemed closed!

So we will now be here until Saturday August 28th when we go to annoy George over the bank holiday. Cost a bit, but we haven’t had a proper holiday like this for over 14 years. We have to be out tomorrow as we have asked for housekeeping. Due to Covid restrictions, this isn’t done while the rooms are lived in, but you can request it. Doggy footprints on quilt and hair, so embarrassing. BUT I will be stripping the beds, after all my years of moaning when guests in our business never did it!

Monday has us wandering around Cardiff, washing off the dog in the river Taff as her coat was still full of salt! Trying to find somewhere to eat, all these odd sounding dishes that I have no idea if I will tolerate. Cant even do Greggs (which wasn’t here when we lived here).\ We found a hugely expensive cottage pie, when I just wanted a filling meal with all our picnicking in the hotel. When it turned up, it was the size of a small tea plate and about an inch deep.  Roll on, when I, who hates cooking, can cook a meal I like! 

Finally got my own UK account to send my pension to, just hope there are no more dramas, just moving into our new home!


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In Cardiff

All three of us slept like logs, and spent Sunday exploring Cardiff. We found the city centre and the shops; it was great to be shopping on a Sunday! On Monday we went on the train up to Mountain Ash, the town near where our new house is. Swingle had never travelled on a train before, and was totally stressed, and panted like mad. It didn’t help that we were right by the engine. She calmed a bit, but was eager to get off. It was a small local train. We walked through the town to the estate agents and found it as run down as when we were on Google streets. When we got to the agents, we found we should have rung before to arrange, but we made an appointment for the next day. We were told that the owners were fed up with the lack of progress, and said we were too, having been ready to move for ages. We found a chip shop on the way back to the station, but they were so fatty. But Swingle enjoyed helping us. She was calmer on the way back. I then got myself in a state about the non arrival of the text for the day two covid tests, especially when I called the helpline, and they said they had been delivered. They hadn’t. In the end, there was nothing I could do but wait, in case they turned up and eventually I received an email saying they had only just been dispatched. So what hadn’t been delivered the day before?

Stef had received the surveyor’s report that said the house needs some work done on the roof, there was rising damp and some electricals needed checking. We decided we would wait and see. Larry said that all old houses have rising damp, his had and they had even had it fixed and it hadn’t worked! I felt quite calm over the whole thing.

The next morning, Swingle was much quieter on the train, but not 100%. Dave and I had fun getting our photos done for our railcard in one of those old booths. We walked up the hill to Cfenpennar and discovered an old abandoned railway line for mining on the way up. When we got to the village, it was sooo strange seeing somewhere we had seen in the photos. We found the owners there clearing the garden. They looked very typical working class, and I didn’t believe all they said. But the problems didn’t seem to bad. The rising damp was around the fireplace in the front room, maybe the coldest room in the house. Oh I loved it after all this time. Swingle nearly jumped in the pond. And they aren’t including the Landrover. They even offered us to move things in, but we felt we had to chat to Stef first. Tired and elated, we went back with a much calmer dog. The tests arrived, we did them, and posted them off. I even go into Primark for five minutes!

Wednesday, we went to Cardiff castle, only to find we couldn’t go in anywhere with a dog, so we took turns in the keep, then walked miles along the river Taff, and then down to the Cardiff sea front. Dave and I have discovered what were old canals leading into a huge wharf. They are a source of fascination and I will photo later. I was so tired that we bought burgers and collapsed in a heap here. We extended our stay in this hotel as we haven’t been able to find anywhere else, it’s a cheap budget hotel, with dogs allowed. We’re now watching Midsummer murders, the UK tv now we have it seeming a bit of a letdown, not found anything we like yet! I sent Stef her money for the deposit on the house, we’re just hoping the solicitors get their fingers out, and we get in soon. Apparently, the owners got on at theirs yesterday and the two actually spoke yesterday. Still no news as I wrote!

Thursday we walked along the Cardiff barrier and then the beach to X. I’m trying not to think about the non arrival of the tests. What if we need to isolate? NO, they will be negative. I’m not going in the website to track their progress. I’d rather not know! I seem to be moving on a bit at last. But they were posted Tuesday afternoon, so it’s now 48 hours… I didn’t read the bad reviews of the company, really!

Dave’s test arrived Thursday evening, and mine the following day, both negative. I really thought we had reached the end if the stress, I’d even been planning what we would do if one was left in quarantine, but surely, being so close together, we’d both be clear.

Friday had us walking to a laundrette, who thankfully, did a service wash. We spent the day, moseying around Bute park by the Castle, and laughing at the display of dinosaurs being set up for the ban/k holiday. They were to scale and did actually move, but the fake roaring, while it impressed all the dogs walking past, had me in giggles. They sounded like bad actors doing roaring from70s films. I had finally given the kids their inheritance, which had been promised, and sorted out a UK bank account which I would need for my Austrian pension to be sent here.

Then came an email from the Gov UK saying they were considering rejecting our Transfer of Residence because I had sent one form in the wrong format, not a PDF. My world fell apart. I had screwed up yet again, after the passenger location forms, not putting Hotel on the test booking, although it wasn’t my fault that the tests in Austria had only had one test notification. Back at the Hotel, I was in a panic as I tracked down the form for our tenancy agreement. Jpeg, not PDF. In desperation, I found a firm that would do this online, but it didn’t work. Eventually I found the method I used with the test forms. I now rang GOV. Man said that they were all working from home, and then couldn’t open my file. So I explained the situation, and when I said that we were already here, and the furniture in storage, he said don’t bother! It was meant to be used at customs when we arrived. (*&^%$£”£r%£!”! After all that stress. I sent the form anyway, said what I had been told and tried to forget it. But the company who was supposed to have done the altering for me, never sent. I emailed them, no reply. In the morning, I checked reviews and found most said they were a scam. What a twit I had been. I cancelled the credit card so they couldn’t take any more money and rang Steph. She said that our tenancy form didn’t have enough info on it for someone to make mischief. That helped a lot. Then I got an email with a document from the company, unchanged, so they were a scam. Enough said.


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The Journey#2

It was strange sitting so high in the van, but Mark is a professional driver, so I let go and really tried not to drive with him. He cut in and out in a way I’d never have the courage to do. At the border with Germany, we unexpectedly caught a jam. Two accidents, then we sailed through. We stopped after four hours as we reckoned that Swingle would sleep. After that, we made it every couple of hours. It was a warm day, and we made sure we kept her hydrated. She would be so pleased to see us, then leap out to all the great smells in the stops. I just loved all the changing scenery as we went through Germany and France. We reached Calais, after one major jam for a car accident. Swingle was scared by the sirens, but we couldn’t get her out and it took half an hour to find a place to stop, but she had calmed by then. Mark has been moving animals for years and he was completely right about how she would handle it. The dark place became safe for her.

We got to our hotel in Calais in good time as Mark knew a shortcut that by bypassed a load of traffic. We parked in a compound that housed all the vehicles for the Calais police force. They kept a van permanently parked there. During the night, they set off some alarms and there was shouting; I guess they had arrested someone. We saw a group of non uniformed officers going off on plain clothes duty. And in our room, Swingle’s water got spilled all over the floor! We went for a walk, but there were no parks. We couldn’t find an evening meal so ended up getting snacks from Lidl! The air was warm and it was a hot, close night. Despite having drinking lots on the journey, Swingle downed two bowls of water in the room. That resulted in two trips out in the night and a poop. We went to our rooms in the lift first of all, she scared herself by seeing a black dog in the lift mirror and looked for it behind the mirror. Then her tail stopped the door shutting. In the night, we took her to the huge roundabout opposite the hotel, so much traffic in the day she loved it. She had major sensory overload on each stop, from so many other dogs!

We were zombie like in the morning. We left for the P&O ferry at Calais; the tunnel having gone up hugely in price at the beginning of the summer. Mark was nervous as there had been so many problems with the border control over the Covid months, and he’d just heard that from the weekend, France would be only accepting essential UK travellers.

We went to the first booth, manned by two grumpy looking officers who wouldn’t speak but ordered us to the UK border control. There were various groups from Romania etc, who seemed to be having problems getting through. When or turn came, we had a smile and waved through. Mark had told us we had our location forms linked to our passports, so I guessed all was Ok. We felt a huge relief.

When we got to the P&O kiosk, the proverbial hit the fan. Inside was sat a poker faced guy, with long hair and glasses, and wouldn’t react to Mark’s politeness. We had to do all the forms, and he refused our location forms because I hadn’t put we had come through France, so our form was green for Austria, not Amber for France. I was getting my files and laptop to change it, but Mark did a whole new form. It got us through, but I’m having kittens that on Monday morning I’ll get a call from Gov UK demanding an explanation. Then the chip reader couldn’t find Swingles chip, and grumpy pants had to get another. We queued for the ferry, glad to have left grumpy pants behind. We guessed he was part of the French not liking the UK, and he didn’t want to do all these checks. Then as we were about to board, one of the Marshalls said we were missing a yellow sticker, Grumpy’s bloodymindedness or stress?

Once on, we left Swingle in the van and had breakfast in the lorry drivers’ café, the staff were so helpful and I even got some gluten free toast, eggs and bacon! She was fine, maybe the ferry’s engine’s made her think the van was moving, we certainly didn’t need to dope her. Once off the ferry, we sailed through customs  much to Mark’s relief. I felt a bit emotional at finally returning home, but was so tired, I remained calm. The journey to Wales was uneventful, with few traffic jams. We took all our furniture to the store, and they opened up for us. It seemed so little. Swingle was reaching the end of her tether with the box. She started scratching to get out of it each time we shut the door, only to quieten when the engine started. At the store, I tied her to a trolley and gave her a big chew that cheered her up. At the hotel she was out like a bullet, having been in the rattly, empty bus.

Then in Cardiff, the road was closed to the hotel, and Mark drove us around the block to find it He was so kind to do it, we were all geared up to catch the train into Cardiff. He made all the difference to the trip. I would have gone to pieces with the driving and the problems. But our troubles were over. When we checked in, our Covid tests hadn’t arrived. I rang the firm, who said they had been returned due to a wrong address. I had written in the name from the booking form and had been unable to find a number and had the right post code. The bloke was really helpful, although I was so angry. Why hadn’t I been contacted? I had been under such stress I’d forgotten that I should get a text when they were despatched, it seems royal mail didn’t even dispatch them and the man hinted it was my fault for not writing hotel on the address. He promised to get them dispatched asap Monday, but did hint it was my fault for not writing hotel! But I checked all the documents, and non had hotel on the name. It remains to see if they will turn up. And we won’t take the rest on Monday, He said it was okay to do it on the third, as it was due to courier failure. I just hope.