So where's the snow?

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


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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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Swingle has a brilliant day

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Bella and me in the snow

Well, spring is coming and I can lounge around in the garden sun again! While there’s no more snow to roll in, there’s lots of smelly things emerging for perfume and even the odd dead Woozle * to snack on- I’ve even caught and munched a few live ones too.  But yesterday was just a great day.

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Lucy and me

It started with Boss taking me for a quick stroll up the lane, but the Woozles had already gone back to bed even though I poked around in the undergrowth, yet it was a good early morning stretch of the legs. Then she went out and left me with some chews AND a bone to keep me occupied while she was out- she never leaves the TV on for me……

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Me Woozle hunting

Just after she got back,  Lucy, my best Austrian friend popped round to say she was just going for a walk and she’d be around in the afternoon. We quickly ran around the garden to check for any new Woozles and then she was off. Then to my surprise Boss told me to get in the car, and as I can now navigate, it was soon clear we were on the way to Bella’s House – she’s my best English speaking friend – I’m a bi-lingual dog you see! We had a quick turn around the garden and we were then both told to get in the car! So exciting! We sat together and wondered where we were going, it couldn’t be the vets because we go to different ones. We chatted about some good smells we’d had and then we were there. It was the river walk with the fields and stinky stuff – brilliant. We ran and swam – though Bella said it was still a bit cold for her as she has more hair than me. We rolled in some really fresh stuff and sneaked a couple of mouthfuls of yummy stuff while the two Bosses chatted.  I even swam across the Mur when I thought I saw a huge bone on the island but it was plastic! So we romped back, and into the car, and even better, when we got to Bella’s we had another play AND treats!

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Me and a Woozle I caught and killed last year

Sadly, I was soon packed back in the car, and  we went up to the Castle where He works. I found some interesting bits under a bin while waiting, then we went home for lunch, which I assisted with. I was just thinking of a snooze when Lucy came round as promised. We went to her house but couldn’t find any Woozles, so we came back and played here. I was just beginning to feel a bit tired and so was Lucy so she went home.  So I came in and helped Boss writing from the comfort of the spare bed!

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Me Woozling on sofa

Then the day was nearly perfect. I’d just helped them wash their empty yoghurt pots and was trying the hypnosis as usual, when it must have worked as I heard her saying how much exercise I’d had, and blow me down, she gave me a bit of dinner! So after that, in thankfulness, I gave them the honour of me sitting between them on the sofa all evening, I don’t know why they kept on flapping their hands and the tv pages, but what ho! a brilliant day!

  • Woozle, originating in Winnie the Pooh, it has become a family word!
  •  noun:small wriggling creature such as a mouse that lives in the undergrowth, or verb: a dog or child having a lovely wriggle!
  • In the Urban dictionary
    (verb) to fossick purposefully and with enthusiasm, head down tail up


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The Journey#1

We have been packing for months and I have been missing my books for so long. Dave finished his job at the Castle. We had been dithering about what to do. We wanted to take a holiday and should we do it in Austria or the UK. We could store in Wales and then go off visiting. We prayed over it. We also couldn’t decide between driving over or to go with the man and van who could take the dog. So, I rang him, and he was free for the weekend of August 13-15th.

That Wednesday, I told the Docs that I would leave, regardless of what we decided, and drove home with the electric lawnmower in the back of the car. Over the railway line, and clunk! I lost all drive and drove the Panda right, fortunately off the road and into a car park. The OAMTC was called, and I was towed to the garage where we had bought it. They said they would diagnose and call us back. I lashed out and got a taxi home. When they called, it was the coupling between the gearbox and the engine. €900. It also needed €700 for a new timing belt, which we hadn’t had done after the last MOT. The next day, we sold it back to the garage for €2200, along with the trailer. A friend saw us at the bus stop, gave us a lift in and took all the gear from the back of the car home for us. The garage then picked up the trailer. We then took the train back after getting the money.

Stress went on up. In our last week, we had to do a changeover for a holiday house for a friend, but at least, he picked us up. Then it was a list writing time of all that needed doing. I had to order covid tests for us to travel, which would be done in Tamsweg. I had to fill in a transfer of residence form for the DVLC (thanks Brexit) which meant writing an inventory, so this couldn’t be done until we’d packed most things. Once the tests were done, I had to do a Passenger location form for travelling, and book  more tests, with proof for Day 2 in the UK.

On top of all this, packing up, and we had to leave so much junk, because we couldn’t get to the tip.I was overtired and got in a panicky stress about the timing of the forms. Dave said he was worried about me, as I struggled with all the information, but he wouldn’t lift a finger to help me do the things because they were on the computer. I had a complete meltdown, threw things at him, and stormed out. It was good to clear the air, but didn’t lessen the load, but at least he was good at packing.

We walked in the heat to the Covid test station at Tamsweg, to find they had only noted one appointment. I was really worried about doing the test, but they were helpful. The next day, while in the last flurry of packing, I left to meet my best mate, Jenny to have lunch and say bye, only to get a phone call saying the van man, Mark, had made great time and was nearly there. Dave wasn’t amused. I got back, asap. Swingle even got into the box in the van, so that worry lessened. Then Mark saw the pile of boxes and books and DVDs. We got them in, and he said he was worried that the van would be overloaded. So, we went to Lager haus, who had a weighbridge. The van was 400kg overweight, without most of the furniture. We had to leave one or the other behind. It broke my heart to think all my books that I had already missed for over a year, might have to be lost. Then I remembered some friends of our who run a freight company and rang them. They could get them back! So we piled them on a pallet ready for collection. Soon, the van was packed, but even so, we had to leave more furniture behind than planned. Door shut, Mark was off to sleep, only to find the bloke at reception of the village Pension I’d booked, hadn’t heard of the booking and for a while, we thought we might have to find another. We went on packing the last things, and putting rubbish into bags. I thought the vet had forgotten Swingle, and we didn’t get there till nearly nine to get her passport done. More stress. On top of this, the Red Cross had sent only one text for the results, and while the QR codes worked, I couldn’t tell which one belonged to who0. In the end, hoping I wouldn’t cause them to be blocked, I put one set of details in, then found which one was which. BUT, I needed to print them out, they were on the phone as PDF files, and I couldn’t get them to the PC to print. Finally, I found a way to convert them to word and could save them to email and print. Maybe if I had been less tired, I would have worked it out quicker. I had already woken early in the morning stressing that I hadn’t a QR code reader on my phone and didn’t know how to use one. It turned out I just needed to download the test company App, but as above could only do it for one test.

In the early morning, I got fed up at not being able to take so many of our things, hiding my favourite mugs in the bedding. Mark arrived at 3am, and in the darkness, we put the last things in. Swingle, with her smelly rugs, jumped happily into the crate. It was in the dark and padded with the mattresses, so she shouldn’t be too hot. I had filled out all the forms, working late into the evenings the night before, but I had it all ready in my folder. We left Madling in darkness and it wasn’t until about five it got light.