So where's the snow?

Muddling through life from Austria to Wales; God, life and a small black dog

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Going back

Way back in the 1980s, Dave and I lived in a tied cottage on the Beaulieu estate in Hampshire. Our first married home and we brought our babies home to it. This is the only picture I could find of the house from the front , and there are none of the entrance from the lane. After seven years, when Dave had a major problem with his arm, we were evicted (although by agreement rather than force) and that day was one of the worst in my life. Even now, when I am bothered about something, I dream of Little Marsh lodge, which is maybe because I’m tapping into that trauma, or it was a wrenching out of a place I loved.

This picture was taken from a helicopter ride I had over the hosue, you can see it under the peddle. The field up and to the left is now a lake.

Over the years, I returned on several occasions to slink down the track past the house to the sea. It seemed the same. Then we heard it had been sold to an actress and after a few alterations, it was completely revamped, even winning prizes.

So, when we were in Hampshire a few weeks ago, Dave, George(our son) and I went to have a look. I embarrassed them by walking down the lane and banging on the door, but although the front door was ajar,and dogs barking, there was no answer, so we walked along the sea front.

This is the entrance from the house side. and below is now, from the other direction, our shed and trees long gone.

Looking at the photos, I see our past has been totally wiped. What was the main house next to the beach has been demolished and what looks like a modern monstrosity being built in it’s place.

Here is where the cattle field had been dug out and turned into a lake.

I know its not good to go back and things don’t stay static, but now, and I’ve never felt this before, it’s over. I never want or need to go back -except. maybe to see what the new house on the beach looks like. I’ve another long overdue closure, but I still want to go back to the house we lived in in Winchester as that has never changed from the outside.

Little Marsh will live on in my mind, my photos, our chat. Maybe I’ve handed it on to our kids too, George can remember it, having been six when we left, our daughter can’t remember it at all. I’m sad that it’s gone for ever, subconsciously I had been hanging on to it. I wonder where I will dream of next time I’m worrying about something?

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A new spiritual home!

One of the main reasons we decided to return to the UK was that we were running dry spiritually. The Protestant church we were in had its head firmly buried in concrete and was battered by constant feuds and personality conflicts. We had a Bible group with some friends of ours, but they neither wanted to move on nor try yet again to build a new fellowship with the Christians in the area. All the things we discussed were treated with wariness until they heard it from an Austrian source! The Lungau might have been a natural paradise, but spiritually it was a desert.

So, when we started looking at parts of the UK, we always searched the churches and fellowships in the area, and Wales in comparison to the UK seemed full of ones to explore. When we looked at Mountain ash, there seemed to be churches all over the place. It wasn’t until we got here, that we found google was listing empty buildings and many that had been demolished, even two in Cfenpennar. But lockdown had us searching online services and we soon picked up that in Rhonda Cynon Taff, our area, there were many free churches and we would surely find an alive fellowship.

We didn’t have a car to start, and so decided to go to those in walking distance, and so ended up at the Baptist church in the town. We walked into the warmth of a living fellowship, small in numbers, and an older congregation, but so full of the spirit, we knew that we didn’t need to go any further, we had found our new home!

There was a new pastor, and we met him and his wife and found fellow hearts for the area and bringing people to the Lord. It’s been such an utter relief to be home! Over the past months things are moving on and we’re so thrilled to be part of this, it was something we came home for. They started by blessing the fellowship that was already there, with love and Christmas celebrations, what a beautiful thing to do. We started a children’s club, which had a slow start, and last week we had a prayer breakfast with other churches which rocked my spiritual socks. All the other fellowships are of the same heart for the area, and out of this are coming a walk of witness on Good Friday, evening services, Mothers’ day teas, all sorts of wonderful things. I’m just leaping about with excitement! Only downside, was that while it was brilliant to sing songs we sang in Lymington Baptist church all those years ago, there are some great new ones…

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Free this weekend!

These frank memoirs follow what should have been a privileged childhood, pony mania, a badly behaved teenage, a year out on a farm in Switzerland, working as a zookeeper, running a smallholding, marriage, and family. Yet, it wasn’t until a traumatic eviction that I found faith, my way back to horses and a new beginning.


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I guess this is a point every house move goes through. Waiting for the solicitors to get their fingers out and do the deal. The seller wants to get going, we want to get going. Why does it have to take so long? When we left the UK, with no chain either side, we did the whole thing in six weeks. It’s now four weeks since the searches were sent out and they were instructed on June 11th.

I admit patience is not my strong point!

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On early mornings as the dog and I wander along the lane, I begin to think, have we made the right decision? The bird song and the flowers have been such a joy. It is lovely here in the summer. I enjoy my library job, my friends. Making wine, walking in the hills, when we get a chance. We have the most amazing health system here too.

Then I think back to winter and ice. Walking the dog is no fun. There’s nothing to do here as we don’t ski and never want to. The church here is dead on it’s feet. We arrived, so full of excitement, but no one would listen or let us try anything new. I was on the PCC and tried to show people Jesus. What I’m getting at is, we have integrated which was always our goal. I have good local friends. Yet, I find it odd, when acquaintances in the village say, we’re so sorry you’re going. But when did we meet for more than a casual chat?

I’m tired of working in another language. But I’ll be proud to speak it when we get back.

We never wanted to get into the Expat gang, but did for a while. I don’t see the point of going to a country and just knowing people of my own nationality. My best friend is English, but that’s because we hit it off, and I will miss her so much, but we have internet communication, and we’ll meet in the UK.

The travelling and sadness when we leave family. Yes, of course, it’s a special situation when you visit. But I would like to see a bit more of the family. Never be so far from them when there’s trouble.

I miss huge, English supermarkets and the choice. Here, for someone who hates cooking, the choice is limited. I miss worshiping in my own language, in a big congregation, arms raised to God. I’ve only see one cautious hand raised here. We will find a loving, full on Christian community and have a study group, a witness.

Then I look at the rust on part of the roof on our block of flats, the larch tree that will eventually block my beloved view of the castle, the bathroom that needs and extractor fan, and feel relieved, I don’t need to think about these any more.

The flat is sold, so there’s no going back.