So where's the snow?

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

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The contract

After a long. long winter, things are moving along on the sales front. We had agreed a price in the autumn and after sorting some things out, the buyers have got the contract organised! They will sign it in Vienna, then send it to us, then back to Vienna. Once it is entered in the ‘Ground Book’, we will be paid, Whoop, whoop!

It’s certainly less complicated than the UK, and there’s no Estate Agent as it’s a private sale. No capital gains as we have been here over ten years as our main residency. Then, Covid permitting, we will pack up, maybe truck all our belongings with us and rent somewhere in the UK till we find our forever home. Or we may hang on until the summer when maybe the vaccination passport gets going for Europe, we have an agreement with the buyers that we can stay until October. Or we may store the furniture and come back later for it. Or if we find we dont like England anymore, we can come back here as we wont give up our residency!

It’s been such a long time, I’m a bit numb. The desperate longing rises now and then, but we’ve sort of switched off over the winter. I can’t face another winter here, all that trucking through the snow with the dig, despite my shoe nails. I want grass and snow drops in February! I want a life with more people in it, family. We’re now starting to pack things up as I’m haunted by the last move when we had to clear out sixteen years of family life.

We’ve been watching the market and it’s sad, but there are suddenly a lot of nearly affordable retirement homes for sale, but we don’t feel ready for that yet. A little terrace house in a small town in Wales would be good, where there are lots of churches to find a new spiritual home, and all that coastline, hills and castles to explore. Our home town of New Milton, being on the south coast and near a National Park is now way beyond our budget, although I would love to return to New Life Church.

We’ve looked at park homes, but you have to pay Ground rent, fees etc plus Council tax and we worry that that they wouldn’t actually be that secure.

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The death of a neighbour

img_3404He was a dear old man and lived across the lane from us. We only really got to know him after his wife died and he would take regular walks up the farm track. He would have snacks for Swingle in his pocket and she would hurtle off if she caught scent of him and sit barking until she was fed. I was always worried that she would knock him over as he was a bit wobbly. At the foot of this post are some of the blog posts I wrote about him.

But as time went by, he got a bit better on his feet and over the years, I would stop and chat with him. When the fence fell down, he giggled and said, ‘Schlaganfall’ or stoke. He met up with some of the older ladies who lived nearby who also took and afternoon stroll and I said they were the Pensioners running club.

He stopped feeding Swingle when he ran out of his biscuits, and he was a bit more wobbly. I would give him a bottle of wine and a mince pie or Christmas cake, and he would invite me in for a tea. He had built the house himself, and although its by the road, it has a spectacular view down the Mur.

Then he had a fall and because of his blood pressure went into an old people’s home while he got better, where his family said he was happy, with the photo of his wife he used to chat to.

Then  a few weeks ago, we got the deathogram. He had passed away at 92 from Corona.

To all of you who wont shield, have a vaccination and believe the lies on the internet, feeding a spurious paranoia about the bug. This man didn’t have to die, he had a few precious years left with his family. If not for the bug, he would be pottering up the lane even now.  You are convicted of a selfishness that is beyond belief.

Last Christmas, I took little gifts of cake and my homemade wine around to the neighbours. One result was Mr B, who we had been on hello terms with before, suddenly thawed and now stops and chats to us all the time. Widowed a couple of years ago (his wife was on the garage roof picking cherries a few months before she went), he’s on his own but takes a daily constitutional along the lane.  When it was icy I had constant fear that I’d find him fallen, as he’s a bit wobbly, but I think he goes so slowly he’s OK! Sometimes I see him dozing in the sun. He now carries a pocketful of treats for Swingle and if she sees him or I say his name, she’s off like a bullet – the tart! And I treasure this little friendship. Paggy used to slag him off all the time, but I find him a simple, honest man. I noticed the other day as the lane was  thawing someone had built little canals for the water to flow away- Mr B gleefully told me he’d been playing with his walking stick!

Swingle has now trained Mr B to carry biccies for her. If we’re along the lane, she can scent he is there and rushes off barking as loud as she can. She stops and sits by him, and he drops the titbits in her mouth. Presently I catch up and we chat, and sometimes he gives me a sweet!!!!!!  I took this photo secretly so I can make it into a Christmas card for him!!!

On the way back from walkies the other day, Swingle and I met Mr B by the Isopan factory, and after she had finished mugging him for biscuits, he turned to the tower and said – did you know I built that?  He had apprentices under him , so he  must have been a boss! What is now a brick factory, before the war was a paper factory that made special ‘Hirsch’ (deer logo) wrapping paper that was sold all over Europe, but by the nature of it, very few examples survive. The factory was ahead of its time, creating accommodation for its workers in the 1930s, and folk from all Europe worked here. Our house was the women’s house with a Kindergarten and by the Jagglerhof, another identical block housed the men (so not  far ahead), and the railway station is still so named.

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The factory from the other side of the river Mur

Mr B went on to say there is a tunnel that runs under the road  from one side to the other side of the road- I wonder if that is still there? Mr B was born in the Mur house,which was close to the factory which has since been demolished, I thought because the road was widened, but he said that no one wanted to live in it as the work decreased in the factory. He remembers it flooding and his Dad having to go out in swimming trunks!

You can see the chimneys in the photo, which My B said were dynamited, as either they weren’t safe or the factory was closing. One went down right across the road, the other towards the Mur. On the edge of the factory was the Madlingwirt that is now gone. he said when he worked at the factory lunchtimes were great with a beer (unsaid) they would have chess, chat, harmonica playing. I mentioned the old Fire station that was on the corner of the Thomatal road  (see picture at top, brown building) and he said he’s been in the voluntary fire brigade that was stationed there. All of the things he told me took place in the 1940s, so I guess he was too young for service in the war, but you don’t like to ask an old man his age….

He said that there was wood stored all over the place, but the first fire he remembered was when the Herrenhaus burnt – he said they all had to dash over and they only had stirrup pumps and had to rush to and from the Mur, but they must have got it out, although the building was later demolished.


The burnt Herren house, identical to our block

I asked about when the factory burnt down. He said it happened in the winter, and they were woken in the night in the Mur house by someone banging the door and yelling Alarm! On the river side of the factory, there was a lot of larch planks stored and these had caught alight. He said there were French people working there at the time. So the fire brigade rushed over and by now they has electric pumps for the water. But it was -35c! As they pumped the water, it was freezing, and they had to fight all night, with brigades from all over the Lungau coming to help. The did manage to put the fire out by the morning and save the machinery.  But Mr B said that it was so cold, their uniforms froze! He said the highlight was being brought coffee by the French to keep them going. But I think the damage done meant the factory closed. We have heard rumours that it was an accidentally on purpose fire, meaning it and the various houses could be sold off….

He bought his house and we have always wondered why it had such a big cellar floor although at the side of the road, it turns out it was the village Smithy! He rebuilt it from the cellar up in the 1960s.

I do find local oral history so fascinating and its all stuff that could disappear, Swingle and I will chat with him some more!


Paggy Adieu


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Paggy’s brother Hubert has begun clearing the flat, cutting the trees down and making it his own. The view from the back of his flat, as suspected is stunning, I don’t know why he didn’t want to see it. That’s great, especially as Hubert’s offered us to use the greenhouse which means we may actually get some ripe tomatoes this summer!

However, what I wasn’t prepared for was the emptying of the flat, seeing someone’s familiarity and life being stripped away. I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it doesn’t matter to Paggy anymore, they’re just things, although they did matter to him. I can understand the family history which means Hubert may just want to strip the place clean, it has no value to him. But I see him giving things to the local charity shop and I think he could’ve made some money for himself there, I’m feeling Paggy’s life had worth, don’t bin it.

They’re just things and to the people who buy them, they will add their own value and appreciation to them.

But I don’t want this to happen to my things. I will stitch up where I want my things to go. I don’t want anyone else wearing my clothes (as if they would), furniture -a pyre? What do you think?


RIP Paggy


In 2010, last time he really succeeded in getting us all plastered!


Those of you who have followed my blog, will know about our neighbour Hans, and how he befriended us, irritated us, got us drunk, stuck his nose in, criticised all our home additions, but was always pleased to see us.He had had a stroke and so couldn’t use one hand and was also diabetic. He spent a lot of time frustrated that he could no longer go shooting and hunting.

In our strongest memory of him, was when we had our friends John and Liz here, who he also got so plastered that John still can’t remember coming home and eating trout with us. Then on a later visit he had Liz and me making plum jam, (which never set because he wouldn’t let us put enough sugar in due to the diabetes) while the men were eating pigs trotters he had boiled especially for them!

In the past couple of years, he’d had falls, and I forget how many times we had to get a ladder to his bedroom as he was locked in and was laying on the floor, having fallen or was in a diabetic coma. He was taken into the care system and had carers, all of whom he slagged off and accused of stealing things – we often wondered what he said about us! He couldn’t handle it when we didn’t want paying for doing jobs for him, but we did accept a beer now and then.

On his birthday last year he wouldn’t accept a drink and we could see he was losing weight. He was eventually admitted and it was cancer, and the rest is history. Always a difficult man, he alienated most who knew him and he had rifts with the neighbours. I often wonder what had so damaged him in childhood to make him so. We just saw a grumpy old git, not the real troublemaker he once was. He was often very rude to me and took the mickey constantly. There were tales in the village he had beaten his wife too. But that is past, who am I to judge hearsay.

Shortly before we left for the UK, he seemed to be slipping away and we expected the worse, but three days later, he was sat up in bed, he pointed to the crucifix on the wall and said ‘HE healed me’: From that point we had no worries about where he would be, it’ll  be great to have a chat with him on the other side. The last time we saw him he was not so good and as we got on the ferry home for England, he passed away.  He has a brother,to whom he was always been horrible to who will inherit everything. We’ve been asked to carry a cross and a lantern at his memorial service which is an honour. I must admit, I’m breaking a commandment in thinking of what we could do with his flat as a holiday let. It’s said that death brings out the worst in us all.

So RIP Paggy, life wont be the same here without you bellowing out of the window and asking us if we want a beer.

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Kleindenkmäler or Austrian Deathograms

As  I posted last year, all round the Lungau in the woods and on the paths are memorials to people who have lost their lives to accidents, whether working or travelling.  They are all over Austria, and can be more ornate than our ones which tend to be of wood. The one above reads;

In Memory of Johan Moser, Moser farmer, in Weisspriach.Who on the 23rd May 1919 at 7.15 am in his 43rd year, while woodworking was unlucky and was separated from Life. 

The poem loses its rhyme in translation;

I came out early to work in the wood, but didn’t come home again, Hit by a stone I lay, it took me to early to my grave.  Dear reader, please say for me an ‘Our Father’.

This memorial was taken down last year and has been repainted.  It’s an interesting insight into local folk culture. It shows a different scenario, I always wondered how the tree felling made the stone fall on his head, unless it started a small landslide!  Still, I think I prefered the earlier picture! And what had Mary to do with it -she doesn’t heal people!?

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Easter Sunday

It would be easy to do a typical blog on the joy of Easter and the Resurrection and Christ lives, but I want to think I can be different!

Easter is about reconciliation. What took place over 2000 years ago was God‘s final act in giving us a way to be back in the garden of Eden, in the original relationship, where God and man had walked  and talked together in the cool of the day. But we blew it, and God spent a long time searching for a man who could re-build this original relationship, but sin conquered each time.  It was only through Jesus, finally taking for once and for all the punishment for sin, that the original relationship could be rebuilt.  No more guilt or punishment for sin. Original relationship. Each day we can walk with God again in the garden, no more barriers, no more pain.  And he ‘s waiting for us because true love never forces itself.  Chose life.