So where's the snow?

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

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I kept all the letters between my mother and I from when I spent a year in Switzerland before going to agricultural college. Now I’m semi retired, I’ve finally found the time to put them together. It brought back so many memories, and is why I hold Switzerland dear to my heart.

Do have a read and let me know of you enjoy it too.

If the link below doesn’t work, type in this number on your usual amazon site.

eBook, B0B61NK719

Paperback B0B5KK2WG9

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After I took over from Andrea, I found I had a lot of preparing and catching up to do.  They had done  all the grammar they needed, but I thought maybe they could do a little on the past tense. We then spent a lot of time building vocabularies, doing a little basic Business English  and all the time trying to get them to talk. I know I can be a bit slapdash and realised this a couple of times when I’d missed a mistake on a sheet, or  hadn’t checked whether the words were too unfamiliar, but I slowed down and got more thorough. However, I felt strongly that they should do the work themselves rather than be spoonfed, that the group should support each other,especially with the language difference. I found the first couple of weeks really tiring but gradually got more energy.

Now every job I’ve had here has involved my ‘difficult Austrian’ such as Lois and Erna, and here I found I had one who was worse than all the others rolled together. She had come to do a beginners course, and felt this was too hard for her.  Andrea told me she had moaned and complained that she didn’t understand, it was all too hard for her, until in desperation Andrea had  given her a very basic book to work on by herself.  So when I took over, I got the same grief.  Everytime I tried to explain anything, it was ,’Your German is too poor,  I can’t understand you’.  I offered her extra time alone with me to work things through, after all there were 9 others in the group. This she refused as she’d had enough after 5 hours, God forbid that she gave up her smoking break!   So in desperation, I gave her my laptop and earphones so that she could work independently.   She was so hostile that I admit I took the lazy option and left her alone.  When she needed help she asked her neighbours who were patient and rarely me. One woman was very able and helped her, the other was one of the weaker ones, and seemed to join in with the  negativity.  I really considered splitting them all up, but that’s what you with kids isn’t it?  The trouble was that Daniela would be on her own agenda with jokes and sniggering, she even got in a hump when I asked her to be quiet as the others couldn’t hear, I got, why can’t we laugh together and she stropped off.  When I tried to explain something to the group it interfered.  When I was trying something I thought they had done (they hadn’t) she butted in with the, it’s all too hard, you can’t explain it .  She argued with me until in the end I dismissed the group and went home.  I spent a lot of time soul searching and decided to act the next day as if nothing had happened.  I fully prepared the grammar, and eventually went back to it. I said this is simple, had a sheet prepared explained it in English and German and gave them examples to do, which they all did successfully, except of course you know who. For the next couple of weeks, I thought I was doing ok, we worked hard and there was a lot of laughter.  Then came the last week……….

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Teaching – Something new….


For the past few weeks, dear reader, once again you’ve been receiving posts on the jolly old-timer.  This is because I actually landed a teaching job and wanted to be able to concentrate on that!  I’d applied for this post way back in March, but had no response, even sending them a reminder before we left before England.  Of course, then practically, I couldn’t have done the job. The course started in the middle of May, just when I was getting over the operation and before we were off to the UK for our son’s wedding.  It was still being advertised when I returned, so I thought give it one more go and leave it, it’s obviously not meant for you.

To my surprise within 24 hours I had a phone call and was interviewed over the phone – horrible as I hate talking in German on the things at the best of times!  For some reason I hadn’t sent me certificates with the first application but had now, maybe that was it.   Then a formal interview, I needed to convince the boss my English NVQ Assessors qualification would do.  It turned out that someone – Andrea was running the course, but had to leave shortly- as in the following Wednesday for another job.  So who’s hand was on this ?  A God-incidence that I could take over the job from her and she could do it until I was ready?   So there I was all set to be a teechur!

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The siren

Not an alien on the roof!

Every Saturday at Midday,the siren on our roof goes off in one long blast, and it’s quite deafening.  It always makes me think of film ‘The Time Machine, when the Morlocks call their victims in.  I suppose it was installed during the war years as an Air raid siren, but has remained.  When we asked Tony why it still goes, he says that although the Fire and Police service have bleepers, often there is no reception in parts of the mountains, or if he leaves the bleeper in the kitchen and where there is a siren in every village, very few areas don’t hear it.  It’s then a rush to the Fire station etc to man the wagons.

In October, there is a testing day.  Besides the normal, we get three blasts with a small pause which is calling, Fire and Police and maybe the Mountain Rescue. A long extended one means somethings really up and you need to put your tv on and find out what the national disaster is. 

It doesn’t go off that often.  We like it when we have visitors and don’t tell them and see how they react and of course the joke never palls of asking someone the time as it goes off on Saturday.  It even once went off just after we’d told some friends all about it and they weren’t really believing us.  If we don’t know what the call out was for, we can always go to the Pub on Sunday and ask Tony.  One occasion it was that someone hadn’t gone home from the pub and a search was initiated – he was found in a ditch!  Last night it went off twice in five minutes which we’ve never heard in five years, we are now wondering if no one turned up to the first one………..


Travel Theme: Rhythm

Living in a country other than your own in some ways makes it seem like you’re always on holiday!  The sounds and scents are always new and create  new  associations and meanings which in turn become part of your new framework of where you live.

It seems here in the Lungau, that if there’s a chance for a parade and music and of course a bit of beer and sausage after, the band is there!  Each village has its own Trachtenmusikappelle, which is a uniformed brass band.    Here’s the band from Ramingstein where we live at the Lungau Folk Festival last year. This sort of music has become the  rhythm to our life here.

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Fish and Chips and Homesickness

Not so happy cows, just turned onto the Alm, June 2010

One of the few programmes that Dave and I enjoy on the Austrian TV is Sarah Wiener and her cooking adventures as she gathers the ingredients for a meal, usually taking part in harvesting them, she takes an instamatic photo of herself and then beetles off in her car to cook them and of course everyone loves them.  She now has a new series set in Englandwith Gary Rhodes offering tips.  I just wish I could cut off the translation as she speaks a lot in English as do obviously all the people she meets.  She started in Whitby, at the Magpie Café, cooking fish and chips.  We were quite unsurprised to see she had tartare sauce with them as most people here go a shade of green when we say we have vinegar on ours!  Oh it looked so tasty, Dave and I fantasized about Greasy Nicks in New Milton (not the real name) and family fish and chip meals in Swanage, especially the restaurant by the quay whose name I can’t remember, or sitting in the ozone filled breeze by the beach.

Homesickness hit me in the guts.  I missed my kids. I mourned that we’ll never be a houseful on a Sunday for a roast, my kids have their own lives and even now its maybe too late to re-create the links.  One of the costs of coming here.  And no bloody fish and chips in the Lungau. Don’t   know if I can face watching more of the series!