So where's the snow?

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

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Changing direction

The little house in Tyrol that started the dream

I’ve been wittering on about the new job and being at home and stuff, and trying to keep myself open to everything that God wants me to do, and things are happening -albeit slowly.  The most important is that voice that has been saying maybe its time to make some money out of all of this blogging and writing.  Since I’ve been doing book reviews, the readership has shot up, and this may be a way forward -such hardship, having to read books!   It seems I can also earn from adding advertising  for a certain well know international website as  well.  So why not, if it doesn’t work, well, it just doesnt work!  I’ve done a certain amount of proof reading and critiquing, so I could offer this for people.   My degree in English might finally have some use.  Trouble is, I will have to create a new Blog as this one can’t carry the advertising, I’ll keep you informed!

It was my dream when we saw the very first house in the Tyrol. To have a place where I could write and read and paint (painting’s a while off!), and have retreats for people. I still have my idea for Austrian riding holidays, which could be do-able.  I just need God to give us some of his money to buy the flat next door or the one upstairs to make it into a B&B or Guesthouse, then perfect!   Then the therapy work wouldnt need to be such a bread winner for me, and maybe I’d then be able to have a dog, or a horse…………..

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Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Training

Horse offering therapy!

This is the third time I’ve done this – mainly so I can keep my certification renewed and it was a great chance to network and keep up with new stuff. It all comes under the banner of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)  or Therapy  (EAT) which is becoming more widespread as therapy. Last time the training was in Austria and as I’ve said, this time was a bit of a trek.  There’s a part two in the same place this summer, but I don’t think I’ll have the cash!

We had a different trainer this time, Mickey from the USA, so she brought a whole new slant on things. It was far more tiring this time, maybe me, maybe the weather, I don’t know. The training was more relaxed, but its the first time I’ve heard so many people question the method and disagree with it.  What their final verdict is I can’t tell. There were Germans, several Americans, mostly due to the USA airbase in the area, a Dutch couple, a Swiss lady and me as the token Brit! This time, the trainees themselves were discovering things about themselves, which shows how powerful this therapy can be. There was annoyance when it was not picked up that a trainee was in tears, but I could see why myself.  It was a totally unreal situation with people watching, a disparate band of people who didn’t know each other and a task that wasnt related to this group situation.  The trainers did debate what to do, and I think they made a right decision to let the group deal with it. In real life, a parent, sibling or friend would deal with this.  My only question is that if you are providing emotional safety, is comfort a part of this?

We worked though all the standard exercises and what stood out for me, is that I step in too soon, when people should be allowed to,’follow the process’.  We also did role play and I was put in the role of the Mental Health expert which I found really difficult as I couldn’t stop watching the horses. Yet Edith and I both felt we’ve been working together on the right tracks and this has helped us to add more skills to help people.

The only thing I didn’t like was the end, it ran over and people had to go and there was no formal Goodbye, or certificate giving or even a photo shoot, which left me a bit lost. Similarly, the translation between the two languages maybe made things take longer and maybe it would have been better to stick to English or German. However, I was so tired at the end all I wanted to do was get back to the Hotel and crash out! Do look at the articles below.


Some comments please – what would you do?

Am I on the right way and I’m being so attacked because of it and should be rejoicing, or have I just really, really screwed up? Maybe there isn’t even enough evidence to convict me as a Christian!

Edith and I rowed after the last session with the Asylum seekers.  It was hot, they weren’t really interested as they had a Play bus coming, and we had a toddler which shouldn’t have allowed to come.  I also made the mistake of presuming that one of the horses was familiar with the horse ball we were using but he was scared.  When it was kicked, the horse jumped and nearly knocked the kid over. I then had to think on my feet for new games. Edith was out of the arena and no help when we should be together as a team.  Maybe I’m too used to working on my own and my own resources.  We were also being watched by some teacher doing an MA on integration.  So Edith tore me off a strip in front of him twice and I of course responded.  Why she couldn’t wait until after the session and do this in private, we looked like a couple of stupid women not professionals?  It was because she didn’t understand the games and I hadn’t explained.  We did go on after, and she came out with accusations of us needing to assess each session –completely forgetting we have done so each time and it was because of her appointments this time we couldn’t.  She admitted has no idea of working with kids, or the games, and when I suggested she needs to read her EAGALA  manual, she said she didn’t like taking people’s ideas – I gave up.  I tried so hard not to obsess about the whole thing, everything having been said and maybe I shouldn’t have had some beer with Paggy and Dave but I was hurting and lashed out at Dave in my pain.

After a day of calming down and praying, I was due an Erna day.  I was so calm about the whole thing and prayed I would be ok and not take offence etc, and I failed.  It began after breakfast when I said maybe we could do the Rittersaal if the rooms weren’t ready, she turned and looked at me as if I’d crawled our from under a stone and muttered about seeing rooms first.  My heart sank, I was in for another bad day. So I decided to separate myself from them and do the loos and turning the quilts so I didn’t have to be in the same room but working along side. Maybe this was a wrong decision as far as the other two were concerned I’d disappeared. I started sweeping one corridor which was dirty and got shouted at to leave it and go and take the rubbish away.  I was so annoyed, I’m afraid I uttered annoyance as I walked away and she kept on talking.  She may have been telling me they were having a break, I couldn’t understand, so I couldn’t find them where expected and it happened again later, no one said what we were doing, I was abandoned.  Things got late, there was an awful lot to do. And I could see we would finish late.  Now this was the one day I could not do that. I had a changeover to do at the holiday flat and didn’t know when they would arrive although they had been told 6.  I had prayed, used tongues and went around saying to myself I can take being ignored, but the whole day was getting to me.  So it happened, Erna asked to borrow Michaela’s phone to ring home and I had to say, I can’t stay.  So I got shouted at, YOU MUST, and I repeated I couldn’t.  She then said then I had to see Helmuth and other things which I couldn’t understand so I stormed out.  It was such a relief just to shout back in English at the top of my voice ‘Ahh SHUT UP’.  I went straight to Helmuth and said I just couldn’t stay and I’d been shouted at and ignored all day and had found my colleagues rude.  I said I would stay till 3, then I would be gone.  He of course did the tear welling up thing but was ok, so I went and cleaned bogs.  Michaela joined me and gave me all this rubbish about being left alone to finish stuff etc, etc, and I was so far gone I just said I couldn’t care less, I had covered for her when he was ill and had done areas on my own myself. I had told her that morning I had the flat to do, but of course it hadn’t registered. I left, the guests turned up two hours early, there wasn’t enough bed linen and so on.  I felt later I should offer an Olive branch and texted Michaela saying I’d come the next day and help, the reply to which was it was all done, why did I need to help?

So I don’t know what my reception will be.  I go back to work tomorrow, I’ve written my notice.  Will I give it in?  I feel disloyal leaving midseason but they are already advertising for more kitchen staff. Do I stay and hack it?  See what happens on the next Erna day on Friday?  What do I do?  I haven’t slept properly for days, it goes around and around in my head. Do I send Michaela a text asking if I can still have a lift or just say I’m coming in my car?  I have prayed and the answer is I have to follow the peace that God will give me – but so far I cant find it.

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EAGALA at last- yaaaaaaaaaay!

Our partners, Avarkur and Lucca the Icelandics

Last week Edith and I  finally began our work  under the Tu Was project.  After so many set backs, delays and  frustrations, we collected our first little group of four from the Asylum Seekers’ Hostel in our cars. We can get their bus fares paid, but we have to take the money to the Hostel, collect the used tickets and then take them to the Caritas office and get a refund – completely impractical, so for the first few times we’re collecting them and maybe it will sort itself out.

We began with some grooming, just so they could have their first contact in an unthreatening situation.  One girl (the 15-year-old translator) was dabbing delicately at the horse, scared of the dirt and  hurting it.  Two other kids cleaned just the tummy, keeping away from the head, but they all quickly relaxed and got into it.  Unlike most situations, we know nothing about these people except they have been through some sort of trauma to be there. We cannot talk to some of them as their German is limited and we rely on one of the group translating.  They are mostly children and mothers with a few teenagers, I would be a bit worried with younger men, but I don’t think they would come. Asylum seekers have such a negative press these days, but I hope I’m seeing them just as people to help, faith and culture are irrelevant.

 All became accustomed to the horses, so we lead them over to the school, freed the horses and asked them to collect a horse and bring it to us.  We did make the mistake of giving them the headcollars, we should have let them choose how to do it – well it was our first official session too!

The small girl got quite upset as the horse repeatedly walked away from her, then when she came over to us, he followed her.  I asked her what had happened, and after trying so hard not to prompt her in my bad German, she realised she had achieved her goal, having brought us a horse and was thrilled.  The boy was more concerned with working out how the halter fitted, but eventually to his joy made it.  Grandma helped our translator and after doing  the task herself.  She was  talking to the horse and I saw her smile and surreptitiously give the horse a kiss on the nose!  She was adamant she has never worked much with animals, but I would say her body language belies this – but maybe it was only donkeys!   The translator also achieved with some help from Grandma, and was so pleased she wanted to do everything including  riding back to the Hostel! 

We did a leading exercise with cones, but our younger horse read too accurately the boy’s body language and ran away as he was asking her to trot, so we had a break.  After that we did Life’s little obstacle, where one horse quite happily walked over the pole while they were trying to get the other over and they missed it.  They couldn’t keep quiet, but achieved it easily.  We then took the horses away as they were both becoming a bit uptight, it was their first full session too!   The group was so excited, it was so much fun, the only negative aspect was the formerly full of confidence girl  lost it around the horses.   They all signed up for next time, lets hope they will come. Coming with nothing, we’re also having to find some of them  shoes and jeans, to protect them a bit.  We will also never know if they’ll be suddenly moved on, and so have to treat each session as an entirety.

Under their situation in the Hostel and language difficulties, several of those who said they’d come to the first session didn’t, Doctors appointments, something to do, or maybe just fear held them back.  Hopefully the experiences of our first group would encourage the others.  I would so like to find out their stories but as yet feel unable to ask.  Next time, we’ll repeat the haltering with any new guys, then try to get them to find a metaphor the in obstacle for their lives, or we’ll suggest one and try to go a little deeper.

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I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Picture on Chapel on way through Lessach valley. It says dont go beyond here unless you have greeted Mary. So many of these in one spot, makes one wonder if these are people who didn't bother and if not is it safe to walk there!

Its been a funny old week at t’burg!  Erna has been ok to work with as I said, and I’ve had a couple of single shifts where I’ve worked so hard I’ve been wishing for the company.  Michaela has had some sort of problem, I really couldn’t understand what about.  It involved some woman called Gaby who didn’t come to work at the Burg because of Michaela, Michaela has been  allegedly arguing with this cook, her bloke has been blabbing her personal affairs to someone, oh I really don’t get it all.  She was quiet, rather than raging, and I couldn’t make head nor tail of things.  Then yesterday she went sick with diarrhoea, which is possible as someone had it at Burg on Friday and I was so careful about hand washing etc.  AND taking the power of the risen Christ within me, I rebuked it and commanded it leave the couple of times I felt off colour, so it missed me!   Michaela also said her bloke had the car, but she’ll be back Monday.  Its possible she’s lying, I have this gut feeling and we may never see her again…..

I had to pop up to the Burg to give someone a phone number – I’d got it all wrong, stupid numbers  in German being back to front.  They asked me if I’d been on strike because of Helmut, oh no I thought.  I saw him on the way out and he asked where Michaela was, so I said she’d sent him an SMS to say she’s off till Monday, he hadn’t received it. So I expect he had a major rant  about us, and that explains why I didn’t get called in on my day off, so in a way thanks Michaela for not ringing!

Edith and I are frustrated that we haven’t had the dosh from Tu Was and can’t start but are busily following more leads for work, and this time next week we are having visitors from the UK who actually like walking, so Berg Auf!

The most important thing is that tomorrow I have to work alone with Erna, and just the two of us for the whole Burg, and I don’t mind! What a change from the past weeks.


What a day of moaning about Michaela, because her text message didn’t get to Helmuth.  She’s really going to get grief when she returns.  Erna was livid but we settled down  and worked the day through.  It was exhausting, but we cleaned all the Burg and the shower rooms, properly.  We even chatted a bit and had my hoover conversation again. The next two days I was on my own and did two half days, juts doing the loos.  I was even allowed breakfast in the kitchen as they’d forgotten to lay up for me.  It rained last night and with the  camping festival, the women’s loos were appalling – there was even a tampon left in a soap tray which I picked up before I realised what it was, I thought it a bar of soap in the dim light -uuuuuuurrgggghhhhh!

I don’t know whether I’ve stuck up for  Michaela enough, I’ve repeated she had sent a text  several times. Helmuth did know on time to organise some extra help but didn’t communicate it, but she shouldn’t have relied on the text.  Its been nice having people talking to me, but have I failed my friend?


 Poor Michaela looks really ill still and she has lost so much weight.  Helmuth was ok to her, it just remains to be seen what Erna says tomorrow.  Michaela has said she’ll walk if she pitches into her.  I hope it’s all forgotten and we can get on and work. The day went well, Erna seems to have at last learnt to point out our failings in a polite manner, although I’m sure she thinks its me who makes all the bog ups.  I got into one of my self pitying moods when sent to clean the bogs while they scrubbed floors (apparently, Erna thinks I don’t do it wet enough!?). Then there was laundry line strung across in the showers and I had to fetch Helmut, then the daft kids put the washing line across the stairs just where a kid could garrot themselves.  Got quite grumpy but could identify it and laugh at myself!  Now I have two days off, then one day work, then a visit from England, and loads of wandering in the BERGS!

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It was a slightly better day with Erna today.  I’m still having to learn the lesson of returning evil with good and living at peace with all.  However, today I got my head down and worked and tried to be calm.  It was exhausting but it all really didn’t matter because yesterday, Edith and I had our first customer!  I wont be blogging many details because of confidentiality unless something special happens and I’ll get permission.  Suffice to say, it was  a more traditional riding/lunge lesson, but it was so goo to teach and interact with the child and Edith and I worked as a team, did an evaluation after, it was just sooo good!  For the first time,for months I was so relaxed I fell asleep in front of the television!

Then today was the icing on the cake. Edith and I have our pictures in the Lungau Nachrichten (news) and a good quote.  Lets hope the work comes piling in!  We have to wait a couple of weeks before we get the documents (and funding!) from Tu Was and then we can work with the Asylum seekers but what ho, We’re doing more meetings with some psychotherapists and its all good.  Thank you God!