So where's the snow?

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


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The Journey#2

It was strange sitting so high in the van, but Mark is a professional driver, so I let go and really tried not to drive with him. He cut in and out in a way I’d never have the courage to do. At the border with Germany, we unexpectedly caught a jam. Two accidents, then we sailed through. We stopped after four hours as we reckoned that Swingle would sleep. After that, we made it every couple of hours. It was a warm day, and we made sure we kept her hydrated. She would be so pleased to see us, then leap out to all the great smells in the stops. I just loved all the changing scenery as we went through Germany and France. We reached Calais, after one major jam for a car accident. Swingle was scared by the sirens, but we couldn’t get her out and it took half an hour to find a place to stop, but she had calmed by then. Mark has been moving animals for years and he was completely right about how she would handle it. The dark place became safe for her.

We got to our hotel in Calais in good time as Mark knew a shortcut that by bypassed a load of traffic. We parked in a compound that housed all the vehicles for the Calais police force. They kept a van permanently parked there. During the night, they set off some alarms and there was shouting; I guess they had arrested someone. We saw a group of non uniformed officers going off on plain clothes duty. And in our room, Swingle’s water got spilled all over the floor! We went for a walk, but there were no parks. We couldn’t find an evening meal so ended up getting snacks from Lidl! The air was warm and it was a hot, close night. Despite having drinking lots on the journey, Swingle downed two bowls of water in the room. That resulted in two trips out in the night and a poop. We went to our rooms in the lift first of all, she scared herself by seeing a black dog in the lift mirror and looked for it behind the mirror. Then her tail stopped the door shutting. In the night, we took her to the huge roundabout opposite the hotel, so much traffic in the day she loved it. She had major sensory overload on each stop, from so many other dogs!

We were zombie like in the morning. We left for the P&O ferry at Calais; the tunnel having gone up hugely in price at the beginning of the summer. Mark was nervous as there had been so many problems with the border control over the Covid months, and he’d just heard that from the weekend, France would be only accepting essential UK travellers.

We went to the first booth, manned by two grumpy looking officers who wouldn’t speak but ordered us to the UK border control. There were various groups from Romania etc, who seemed to be having problems getting through. When or turn came, we had a smile and waved through. Mark had told us we had our location forms linked to our passports, so I guessed all was Ok. We felt a huge relief.

When we got to the P&O kiosk, the proverbial hit the fan. Inside was sat a poker faced guy, with long hair and glasses, and wouldn’t react to Mark’s politeness. We had to do all the forms, and he refused our location forms because I hadn’t put we had come through France, so our form was green for Austria, not Amber for France. I was getting my files and laptop to change it, but Mark did a whole new form. It got us through, but I’m having kittens that on Monday morning I’ll get a call from Gov UK demanding an explanation. Then the chip reader couldn’t find Swingles chip, and grumpy pants had to get another. We queued for the ferry, glad to have left grumpy pants behind. We guessed he was part of the French not liking the UK, and he didn’t want to do all these checks. Then as we were about to board, one of the Marshalls said we were missing a yellow sticker, Grumpy’s bloodymindedness or stress?

Once on, we left Swingle in the van and had breakfast in the lorry drivers’ café, the staff were so helpful and I even got some gluten free toast, eggs and bacon! She was fine, maybe the ferry’s engine’s made her think the van was moving, we certainly didn’t need to dope her. Once off the ferry, we sailed through customs  much to Mark’s relief. I felt a bit emotional at finally returning home, but was so tired, I remained calm. The journey to Wales was uneventful, with few traffic jams. We took all our furniture to the store, and they opened up for us. It seemed so little. Swingle was reaching the end of her tether with the box. She started scratching to get out of it each time we shut the door, only to quieten when the engine started. At the store, I tied her to a trolley and gave her a big chew that cheered her up. At the hotel she was out like a bullet, having been in the rattly, empty bus.

Then in Cardiff, the road was closed to the hotel, and Mark drove us around the block to find it He was so kind to do it, we were all geared up to catch the train into Cardiff. He made all the difference to the trip. I would have gone to pieces with the driving and the problems. But our troubles were over. When we checked in, our Covid tests hadn’t arrived. I rang the firm, who said they had been returned due to a wrong address. I had written in the name from the booking form and had been unable to find a number and had the right post code. The bloke was really helpful, although I was so angry. Why hadn’t I been contacted? I had been under such stress I’d forgotten that I should get a text when they were despatched, it seems royal mail didn’t even dispatch them and the man hinted it was my fault for not writing hotel on the address. He promised to get them dispatched asap Monday, but did hint it was my fault for not writing hotel! But I checked all the documents, and non had hotel on the name. It remains to see if they will turn up. And we won’t take the rest on Monday, He said it was okay to do it on the third, as it was due to courier failure. I just hope.


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Featured Blog – Stephen G Hipperson

View in National Raliway Museum York

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I follow quite a lot of blogs and this is one of my favourites, Stephen recently took a trip to the National Railway Museum in York, and this piccie from the series caught my imagination! Here’s a copy with his permission.

Every house I have lived in for any length of time has had a railway at the end of the garden.  In Winchester it was the main line to Bournemouth, in New Milton, same line but further down. Here in Austria we have the Murtalbahn which I do witter on about occasionally. My favourite is a nice noisy diesel Deltic from the 1950s!

Do check out this blog, he also does the occasional great landscape and church!

http://stephenhip.wordpress.com

—-Stephen—


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Taxi Drivers

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Pansies in full bloom in December, unlike Lungau!

I researched our travel costs, especially to the airport taking into account the stress of driving if it chucked it down with snow.  By the time we had bought a new vignette, paid for petrol and parking it was cheaper with a ski taxi.  We booked a local guy and he arrived on time and was really chatty (in German) although he spoke passable English to the other customers.  He was quite grumpy with them, telling them to take their coats off if they were too hot and why did they sit in the back if the kid was going to be sick.

His chat was one I find typical here.  This semi cross/stressed tone. Firstly it was moaning about the snow there’s plenty but much of it  ‘kunst’ or made.  But thank heavens it means the customers would be coming.   How business is tight but everyone’s in debt –same all over the world?

It was nice to be driven and he was there to meet us when we returned.  But two other English customers simply didn’t turn up despite having paid, he waited and searched, but no sign.  A tragedy, missed the train, an argument?  We chatted this time about music and our trip.  How he loves Trex, Alvin Stardust and Led Zeppelin. Same generation but different sides of the sea

In contrast, we took a Taxi  back from our daughter’s flat and it was comical! He was Indian and quite difficult to understand, he parked on the wrong side of the road and had to be flagged down. He then went into a load of what was either complete flannel or genuine, I’m not sure.  First of all he said how ‘real’ our daughter was, rare these days, then about how dreadful London is.  He got completely confused when we said we lived in Austria, he thought we were Austrian.  He had a Sat Nav but still asked us for directions. Then we got out and I asked the fare, he said we were so nice it was up to us!!! We paid him the quoted fee, but I still can’t make up my mind if he was real or not!


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Flying to England

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Could I live again in a place like this????

We chose the cheapest airline to travel back to the UK for Christmas and we fully expected the cattle truck treatment, and it was as usual, except that you can now actually book tickets on Ryanair. The flight leaving Salzburg wasn’t full and the staff were a mixture of English and Eastern European accents, but cheerful, one even daring to wear tinsel.

What made me laugh was the amount of selling that went on during the short journey. Firstly drinks and refreshments.  Then twice scratch cards (for charity haha), then smoke free cigarettes, then luxury goods from the catalogue, then train tickets from Stansted.  Talk about the Del boys of the plane world. Oh, and Newspapers, which you could buy yourself as soon as you landed.

Coming back was different, an evening flight.  I knew about the restrictions on the cabin luggage, it’s all over the tickets and the website and you can’t really miss it.  We’d measured ours and put them through the little measure box and ours were smaller than most people, but it didn’t stop me panicking as we saw several people being checked and having to pay.  But I’m sorry, you are told quite clearly, over and over again.  Then in the hold, it was quite a job getting all these little cases in, with coats. You can see Ryanair’s point, but if they didn’t restrict the main luggage, people wouldn’t try to get away with hand luggage.  I didn’t really relax until we were on the plane and I knew our holiday loot was coming home uncharged.


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Off to London

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Not quite Austria……..

For a short while, I’m becoming a travel Blog writer as I blither on a bit about our trip to London this Christmas.  Having costed it out, we took a taxi to the Airport. We  flew from Salzburg to Stansted with Ryanair,  then took a National Express coach to Stratford, near where to Olympic games were held.  We rented a Marlin apartment nearby and spent quite some time in the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre.  After an exhausting few days, we took the train to Wareham in Dorset and spent  some time in a lovely Bed and Breakfast, Easter Cottage, and  the days chilling with our son and his fiance, and tripping on the Swanage railway.   We then all drove to Aldershot to see Dave’s family, and  stayed in a Premier Inn. It was all highly organised, unlike last time when I forget the Credit card so we couldn’t hire the car, all went smoothly.  It sounds a big rush, but compared to other trips it was ok and we didn’t arrive home exhausted!

I admit, two years are  too long to stay away from home, and it was so good to be back.  We returned in some ways quite unsettled as I’ll explain………..